Entities in Patterned Process

  • David R. KellerEmail author
Part of the Studies in Global Justice book series (JUST, volume 19)


‘Nature’ is here understood to denote all that is not supernatural, including human artifacts. The dominant ontology of nature in our time is mechanism. However, it is an inadequate ontology and should be replaced by a superior alternative: organicism. In order to better understand the mechanical view of nature, it will help to review Aristotle’s four “causes”. Aristotle identified four kinds of cause, or explanatory reason, that contribute to explaining natural and artefactual objects: material, efficient, formal and final. Protoecology focused primarily on the latter two with the idea that each thing has an essential nature (its formal cause) and a supernatural purpose (its final or teleological cause). Scientific ecology dispenses with these in favor of the first two causes. The image is that of nature as a machine, the movements of which are strictly a result of the materials comprising it and antecedent efficient causes. This means that everything can in principle be explained in terms of material and efficient causes alone. A mechanical clock, with its gears and springs, illustrates the idea. Every movement of the hands of the clock is causally determined by the internal mechanisms of the clock. The same is true of organisms too, including human beings, except that they also respond mechanistically to external stimuli—something a clock does not do. However, the behavior of humans, and perhaps other animals, is arguably not purely mechanical in the way that the growth and phototropism of a plant presumably are. We experience subjectivity, instanced by sensation and thought, by means of which we can intentionally create novelty. This creative action is inherently unpredictable and so isn’t capturable by the clock metaphor. Consequently, another metaphysics is required: Organicism.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Salt Lake CityUSA

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