Special Issue "Contemporary Natural Philosophy and Philosophies"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic

1 Department of Applied Information Technology, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden
2 School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Computer Science Laboratory, Mälardalen University, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: computing paradigms; computational mechanisms of cognition; philosophy of science; epistemology of science; computing and philosophy; ethics of computing; information ethics; roboethics and engineering ethics; sustainability ethics
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Marcin J. Schroeder

Akita International University, 193-2 Okutsubakidai, Aza Tsubakigawa, Yuwa, 010-1211 Akita, Japan
Website | E-Mail
Interests: philosophy of information and computation; philosophy and history of science and logic; foundations of physics and mathematics; mathematical formalization of scientific theories

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

From the program of the Philosophies, one of the main aims of the journal is to help building a new unity in diversity of human knowledge, that would include both “Wissen” (as in “Wissenschaft”) and “scīre” (as in “science”). As known, “Wissenshaft” (pursuit of knowledge, learning, and scholarship) is concept of knowledge broader than “science” as it implicates all kinds of knowledge, including philosophy, and not exclusively the one in the form of directly testable explanations and predictions. The broader notion of scholarship is incorporating the role of a learner and the process of growth of knowledge and its becoming, not only the final product and its verification and validation. In other words it is knowledge inclusive of both short term and long-term perspectives, local and global, critical and hypothetical (speculative) that breaks new ground. This new synthesis or rather re-integration of knowledge is expected to resonate with basic human value systems, including cultural values.

As knowledge spontaneously tends to fragment as it grows, Philosophies are taking existing diversity as a resource and a starting point for a new synthesis. The idea of broad knowledge is actually not so new. From the beginning natural philosophy included all knowledge about nature. Newton was natural philosopher. And so were Bohr, Einstein, Prigogine, Weizsäcker, Wheeler—to name but a few. Today the big picture of the natural/physical world as given and constructed is sorely missing in the scientific point of view.

From profound need for connected knowledge, new trends emerged in last decades towards synthesis. One big theme is complexity science, especially when applied to biology or medicine that helps us to grasp the importance of connections between present day disparate pieces of knowledge—frameworks, theories, approaches, etc. Related is the emergence of network science that studies structures of nodes (actors) and edges as connections between them.

This Special Issue answers the call of Philosophies from isolated knowledge islands to build a new, networked world of knowledge with domain specialists of different disciplines interacting and connecting with the rest of knowledge-producing and knowledge-consuming communities in an inclusive natural-philosophic manner. In this process of synthesis, scientific and philosophical investigations enriching each other—sciences informing philosophies about the best current knowledge of the world—natural and human-made—while philosophies scrutinizing ontological, epistemological and methodological foundations of science, providing scientist with questions and conceptual analysis. All of that is in order to extend and deepen our existing knowledge of the world, including ourselves, both as humans and as societies and humankind.

Obstacles to new synthesis

The dialogue between science and philosophy is especially interesting when it comes to the philosophy of science and the question what constitutes the scientific method, which has become less and less clear. There are three major methodological challenges:

- Demise of natural philosophy - a very conservative position still quite frequent, of those who believe (as it was fashionable in late 19th and early 20th century) that science has to emancipate itself from the "philosophical nonsense of the type of metaphysics". The followers of this view naively believe that there is no need for philosophy in scientific research.

- “Idol of Numbers" in reference to Bacon's idols, is not less conservative, and if possibly more dangerous in the era of “big data” and data-driven science. The followers of this view dismiss everything that is not presented in terms of numbers and trust in “objective character” of whatever is given in the numerical form, such as expressed in the maxim “let the data speak for themselves”.

- Isolationism and self-sufficiency of research disciplines. To the previous two obstacles to the new synthesis, we should add the third, associated one. That is the difficulty of communication between different domains of knowledge, which makes the role of inter-disciplinarity/cross-disciplinarity and transdisciplinarity central for construction of our contemporary knowledge of the world.

Possible avenues of re-connection

When modelling a phenomenon, multiple theories should be connected to contribute understanding of its structures and temporal behaviours.

One very successful approach in that direction was the development of multiscale models for complex physical, chemical, biological and cognitive systems, including human brain. Multiscale models combine and connect earlier approaches focused on single scales of time, space, and topology by integration of data across spatial, temporal, and functional scales.

Another promising path is reconceptualization (as in conceptual engineering) of the basic concepts used to describe different natural and artifactual systems—physical, chemical, biological and cognitive. In this new framework, information is considered as the fabric of reality (Deutsch)—for an observer. The dynamics of information can be modelled as computation, thus making the basis for  info-computational modelling of variety of systems—from physical to cognitive. According to Kun Wu and Brenner, philosophy of Information presents a revolution in philosophy and provides means of informational metaphilosophy of Science that is philosophy of philosophy of science. We can add also that information together with its dynamics (computation) presents a new possibility for a development of modern philosophy of nature/natural philosophy.

A nonexhaustive list of possible topics

  • What is the current state of the philosophy of nature / natural philosophy?
  • What might be the role of the philosophy of nature / natural philosophy?
  • Can philosophy of nature be based on our best current scientific knowledge? (thesis of the “Everything must go” book)
  • How can interdisciplinarity/crossdisciplinarity/ multidisciplinarity/transdisciplinarity help tie-in knowledge from different disciplines and interdisciplines at different levels of abstraction into a common intelligible philosophy of universe with cosmos and chaos, non-living and living parts in it?
  • What would be the new role of research methods in this new high-level take on human knowledge?
  • Can we imagine any higher authority in matters of truth and existence than the consensus view of our current humanity?
  • Sciences of the artificial, AI and philosophy of nature;
  • Informational universe—Floridi—Wu Kun—epistemology—ontology;
  • “Mechanism” and “materialism” as bases for understanding of nature;
  • Nature and mind—role and character of the mind/cognition agency in the development of the universe;
  • Evolving universe—being and becoming in contemporary philosophy of nature;
  • Emergent universe;
  • Connecting variety of levels of abstraction;
  • The role of life sciences with biology and cognitive sciences for the new natural philosophy;
  • The role of the observer for the new synthesis.

Prof. Dr. Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic
Prof. Dr. Marcin J. Schroeder
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Philosophies is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Perspectives on Natural Philosophy

Stanley N. Salthe

Biological Sciences, Binghamton University, New York, USA; ssalthe@binghamton.edu

This paper presents a viewpoint on natural philosophy focusing on the organization of substance, as well as its changes as invited by the Second Law of thermodynamics. Modes of change are pointed to as definitive of levels of organization: {physical {chemical {biological}}}. Conceptual uses of the subsumptive hierarchy format are employed throughout. Developmental change in dissipative structures is examined in some detail, raising a plea for use of the concept of final causality in studies of natural systems. Considerations of ‘internalism’ in science are presented along the way.


Natural Philosophy and Natural Logic

Kun Wu, Zhensong Wang

International Information Philosophy Research Center, Xi’an Jiaotong Uuniversity, Shaanxi Province, Xi’an City, 710049, China; zhensong1167@gmail.com

1. Nature has its own objective regularity, which does not follow the human will. Nature is itself; it exists, moves, changes, and evolves according to its own intrinsic ways. Human and human society, as a product of a specific stage of natural development, can only be a concrete manifestation of the logic of nature. 2. In the broad sense, nature refers to all things, phenomena, and processes in the universe. It includes human society and spiritual phenomena. In the narrow sense, nature refers to the world outside the society and opposed to society as well, or refers to the general object world of natural science research. 3. The narrow natural philosophy is in the intermediary position between the natural sciences and the overall philosophy (the supreme philosophy), and it is an independent sub-level philosophical discipline; the broad natural philosophy is a meta-philosophy or supreme philosophy, stipulating the entire world from the dimensions of nature itself. 4. Nature philosophy reveals the objective laws of nature's own existence, movement, change, and evolution. This determines that the way of expressing natural philosophy is necessarily natural ontology. The construction of the theoretical system of natural philosophy is inevitably a process of abandoning cognitive mediums of human beings through reflection. It is necessary for us to conclude that natural philosophy is the stipulation of nature itself, which comes out of the nature itself. So we must explain the nature from the standpoint of the nature itself. 5. The true philosophy should move from the human world to the nature, finding back Husserl's suspended things, and establish a brand-new philosophy in which man and nature, substance, information, and spirit are united together. This kind of philosophy is able to provide contemporary ecological civilization a reasonable philosophical foundation, rebuilding natural philosophy in a new era, which is a very urgent task for contemporary philosophers. 6. The unity of philosophy and science cannot be seen merely as an external convergence, but also as an intrinsic fusion; a true philosophy should have a scientific character, and science itself must have a philosophical charm. The unity of such an intrinsic fusion of science and philosophy can be fully demonstrated by the practical relationship of development between human philosophy and science. 7. In addition to the narrow path along epistemology, linguistics, and phenomenology, the development of human philosophy has another path. This is the development of philosophy itself that has been nurtured and demonstrated during the development of general science: On the one hand, the construction of scientific rationality requires philosophical thinking and exploration. On the other hand, the progress of science opens the way for the development of philosophy. 8. In the real process of the development of human knowledge, science and philosophy are regulated, contained, and merged with each other in the process of interaction. The two are inlaid together internally to form an interactive dynamic feedback loop. The unification relationship of mutual influence, regulation, promotion and transformation presented in the intrinsic interplay of interaction between science and philosophy profoundly breeds and demonstrates the general way of human knowledge development: the philosophicalization of science and scientification of philosophy. 9. We face two types of dogmatism: one is the dogmatism of naturalism, and the other is the dogmatism of the philosophy of consciousness. One of the best ways to overcome these tendencies of dogmatism is to unite natural ontology, epistemic embryology, and epistemic constructivism. The crisis of contemporary philosophy induced by the western consciousness philosophy seems like belonging to the field of philosophical epistemology, but the root of this crisis is deeply buried in the ontology. The key to solving the crisis of contemporary philosophy lies precisely in the reconstruction of the doctrine of natural philosophy centering to the nature itself and excluding God. The task to be accomplished by this new natural philosophy is how to regain the natural foundation of human consciousness after the God has left the field. 10. Since the 1980s, the information philosophy established and developed in China has proposed a theory of objective information, as well as the dual existence and dual evolution of matter and information. It is this theory that has made up for the vacancy existing between matter and mind, after the withdrawal of the God's from the field. Philosophy of information in China is first and foremost a natural philosophy that adheres to naturalistic attitudes. Second, this natural philosophy explains the human, human mind and human society in the interpretation of the process and mechanism of natural evolution. In this connection, philosophy of information in China is a system of meta-philosophy or supreme philosophy. This system undoubtedly has the nature of a new natural philosophy. At the same time, this philosophy can better reflect the philosophical spirit of the information age.

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