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)
Preface to paperback edition -- Why Schelling? why naturephilosophy? -- The powers due to becoming: the reemergence of platonic physics in the genetic philosophy -- Antiphysics and neo-Fichteanism -- The natural history of the unthinged -- "What thinks in me is what is outside me". phenomenality, physics and the idea -- Dynamic philosophy, transcendental physics -- Conclusion: transcendental geology.
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 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)
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)
This 1983 book is a lively and clearly written introduction to the philosophy of natural science, organized around the central theme of scientific realism. It has two parts. 'Representing' deals with the different philosophical accounts of scientific objectivity and the reality of scientific entities. The views of Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Putnam, van Fraassen, and others, are all considered. 'Intervening' presents the first sustained treatment of experimental science for many years and uses it to give a new direction to debates (...) about realism. Hacking illustrates how experimentation often has a life independent of theory. He argues that although the philosophical problems of scientific realism can not be resolved when put in terms of theory alone, a sound philosophy of experiment provides compelling grounds for a realistic attitude. A great many scientific examples are described in both parts of the book, which also includes lucid expositions of recent high energy physics and a remarkable chapter on the microscope in cell biology. (shrink)
Analyzes Schelling's arguments for his idealism and pieces together a description of his theory of nature from among the large number of his writings in this area. It also traces the influence of Naturphilosophie on 19th-century science and connects it with recent System Theory.
Aside from the Principia and occasional appearances of the Opticks , Newton' writings have remained largely inaccessible to students of philosophy, science, and literature as well as to other readers. This book provides a remedy with wide representation of the interests, problems, and diverse philosophic issues that preoccupied the greatest scientific mind of the seventeenth century. Grouped in sections corresponding to methods, principles, and theological considerations, these selections feature explanatory notes and cross-references to related essays.
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)
In this article I consider whether Hegel is a naturalist or an anti-naturalist with respect to his philosophy of nature. I adopt a cluster-based approach to naturalism, on which positions are more or less naturalistic depending how many strands of the clusternaturalismthey exemplify. I focus on two strands: belief that philosophy is continuous with the empirical sciences, and disbelief in supernatural entities. I argue that Hegel regards philosophy of nature as distinct, but not wholly discontinuous, (...) from empirical science and that he believes in the reality of formal and final causes insofar as he is a realist about universal forms that interconnect to comprise a self-organizing whole. Nonetheless, for Hegel, natural particulars never fully realize these universal forms, so that empirical inquiry into these particulars and their efficient-causal interactions is always necessary. In these two respects, I conclude, Hegel's position sits in the middle of the naturalism/anti-naturalism spectrum. (shrink)
Following the revival in the last decades of the concept of “organism”, scholarly literature in philosophy of science has shown growing historical interest in the theory of Immanuel Kant, one of the “fathers” of the concept of self-organisation. Yet some recent theoretical developments suggest that self-organisation alone cannot fully account for the all-important dimension of autonomy of the living. Autonomy appears to also have a genuine “interactive” dimension, which concerns the organism’s functional interactions with the environment and does not (...) simply derive from its internal organisation. Against this background, we focus on a family of natural philosophical approaches that historically have already strongly taken in account this aspect of autonomy, notably going beyond Kant’s perspective on self-organisation. We thus review Hegel, Plessner, and Jonas’ different perspectives on living beings, focussing in particular on four points: the distinction between organic and inorganic, the theory of biological organisation, the processuality of the living, and the “boundary” between inside and outside, through which the organism establishes its relationship to the environment. We, then, compare the three perspectives on these four points, and finally address the question of what advantages their contribution present—especially compared to Kant’s theory—with respect to the topic of organism’s autonomy. This could help—we hope—to better understand what is at the stake still today. (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.
ABSTRACT I argue against both neuropsychological and cognitive accounts of our grasp of numbers. I show that despite the points of divergence between these two accounts, they face analogous problems. Both presuppose too much about what they purport to explain to be informative, and also characterize our grasp of numbers in a way that is absurd in the light of what we already know from the point of view of mathematical practice. Then I offer a positive methodological proposal about the (...) role that cognitive science should play in the philosophy of mathematics. (shrink)
Historians of the Victorian period have begun to re-evaluate the general background and impact of Darwin's theory of the origin of species by means of natural selection. An emerging picture suggests that the Darwinian theory of evolution was only one aspect of a more general change in intellectual positions. It is possible to summarize two correlated developments in the second half of the nineteenth century: the seculariszation of majors areas of thought, and the increasing breakdown of a common intellectual milieu. (...) Studies in linguistics, historical criticism, socio-political theory, theologys, and anthropology, besides evolutionary theory, contributed to these developments. It has also been argued that the background of evolutionary thought lay within a relatively unified early Victorian intellectual context with shared religious, moral, and scientific concepts. Evolutionary theory contributed to the disintegration of this shared context, but it did not intrinsically assume a clear demarcation between value-laden ideas and scientific ideas. On the one hand, in the later Victorian period, religious and scientific intellectuals found it increasingly hard to share common ground. On the other hand, they did sometimes share an enthusiasm for applying biological models to social and ethical theory. It is necessary to look closely before ascribing any increased differentiation of positions to the impact of evolutionary biology. (shrink)
Husserl argues in the Crisis that the prevalent tradition of positive science in his time had a philosophical core, called by him "Galilean science", that mistook the quest for objective theory with the quest for truth. Husserl is here referring to Gottingen science of the Golden Years. For Husserl, theory "grows" out of the "soil" of the prescientific, that is, pretheoretical, life-world. Scientific truth finally is to be sought not in theory but rather in the pragmatic-perceptual praxes of measurement. Husserl (...) is faulted for taking measuring processes to be "infinitely perfectible". The dependence of new scientific phenomena on the existence of prior "prescientific" inductive praxis is analyzed, also Husserl's residual objectivism and failure to appreciate the hermeneutic character of measurement. Though not a scientific (theory-)realist, neither was he an instrumentalist, but he was a scientific (phenomena-)realist. (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. 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)
In arguing a "role for history," Kuhn was proposing a naturalized philosophy of science. That, I argue, is the only viable approach to the philosophy of science. I begin by exhibiting the main general objections to a naturalistic approach. These objections, I suggest, are equally powerful against nonnaturalistic accounts. I review the failure of two nonnaturalistic approaches, methodological foundationism (Carnap, Reichenbach, and Popper) and metamethodology (Lakatos and Laudan). The correct response, I suggest, is to adopt an "evolutionary perspective." (...) This perspective is defended against one recent critic (Putnam). To argue the plausibility of a naturalistic approach, I next sketch a naturalistic account of theories and of theory choice. This account is then illustrated by the recent revolution in geology. In conclusion I return to Kuhn's question about the role of history in developing a naturalistic theory of science. (shrink)
PHILOSOPHY of nature is not currently considered standard fare in philosophy. Rather than the title of an area of inquiry, it has become the name of an isolated historical phenomenon—the Naturphilosophie of Schelling, Goethe, and Hegel, or a label for some school doctrine—the continuing tradition built upon the first books of Aristotle’s Physics or the newer one rooted in Whitehead’s Process and Reality. Philosophers do not typically see these systems of thought in terms of a common problematic, (...) certainly not one which is presently viable or important. (shrink)
In the last hundred years, the philosophy of natural law has suffered a fate that could hardly have been envisaged by the seventeenth and eighteenth century exponents of its universality and eternity: it has become old-fashioned. The positivists and the Marxists were happy to throw eternal moral ity out of the window, confident that some magic temporal harmony would eventually follow Progress in by the front door. Their hopes may not have been fully realized, but they did succeed in (...) discrediting natural law. What is often not appreciated is the extent to which we have adopted the tenets of the philosophy they despised, borh in the field of politics, and in the field of personal and social ethics, which Barbeyrac called "la science des mreurs" and which the positivists re christened "social science". Consequently, though we live in a world whose freedom, such as it is, is largely a result of the popularization of the philosophy of natural law, and whose conscious and unconscious standards, such as they are, are a result of that philosophy as it became combined with Christianity, the doctrine of natural law is itself for gotten. In view of the oblivion into which it has fallen, natural law is a concept which means little to the average reader. All too often, Montesquieu scholars have traded on this oblivion in order to give an exaggerated picture of his originality. (shrink)
In this paper I show that Proclus is an adherent of the Classical Model of Science as set out elsewhere in this issue (de Jong and Betti 2008), and that he adjusts certain conditions of the Model to his Neoplatonic epistemology and metaphysics. In order to show this, I develop a case study concerning philosophy of nature, which, despite its unstable subject matter, Proclus considers to be a science. To give this science a firm foundation Proclus distills from (...) Plato’s Timaeus the basic concepts Being and Becoming and a number of basic propositions, among others the quasi-definitions of the basic concepts. He subsequently explains the use of these quasi-definitions, that are actually epistemic guides, in such a way that he obtains a connection between a rational and an empirical approach to the natural world. A crucial task in establishing the connection is performed by the faculty of doxa and by geometrical conversion. The result is that Proclus secures a universal, necessary and known foundation for all of philosophy of nature. (shrink)