In our time, Ted Toadvine observes, the philosophical question of nature is almost entirely forgotten—obscured in part by a myopic focus on solving "environmental problems" without asking how these problems are framed. But an "environmental crisis," existing as it does in the human world of value and significance, is at heart a philosophical crisis. In this book, Toadvine demonstrates how Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology has a special power to address such a crisis—a philosophical power far better suited to the questions (...) than other modern approaches, with their over-reliance on assumptions drawn from the natural sciences. The book examines key moments in the development of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of nature while roughly following the historical sequence of his major works. Toadvine begins by setting out an ontology of nature proposed in Merleau-Ponty’s first book, _The Structure of Behavior. _He takes up the theme of the expressive role of reflection in _Phenomenology of Perception, _as it negotiates the area between nature’s own "self-unfolding" and human subjectivity. Merleau-Ponty’s notion of "intertwining" and his account of space provide a transition to Toadvine’s study of the philosopher’s later work—in which the concept of "chiasm," the crossing or intertwining of sense and the sensible, forms the key to Merleau-Ponty’s mature ontology—and ultimately to the relationship between humans and nature. (shrink)
This work analyses Marx's philosophy of nature and shows how it is the basis for his practical philosophy. Previous analysis of Marx's philosophy of nature has considered humans as only natural beings and social beings. But, Marx analyzed humans' relationship to the natural world and to themselves as natural, social, and material. This material feature of human action can server as a basis for social critique and as the foundation for a practical analysis. The first (...) chapter of this book analyzes Marx's philosophy of nature from his early to late works and argues that humans are natural begins that use nature to develop new capacities. This consideration is central in Marx's critiques of Hegel and Feuerbach. The second chapter discusses Marx's material critique of social forms and discusses why the distinction between material action and social action is a key component of Marx critique of capitalism. This chapter also discusses industrial history, ideology, wages, justice, and valorization. The third and final chapter builds on Marx's materialist analysis to develop a standard of practical action that takes human's material activity as its basis. This chapter also discusses classical historical materialist claims, liberal ethical theories, and a practical philosophic consideration of socialism. (shrink)
This volume dispels the idea that Platonism was an otherworldly enterprise which neglected the study of the natural world. Leading scholars examine how the Platonists of late antiquity sought to understand and explain natural phenomena: their essays offer a new understanding of the metaphysics of Platonism, and its place in the history of science.
For many years essentialism was considered beyond the pale in philosophy, a relic of discredited Aristotelianism. This is no longer so. Kripke and Putnam have made belief in essential natures respectable once more. Harré and Madden have argued against Hume's theory of causation and developed an alternative theory based on the assumption that there are genuine causal powers in nature. Dretske, Tooley, Armstrong, Swoyer, and Carroll have all developed strong alternatives to Hume's theory of the laws of (...) class='Hi'>nature. And Shoemaker has developed a thoroughly non-Humean theory of properties. The "new essentialism" has evolved from these beginnings and can now reasonably claim to be a metaphysic for a modern scientific understanding of the world - one that challenges the conception of the world as comprising passive entities whose interactions are to be explained by appeal to contingent laws of nature externally imposed. (shrink)
In "The Philosophy of Nature," Brian Ellis provides a clear and forthright general summation of, and introduction to, the new essentialist position. Although the theory that the laws of nature are immanent in things, rather than imposed on them from without, is an ancient one, much recent work has been done to revive interest in essentialism and "The Philosophy of Nature" is a distinctive contribution to this lively current debate. Brian Ellis exposes the philosophical and (...) scientific credentials of the prevailing Humean metaphysic as less than compelling and makes the case for new essentialism as an alternative metaphysical perspective in lucid and unambiguous terms. This book develops this alternative metaphysic and considers the consequences for philosophy, and for some other areas of investigation, of working with such a metaphysic. Ellis argues that these consequences are profound and that a new essentialism provides a comprehensive new philosophy of nature for a modern scientific understanding of the world. (shrink)
My presentation begins with Kant's philosophical project, which played a key role in understanding German Idealism, and then considers in detail the philosophical approaches developed by Schelling and Hegel.
The subject of the paper is the social function of the philosophy of nature. The author presents briefly his own position in this topic and gives an evaluation of the literature on the philosophy of nature in the recent decades. According to him, the opposition against the abuse of science for the purpose of social mystification stems mostly from (philosophizing) scientists themselves and sociologists of knowledge. Academic philosophers—regardless of the variety of their ontological orientations—are prone rather (...) to cultivate the metaphilosophical mythology (of positivistic origins). (shrink)
Taking Isaac Newton at his own word, historians have long agreed that the decade of the 1660s, when Newton was a young man in his twenties, was the critical period in his scientific career. In the years 1665 and 1666, he has told us, he hit on the ideas of cosmic gravitation, the composition of white light, and the fluxional calculus. The elaboration of these basic ideas constituted his scientific achievement. Nevertheless, the decade of the 1660s has remained a virtual (...) blank in our knowledge of Newton. It need not remain so always. His papers contain a wealth of manuscripts from his undergraduate years and the period immediately following. The first volume of his mathematical papers, which will soon be published, will demonstrate how extensive the information on his early mathematical development is. The development of his non-mathematical studies, especially of what I shall call his scientific studies to distinguish them from the mathematical, can be followed as well—in his reading notes, in his notebooks, above all in the passage in his philosophical notebook labelled Quaestiones quaedam Philosophicae. In this passage we see emerging into consciousness for the first time the questions on which Newton's philosophy of nature was built. (shrink)
Each and every one of us has our personal secrets, secrets which we do not disclose to outsiders. If we do decide to let an outsider into those secrets, we want to be certain that they will be properly understood and respected. Revealing our secrets to someone else is also normally preceded by a long acquaintanceship, which serves to create an atmosphere of trust. If we accept that nature, understood as the entire physical reality of the universe, contains within (...) itself secrets regarding its origins, functioning, and ulterior development, then the study of these secrets is only possible for beings such as ourselves, possessed of consciousness, sensory tools, and intellect. In this context, the history of .. (shrink)
I formulate a description of the world of relativity and quantum physics that is independent of classical physics, so that we can bypass some of the unwanted legacies which have accumulated from the theories of material corpuscles. The task of this book is to produce a formulation in sufficient detail that an understanding of quantum physics begins to be possible. Even though the present investigations will not produce a complete physical theory, I hope to show that they are still valuable (...) in providing some general ideas which are reasonable, which can be realistically interpreted, and which contribute in some part to our understanding of the world we live in and its quantum peculiarities. (shrink)
This book highlights Kant's fundamental contrast between the mechanistic and dynamical conceptions of matter, which is central to his views about the foundations of physics, and is best understood in terms of the contrast between objects of sensibility and things in themselves.
This is the first English translation of Schelling's Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature (first published in 1797 and revised in 1803), one of the most significant works in the German tradition of philosophy of nature and early nineteenth-century philosophy of science. It stands in opposition to the Newtonian picture of matter as constituted by inert, impenetrable particles, and argues instead for matter as an equilibrium of active forces that engage in dynamic polar opposition to (...) one another. In the revisions of 1803 Schelling incorporated this dialectical view into a neo-Platonic conception of an original unity divided upon itself. The text is of more than simply historical interest: its daring and original vision of nature, philosophy, and empirical science will prove absorbing reading for all philosophers concerned with post-Kantian German idealism, for scholars of German Romanticism, and for historians of science. (shrink)
Kant retired from teaching in 1796 and immediately began work in earnest on a new project that was supposed to complete his critical philosophy. It was never finished, and it has come down to us as a messy pile of notes published as volumes 21 and 22 in the “Academy edition” of Kant’s writings. The consensus today is that the so-called Opus Postumum would provide an immensely valuable window on the final state of Kant’s philosophy—if somebody could just (...) make sense of it. A number of scholars writing in English have taken up the challenge in full-length studies in the last few years. One of them is Jeffrey Edwards. (shrink)
This is a much-needed reissue of the standard English translation of Hegel's Philosophy of Nature, originally published in 1970. The Philosophy of Nature is the second part of Hegel's Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, all of which is now available in English from OUP (Part I being his Logic, Part III being his Philosophy of Mind). Hegel's aim in this work is to interpret the varied phenomena of Nature from the standpoint of a dialectical (...) logic. Those who still think of Hegel as a merely a priori philosopher will here find abundant evidence that he was keenly interested in and very well informed about empirical science. The Philosophy of Nature is integral to his philosophical system and deserves the most serious attention. Students and scholars of Hegel and the history of European philosophy will welcome the availability of this important text, which also includes a translation of Hegel's Zusatze or lecture notes. (shrink)
Experimental science and the philosophy of nature, by R.A. Kocourek.--The problem of motion, by R.A. Kocourek.--The principles of nature, by St. Thomas Aquinas.--The Commentary of St. Thomas Aquinas on Books I-II of The physics of Aristotle.--The reason for an introduction to the philosophy of nature.--Outline of the physical works of Aristotle.--Outline of the Commentary on Book I.
One of the hardest questions to answer for a (Neo)platonist is to what extent and how the changing and unreliable world of sense perception can itself be an object of scientific knowledge. My dissertation is a study of the answer given to that question by the Neoplatonist Proclus (Athens, 411-485) in his Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus. I present a new explanation of Proclus’ concept of nature and show that philosophy of nature consists of several related subdisciplines matching (...) the ontological stratification of nature. Moreover, I demonstrate that for Proclus philosophy of nature is a science, albeit a hypothetical one, which takes geometry as its methodological paradigm. I also offer an explanation of Proclus’ view of what is later called the mathematization of physics, i.e. the role of the substance of mathematics, as opposed to its method, in explaining the natural world. Finally, I discuss Proclus’ views of the discourse of philosophy of nature and its iconic character. (shrink)
The Editor begins his Introduction to this volume by suggesting that any scholarly study of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature that hopes to be taken seriously must confront some formidable obstacles. Expanding his discussion just a bit, I would say that there are at least three. First, thanks to a long tradition of vocal, though often uninformed, anti-Hegelian diatribe, especially in the English-speaking world, on the part of thinkers as diverse as Russell, Popper, and Whitehead, Hegel’s Philosophy of (...)Nature has been summarily dismissed on the simple grounds that he was not only ignorant of even the most basic findings and procedures of the empirical sciences of his day, but claimed to have logically “deduced” certain empirical facts and laws that were demonstrably false. Second, with the notable exception of Whitehead, most twentieth century thinkers, even if not explicitly anti-Hegelian, have tended to regard the traditional philosophical “discipline” of a Philosophy of Nature as a quaint relic of a metaphysically befuddled and happily bygone era, displaced without remainder by the logical and methodological investigations that make up the modern Philosophy of Science. Third, the dominant tradition of sympathetic scholarship on Hegel has played into the hands of the opposing party by all too often offering them a version of Hegel and his immediate predecessors as metaphysical Idealists who must, on principle, rule out of court anything which the empirical sciences might have to contribute to their philosophical projects. All the essays in this collection attempt to challenge one or more of these prejudices, thus collectively making the counter-case that Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature still has much to teach us if read in a sufficiently informed yet open-minded manner. The case is a persuasive one as it stands, although I will later suggest some additional considerations that are largely lacking in this volume. (shrink)
Ennead VI.7, the thirty-eighth treatise in order of composition, opens with a sustained attack on the idea that the form and function of various animal organs are the result of divine forethought and deliberation. In the first three chapters of the treatise, Plotinus argues that no formulation of the notion of deliberation can be made consistent with the facts about the nature of the intelligible2 and its priority over the physical world. As has been noted in the past,3 Plotinus's (...) arguments against the Platonic idea that teleological thinking is a genuine cause in the sphere of biology can also be taken, from the standpoint of his own philosophical principles, to be effective against an Aristotelian .. (shrink)
This edition, with translation and notes, by an outstanding historian of medieval optics, should serve to make Roger Bacon better understood and appreciated by those interested in the history of Western thought. Some time ago Bacon was lauded as a precursor of modern science, as an inventor, an innovator in the use of experimental and mathematical methods, a man ahead of his time whose genius went unnoticed by his contemporaries. Then a reaction set in, and the claim was made that (...) his results were all anticipated by others, especially by Robert Grosseteste, and that he had really contributed little to the advance of scientific knowledge. Lindberg sets the record straight in his careful and documented study of these seminal writings. As he notes in summary: "[T]his work did not foreshadow the science of subsequent ages...; rather, it represents an intelligent and creative response to a variety of ancient traditions. Bacon did not possess a seventeenth-century or twentieth-century mind, but a very good thirteenth-century one; and there is no possibility of understanding his achievement unless we view it in medieval context". (shrink)