Critical Realism

Making Sense of Critical Realism

An introduction to Critical Realism.

Led by Roy Bhaskar and hosted by Gary Hawke.

This project becomes all the more important to me now as on the 19/11/14 Roy Bhaskar died peacefully at his home.


At the heart of Alethic Coaching are two powerful truth questioning philosophies, Integral Theory, and Critical Realism. A quick search on YouTube will offer you many links to videos about Integral Theory, but very little about Critical Realism, and I felt that I wanted to change that. I also wanted to address the difficulty that is presupposed in reading Roy’s work. Having spend many hours with Roy listening to him speak, I knew that if I could get a recording of him talking about the stages of Critical Realism it would help the reader.

At the beginning of 2014 I began to develop a project with the founder of Critical Realism, Roy Bhaskar, in which we would hold a number of live video stream classroom events; which would be recorded with the aim of posting out on YouTube.

In May 2014, Roy and I held our first planned event, which was transposed into a video format that could be up loaded to YouTube.

Because the project was an experiment of both the web streaming software and whether it was possible to offer an introduction to Critical Realism over the web, it was decided to offer the event for free.

However, the recordings do take more than one watch and at times can become challenging. For those new to Critical Realism I would recommend, looking though the post “How to Learn Critical Realism” where you will find a comprehensive reading list. I am very excited to have been able to get Critical Realism onto YouTube, and I am please that you are now able to spend time in the company of Roy Bhaskar, as he takes you through his powerful philosophy.

There is now just over 5 hours of teaching, within this series of videos Roy will take you through the three main stages of Critical Realisms, Basic (or Original) Critical Realism, Dialectical Critical Realism, and The Philosophy of metaReality.

Introduction to Critical Realism

Basic Critical Realism

Part One ( Running time: 55:58)

The first part of: An Introduction to Critical Realism, recorded during a live session at the Institute for Education, hosted by Gary Hawke of Alethic Coaching, and led by Professor Roy Bhaskar.

In this first part Roy Bhaskar covers the first movement in critical realism, a Realist Theory of Science and transcendental realism. This covers the project of Lockean underlabouring, science, the revindication of ontology, the new ontology put forward by critical realism, induction, and retroduction.

Part Two ( Running time: 56:10)

The second part of: An Introduction to Critical Realism, recorded during a live session at the Institute for Education, hosted by Gary Hawke of Alethic Coaching, and led by Professor Roy Bhaskar.

In the second part Professor Bhaskar continues his presentation on Basic Critical Realism by exploring the possibility of naturalism expressed in critical naturalism. In particular, critical naturalism seeks to resolve the dualisms prevalent in social science, namely, structure and agency, collectivism and individualism, reification and voluntarism, causes and reason, body and mind, facts and values.

Professor Bhaskar concludes by offering an inquiry into Applied critical realism (ACR) is not so much a theoretical movement as much as it is the ongoing practical investigations and interventions of critical realism in concrete fields.

Dialectical Critical Realism

( We had some work to do on cleaning up the recording as the stream was not as good as the first session. There was much discussion as to whether we wanted to release the recording, but in the end it was felt that the clean up was as good as we could get, and getting the work out was the main aim of the project.)

In this session Professor Roy Bhaskar, following on from the sessions on basic critical realism (BCR), moves into discussing dialectical critical realism (DCR).

Part Three (Running time: 1:02:41)

DCR can be understood as a preservative generalisation and enrichment of the implicit dialectic within basic critical realism. DCR develops on the general logic and ontology of critical realism to encompass on one hand, negativity and the resources of critique, and on the other, the concept of totality including causation, space, temporality and ethics.

Part Four (Running time: 15:11)

Central to the revindication of the dialectic is the re-conception of absence as primary, with the process of dialectic itself defined as the absenting of absences, constraints, or ills. This re-vindication of absence proceeds from a critique of the entire philosophical tradition beginning with Parmenides and the philosophy of the unchanging One, centring upon the characteristic error of philosophy, which Bhaskar calls ontological monovalence; the reliance on a ‘purely positive, complementing a purely actual, notion of reality’ (DPF: 4-5).

The Philosophy of metaReality

The Philosophy of metaReality moves the logic of DCR in sustaining non-identity and the priority of the negative over the positive, towards realising identity and the priority of the non-dual as sustaining the world of duality. It moves from thinking being, to being being including (in its ethical form) becoming our being (realising the potential of being of emancipation).

Part Five (Running time: 58:31)

Building on a radical new analysis of the self, human agency and society, metaReality shows how the world of alienation and crisis we currently inhabit is sustained by the ground-state qualities of intelligence, creativity, love, a capacity for right-action and a potential for human self realisation or fulfilment.


Part Six (Running time 48:22)

In this final session Professor Roy Bhaskar continues his exploration of metaReality, beginning by addressing some of the implications and applications of The Philosophy of metaReality including modernity, comparative religions. and spirituality. He then moves on to more everyday topic including conflict resolution.


And if you do not find that state of sheer bliss or emptiness or suchness, that Buddha-nature in some thing, then you drive that thing back to the ground-state that it is feeding off or draining, it is a parasite on the being of our cosmos. And of course our world is full of such things, they constitute the heteronomies, blocks, constraints on our well-being. And that kind of chasing is the kind of thing we have to do to eliminate evil and constraint. We chase them back to the ground-state they are feeding off, liberating the ground-state or dissolving the parasite. So how do you do this? You bathe the object with the power of love that stems from your ground-state awareness. (Preface to The Philosophy of metaReality)

Thank you Roy for being a friend, a guide, and collaborator.