Le dimensioni metafisiche della natura

Natura e metafisica nella storia della filosofia

David Torrijos-Castrillejo
(Universidad Eclesiástica San Dámaso)

To study the influence of divinity on cosmos, Alexander uses the notions of ‘fate’ and ‘providence,’ which were common in the philosophy of his time. In this way, he provides an Aristotelian interpretation of the problems related to such concepts. In the context of this discussion, he offers a description of ‘nature’ different from the one that he usually regards as the standard Aristotelian notion of nature, i.e. the intrinsic principle of motion and rest. The new coined concept is a ‘cosmic’ nature that can be identified with both ‘fate’ and ‘divine power,’ which are the immediate effect of providence upon the world. In the paper it is exposed how the conception of providence defended by Alexander means a rejection of the divine care of the particulars, since the divinities are only provident for species. Several texts belonging to the Middle Platonic philosophers will convince us that such thinkers (and not directly Aristotle) are the origin of the thesis that will be understood as the conventional Aristotelian position, namely that divinity only orders species but not individuals.

Antonio Petagine
(Pontificia Università della Santa Croce)

La nozione di persona appare oggi attraversata da un’insuperabile ambiguità. Essa è dovuta certamente alla complessità della sua vicenda storica, ma soprattutto al fatto che una tale nozione è terreno di scontro tra due concezioni antropologiche rivali: la prima è quella che risale a Severino Boezio, il quale, tra il V e il VI secolo d.C., ha stabilito un forte legame tra persona e natura; la seconda è quella maturata a partire da John Locke, il quale ha indicato come criterio dell’identità personale la coscienza.

In questo contributo, l’autore mette in luce il ruolo della nozione di natura all’interno della definizione classica di persona, mostrando come un tale ruolo abbia prodotto per secoli l’attribuzione della dignità personale all’essere stesso dell’individuo. Quindi, l’autore rimarca che, a partire da John Locke, una tale concezione è stata abbandonata, spostando così il riconoscimento di chi è persona dal piano dall’essere dell’individuo a quello di ciò che l’individuo è in grado di fare, fornendo in tal modo un’inaspettata base teorica alla costruzione di una società basata sull’avere e sulla «dittatura della prestazione».

María José Jaramillo
(Universität zu Köln)

The concept of nature plays in the theory of knowledge of John Duns Scotus a very important role, because it is the metaphysical foundation of his realistic view of knowledge. The nature is in Scotus’s Philosophy not something universal nor individual itself, but common. It can be universal or individual. In this paper I will work out the concept of common nature by Scotus and to point out its consequences for the theory of knowledge. Through this analysis I want to show how the concept of nature is the foundation of Scotus's realism in the theory of knowledge.

Marco Viscomi
(Università di Perugia)

Il presente contributo tenta di articolare un raffronto critico sul concetto di causalità tra Aristotele e Spinoza. Prendendo in esame le tematiche del motore immobile e del causa sui, lo scopo del testo è quello di considerare come questi due approcci speculativi si relazionino alla questione centrale sul Principio, su Dio. Senza pretendere in alcun modo di esaurire una simile tematica, così complessa ed articolata nella sua sostanza, il saggio si limita ad analizzare l’argomentazione aristotelica del libro XII della Metafisica e l’articolazione di pensiero esposta da Spinoza nella prima parte della sua Etica. Lo studio viene così circoscritto a questi precisi riferimenti testuali, rimandando costantemente all’impegno filosofico di chiarire l’andamento dell’indagine adottata dallo Stagirita e dal filosofo olandese. Mentre il primo propone una dimostrazione dell’esistenza della prima causa della realtà, al fine di spiegarne il movimento, il secondo riflette sulla Sostanza divina, in ultima istanza, per considerarla in sé e per sé quale causa di sé medesima. In queste due differenti accezioni di causalità riverbera il problema che si vorrebbe qui mettere in luce, vale a dire il bisogno di identificare un percorso filosoficamente pregnante per parlare del Principio in maniera autentica e fondamentale.

María Elton
(Universidad de los Andes, Chile)

Thomas Reid (1710-1796) proved the existence of will as an original faculty of man, against Hume and the modern philosophical tradition, and has been very influential in the contemporary ‘agent causation’ theory. He did so out of what —in his concept— was the Newtonian empirical method when rightly understood. However, this same methodology did not allow him to go deep on the metaphysical nature of will, and therefore he remained in the experimental area of volitions to explain moral liberty. On account of this deficiency, he has been subject to significant objections, for which no convincing solution has been put forth.

The most serious objection is the following: according to Reid, an agent can efficiently cause his decision (volition) to perform an action, but his detractors affirm that this free decision is the effect of a prior volition which in itself is the fruit of other volition and so forth ad infinitum. This study offers a possible solution, which is based on O’Connor’s claim that Reid’s concept of moral freedom is implicit in Aquinas’ philosophy and Rowe’s suggestion of calling on the Aristotelian “prime mover”. The solution recovers classical doctrines of ‘potentiality’ and ‘actualization’, and of the variety of causes in the explanation of actions, both implicit in Aquinas’s concept of will. For him, the human will is a natural inclination towards universal good, caused by God, who moves it first, but according to its own condition, which is not acting out of necessity but through choice.

Gennaro Luise
(Pontificia Università della Santa Croce)

In this contribution we would like to sketch and discuss some typical themes of Hegelian thought developed in the Jena works. The principal aim of our enquiry is to individuate the relation between subjectivity and the external reality, the latter conceived as a natural world or as a complex of cultural forms generated by the spirit or transmitted in an ethos. The scope of the essay is, on one side, to reflect on the positive and real consistence of the material determi nation, in an effort to avoid the consideration of the matter as a pure “limit” of the thought, and on the other side, to outline Hegel’s philosophy of the activity of the Spirit, in its original forms, dynamic and inner creativity, as elaborated in Hegel’s Jena works.

Marie-Bernard Gœpfert

Kierkegaard (1813-1855), penseur de la modernité, bien que fort critique à l’égard de cette dernière, appartient pleinement à un monde qui a vu sa vision de l’univers se transformer sous l’effet du développement de la science moderne. Bien qu’il s’intéresse avant tout à la liberté, le penseur danois n’est pas insensible au spectacle de la nature, comme le montrent certains passages des œuvres signées (non pseudonymes) ou des écrits non publiés de son vivant. En recourant principalement à ces textes, cette communication souhaite mettre en valeur chez Kierkegaard des éléments permettant de dévoiler la présence, dans la nature, d’une réalité qui dépasse ce que nos sens peuvent percevoir et ce que nos calculs ou nos expériences peuvent valider, en d’autres termes, une dimension métaphysique, propice à une contemplation esthétique et indiquant la voie d’une écologie authentique.

Loreta Risio
(Università degli Studi di Chieti-Pescara)

Il carattere teleologico del mondo si manifesta, secondo Husserl, nella storia del pensiero, ne è prova la nascita della fenomenologia come realizzazione della segreta tendenza di tutta la filosofia, nella natura, con il suo ordine e la sua tensione finalistica, e nella vita dell’uomo, mosso come singolo e come società verso un telos: la vita buona, la vita pienamente umana. La teleologia del mondo impone alla ragione la necessità di pensare Dio quale principio ordinatore della realtà e fine ultimo della sua tensione immanente.

Natura umana, mente e azione

Javier Aranzadi
(Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

The study of causality in the natural sciences has always been posed from observing the effect and looking for the cause in a previous time. The principle of causality is caught in a vicious circle based on two assumptions of Kantian origin: (1) causality is a structuring principle of the human mind. (2) In the cause-effect relation, the cause temporally precedes the effect. This knowledge, which as a prerequisite of the action is its temporal antecedent, is the result of the said action. We move in a vicious circle, since the causal principle precedes the action; but in order to know the cause, which produces an effect, the action must be finished.

But in the social sciences, the field in which the individual acts, one has to take into account that the individual pursues a future end which exercises it effects on the present. The antecedent of the action, the cause, does not precede the action in time, but the cause of the action is the desired reality which is projected into the future and we dedicate our present efforts in order to obtain this reality. Provided that we are aware of the person openness to the future, the anticipated project and the present action are co-determined in the reality of the experienced life. Thus we can say that we form our personality by causal appropriation.

Mariano Asla
(Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas - Instituto de Filosofia, Universidad Austral, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Algunos escenarios de ciencia ficción pueden representar para la filosofía interesantes experimentos mentales, tanto en función de cotejar las intuiciones espontáneas como para intentar esclarecer racionalmente los límites de lo concebible y de lo probable. Mi propósito en este trabajo es analizar, a la luz de las teorías animalista y psicologista de la identidad personal, la hipótesis de la transferencia mental (TM), tal como la entiende el filósofo australiano David Chalmers. En pocas palabras, intentaré mostrar que, si se toma como criterio de identidad humana la identidad numérica, como propone el animalismo, la TM no resulta una respuesta satisfactoria al problema de la muerte. Las razones de esta insuficiencia radican en que no salva la organicidad ni la continuidad espacio-temporal del individuo, al tiempo que suscita el potencial problema de la duplicación. Finalmente, si se apela a la continuidad psicológica como requisito necesario y suficiente de la supervivencia personal, se incurre en todas las dificultades generales del psicologismo y se comete una petición de principio que torna toda la cuestión epistémicamente indecidible.

Hasse Hämäläinen
(Jagiellonian University)

This article focuses on the question whether humans have the power of agency. The modern version of this question is traceable to the 18th century, when Hume began to doubt the ability of human mind to cause events in the material world, and d’Holbach rejected it altogether. Since recent neuroscience has shown that certain neural events precede conscious experiences of agency (e.g. Libet 1983, Hallet 2008), many contemporary theorists of action follow d’Holbach in reducing the power of agency to illusion (e.g. Smilansky 2000, Wegner 2002, Dennet 2003). However, I shall suggest that there is also a non-reductive way to explain the human experience of agency that is compatible with the discoveries of neuroscience. The 18th century thinkers were concerned with the Cartesian conception of agency, according to which agency is an efficient causal power. However, a contemporary action theorist does not need to endorse this conception. A conception, according to which human agency does not have to involve efficient, but final causality would be an alternative that would not force the theorist to dismiss the power of agency as an illusion. I attempt to show, with help of Aristotle, that this conception suffices for asserting that we can cause events in the world, regardless of the efficient cause of those events.

Denis Larrivee
(Neiswanger Bioethics Institute, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL USA)

The Future of Human Nature, Jurgen Habermas’ treatise on issues of genetic manipulation, invokes normative concerns arising out of a framework of a material re-ordering of human nature (2003). Implicit in Habermas’ critique is a presupposition causally linking the human ontological status to a material program intrinsic to the human body and its mechanistic generation of the mature individual. This presupposition persists through numerous recent accounts that follow his work which are taken at the level of the neural architecture, as well as in various neuroaugmentation proposals. Together these reflect an epistemological approach seeking to deduce human nature from an exclusively empirical assessment of neural operation, a philosophical praxis that has been termed cognitive ontology. This praxis adopts a paradigm widely employed for explication in living systems, now dominating discourse on the nature of reality and touted as the new mechanistic wave. Recourse to ascriptions of human nature grounded in a mechanical causal order, however, has been challenged by recent philosophical approaches for its severance of the metaphysical link between human properties and their predication in an entity, and the inversion of the conceptual order between ontology and epistemology. Unlike mechanistic approaches, these are related to formal organizational order; hence, they are termed non-causal or design explanations. This paper proposes that strictly mechanist, causal sequences also fail to account for systemic operation in cognition and need supplementation with formal causal notions. Accordingly, they also implicate a material instantiation of propertied faculties that conforms to metaphysical principles of unity and property predication, which is to say that the instantiation of self and faculty circuitries are necessarily determined by extrinsic and realist principles of material order. This has the important ethical consequence of siting value to the whole individual and not solely to the perceptual realization of human faculties as proposed in modern cognitive ontology accounts.

Ángela M. Suburo
(Universidad Austral, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

The brain, the mind and the self are usually described as separate entities, although we intuitively recognize that they share some kind of relationship. The puzzle, however, begins when one tries to understand how a human being lives as a unique person with a brain, a mind and a self. Pondering about such questions is as old as humanity and different solutions have been given. In this short essay, I will compare the thinking of Donald MacCrimmon MacKay with some of the ongoing theories about the relationships between the brain and the self. MacKay’s views about the person overcome current mechanistic and emergentist positions. In addition, his acknowledgment of a subjective perspective, which he called the I-Story, in tension with an objective Brain story, helps us to recognize and interact with the person even when the brain has been physically damaged.

Antropologia ed etica

Marta de Mendonça
(Universidade Nova de Lisboa / CHAM)

Bioethics is one of the domains where the concept of nature is most intensely discussed. This fact is somewhat paradoxical, especially if we take into account that, upon its creation, bioethics has sought to remove philosophical aspects from the issues it has raised. To illustrate the centrality of the concept of nature in bioethics, it suffices to analyse the way the discussion has changed in recent decades: a) initially, it was obvious that all human beings are rational beings and that this fact endowed them with an exclusive status conferring certain rights. Based on this evidence, bioethics attempted to determine these rights and the duties arising from these in the domain of Biomedicine; b) presently, however, the way in which we should deal with rational beings, their rights and our obligations, seems evident. The discussion will now consider the subjects bearing this status: is this an exclusive status for human beings? Does it extend to them all?

The text deals with the concept of nature which was adopted in the early bioethical literature; it explores the way it determined this change in the focus of the debate and identifies some of its most significant implications.

Timothy Fortin
(Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ)

This essay explores the relationship between nature, being, and sexual difference and argues that adequate understandings of each rise and fall with each other. The case is advanced that human sexual difference must be understood in terms of a union of modally distinct persons whose union neither destroys nor diminishes their alterity but rather augments it. Human sexual union is thus seen as like the intellectual union of knower of known. The unique and generative distinction that constitutes sexual difference provides a window through which one might look more deeply into nature as constituted of the fruitful union of essence and the Origin of all essence. Hence, the meaning of human sexual difference is found to be bound with the right understanding of nature and to open vistas that reveal the nature of being itself.

Eduardo Pérez Pueyo
(Centro Regional de Estudios Teológicos de Aragón, Zaragoza, España)

This article will attempt to integrate the concept of nature within an interpersonal anthropology through an analysis of a work written by Pierre Rousselot in 1908: The Problem of Love in the Middle Ages. An introduction will be followed by a biography of the author (n. 1), after which we will analyse the content of the work, which revolves around concepts of love that existed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Rousselot groups these concepts around two positions: «ecstatic» love (n. 2) and «natural» love (n. 3). The author compares the two visions and comes down clearly in favour of the «natural» concept as the one that best expresses human dynamisms (n. 4). Finally, some of the limitations of the work will be explored (n. 5), based on the contrast between its avant-gardeness and the lack of intellectual tools available to the author (n. 5.1). The limitations are basically twofold: the relationship between nature and person (n. 5.2) and the ignorance of interpersonal purpose, which prevent the author from discovering the feasibility of a duality within personal unity (n. 5.3). Naturally, these limitations do not detract from the novelty that Pierre Rousselot’s contribution signified at that time.

Rubén Herce
(Universidad de Navarra)

Scientific activity requires ethical control. To this end, many ethical committees have developed ethical codes that aim to regulate, guide, and favour an adequate development of scientific activity, according to some guiding principles. However, the application of these principles is not automatic and requires something else. In this work, I will explore how scientific activity, and the scientific committees that regulate it, require an attitude of honest openness to the search for truth in all its phases. As well as an adequate anthropological and metaphysical understanding, without neglecting the contribution of other agents not involved in scientific activity. Especially when considering the purposes to be pursued by technoscience.

Pia Valenzuela
(FBS at Catholic Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia)

I intend to discuss Aquinas’ natural law argument for justifying environmental ethics, by referring to the consideration of natural law as the participation of the eternal law. Before we examine views on what constitutes this participation of the eternal law, understood as an active and passive participation, we need to examine views on what environmental ethics strive for. In general, environmental ethics aims to argue the value of natural beings and moral attitude toward nature. The consideration of the passive participation of the eternal law both in human and natural beings is useful for justifying not only the value of natural beings but also the community of being between humans and the rest of nature. The consideration of the active participation of the eternal law in human beings serves to argue the moral responsibility for non-rational beings.

Metafisica, epistemologia e scienze

Juan F. Franck
(Instituto de Filosofía, Universidad Austral, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

The so-called explanatory gap between the physical and the mental has prompted still ongoing epistemological and ontological discussions. However, at least two very different mental states are usually conflated in the debate: phenomenal experience —including emotions and feelings—, which reveals an unavoidable subjective character, and mental acts that attain objective truth. One notable exception is Thomas Nagel, who insists with equal emphasis on both the subjective nature of phenomenal experience and the mind’s capacity to transcend it and grasp objective, timeless truth. In Mind and Cosmos he actually describes four explanatory gaps in traditional naturalism, requiring an expanded set of concepts and ontological principles: 1) from matter to life; 2) from life to sentience; 3) from sentience to cognition; 4) from cognition to value. I will focus on cognition as distinct from sentience, since that gap clarifies the abovementioned distinction and reveals more clearly the need of a richer ontology. Nagel argues also that the appearance of mind and rationality in the universe is not accidental and requires a teleology that is part of the natural order. Nonetheless, a further explanation of truth objectively considered is missing in Nagel’s account and therefore of why mind would be so central in a metaphysical consideration of nature. I will also give some reasons why Nagel’s rejection of theism and his preference for a naturalistic explanation of the universe rest on some misunderstandings, which, duly answered, may also explain the special place of mind in nature.

Tim Mosteller
(California Baptist University)

This paper considers the incompatibility of a broadly Thomistic view of the nature of existence with natural existence monism. The first part of this paper offers two lines of reasoning to establish that existence should be understood as essential exemplification. Two “Thomistic Routes” to this conclusion are considered. The first route is an ”exterior” route developed from ordinary sense perception. This route is elaborated by George Klubertanz and Jacques Maritain. The second route is developed by Edith Stein. I call this an “interior” route, which is based on self-awareness and rational reflection. The second part of this paper considers existence monism in light of the understanding of existence as essential exemplification developed in part one. I argue that natural existence monism is incompatible with an understanding of existence as essential exemplification.

Valeria Ascheri
(Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Roma)

L’articolo presenta e approfondisce il realismo scientifico strutturale (RS), proposto da John Worrall (1989), collocandolo nell’ambito della filosofia della scienza del ’900 e analizzando poi il dibatti- to che ne è seguito e che ha portato a definirne due versioni, quello epistemico (RSE) e quello ontico (RSO).

La nozione di struttura, che nella proposta di Worrall riveste un ruolo fondamentale, ma non ben approfondito, sembra aprire un spa zio di riflessione interessante: da una parte conduce dall’indagine epi- stemologica a quella più radicale, che mira a definire una nuova metafisica e un’ontologia delle realtà studiate e, dall’altra, più in particolare sembra collegarsi con la categoria di relazione di matrice aristotelica, con il concetto di sistema o persino quello di processo, fino a confron- tarsi in modo interessante con alcuni aspetti della ricerca scientifica contemporanea, come la fisica dei quanti. In conclusione si accenna al fatto che il realismo strutturale porta, in uno dei suoi sviluppi, all’elaborazione di un’ontologia delle relazioni (relazionale) o processuale e non, o non primariamente, degli enti e delle entità.

Rubén Pereda
(Universidad de Navarra)

Peter van Inwagen entiende la metafísica como el intento de acceder a la verdad última sobre el Mundo mediante la respuesta a preguntas fundamentales. En este planteamiento, la tarea del filósofo es elegir entre respuestas alternativas. Esta visión no coincide con la que tiene la tradición aristotélico-tomista: para ésta, la metafísica es la ciencia que estudia los principios de la realidad. Se estudia aquí qué quiere decir esta expresión y cómo se puede relacionar con el conocimiento científico de la naturaleza.

Marta Lince de Faria
(Catholic University of Portugal)

In the philosophical section of his book The Cosmos, Charles De Koninck presents a Thomistic answer to the question on evolution. De Koninck’s intention is to draw a metaphysical theory of evolution that does not depend on any singular fact of natural history but that could support some of its most important evidences: the evolution from simple to complex beings and the emergency of the different kinds of life (vegetative, sensitive and intelligent). In this article, we will first present some general principles developed by St. Thomas that could be of interest in the study of evolution. Secondly, we will draw an outline of De Koninck’s theory. And finally, we will analyze The Cosmos together with some of De Koninck’s writings on indeterminism using some of the principles presented in the first part of the article in order to assess how Koninck’s stance is a Thomistic one. We find that, in The Cosmos, De Koninck emphasizes the role of the principal spiritual cause in bringing about effects which are ontologically superior to their instrumental material causes. However, his indeterministic view of nature that is based on a particular conception of matter conveys the idea that the evolutionary process is the necessary consequence of the essential desire of matter for the human form.

Manuel Cruz Ortiz de Landázuri
(Universidad de Navarra)

In this paper I explore Aristotle’s notion of matter as a principle of potentiality in order to understand how could be applied to quantum physics. One of the main metaphysical problems concerning the wave function is that it seems to set some sort of indetermination within the physical reality. It is precisely for this reason that I believe that Aristotle’s vision of matter as a source of potentiality and indetermination might be a good metaphysical tool that can be applied to quantum mechanics.

Claudia E. Vanney
(Instituto de Filosofía, Universidad Austral, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Whereas the technological applications of quantum mechanics are extraordinarily abundant, its ontological implications are very controversial. Not only did several interpretations of the original quantum formalism develop throughout the last century, but modifications of the primitive formalism were also proposed, introducing new relevant theoretical elements, which gave rise to very different quantum ontologies. This article highlights that the diversity of quantum ontologies reveals the impossibility of establishing an exclusive inference from the empirical success of a theory and its ontological truth. Since scientific objectifications in general —and those of quantum mechanics in particular— have a limited cognitive scope, they don’t allow choosing a specific interpretation of the theory among the many possible ones, so that meta-scientific criteria are required.