|Nature, philosophy: nature is usually defined as the part of reality that was not made or designed by humans. No properties can be attributed to nature. E.g. since contradiction is ultimately a language problem, one can say that nature cannot be contradictory. Not all forms of necessity can be attributed to nature, e.g. non-logical necessity and unnecessary existence. See also de re, de dicto, necessity de re, existence._____________Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments. |
Aristotle on Nature - Dictionary of Arguments
Gaus I 312
Nature/Aristotle/Keyt/Miller: Plato had already attempted to combat Protagorean relativism and conventionalism by an appeal to nature, but the nature to which he appealed was either divine reason (in the Laws) or a realm of incorporeal and changeless Forms existing beyond time and space (in the Republic). (PlatoVsRelativism, PlatoVsProtagoras: >Protagoras/Plato, >Relativism/Protagoras).
AristotleVsPlato: though Aristotle too wishes to combat relativism by an appeal to nature, he wishes to do so without invoking a suprasensible standard or a supernatural being: his aim is to avoid Platonism as well as relativism. (...) Aristotle, by identifying nature with the realm of sensible objects and of change (Metaph. XII.l.1069a30-b2), brings it down to earth.
Nature/Aristotle: Aristotle's concept of nature, unlike Plato's, would be recognizable to a modern physicist or biologist.
Gaus I 313
Nature makes its first appearance in three basic theorems that stand as the portal to the Politics:
(1) the polis exists by nature, (2) man is by nature a political animal, and (3) the polis is prior by nature to the individual (Pol. 1.2). These statements are referred to as theorems because they are not simply asserted but argued for.
Problems: nothing concerning them or the arguments supporting them is uncontroversial. The very content of the theorems is contested, for it is unclear what 'nature' means in each of them. Aristotle distinguishes several senses of 'nature' (Phys. II.1; Metaph. V .4), the most important of which correspond to his four causes (final, formal, efficient, and material); but he usually relies on the context to indicate the intended sense of a particular occurrence of the term. It has even been suggested that 'nature' has an entirely different sense in the Politics than it has in the physical and metaphysical treatises.
Questions: what is Aristotle tacitly assuming? Are the arguments valid or invalid? How plausible are his premises? The tenability of Aristotle's naturalism depends upon the answer to these questions. (For the controversy see Ambler, 1985(1); Keyt, 1991b(2); Depew, 1995(3);
Miller, 1995(4): 27-66; and Saunders, 1995(5): 59-71.)
Aristotle's analysis of nature leads to a complex treatment of the antithesis between physis and
Phys.: Aristotle Physics
Pol: Aristotle Politics
Metaph.: Aristotle Metaphysics
1. Ambler, Wayne (1985) 'Aristotle's understanding of the naturalness of the city'. Review of Politics, 47: 163—85.
2. Keyt, David (1991b) 'Three basic theorems in Aristotle's Politics'. In David Keyt and Fred D. Miller, eds, A Companion to Aristotle's Politics. Oxford: Blackwell.
3. Depew, David J. (1995) 'Humans and other political animals in Aristotle's History of Animals'. Phronesis, 40: 159-81.
4. Miller, Fred D. (1995) Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics. Oxford: Claredon.
5. Saunders, Trevor J. (1995) Aristotle Politics Books I and 11. Oxford: Clarendon.
Keyt, David and Miller, Fred D. jr. 2004. „Ancient Greek Political Thought“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gerald F. Gaus
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004