Naturalism and Biomedicine in Western Culture

            Naturalism is the philosophical view that nothing exist beyond the natural universe. But it leaves open the interpretation that if there is something beyond the natural world that it does not affect the natural universe. Naturalism is an important point of view that is receptive to the methodology of science, which is based on facts and the search for the truth in the natural world.

            Naturalism and medicine intersect in the approach that sickness in a natural phenomenon. This is in contrast to eastern medicine which incorporates the balance of one’s supernatural phenomenon be it “Zen”, positive energy, or “Karma”. Naturalism is based on separation of the supernatural from the natural world. This view of naturalism is coerced subtly by society and one’s societal concepts of nature which is distinct from culture to culture.

Naturalism also incorporates the separation of the natural environment from human consciousness. Nature is predefined and is constant and persists with and without the observation or influence by humans. In medicine the objective measures are the signs from the patient like a blood test; this is in contrast to perception of pain which is a symptom. Pain is only as real as the consciousness. Someone could argue that pain is a combination of neurotransmitters in the brain which is a real and measurable phenomenon. So the naturalist approach to this does rely on the existence of consciousness as a non-natural phenomenon which does fit the model of separation of human consciousness from naturalism.

Naturalism also stands independent of culture and society. Not only does nature stand apart it precludes culture and will exist longer then culture ever will. Also in relation to society, naturalism takes the stance that nature (disease, food, sex…etc) affect people of all social echelons. That is why when we examine many cultures superficially they look pragmatically different on the day to day scale. But when the motivations for many of the social rules are examined closer they all seem to mimic similar moral/ethical values. Marriage is a great example, almost all culture recognize some sort of union between a man and a women. Men and women want to have sex which is a natural phenomenon that we are biologically programmed to do for reproductive purposes. So nature is autonomous of society but not necessarily the other way around.

Naturalism is a thought process, and to sum it up in a sound bite, “Nature’s truth is beyond any particular time or space”. This terse and humble summation of Naturalism strikes at the heart of how we experience Naturalism because humans all exist in time and consume space. Everything we do is related to how we spend our time in this space and Naturalism explains the perception of the world as independent of one’s subjective experience.