Nature has two inter-related meanings in philosophy. On the one hand, it means the set of all things which are natural, or subject to the normal working of the laws of nature. On the other hand, it means the essential properties and causes of individual things.
How to understand the meaning and significance of nature has been a consistent theme of discussion within the history of Western Civilization, in the philosophical fields of metaphysics and epistemology, as well as in theology and science. The study of natural things and the regular laws which seem to govern them, as opposed to discussion about what it means to be natural, is the area of natural science.
The word "nature" derives from Latin nātūra, a philosophical term derived from the verb for birth, which was used as a translation for the earlier (pre-Socratic) Greek term phusis, derived from the verb for natural growth. Already in classical times, philosophical use of these words combined two related meanings which have in common that they refer to the way in which things happen by themselves, "naturally", without "interference" from human deliberation, divine intervention, or anything outside what is considered normal for the natural things being considered.
Understandings of nature depend on the subject and age of the work where they appear. For example, Aristotle's explanation of natural properties differs from what is meant by natural properties in modern philosophical and scientific works, which can also differ from other scientific and conventional usage.
The Physics (from ta phusika "the natural [things]") is Aristotle's principal work on nature. In Physics II.1, Aristotle defines a nature as "a source or cause of being moved and of being at rest in that to which it belongs primarily". In other words, a nature is the principle within a natural raw material that is the source of tendencies to change or rest in a particular way unless stopped. For example, a rock would fall unless stopped. Natural things stand in contrast to artifacts, which are formed by human artifice, not because of an innate tendency. (The raw materials of a bed have no tendency to become a bed.) In terms of Aristotle's theory of four causes, the word natural is applied both to the innate potential of matter cause and the forms which the matter tends to become naturally.
According to Leo Strauss, the beginning of Western philosophy involved the "discovery or invention of nature" and the "pre-philosophical equivalent of nature" was supplied by "such notions as 'custom' or 'ways'". In ancient Greek philosophy on the other hand, Nature or natures are ways that are "really universal" "in all times and places". What makes nature different is that it presupposes not only that not all customs and ways are equal, but also that one can "find one's bearings in the cosmos" "on the basis of inquiry" (not for example on the basis of traditions or religion). To put this "discovery or invention" into the traditional terminology, what is "by nature" is contrasted to what is "by convention". The concept of nature taken this far remains a strong tradition in modern western thinking. Science, according to Strauss' commentary of Western history is the contemplation of nature, while technology was or is an attempt to imitate it.
Going further, the philosophical concept of nature or natures as a special type of causation - for example that the way particular humans are is partly caused by something called "human nature" is an essential step towards Aristotle's teaching concerning causation, which became standard in all Western philosophy until the arrival of modern science.
Whether it was intended or not, Aristotle's inquiries into this subject were long felt to have resolved the discussion about nature in favor of one solution. In this account, there are four different types of cause:
The formal and final cause are an essential part of Aristotle's "Metaphysics" - his attempt to go beyond nature and explain nature itself. In practice they imply a human-like consciousness involved in the causation of all things, even things which are not man-made. Nature itself is attributed with having aims.
The artificial, like the conventional therefore, is within this branch of Western thought, traditionally contrasted with the natural. Technology was contrasted with science, as mentioned above. And another essential aspect to this understanding of causation was the distinction between the accidental properties of a thing and the substance - another distinction which has lost favor in the modern era, after having long been widely accepted in medieval Europe.
To describe it another way, Aristotle treated organisms and other natural wholes as existing at a higher level than mere matter in motion. Aristotle's argument for formal and final causes is related to a doctrine about how it is possible that people know things: "If nothing exists apart from individual things, nothing will be intelligible; everything will be sensible, and there will be no knowledge of anything—unless it be maintained that sense-perception is knowledge". Those philosophers who disagree with this reasoning therefore also see knowledge differently from Aristotle.
Aristotle then, described nature or natures as follows, in a way quite different from modern science...
(a) in one sense, the genesis of growing things — as would be suggested by pronouncing the υ of φύσις long—and
(b) in another, that immanent thing from which a growing thing first begins to grow.
(c) The source from which the primary motion in every natural object is induced in that object as such. All things are said to grow which gain increase through something else by contact and organic unity (or adhesion, as in the case of embryos). Organic unity differs from contact; for in the latter case there need be nothing except contact, but in both the things which form an organic unity there is some one and the same thing which produces, instead of mere contact, a unity which is organic, continuous and quantitative (but not qualitative). Again, "nature" means
(d) the primary stuff, shapeless and unchangeable from its own potency, of which any natural object consists or from which it is produced; e.g., bronze is called the "nature" of a statue and of bronze articles, and wood that of wooden ones, and similarly in all other cases. For each article consists of these "natures," the primary material persisting. It is in this sense that men call the elements of natural objects the "nature," some calling it fire, others earth or air or water, others something else similar, others some of these, and others all of them. Again in another sense "nature" means
(e) the substance of natural objects; as in the case of those who say that the "nature" is the primary composition of a thing, or as Empedocles says: Of nothing that exists is there nature, but only mixture and separation of what has been mixed; nature is but a name given to these by men. Hence as regards those things which exist or are produced by nature, although that from which they naturally are produced or exist is already present, we say that they have not their nature yet unless they have their form and shape. That which comprises both of these exists by nature; e.g. animals and their parts. And nature is both the primary matter (and this in two senses: either primary in relation to the thing, or primary in general; e.g., in bronze articles the primary matter in relation to those articles is bronze, but in general it is perhaps water—that is if all things which can be melted are water) and the form or essence, i.e. the end of the process, of generation. Indeed from this sense of "nature," by an extension of meaning, every essence in general is called "nature," because the nature of anything is a kind of essence. From what has been said, then, the primary and proper sense of "nature" is the essence of those things which contain in themselves as such a source of motion; for the matter is called "nature" because it is capable of receiving the nature, and the processes of generation and growth are called "nature" because they are motions derived from it. And nature in this sense is the source of motion in natural objects, which is somehow inherent in them, either potentially or actually.— Metaphysics 1014b-1015a, translated by Hugh Tredennick, emphasis added.
It has been argued, as will be explained below, that this type of theory represented an oversimplifying diversion from the debates within Classical philosophy, possibly even that Aristotle saw it as a simplification or summary of the debates himself. But in any case the theory of the four causes became a standard part of any advanced education in the Middle Ages.
In contrast, Modern Science took its distinctive turn with Francis Bacon, who rejected the four distinct causes, and saw Aristotle as someone who "did proceed in such a spirit of difference and contradiction towards all antiquity: undertaking not only to frame new words of science at pleasure, but to confound and extinguish all ancient wisdom". He felt that lesser known Greek philosophers such as Democritus "who did not suppose a mind or reason in the frame of things", have been arrogantly dismissed because of Aristotelianism leading to a situation in his time wherein "the search of the physical causes hath been neglected, and passed in silence".
And so Bacon advised...
Physic doth make inquiry, and take consideration of the same natures : but how? Only as to the material and efficient causes of them, and not as to the forms. For example; if the cause of whiteness in snow or froth be inquired, and it be rendered thus, that the subtile intermixture of air and water is the cause, it is well rendered ; but, nevertheless, is this the form of whiteness? No; but it is the efficient, which is ever but vehiculum formæ. This part of metaphysique I do not find laboured and performed...
In his Novum Organum Bacon argued that the only forms or natures we should hypothesize are the "simple" (as opposed to compound) ones such as the ways in which heat, movement, etc. work. For example, in aphorism 51 he writes:
51. The human understanding is, by its own nature, prone to abstraction, and supposes that which is fluctuating to be fixed. But it is better to dissect than abstract nature; such was the method employed by the school of Democritus, which made greater progress in penetrating nature than the rest. It is best to consider matter, its conformation, and the changes of that conformation, its own action, and the law of this action or motion, for forms are a mere fiction of the human mind, unless you will call the laws of action by that name.
Following Bacon's advice, the scientific search for the formal cause of things is now replaced by the search for "laws of nature" or "laws of physics" in all scientific thinking. To use Aristotle's well-known terminology these are descriptions of efficient cause, and not formal cause or final cause. It means modern science limits its hypothesizing about non-physical things to the assumption that there are regularities to the ways of all things which do not change.
These general laws, in other words, replace thinking about specific "laws", for example "human nature". In modern science, human nature is part of the same general scheme of cause and effect, obeying the same general laws, as all other things. The above-mentioned difference between accidental and substantial properties, and indeed knowledge and opinion, also disappear within this new approach that aimed to avoid metaphysics.
As Bacon knew, the term "laws of nature" was one taken from medieval Aristotelianism. St Thomas of Aquinas for example, defined law so that nature really was legislated to consciously achieve aims, like human law: "an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community and promulgated". In contrast, roughly contemporary with Bacon, Hugo Grotius described the law of nature as "a rule that [can] be deduced from fixed principles by a sure process of reasoning". And later still, Montesquieu was even further from the original legal metaphor, describing laws vaguely as "the necessary relations deriving from the nature of things".
One of the most important implementors of Bacon's proposal was Thomas Hobbes, whose remarks concerning nature are particularly well-known. His most famous work, Leviathan, opens with the word "Nature" and then parenthetically defines it as "the art whereby God hath made and governes the world". Despite this pious description, he follows a Baconian approach. Following his contemporary, Descartes, Hobbes describes life itself as mechanical, caused in the same way as clockwork:
For seeing life is but a motion of Limbs, the beginning whereof is in some principall part within; why may we not say, that all Automata (Engines that move themselves by springs and wheeles as doth a watch) have an artificiall life?
On this basis, already being established in natural science in his lifetime, Hobbes sought to discuss politics and human life in terms of "laws of nature". But in the new modern approach of Bacon and Hobbes, and before them Machiavelli (who however never clothed his criticism of the Aristotelian approach in medieval terms like "laws of nature"), such laws of nature are quite different to human laws: they no longer imply any sense of better or worse, but simply how things really are, and, when in reference to laws of human nature, what sorts of human behavior can be most relied upon.
Having disconnected the term "law of nature" from the original medieval metaphor of human-made law, the term "law of nature" is now used less than in early modern times.
To take the critical example of human nature, as discussed in ethics and politics, once early modern philosophers such as Hobbes had described human nature as whatever you could expect from a mechanism called a human, the point of speaking of human nature became problematic in some contexts.
In the late 18th century, Rousseau took a critical step in his Second Discourse, reasoning that human nature as we know it, rational, and with language, and so on, is a result of historical accidents, and the specific up-bringing of an individual. The consequences of this line of reasoning were to be enormous. It was all about the question of nature. In effect it was being claimed that human nature, one of the most important types of nature in Aristotelian thinking, did not exist as it had been understood to exist.
The approach of modern science, like the approach of Aristotelianism, is apparently not universally accepted by all people who accept the concept of nature as a reality which we can pursue with reason.
Bacon and other opponents of Metaphysics claim that all attempts to go beyond nature are bound to fall into the same errors, but Metaphysicians themselves see differences between different approaches.
Immanuel Kant for example, expressed the need for a Metaphysics in quite similar terms to Aristotle.
...though we cannot know these objects as things in themselves, we must yet be in a position at least to think them as things in themselves; otherwise we should be landed in the absurd conclusion that there can be appearance without anything that appears.— Critique of Pure Reason pp. Bxxvi-xxvii
As in Aristotelianism then, Kantianism claims that the human mind must itself have characteristics which are beyond nature, metaphysical, in some way. Specifically, Kant argued that the human mind comes ready-made with a priori programming, so to speak, which allows it to make sense of nature.
Authors from Nietzsche to Richard Rorty have claimed that science, the study of nature, can and should exist without metaphysics. But this claim has always been controversial. Authors like Bacon and Hume never denied that their use of the word "nature" implied metaphysics, but tried to follow Machiavelli's approach of talking about what works, instead of claiming to understand what seems impossible to understand.
Carl (or Karl) Heinrich Schultz (8 July 1798 in Altruppin – 22 March 1871), known as Carl Heinrich 'Schultzenstein' Schultz, was a German physician and botanist. The appellation "Schultzenstein" is a reference to his birthplace; this was necessary to distinguish him from his contemporary Carl Heinrich 'Bipontinus' Schultz, also a German botanist.
From 1817 he studied medicine at Friedrich Wilhelms-Institut in Berlin, having designs on a career as a military physician. In 1825 he became an associate professor of medicine. He later traveled to Paris, where he advanced his theories involving the circulation of sap in plants. In 1833 he obtained the title of full professor.He was a proponent of Goethe's mystical "nature-philosophy" view of the natural world. In his investigations of the vascular system in plants, he promoted ideas on its function being analogous to the circulatory system of animals.Dialectics of Nature
Dialectics of Nature (German: Dialektik der Natur) is an unfinished 1883 work by Friedrich Engels that applies Marxist ideas – particularly those of dialectical materialism – to science.Emil Huschke
Emil Huschke (December 14, 1797 – June 19, 1858) was a German anatomist and embryologist who was a native of Weimar.
He studied medicine at the University of Jena, and spent most of his professional career at Jena. In 1827 he was appointed professor of anatomy and director of the anatomical institute. Huschke was politically active and took part in the foundation of the Deutsche Burschenschaft, a student movement for German national unity. In 1867 his daughter, Agnes Huschke, married famed biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919).
Although Huschke was a devoted advocate of nature philosophy, and sought to find the connection between brain and soul (Hirn und Seele), he made significant contributions in comparative anatomy. He was the first to describe a handful of anatomical structures that now contain his name, including:
Auditory teeth of Huschke: Tooth-shaped ridges occurring on the vestibular lip of the limbus lamina spiralis of the cochlear duct.
Huschke's cartilages: Two horizontal cartilaginous rods at the edge of the cartilage of the nasal septum.
Huschke ’s foramen: An opening in the floor of the bony part of the external acoustic meatus in the vicinity of the tympanic membrane. It is normally closed in adults.In 1829 Huschke described the heteronemertean genus Notospermus (family Lineidae).False consciousness
False consciousness is a term used primarily by Marxist sociologists to describe ways in which material, ideological, and institutional processes are said to mislead members of the proletariat and other class actors within capitalist societies, concealing the exploitation intrinsic to the social relations between classes.Franz Joseph Schelver
Franz Joseph Schelver (24 July 1778 in Osnabrück – 30 November 1832 in Heidelberg) was a German physician and botanist.
He studied medicine at the University of Jena, and later obtained his doctorate at the University of Göttingen (1798). In 1801 he qualified as a lecturer at the University of Halle, then from 1803 to 1806, worked as an associate professor at Jena. Afterwards, he was named a full professor of medicine at the University of Heidelberg, where from 1811 to 1827, he served as head of the botanical garden. He was a devotee of the "nature-philosophy" espoused by Friedrich Schelling and Lorenz Oken.The plant genus Schelveria (Nees, 1827; family Scrophulariaceae) is probably named after him, although its etymology is seemingly unknown.Index of philosophy of science articles
An index list of articles about the philosophy of science.List of philosophies
Philosophical schools of thought and philosophical movements.Marxist bibliography
Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that analyzes class relations and societal conflict, that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, and a dialectical view of social transformation. Marxist methodology uses economic and sociopolitical inquiry and applies that to the critique and analysis of the development of capitalism and the role of class struggle in systemic economic change.
This is a Marxist bibliography sorted by author.Marxist film theory
Marxist film theory is one of the oldest forms of film theory.Marxist geography
Marxist geography is a strand of critical geography that uses the theories and philosophy of Marxism to examine the spatial relations of human geography. In Marxist geography, the relations that geography has traditionally analyzed — natural environment and spatial relations — are reviewed as outcomes of the mode of material production. To understand geographical relations, on this view, the social structure must also be examined. Marxist geography attempts to change the basic structure of society.Marxist sociology
Marxist sociology is the study of sociology from a Marxist perspective. Marxism itself can be recognized as both a political philosophy and a sociology, particularly so far as it attempts to remain scientific, systematic, and objective rather than purely normative and prescriptive. Marxist sociology is "a form of conflict theory associated with ... Marxism's objective of developing a positive (empirical) science of capitalist society as part of the mobilization of a revolutionary working class." The American Sociological Association has a section dedicated to the issues of Marxist sociology that is "interested in examining how insights from Marxist methodology and Marxist analysis can help explain the complex dynamics of modern society". Marxist sociology would come to facilitate the developments of critical theory and cultural studies as loosely distinct disciplines.Naturphilosophie
Naturphilosophie (German for "nature-philosophy") is a term used in English-language philosophy to identify a current in the philosophical tradition of German idealism, as applied to the study of nature in the earlier 19th century. German speakers use the clearer term Romantische Naturphilosophie, the philosophy of nature developed at the time of the founding of German Romanticism. It is particularly associated with the philosophical work of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel—though it has some clear precursors also. More particularly it is identified with some of the initial works of Schelling during the period 1797–9, in reaction to the views of Fichte, and subsequent developments from Schelling's position. Always controversial, some of Schelling's ideas in this direction are still considered of philosophical interest, even if the subsequent development of experimental natural science had a destructive impact on the credibility of the theories of his followers in Naturphilosophie.Naturphilosophie attempted to comprehend nature in its totality and to outline its general theoretical structure, thus attempting to lay the foundations for the natural sciences. In developing their theories, the German Naturphilosophen found their inspiration in the natural philosophy of the Ancient Greek Ionian philosophers.
As an approach to philosophy and science, Naturphilosophie has had a difficult reception. In Germany, neo-Kantians came to distrust its developments as speculative and overly metaphysical. For most of the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was poorly understood in Anglophone countries. Over the years, it has been subjected to continuing criticism. Since the 1960s, improved translations have appeared, and scholars have developed a better appreciation of the objectives of Naturphilosophie.Post-Marxism
Post-Marxism is a trend in political philosophy and social theory which deconstructs Karl Marx's writings and Marxism proper, bypassing orthodox Marxism. The term post-Marxism first appeared in Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's theoretical work Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. It can be said that post-Marxism as a political theory was developed at the University of Essex by Laclau and Mouffe. Philosophically, post-Marxism counters derivationism and essentialism (for example, it does not see economy as a foundation of politics and the state as an instrument that functions unambiguously and autonomously on behalf of the interests of a given class). Recent overviews of post-Marxism are provided by Ernesto Screpanti, Göran Therborn and Gregory Meyerson.Proletariat
The proletariat ( from Latin proletarius "producing offspring") is the class of wage-earners in an economic society whose only possession of significant material value is their labour-power (how much work they can do). A member of such a class is a proletarian.
In Marxist theory, a dictatorship of the proletariat is for the proletariat, of the proletariat, and by the proletariat. On the Marxist view, this will endow the proletarian with the power to abolish the conditions that make a person a proletarian and, thus, build communism.Redskin (subculture)
In the context of the skinhead subculture, a redskin is a marxist or anarchist skinhead. The term combines the word red, (a slang term for socialist or communist) with the word skin, which is short for skinhead. Redskins take a militant anti-fascist and pro-working class stance.
The most well-known organization associated with redskins is Red and Anarchist Skinheads (RASH). Other groups that have had redskin members include Anti-Fascist Action, Red Action and Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (although SHARP does not have an official leftist ideology). Bands associated with redskins include: The Redskins, Angelic Upstarts, Blaggers I.T.A., Kortatu, Skalariak, Banda Bassotti, The Burial, Negu Gorriak, Opció K-95, Los Fastidios, Kaos Urbano, Brigada Flores Magón, Nucleo Terco and The Press. One record label associated with the subculture is Insurgence Records.Rudolf Pannwitz
Rudolf Pannwitz (27 May 1881 in Crossen/Oder, Province of Brandenburg, Prussia – 23 March 1969 in Astano, Ticino, Switzerland) was a German writer, poet and philosopher. His thought combined nature philosophy, Nietzsche, an opposition to nihilism and pan-European internationalism: Pannwitz's elusive, difficult goal may be seen as the complete re-evaluation of man, art, science and culture envisaged as the expression of an evolving cosmos obeying the laws of eternal recurrence, with Nietzsche-Zarathustra as the supreme prophet.Special revelation
Special revelation is a theological term used mainly by evangelical scientists and Christian theologians which refers to the belief that knowledge of God and of spiritual matters can be discovered through supernatural means, such as miracles or the scriptures, a disclosure of God's truth through means other than through man's reason. The distinction between Special and General revelation was first elucidated in-depth by the Catholic systematic theologian St. Thomas Aquinas in his discussion of Revelation. This distinction was only then more widely disseminated by evangelical writers who emphasized its scriptural support (e.g. Psalm 19).
Evangelical theologians use the term "special revelation" for the belief in God's intervention to make God's will and knowledge available that would not otherwise be available through general revelation. They believe that disclosure of this "special revelation" is at specific times to specific persons, and believed by Christian Theologians, to have been generally given through scripture, miracles, and through the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. In view of the specific substance in the immediately below paragraph it is important that recipients of Special Revelation are provided with a reference perspective for potential defense of their experiences. This can be accomplished by viewing Special Revelation as consisting of three intensities or levels, with the middle intensity referred to as "medium intensity," and the level deemed to be "above" that sometimes referred to as "high intensity." Such a triad will allow Peace of Mind for many, and will remove the challenge of having to potentially defend one's experience against another's (even to oneself), inasmuch as there are no distinct boundary areas regarding those three intensities of Special Revelation. Also, a special revelation comfort zone, regardless of the intensity of the experience(s), does not oblige one to have to assess implications of one having possibly transitioned to what is referred to below as direct revelation.
Other means by which God reputedly gave special revelation were by "divine voice or writing", "angels", "prophets", "visions" "dreams", "divine dictation", "inspiration" and "Spirit's guidance or guidance from the Holy Ghost". When reviewing these examples, one can see that they refer to direct revelation, which is now the third type of revelation, as a distinction between special revelation by way of "self-disclosure through the Bible" and personal communication from God, some forms of which include actually hearing the voice of God.
Special revelation is a contrast to general revelation, which refers to the knowledge of God and spiritual matters which reputedly can be discovered through natural means, such as observation of nature, philosophy and reasoning, conscience or providence.
The purpose of Special Revelation is to impart the knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ, salvation and the atonement. Essentially it is knowledge and understanding, "that is requisite to salvation, that is, an explicit knowledge of Christ and his gospel."
The forms of special revelation as considered by mainstream Christianity are
The Earthly Life of Jesus Christ
The Scriptures (as a source of special revelation). In divine affairs, we are saved by the grace of Christ from our sins and guilt before GodAlso the following is from Wikipedia Subj: Direct Revelation: "Direct revelation is classified as special revelation, but the word "direct" has come to make this type of revelation distinct."Western Marxism
Western Marxism is a current of Marxist theory arising from Western and Central Europe in the aftermath of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the ascent of Leninism. The term denotes a loose collection of theorists who advanced an interpretation of Marxism distinct from that codified by the Soviet Union.The Western Marxists placed more emphasis on Marxism's philosophical and sociological aspects, and its origins in the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (for which reason it is sometimes called Hegelian Marxism) and what they called "Young Marx" (i.e. the more humanistic early works of Marx). Although some early figures such as György Lukács and Antonio Gramsci had been prominent in political activities, Western Marxism became primarily the reserve of the academia especially after World War II. Prominent figures included Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer.
Since the 1960s, the concept has been closely associated with the New Left. While many of the Western Marxists were adherents of Marxist humanism, the term also encompasses their critics in the form of the structural Marxism of Louis Althusser.Wilhelm Troll
Julius Georg Hubertus Wilhelm Troll (3 November 1897, Munich – 28 December 1978, Mainz) was a German botanist, known for his studies in the field of plant morphology. He advocated a morphological biology that was rooted in the nature philosophy of Goethe. He was an older brother to geographer Carl Troll (1899–1975).
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