“Now nature makes nothing incomplete, and nothing in vain…” Aristotle, Politics
Sometimes we might wonder about Aristotle. Was he observing the same world we are?
One thing is clear: Aristotle spent much time studying the natural world. For instance, his knowledge of fish, including their distinction from mammals of the sea, is vast. Indeed he is considered the father of biology. Surely his judgment about ‘nature’ is rooted in his empirical knowledge.
But his judgment stems not simply from a close study of earth, plants and animals. Somehow his perception has been honed—or in any case not blinded—so that he can see more than earth, plants, and animals. In them. He grasps something deeper: an order, indeed an intention, that at once reveals itself, and remains hidden. An order and intention that is not ours; but certainly not alien. Here is an object of wonder, of reverence.
To some of us his vision might seem to be a reading-in, an imposition on reality. But isn’t it always so—that those of us who do not see, think that those who can see are telling tales?
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher.
Image credit: Quercus Alba, the great eastern white oak, king among trees. Donald Peattie, naturalist, author, artist.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:
“Peace is the tranquility of order.” St. Augustine, The City of God There are few words that exercise such a power over our hearts, and our imagination. A few years ago I was giving a lecture at a division-one university, introducing students to some basic points in...read more
When I was down beside the sea A wooden spade they gave to me To dig the sandy shore. Robert Louis Stevenson, At the Sea-Side A Child's Garden of Verses There is nothing quite like playing alone. To watch it is a privilege. Indeed, in watching one might even...read more
For not only that we might act, but even when we intend to do nothing, we prefer sight, as we may say, to all the other senses. Aristotle, Metaphysics This year the fireflies have been stunning. Last night my wife and I were mesmerized; we just sat and looked. And we...read more
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. Bacon from Acorns springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.