Nature and the Artificial

Aristotelian Reflections on the Operative Imperative

By (author) Edward Engelmann

Hardback - £77.00

Publication date:

21 March 2017

Length of book:

184 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9781498538848

For years now much attention has been given to the phenomenon of the artificial. Speculation regarding “what is real?” abounds in the sciences, literature, as well as films and other visual arts. This work presents the first critical, sustained, philosophical study on this topic.
Nature and the Artificial: Aristotelian Reflections on the Operative Imperative reveals the inner logic of the artificial by reflecting it off the metaphysical relationship between nature and techne as conceived by Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. During early modernity, figures such as Descartes and Bacon transformed this understanding, giving rise to the notion of the “operative imperative.” Nature and techne, for the Aristotelian tradition and for us, can only be understood in terms of their dialectical relationship to one another. Aristotle articulates this relationship with the phrase “techne imitates nature.” With the operative imperative, however, a certain reversal takes place, whereby techne becomes the paradigm for nature. As Ed Engelmann demonstrates, the operative imperative, together with the phenomenon of the artificial it implies, stands to Aristotelian metaphysics of nature as image is to original.
Anyone who believes that the rise of the artificial in our civilization needs the intensive study it deserves—as well as those who are seeking innovative insights into Aristotelian tradition—will want to read this book.
In his very wide ranging book Englemann offers a new and original understanding of the transition from the sciences of Aristotle to the beginnings of the “new sciences” of the 17th century and traces the rise of the artificial as a preferred model for the explanation of nature. The power of the book lies in the details and insights he offers in his close examination of Aristotelianism, early modern science, and the sciences of the artificial. He begins with theories of causation in the middle ages and ends by considering consciousness in machines. A valuable contribution to both philosophy and the history of ideas.