Re: [asa] Concept of "nature" and "natural" in the ancient world?

From: Ted Davis <tdavis@messiah.edu>
Date: Sun May 31 2009 - 19:57:03 EDT

As Robert Boyle points out in a significant part of his treatise on God,
nature, and natural philosophy ("A Free Enquiry into the Vulgarly Receiv'd
Notion of Nature"), the Hebrew Bible has no word for "nature" as we
ordinarily use it. The Bible does speak about the "creation", but not
"nature." "Nature" is from the Latin "natura," which is equivalent to the
Greek "physis," from which we get both physician and physics. It meant an
independent entity that was usually thought of as eternal and uncreated,
with its essence open to the human mind for examination.

When "nature" acted "naturally," it was common for early modern natural
philosophers to use the Latin phrase, "natura naturans," lit., "nature [is]
naturing."

Ted

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Received on Sun May 31 19:57:53 2009

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