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Is the Bodhisattva a Skeptic? Pages Zilberman, David B. Show next xx. Read this book on SpringerLink. Recommended for you. Zilberman Editors Robert S. First of all, nature, meaning the physical universe, is in itself an evolving nature. It is neither fixed nor always the same. There is biological evolution genetic diversity and variation and — derivatively though the concept is problematical — cosmic evolution, e. Therefore, concepts of nature follow nature in its evolution or ought to follow it. Second, nature has, at least in a historical perspective, different meanings in different cultures.
For example, the Greek tradition distinguishes between creative nature natura naturans and created nature natura naturata , the Indian tradition identifies nature and earth and speaks of the Goddess Earth. Today, under the influence of the modern sciences, historically divergent concepts of nature have lost their scientific significance. Nature is now what is governed by universal laws, although, as we know now, a universal determinism is limited in many ways by the occurrence of probabilities, i.
Third, though initially nature was just that part of the world that man had not made, it has now, to a great extent, become part of an artificial world built by science and technology. This makes it difficult to distinguish clearly between what is natural and what is not. Is it still nature that scientists investigate and humanists reflect on when they speak about nature and culture and the cultural impact of science and technology on nature?
It is not only that different cultures have generated different concepts of nature, but also that science interferes with nature in a way that makes it often difficult, even with respect to the concept of universal laws of nature or probabilistic laws, to give a determinate definition of what nature is. The old duality between nature and culture as well as the duality between universalism or determinism and probabilism has been superseded by a plurality of new dualities, among which is again also the duality between a creative or evolving nature and a created nature now in a scientific framework.
Closely connected with changing concepts of nature are world views or world pictures. World pictures are models of the reality, depending on particular concepts , like the concept of nature, beliefs about how the reality functions, and programmes , like scientific programmes. It is not only mythical cultures which create world pictures; science, too, generates them.
To an understanding of science also belongs an understanding of its power to constitute the world and to generate world pictures, particularly with respect to nature. Like a perfect living being, the cosmos turns out to be an animated rational being, as a visible god in the form of a perfect sphere. Later on, in Christian thought, i. A theory of natural positions, incorporated in a theory of elements, corresponds in this sense to a theory of simple natural bodies bodies that have a source of motion in themselves and simple motion the motion of simple bodies.
In the cosmological dimension, an Aristotle world consists of eleven spheres grouped around the central body, earth. Each such sphere is constituted by two concentric spherical surfaces: the three inner spheres housing the elements and the eight outer spheres housing the then known planets and the system of fixed stars with a daily rotation about the axis of the heavens. The geocentrism of the Aristotle world is a result of the Aristotelian theory of elements or the theory of natural positions. In opposition to the atomistic conception of the constant movement of atoms, the Aristotle world is characterized by the notion that every movement requires a mover.
Thus, not only the change of motion, but also the uniform motion of a body requires a causal force. The place of atoms in atomistic conceptions is filled by so-called minima naturalia , i. Correspondingly, all matter has quantitative minima that possess the characteristics of macrobodies made from it.
These minima also possess a characteristic size, though their geometric form is not predetermined. In chemical processes, minima in immediate proximity to each other constitute a qualitas media , which is the basis for the forma mixti of matter which possesses a particular substantival form. According to atomistic conceptions, all that changes in chemical processes is the configuration of the smallest particles, which lack qualitative characteristics and whose geometric form is constant.
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The Aristotle world is thus characterized by a high degree of experiential evidence. The scientific propositions describing this world are confirmed by the experience acquired in everyday life, or are derived through generalizations made on the basis of experience. The Aristotle world, moreover, is always in the process of becoming a natural order, embedded in the inner teleology of this world or the teleological nature of all things. This natural order never appears as a perfect state, but it is constantly present in the form of an astronomically ordered, supralunary world.
In other words, disorder as well as the tendency to order is the normal state of the sublunary world. It is the world of experience and hence — despite physics and natural philosophy which seek to interpret it — a very human world. As opposed to the Aristotle world, a hermetic world — by which is meant the world of alchemy, astrology, and parts of natural philosophy in the Renaissance — is a world of mysterious interactions.
Occult powers and living substances take the place of the simple bodies characteristic of the Aristotle world. Nature consists of different combinations of primary substances that originated in undifferentiated primordial matter. Inorganic processes are viewed analogously to organic processes.
Explanations of the world take the shape of allegorical interpretations: coming into being and passing away as birth and death, separation and unity as the polarity of the sexes the conjunctio as sexual union or the hermaphrodite as the overcoming of sexual differences. In a Hermes world everything becomes a riddle or a key to solving its secrets. The familiarity of the Aristotle world gives way to a demonic world that is only accessible through ritual and mystical forms of knowledge.
It constitutes the actual magisterium , i.
1. The Field and its Significance
In this world it is only gravitational mass that moves in absolute time, through absolute space. Matter and space are the real elements of this world. The smallest particles of matter, hence the actual atoms, combine to build complex formations or second-degree particles. Several of these combine in turn to become third degree particles and so forth. The inner structure of matter is thus characterized by a complex hierarchy of particle formations. These formations are not massive corpuscles, but contain empty space.
As the order of the particle hierarchy expands, the amount of empty space in them increases while the extent of solid matter decreases correspondingly.
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Matter in the world is thus only seemingly solid. In fact, the world is a vacuum for the most part. The actual amount of solid matter in the universe could fit into a nutshell atomistic nutshell theory. Characteristic of the Newton world , moreover, is the assumption that a fundamental dualism exists between passive matter and active immaterial principles.
According to this notion, which can be traced back to Cambridge Platonism and hence to hermetic conceptions of the world, matter can be the origin only of mechanical effects, that is, effects mediated by pressure and impulse. Matter itself does not exert force, but only withstands the effects of forces through its own inertia.
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Gravitational pull, in particular, is not a trait of matter. Gravitation has more the status of an active principle and finds its origin in a non-material ether that exerts an effect on matter. Since in this world a general principle for the conservation of energy does not hold, mechanical interactions lead to a steady loss of movement, which cannot be fully compensated for by the active principles that bring forth new movement.
All the regularly functioning causes material or immaterial taken together would not be able to impede the movement of the world toward disorder and chaos. The stability of the world, i. The nutshell theory of matter on which this world is based corresponds, as regards its concept of space, to a container or arena theory. Space is independent of matter. In proving the existence of inertial forces, Newton attempts to endow the related concept of absolute space, i.
He himself tried to show that the centrifugal forces generated by rotational movement cannot be traced back to relative rotations of whatever type, i.