Materialism in the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Sciences

Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Sciences

In the Netherlands is discerned between alfa sciences and beta sciences. Under influence of, among others, the German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) are also names like 'spiritual sciences' and 'natural sciences' given.

The terms 'spiritual sciences' and 'natural sciences' express a radical duality when 'spirit' and 'nature' are understood as in earlier contemplations. For there is 'nature' etymosophically related to 'matter'1 and are matter and spirit considered as a primary duality.2 Now although the academic division of these sciences is less strict dualistic than the semantics of the names suggest a certain polarity can be descried. For the spiritual sciences consist generally of theology, philosophy and literature and the natural sciences of physics, chemistry, earth sciences and astronomy. In this division we see etymosophically for instance the following dualities placed against each other; theology as science of heaven against the earth sciences and philosophy as metaphysics against physics. Generally it is safe to state that the spiritual sciences thematise and research spirit and the natural sciences nature.

Now besides alpha sciences and beta sciences are in the Netherlands also gamma sciences known. These are also called 'social sciences'. These sciences consist of behavioural sciences and society sciences. It can be stated that the social sciences take a middle position between the spiritual sciences and the natural sciences. For where the alpha sciences handle absolute abstracts like spirit, God and metaphysics, and where the beta sciences handle complete concretes in nature, on earth in and physics, there do the gamma sciences handle processes of concretization and abstraction through sociality, behaviour and society. After all is concrete human behaviour abstracted in the forming of society, and does society in abstract concretise human behaviour. This is a form of social normation which according to an earlier contemplation eventually must lead to a spiritual moral elevation of the material naturality.3

Now in the above described triplicity, consisting of a duality and a mediating principle, can be recognized a reflection of the great triplicity consisting of the duality of spirit and matter with as mediating principle consciousness.4 It can then be stated that gamma sciences actually handle consciousness. We then come to an overview as in figure 1. This figure then must be understood in its generality. The abstracts, concretes and mediating subjects of the alpha, beta and gamma sciences may strongly deviate, and there are subjects which are located at the borders of different main sciences. However as a guideline to understand the mutual differences may the above description and the resulting figure 1 well do service. The figure looks as follows.

Alpha sciencesGamma sciencesBeta sciences
God and metaphysicsBehaviour and societyEarth and physics
Abstract(s)Abstraction and concretizationConcretes

Figure 1.

Methods of Research

As we have seen above a certain duality exists in the sciences, namely that of the alpha and the beta sciences. These sciences are each other's opposite poles because the alfa sciences have spirit as subject of research and the beta sciences nature. It shall be clear that because of the radical differences in subjects of research the methods too shall radically differ from each other. With matter as subject of research shall the beta sciences mainly rely on sense perception. With spirit as subject of research shall the alpha sciences however not rely on sense perception thus rather apply (supposed) intuitive perception. Further, to understand the difference in methods of research well, it must be seen that spirit as metaphysicality corresponds with unity and nature as physicality with multiplicity.5 Alpha sciences then have as subject of research unity as absolute abstractness, and beta sciences multiplicity as complete concreteness. In short; beta sciences research the physical multiplicity through sense perception and alpha sciences research the metaphysical unity through intuitive perception.

Despite the above radical differences it is so that both sciences also have something in common. For both express their findings in linguistic propositions and both use logic. Thereby it shall be clear that the alpha sciences in the application of logic shall start from one primary proposition and that beta sciences shall start from many subsidiary propositions. And when from those starting positions logic is applied alpha sciences can do nothing else but deduce and beta sciences nothing else but induce.

The logical structure from beta sciences for instance looks as follows: Assumptions (gained from sense perception): Aa, Ab, Ac (a has attribute A, b has attribute A, c has attribute A). Conclusion: ∀xAx (for x's goes that they have attribute A). From the alpha sciences the logical structure is the other way around: Assumption (gained from intuitive perception): ∀xAx. Conclusions: Aa, Ab, Ac.

For the gamma sciences goes that they in their research can make use of both sense and intuitive perceptions and that they also logically both can induce and deduce. Radically it could be stated that it is the task of the alpha sciences to pone propositions from intuitive perceptions, of the beta sciences to pone propositions from sense perceptions, and of the gamma sciences to deduce propositions from the alpha sciences and induce these from the beta sciences. We then come to an overview as in figure 2. There we see how the alpha sciences through intuitive perception come to the formulation of abstract propositions, the beta sciences through sense perception come to the formulation of concrete propositions and how the gamma sciences through deduction and induction as logic perception of the aforementioned propositions come to the formulation of their own middle propositions.

Alpha sciencesGamma sciencesBeta sciences
Intuitive perceptionLogic perception (deduction and induction)Sense perception
Formulation of abstract propositionsFormulation of middle propositionsFormulation of concrete propositions

Figure 2.


Above it was mentioned that it is the radical task of the gamma sciences to make use in their research of sense and intuitive findings of the other sciences through both induction and deduction. Nowadays however it is so that they mainly make use of sense findings and that they mainly induce. Although we are on the edge of a turnaround towards spiritual orientations6 we nowadays still live in a time in which material orientations are dominant.7 And along with this comes that the methods of the beta sciences are dominant.

That the methods of the beta sciences are dominant in the beta sciences themselves speaks for itself and is little worrisome. However where materialism asserts itself dominantly in gamma sciences or even alpha sciences problems arise. And this is presently the case. Because we are on the edge of a new era where orientations shall be more spiritual a shift of attention is going on from the beta sciences to the alpha sciences through the gamma sciences. Because however materialism nowadays is still dominant is the aforementioned attention characterized by materialism with its methods of research.

In the gamma sciences the above described materialistic attention shows itself in dominant materialistic views and methods of research in relation to consciousness and sociality. Consciousness for instance is there completely reduced to and explained through physical brain activity. And sociality is there usually explained through a materialistic theory of evolution. The applied method of research consists dominantly from sense perception and induction of the thereby gathered data. It shall be clear that this materialistic dominance brings the research of the gamma sciences, which after all take a middle position in the sciences, out of balance.

The influence of materialism however did not limit itself to the gamma sciences but also stretched itself into the alpha sciences. Because materialism denies a spiritual pole the alpha sciences, to justify their existence, started to draw from the data pool of the gamma sciences. Intuitive perception went to the background and because the method of sense perception is not applicable in the alpha sciences the last started to use logic actions which actually belong in the gamma sciences. This can be seen in the rise of analytical philosophy. But also within continental philosophy we see a shift towards the gamma sciences in the rise of phenomenology. Another example is ethics which presently revolves in lesser measure around morality but rather deals with normality. Said differently; a de-spiritualization within the alpha sciences has taken place.

Thank God however we are at the eve of a turnaround towards spiritual orientations which shall do more right to the alpha and gamma sciences.