Matter and Form From Natural Science to Political Philosophy

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-10-29
  • Publisher: Lexington Books

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Matter and Form explores the relationship that has long existed between natural science and political philosophy. Plato's Socrates articulates the ideas or forms as an account of the ultimate source of causality in the cosmos. Aristotle's natural philosophy had a significant impact on his political philosophy, he argues that humans are by nature political animals, having their natural end in the city, the regime of which is hierarchically structured based on differences in moral and intellectual capacity. Medieval theorists attempt to synthesize classical natural and political philosophy with the revealed truths of scripture; they argue that divine reason structures an ordered universe, the awareness of which allows for psychic and political harmony among human beings. Enlightenment thinkers challenge the natural philosophy of classical and medieval philosophers, ushering in a more iiberal political order. For example, for Hobbes, there is no rest in nature as there are no Aristotelian forms or natural places that govern matter. Hobbes applies his mechanistic understanding of material nature to his understanding of human nature: individuals are by nature locked in an endless pursuit of power until death. However, from this mechanistic understanding of humanity's natural condition, Hobbes develops a social contract theory in which civil and political society is constituted from consent. Later thinkers, such as Locke and Rousseau, modify this Hobbesian premise in their pursuit of the protection of rights and a free society. Nevertheless, materialist conceptions of the cosmos have not always given rise to liberal democratic philosophies. Historicist influence on scientific inquiry in the nineteenth century is connected to Darwin's theory of evolution; Darwin reasoned that over time the process of natural selection produces ever newer and more highly adapted species. Reflecting a form of social Darwinism, Nietzsche envisions an aristocratic order that draws its inspiration from art rather than the rationalism embodied in the history of natural and political philosophy.

Author Biography

Ann Wardis associate professor of philosophy and classics-political studies at Campion College at the University of Regina; she is also author of Herodotus and the Philosophy of Empire, editor of Socrates: Reason or Unreason as the Foundation of European Identity, and coeditor with Lee Ward of The Ashgate Research Companion to Federalism.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Ancient Science, Natural Teleology, And The Order Of Politicsp. 1
The Polis Philosophersp. 3
The Immortality of the Soul and the Origin of the Cosmos in Plato's Phaedop. 19
Plato's Science of Living Wellp. 35
Understanding Aristotle's Politics through Form and Matterp. 45
Heavenly Perfection And Psychic Harmonyp. 55
Making "Men See Clearly": Physical Imperfection and Mathematical Order in Ptolemy's Syntaxisp. 57
Realism and Liberalism in the Naturalistic-Psychological Roots of Averro√ęs Critique of Plato's Republicp. 71
Skepticism, Mechanism, And The New Politicsp. 85
Skepticism, Science, and Politics in Montaigne's Essaysp. 87
Parmenidean Intuitions in Descartes's Theory of the Heart's Motionp. 103
Hobbes's Natural Condition and his Natural Science of the Mind in Leviathanp. 119
Hobbes and Aristotle: Science and Politicsp. 133
From Metaphysics to Ethics and Beyond: Hobbes's Reaction to Aristotelian Essentialismp. 147
Hobbes and Aristotle on Biology, Reason, and Reproductionp. 163
The Scientific Roots Of Liberalism And Contemporary "BioPolitics"p. 177
Locke and the Problematic Relation between Natural Science and Moral Philosophyp. 179
Rousseau's Botanical-Political Problem: On the Nature of Nature and Political Philosophyp. 195
Contrasting Biological and Humanistic Approaches to the Evolution of Political Moralityp. 211
Dialogue of the Sciences and the Humanitiesp. 229
Indexp. 235
Notes on Contributorsp. 239
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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