MAN AN?

NATURE
--,
Seyyed Hossein Nasr was born in Tehran where he
received his early education. He later studied in the West
and received his B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard
University, where he studied the History of Science and
Learning with special concentration on Islamic science and
philosophy. In 1958 he returned to Iran and taught at
Tehran University where he was Professor of the History
of Science and Philosophy. From 1974 he was also
president and founder of the Iranian Academy of Philoso-
phy: He is now Professor of Islamic Studies at the George
Washington University, Washington DC, in the USA. He
is the author of Ideals and Realities of Islam, Living Sufism
'"d !<Iamie Lif< .. d Tb,.gbt ( .U Unwin Hym'")· (
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OTHER WORKS BY SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR
IN EUROPEAN LANGUAGES
Three Muslim Sages
Ideals and Realities of Islam
An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines
Science and Civilization in Islam
Living Sufism (also as Sufi Essays)
An Annotated Bibliography of Islamic Science
Islam and the Plight of Modern Man
Islamic Sci<mce: An Illustrated Study
The Transcendent Theosophy of Sadr al-Din Shirazi
Islamic Life and Thought
Knowledge and the Sacred
Islamic Art and Spirituality
Need for a Sacred Science
The Islamic Philosophy of Science
MAN AND NATURE
The Spiritual Crisis of
Modern Man
SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR
MANDALA
UNWIN PAPERBACKS
London Boston Sydney Wellington
(
First published by George Allen & Unwin in 1968
Reprinted in 1976 and 1988
First published by Unwin® Paperbacks,
an imprint of Unwin Hyman Limited, in 1990
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British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, 1933-
[Encounter of man and nature] Man and nature_
1. Man. Ecology -Religious viewpoint'
1.[ Encounter of man and nature] I l. Title
291.1 '78362
ISBN 7
Printed in <_;rcat Britain b\· Cox & W\·nun Ltd, Reading
TO MARCO PALLIS
\
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The lectures upon which this book are based, and
part of the publication costs, were supported by
a grant by the Rockefeller Foundaton to the
University of Chicago.
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
In the N arne of God, Most Merciful,
Most Compassionate
It is a sign of the present state of humanity that only such blatant acts
of aggression against nature as major oil spills, the burning of tropical
forests and the consequences of man's rape of nature and his
destructive technology in the form of the warming of the climate and
the depleting of the ozone layer should turn the attention of modern
man to the environmental crisis. It has taken the innocent eyes of dying
seals to finally move hardened hearts and force human beings to think
about the consequences of living on the earth as if no other creature
mattered. When this book was first written, the ecological crisis had
already arrived ·but few saw its consequences or spoke of it and fewer
still sought to delve into the more profound causes for its occurrence.
The rapidly deteriorating conditions of the environment soon made
the crisis evident but still complacency continued until only recently
when the external threat has become so great that a kind of popular
reaction, a vox populi, has begun to make itself heard, joined- by a
chorus of experts who have finally joined the earlier lonely voices of
environmentalists and nature lovers. Prophets of doom now abound
and "green parties" have mushroomed everywhere.
The moving force for those movements remains, however, by and
large purely external. For a humanity turned towards outwardness by
the very processes of modernization, it is not so easy to see that the
blight wrought upon the environment is in reality an externalization
of the destitution of the inner state of the soul of that humanity whose
actions are responsible for the ecological crisis. Consequently,
overbearing summer heat, drought and dying seals have to remind us
that all is not well in that earthly abode for whose sake modern man
forewent his quest for Heaven and which he is now destroying with
unprecedented ferocity.
And precisely because of the loss of the dimension of inwardness,
much of the effort of those involved with environmental issues turns
3
Man and Nature
to one form or another of environmental engineering. Many claim,
for example, that if we could only change our means of transportation
and diminish the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy, the problem
would be solved or at least ameliorated. Few ask, however, why it is
that modern man feels the need to travel so much. Why is the domicile
of much of humanity so ugly and life so boring that the type of man
most responsible for the environmental crisis has to escape the areas
he has helped to vilify and take his pollution with him to the few still
well-preserved areas of the earth in order to continue to function?
Why must modern man consume so much and satiate his so-called
needs only outwardly? Why is he unable to draw from any inward
sustenance? We are, needless to say, not opposed to better care of the
planet through the use of wiser means of production, transportation,
etc. than those which exist today. Alternative forms of technology are
to be welcomed and such institutions as the New Alchemy Institute
of Cape Cod in America must be praised. But such feats of science
and engineering alone will not solve the problem. There is no choice
but to answer these and similar questions and to bring to the fore the
spiritual dimension and the historical roots of the ecological crisis
which many refuse to take into consideration to this day.
One of the chief causes for this lack of acceptance of the spiritual
dimension of the ecological crisis is the survival of a scientism which
continues to present modem science not as a particular way of knowing
nature, but as a complete and totalitarian philosophy which reduces all
reality to the physical domain and does not wish under any condition
to accept the possibility of the existence of non-scientistic world-views.
While not denying the legitimacy of a science limited to the physical
dimension of reality, alternative world-views drawn from traditional
doctrines remain constantly aware of the inner nexus which binds
physical nature to the realm of the Spirit, and the outward face of things
to an inner reality which they at once veil and reveal. This reductionism
and scientism has prevented Western science, for the most part, from
turning to the more inward causes of the environmental crisis, while
many individual scientists become ever more interested in ecological
questions and even somewhat more responsible for the often catas-
trophic effects of their "disinterested" and "pure" research.
4
Preface to the l:Jew Edition
During the past two decades as awareness of the environmental
crisis has increased, numerous vocal groups and even political parties
have sprung up to defend the environment. Until recendy, however,
most of these have had a leftish tendency with a tone decisively
opposed to established religions, although this is now changing
somewhat. While some have sought to convert the ecological
movement into a religion itself, many who are also interested in
religion have turned to religious movements of doubtful origin and
in any case outside the established churches in theW est. The churches,
meanwhile, did not react until quite recendy to develop "a theology
of ecology" drawing from the depth of the Christian tradition as
suggested originally in this book. At the same time, a few marginal
figures who have taken the ecological crisis seriously from a Christian
theological point of view have either moved away from theological
orthodoxy or beendis9wned by the mainstream established churches.
Still, there is some sign of hope in this direction as the spiritual legacy
of certain branches of the orthodox Christian tradition, such as the
Celtic Church with its love of nature, begins to be resuscitated in
certain quarters.
In the meantime, much of the onus of responsibility for the
ecological crisis is placed by many scientists, historians and even a few
theologians, not upon certain developments within Western civiliza-
tion starting with the late Middle Ages, the· Renaissance and the
seventeenth century, but upon the whole of the monotheistic tradition
as seen in the writings of as well known a figure as Arnold Toynbee.
Such thinkers forget that the pure monotheism of Islam w h i c ~
belongs to the same Abrahamic tradition as Judaism and Christianity
never lost sight of the sacred quality of nature as asserted by the Quran, ·
and that Oriental Christianity and Judaism never developed the
attitude of simple domination and plunder of nature that developed
later in the history of the West.
The result of this frontal attack against the monotheistic religions
in general and Western Christianity in particular by many proponents
of a sane ecological policy, combined until recendy with an aloofness
on the part of orthodox Christian theologians towards the theological
significance of nature and the need for its "resacralization", has led to a
5
Man and Nature
strange wedding in many instances between ecological movements
and all kinds of pseudo-religious sects or the development of such
heterodox and in fact dangerous so-called "synthese" as "the new
religion" of Teilhardism. In either case despite claims to the contrary,
the ecological movement has become deprived of the revivifying
breath of authentic spirituality and the significance of the veritable
spiritual dimension of the ecological crisis has become forgotten, for
there is no authentic spirituality without orthodoxy understood in
the most universal sense of the term.
Modern man, faced with the unprecedented crisis of his own
making which now threatens the life of the whole planet, still refuses
to see where the real causes of the problem lie. He turns his gaze to
the Book of Genesis and the rest of the Bible as the source of the crisis
rather than looking upon the gradual de-sacralization of the cosmos
which took place in the West and especially the rationalism and
humanism of the Renaissance which made possible the Scientific
Revolution and the creation of a science whose function, according
to Francis Bacon, one of its leading proponents, was to gain power
over nature, dominate her and force her to reveal her secrets not for
the glory of God but for the sake of gaining worldly power and wealth.
Today, this forest is destroyed because of man's rights; that sea is
polluted because of man's supposed needs. Man is made absolute, his
"rights" dominating over both God's rights and the rights of His
creation. Medieval European man was always aware that only God
was absolute and that he was relative. Even if he did not often heed
the call of certain of his saints and sages such as St Francis, to appreciate
the salvific beauty of the natural order, he never dreamt of turning
himself and especially his earthly existence into something absolute.
The very reality of the Beyond prevented him from sacrificing every-
thing for an earthly life which would in any case be transitory, and
the very blinding Majesty of God as the Absolute made it impossible
for him ever to consider himself as being in any way absolute. The
absolutization of the human state is a heritage of the European Renais-
sance whose deadly consequences are being manifested only today,
even if few realize even now the dangerous role of this humanism in
the present impasse created in man's relation with the natural order.
6
Preface to the Nea: Edition
This humanism, embedded strangely enough in the anti-humanism
of scientific rationalism, refuses to see the underlying causes of the
ecological crisis and cuts Western man from the very spiritual sources
which could help save him from the present crisis. Nothing is more
dangerous in the current ecological debate than that scientistic view
of man and nature which cuts man from his spiritual roots and takes
a desacralized nature for granted while expanding its physical
boundaries by billions of light years. This view destroys the reality of
the spiritual world while speaking of awe before the grandeur of the
cosmos. It destroys man's centrality in the cosmic order and his access
to the spiritual world while speaking of the incredible science-fiction
of the evolution of man frorri the original soup of molecules which
supposedly contained the whole of cosmic reality at the beginning
following the big bang. Having devastated nature through the
application of a science of a purely material order combined with
greed, modern man now wishes to put the blame at the door of the
whole Western religious tradition. But because the reality of the Spirit
is such that it cannot be denied by any form of sophism or limited
science of the material order, the ecological crisis cannot be solved
without paying particular attention to the spiritual dimension of the
problem. Nor can one ignore the historical roots of this c r i s i s ~ h i c h
reveal the significance of the spiritual and intellectual factors involved
and make .evident the role of religion in the unfolding of the drama
which has led to the present crisis.
In the pages which follow we have sought to delve into the roots
of the ecological crisis through recourse to the history of science as
well as philosophy and religion in theW est. Since the rise of awareness
in the ecological crisis, some effort has been spent to make correct use
of these disciplines and especially the history of science to clarify the
roots of the present day impasse, but these efforts have been minor
compared to the dimensions of the problems. Most historians of
s c i e ~ c e still see the subject of their field as the continuous glorious
march of science towards an even greater degree of knowledge of and
power over nature. The positivism of the history of science which has
dominated the field since its founding by E. Mach and G. Sarton,
whose perspective gained victory over the non-positivistic views of
7
Man and Nature
P. Duhem, continues to hold sway over most practitioners of the
discipline. Nor is the situation much better in the field of philosophy
with the dominating positivism which pervades it.
As far as the history of science is concerned, during the 1960s and
the student unrest in American universities at least one group of
students invaded a history of science department in a leading
American university specifically demanding a new role for the history
of science, which should not be to trace the major "breakthroughs" of
science but to explain how the cultivation and application of Western
science has placed man in such a desperate position. Yet, by and large,
a transformation of aim and direction on the part of this discipline in
the West is not observable anywhere on a major scale, and the interest
of students in studying the history of science to discover other sciences
of nature and means of finding a path out of the present day morass
usually outruns the interest of professors teaching them. This is still
the norm despite a few notable exceptions.
We had also originally proposed the rediscovery of the tt:aditional
cosmologies of the Oriental traditions as means of gaining a new vision
of the world of nature and its significance. This too has taken place
to a notable degree in the years that have passed, but not always in
a meaningful or wholesome way. There have been fine new
translations and expositions of authentic traditional sources bearing
upon the symbolism of natural forms and vario·us traditional
cosmologies. But for the most part the flood of material on these
subjects has entered the arena of modern man's life garbed in the dress
of occultism and riding the wave of the pseudo-religious movements
with which so much of this type of material is associated. It seems that
again with certain noteworthy exceptions (seen in the writings of such
men as Huston Smith, Theodore Roszak, Wolfgang Smith and Jacob
Needleman in America and Keith Critchlow, Gilbert Durand and
Elemire Zolla in Europe-men who have sought to rediscover the
traditional sciences from the traditional perspective), there is now an
extreme polarization of a most dangerous kind. Departments of
philosophy and much of the humanities in universities continue to be
immersed in the closed world of logic devoid of transcendence, while
the "fringe" or "counter-culture" is seeking for transcendence (often
8
Preface to the New Edition
in the dress of immanence) but is impervious to the logic which
emanates from the inner Intellect and also to revelation, which is also a
manifestation of the Universal Intellect or Logos. How rare is that
vision contained in the majestic work of Frithjof Schuon, Logic and
Transcendence, where from the perspective of tradition a universal
panorama is unfolded in which both logic and transcendence receive
their appropriate due.
Finally, in the pages which follow we had clearly stated that the
ecological crisis is only an externalization of an inner malaise and
cannot be solved without a spiritual rebirth of Western man. This
theme has been followed forcefully by a number of authors since this
work was first written mcluding Theodore Roszak in his Where the
Wasteland Ends and occasionally in certain of his other writings and
Philip Sherrard in his The Rape of Man and Nature. However, except
for the exponents of traditional doctrines such as Frithjof Schuon,
Titus Burckhardt, Marco Pallis and Martin Lings, whose works are
often cited in this book, the forces for a genuine renewal within the
religious traditions in the West have not advanced appreciably, there
being notable exceptions such as those who follow the teachings of
Thomas Merton. There have also been noteworthy groups interested
in the Western tradition but not of a directly religious background
such as the Lindisfarne School and the T emenos circle which are•worth
mentioning in this connection. Nevertheless, it has been the forces
that wish to repeat the errors of modernism within the very structure
of Western religious doctrines and rites that have gained ascendancy,
forcing many thoughtful people to seek elsewhere for genuine
traditional teachings.
It is still our hope that as the crisis created by man's forgetfulness
of who he really is grows and that as the idols of his own making
crumble one by one before his eyes, he will begin a true reform of him-
self, which always means a spiritual rebirth and through his rebirth
attain a new harmony with the world of nature around him. Other-
wise, it is hopeless to expect to live in harmony with that grand
theophany which is virgin nature, while remaining oblivious and
indifferent to the Source of that theophany both beyond nature and
at the centre of man's being. May the following pages be a humble aid
9
)
Man and Nature
in drawing attention to the roots of the problems of which so many
discern the outward signs, roots which lie deep in the hardened and
forgetful mind of modern man, whose destiny nevertheless calls upon
him to fulfil his role as God's viceregent on earth, protector of the
natural order, and witness to the truth that Om;1is natura Deo loquitur
(The whole of nature speaks of God).
1
To destroy the natural
environment is therefore to fail in one's humanity. It is to commit a
veritable crime against creation, for "The seven heavens and the earth
and all that they contain extol His limitless Glory; and there is not a
single thing but extols His limitless Glory and Praise."
2
SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR
Washington, DC
October 1989 AD
Rabi' al-awwal141 0 AH
1
Hugo of St Victor, Eruditio Didascalica, 6.5 p. 176, 1 .805.
2
Quran XVI (Banu Isra'il); 44, Muhammad Asad trans. modified.
10
CONTENTS
Preface to theN ew Edition
page 3
Introduction
13
I The Problem
17
II The Intellectual and Historical Causes
51
III Some Metaphysical Principles Pertaining toN ature 81
IV Certain Applications to the ContemporarySituation 114
Index
145
..,.
INTRODUCTION
The chapters of this book are based on four lectures delivered
at the University of Chicago during May 1966, and forming
part of a series of that take place at that University
under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation. The aim
of these lectures is to investigate in the broadest sense the problems
posed for peace and human life itself by the various applications
of modem science.
The very fact that such lectures are held annually attests the
apprehension existing in many circles today about the misdeeds
of technology and the threat of science and technology to peace.
Causes are sought for the present disorder whose existence is
so obvious that few can any longer afford to ignore it. But only
have the underlying and essential causes been brought to
light perhaps partly because if they were to be made known
there would have to be a radical change in the very thought
pattern of many of those who discern the ill effects of
these causes. And this change few are willing to accept or to
undergo.
Everyone talks today of the danger of war, over-population
or the pollution of air and water. But usually the same people
who discern these obvious problems speak of the necessity of
funher 'development', or war against 'human misery' stemming
from conditions imposed by terrestrial existence itself. In other
words they wish to remove the problems brought about by the
destruction of the equilibrium between man and nature through
funher conquest and domination of nature. Few would be
willing to_admit that the acutest social and technical problems
facing mankind today come not from so-called 'under develop-
ment' but from 'over-development'. Few are willing to look
reality in the face and accept the fact that there is no peace
possible in human society as long as the attitude toward nature
and the whole natural environment is one based on aggression
and war. Funhermore, perhaps not all realize that in order to
gain this peace with nature there must be peace with the spiritual
13
Man and Nature
order. To be at peace with the Earth one must be at peace with
Heaven.
There is no way for man to defend his humanity and not be
dragged through his own inventions and machinations to the
infra-human, except by remaining faithful to the image of man
as a reflection of something that transcends the merely human.
Peace in human society and the preservation of human values
are impossible without peace with the natural and spiritual
orders and respect for the immutable supra-human realities
which are the source of all that is called 'human values'.
The thesis presented in this book is simply this: that although
science is legitimate in itself, the role and function of science
and its application have become illegitimate and even dangerous
because of the lack of a higher form of knowledge into which
science could be integrated and the destruction of the sacred
and spiritual value of nature. To remedy this situation the
metaphysical knowledge pertaining to nature must be revived
and the sacred quality of nature given back to it once again.
In order to accomplish this end the history and· philosophy of
science must be reinvestigated in relation to Christian theology
and the traditional philosophy of nature which existed during
most of European history. Christian doctrine itself should be
enlarged to include a doctrine concerning the spiritual sig-
nificance of nature and this with the aid of Oriental metaphysical
and religious traditions where such doctrines are still alive.
These traditions would not be so much a source of new knowledge
as an aid to anamnui.s, to the remembrance of teachings within
Christianity now mostly forgotten. The result would be the
bestowal once again of a sacred quality upon nature, providing
a new background for the sciences without negating their value
or legitimacy within their own domain. It would be the very
antithesis of the movement current today under the name of
'secular theology'. It would mean not to secularize theology but
to bestow a theological and sacred significance upon what modem
man considers to be most secular of all domains, namely science.
When we were invited to deliver these lectures in 1966, the
14
Introduction
choice of our name was due particularly to the fact of our being
a follower of a non-Western religion and culture, yet somewhat
acquainted with modern science and its history and philosophy.
In accepting this perhaps audacious task of acting as an Oriental
critic of the West and thus reversing what orientalists have been
doing for over a century about all Eastern cultures and religions,
we felt it was imperative to step beyond the boundaries of modern
science or even the disciplines of the history and philosophy of
science to delve into questions of a metaphysical and theological
order. Furthermore, in carrying out the programme outlined
above we also had to step beyond the confines of Western
civilization into the vast domain that is called comparative
religion today. This whole travail was undertaken with the hope
of finding once again a sacred foundation for science itself.
To carry out such a vast programme requires knowledge of
many disciplines and access to sources in many languages. We
do not by any means claim to possess a mastery of all of these
domains nor of all the languages involved. Because of these
reasons as well as the limited time at our disposal for the pre-
paration of these lectures, we have often made use of secondary
sources. In fact most of the notes, excluding those which serve
as reference, are meant to be additional support for our argu"'"fnents
and not their scholarly proof. The thesis presented is essentially
metaphysical and philosophical and should be considered in
itself irrespective of whether all the necessary scholarly footnotes
are provided or not. In the notes we have not sought to exhaust
the sources that substantiate our position nor to provide all the
scholarly proofs necessary to convince the sceptical reader but
to provide certain evidence and to point out the way for further
investigation by others. These essays do not claim at all to be
exhaustive but are a humble introduction to a type of investiga-
tion that has not as yet been pursued to any appreciable extent.
To do full justice to all the themes treated here would need many
volumes and the collaboration of many scholars working in a
domain that cuts across several academic disciplines including
the history of science, philosophy of science and comparative
15
Man and Nature
religion. We only hope that the ideas presented here will stimulate
some thinking in a constructive direction toward the solution of
a problem that is both urgent and vital and will not simply be
brushed aside by the would-be critics because of lack of full
historical and scholarly evidence, a role which these essays have
not been meant to fulfil.
In conclusion we wish to thank the Divinity School, the
Department of Biological Sciences and the Center of Middle
Eastern Studies of the University of Chicago who acted as
host for these lectures and to Dean Jerald Brauer and particularly
Professor John Rust of the same University for their assistance
and kindness in making both the lectures and their publication
possible.
Tehran
December 1967
Ramadan 1387
SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR
Chapter I
The Problem
Of late, numerous studies have been made concerning the
crisis brought about by modern science and its applications, but
few have sought the profound intellectual and historical causes
that are responsible for this state of affairs. When invited to
deliver a series of lectures in this University on the meaning of
war and struggle for the preservation of human dignity under
conditions which threaten human existence itself, we felt that it
would be more appropriate to deal with principles and causes
rather than contingencies and effects, one of which is the problem
of moral action on the social and human level, together with the
possible consequence of war which modern technology and
science have made total. We hope, therefore, to state the problem
which has resulted from the encounter of man and nature today,
then to seek the underlying causes that have brought this condi-
tion about and to cite the principles whose neglect h a v ~ maeie the
modern crisis so acute.
Today, almost everyone living in the urbanized centres of the
Western world feels intuitively a lack of something in life. This
is due directly to the creation of an artificial environment from
which nature has been excluded to the greatest possible extent.
Even the religious man in such circumstances has lost the sense
of the spiritual significance of nature.
1
The domain of nature
has become a 'thing' devoid of meaning, and at the same time
the void created by the disappearance of this vital aspect of
human existence continues to live within the souls of men and to
manifest itself in many ways, sometimes violently and desper-
ately. Furthermore, even this type of secularized and urbanized
existence is itself threatened, through the very domination of
nature that has made it possible, so that the crisis brought about
17
Man and Nature
through the encounter of man and nature and the application of
the modern sciences of nature to technology has become a matter
of common concern.
1
Despite all the official clamour about the ever increasing
domination over nature, and the so-called progress which is
supposed to be its economic concomitant, many realize in their
hearts that the castles they are building are on sand and that there
is a disequilibrium between man and nature that threatens all
man's apparent victory over nature.
The dangers brought about by man's domination over nature
are too well known to need elucidation. Nature has become
desacralized for modern man, although this process itself has been
carried to its logical conclusion only in the case of a small
minority.
3
Moreover, nature has come to be regarded as some-
thing to be used and enjoyed to the fullest extent possible. Rather
than being like a married woman from whom a man benefits but
also towards whom he is responsible, for modern man nature has
become like a prostitute-to be benefited from without any sense
of obligation and responsibility toward her. The difficulty is that
the condition of prostituted nature is becoming such as to make
any further enjoyment of it impossible. And, in fact, that is why
many have begun to worry about its condition.
It is precisely the 'domination of nature' that has caused the
p r o b l e ~ of over-population, the lack of 'breathing space', the
coagulation and congestion of city life, the exhaustion of natural
resources of all kinds, the destruction of natural beauty, the
marring of the living environment by means of the machine and
its products, the abnormal rise in mental illnesses and a thousand
and one other difficulties some of which appear completely
insurmountable.
4
And finally, it is the same 'domination of
nature', limited to external nature and coupled with giving com-
plete freedom to the animal nature within man, that has made the
problem of war so crucial, war which seems unavoidable, yet
because ofits total and almost 'cosmic' nature brought about by
moderf! technology, must be avoided.
The sense of domination over nature and a materialistic con-
IS
Tl&e Prohlem
ception of nature on the part of modem man are combined,
moreover, with a lust and sense of greed which makes an ever
greater ·demand upon the environment.
5
Incited by the elusive
dream of economic progress, considered as an end in itself, a
sense of the unlimited power of man and his possibilities is
developed, together with the belief, particularly well developed
in America, of boundless and illimitable possibilities within
things, as if the world of forms were not finite and bound by
the very limits of those forms.'
Man wants to dominate nature not only for economic motives
but also for a 'mystique' which is a direct residue of a one-time
spiritual relation vis-a-vis nature. Men no longer climb spiritual
mountains-or at least rarely do so. They now want to conquer all
mountain peak.s.
7
They wish to deprive the mountain of all its
majesty by overcoming it-preferably through the most difficult
line of ascent. When the experience of flight to the heavens,
symbolized in Christianity by the spiritual experience of the
Divine Comedy and in Islam by the nocturnal ascension (al-mi'nij)
of the Prophet Mul:tammad (upon whom be· peace) is no
longer available to men, there remains the urge to fly into space
and conquer the heavens. There is everywhere the desire to
conquer nature, but in the process the value of the conqueror
himself, who is man, is destroyed and his very existence threat-
ened.
Rather than man deciding the value of science and technology,
these creations of man have become the criteria of man's worth
and value.
8
Practically the only protest that is heard is that of the
conservationists and other lovers of nature. Their voice, although
of much value, is not fully heard because their arguments are
often taken as being sentimental rather than intellectual. Well-
known theologians and philosophers have for the most part
remained silent or have bent backwards in order to avoid offend-
~ the prevailing scientific mood of the day. Only rarely has any
votce been raised to show that the current belief in the domination
of nature is the usurpation, from the religious point of view, of
man's role as the custodian and guardian of nature.'
19
Man and Nature
The sciences of nature themselves, which are in one sense the
fruit, and in another the cause of the present crisis of man's
encounter with nature, have themselves, through a gradual
process which we shall examine later, become secularized. And
this secularized knowledge of nature divorced from the vision
of God in nature has become accepted as the sole legitimate form
of science.
10
Moreover, due to the distance separating the scientist
from the layman a major distortion and discrepancy has been
created between scientific theories and their vulgarization upon
which their supposed theological and philosophical implications
are too often based.
11
Altogether one can say that the problem concerns both the
sciences and the means whereby they are understood, interpreted
and applied. There are crises in the domains of both understand-
ing and application. The power of reason given to man, his ratio,
which is like the projection or subjective prolongation of the
intellect or the intellectus, divorced from its principle, has be-
come like an acid that burns its way through the fibre of cosmic
order and threatens to destroy itself in the process. There is
nearly total disequilibrium between modern man and nature as
attested by nearly every expression of modern civilization which
seeks to offer a challenge to nature rather than to co-operate
with it.
That the harmony between man and nature has been destroyed,
is a fact which most people admit. But not everyone realizes that
this disequilibrium is due to the destruction of the harmony
between man and God.
12
It involves a relationship which con-
cerns all knowledge. And in fact the modern sciences themselves
are the fruit of a set of factors which, far from being limited to
the domain of nature, concern all Western man's intellectual and
religious heritage. Because of this, or often as a reaction against
it, the modem sciences have come into being. That is the reason
why it is necessary to begin our analysis by turning firstly to the
natural sciences and the views held concerning their philosophical
and theological significance, and then to the limitations inherent
within them which are responsible for the crisis that their appli-
w
Tlr.e Problem
cation, and the acceptance of their world view, have brought
about for modern man.
It must never be forgotten that for non-modem man--whether he
be ancient or contemporary-the very stuff of the Universe has a
sacred aspect. The cosmos speaks to man and all of its phenomena
contain meaning. They are symbols of a higher degree of reality
which the cosmic domain at once veils and reveals. The very
structure of the cosmos contains a spiritual message for man
and is thereby a revelation coming from the same source as
religion itself.ll Both are the manifestations of the Universal
Intellect, the Logos, and the cosmos itself is an integral part of
that total Universe of meaning in which man lives and dies.
14
In order for the modern sciences of nature to come into being,
the substance of the cosmos had first to be emptied of its sacred
character and become profane. The world view of modem science,
especially as propagated through its vulgarization, itself con-
tributed to this secularization of nature and of natural substances.
The symbols in nature became facts, entities in themselves that
are totally divorced from other orders of reality. The cosmos
which had been transparent thus became opaque and spiritually
meaningless-at least to those who were totally immersedin the
scientific view of nature--even if individual scientists believed
otherwise. The traditional sciences such as alchemy, which can
be compared to the celebration of a cosmic mass, became reduced
to a chemistry in which the substances had lost all their sacra-
mental character. In the process, the sciences of nature lost their
symbolic intelligibility, a fact that is most directly responsible for
the crisis which the modern scientific world view and its applica-
tions have brought about.
15
The quantitative character of modern science must be pou1ted
out in particular because it exists as a general tendency which
seeks as an ideal the reduction of all quality to quantity and all
that is essential in the metaphysical sense to the material and sub-
stantial.16 The suffocating material environment created by in-
dustrialization and mechanization, which is felt by all who live
.2.1
Man anti Nature
in large urban centres of today, is a consequence of the purely
material and quantitative nature of the sciences whose applica-
tions have made industrialization possible. Moreover, due to the
lack of a total world view of a metaphysical nature into which the
modern sciences could he integrated, the symbolic aspect of
number and quantity is itself forgotten. The Pythagorean-
Platonic number theory has been made to appear, like so many
other traditional sciences, as an old wives' tale.
The quantitative sciences of nature which, moreover, are a
possible and in the appropriate circumstances legitimate science,
come in fact to he the only valid and acceptable sciences of nature.
All other knowledge of the natural and cosmic orders is deprived
of the status of science and relegated to the rank of sentimentality
or superstition. It seems as if modern science has made a condition
of its acceptance the rejection of knowledge about the root of
existence itself, although again many scientists as individuals may
not share this view.
17
The total impact of modern science on the
mentality of men has been to provide them with a knowledge
of the accidents of things, provided they are willing to forgo
a knowledge of the substance that underlies all things. And it is
this limitation which threatens the most dire circumstances for
man as an integral heing.
18
The very restrictive outlook connected with modern science
makes the knowledge of cosmology in the true sense impossible
in the matrix of the modern scientific world view. Cosmology
is a science dealing with all orders of formal reality, of which the
material order is hut one aspect. It is a sacred science which is
hound to he connected to revelation and metaphysical doctrine
in whose bosom alone it becomes meaningful and efficacious.
Today there is no modern cosmology, and the use of the word
is really a usurpation of a term whose original meaning has been
forgotten.
19
A cosmology which is based solely on the material
and corporeal level of existence, however far it may extend into
the galaxies, and which is moreover based on individual con-
jectures that change from day to day, is not real cosmology. It is
a generalized view of a terrestrial physics and chemistry, and as
2.2.
The Problem
has been pointed out by certain Christian theologians and
philosophers, it is really devoid of any direct theological signifi-
cance unless it be by accident.
20
Moreover, it is based on a material
physics which tends to ever greater analysis and division of
matter with the ideal of reaching the 'ultimate' matter at the basis
of the world, an ideal however, which can never be attained
because of the ambiguity and unintelligibility lying within the
nature of matter and the border of chaos separating formal
matter from that 'pure matter' which medieval philosophers
called materia prima.
21
The disappearance of a real cosmology in the West is due in
general to the neglect of metaphysics, and more particularly to a
failure to remember the hierarchies of being and of knowledge.
The multiple levels of reality are reduced to a single psycho-
physical domain, as if the third dimension were suddenly to be
taken out of our vision of a landscape. As a result, not only has
cosmology become reduced to the particular sciences of material
substances, but in a more general sense the tendency of reducing
the higher to the lower, and conversely trying to make the greater
come into being out of the lesser, has become widely prevalent.
With the destruction of all notion of hierarchy in reality, the
rapport between degrees of knowledge and the correspondence
between various levels of reality upon which the ancient and
medieval sciences were based have disappeared, causing t h e s ~
sciences to appear as superstition (in the etymological sense of
this word) and as something whose principle or basis has been
destroyed or forgotten.
Metaphysics is similarly reduced to rationalistic philosophy,
and thic; philosophy itself has become gradually the ancillary of
the natural and mathematical sciences, to the extent that some
modern schools consider the only role of philosophy to be to
elucidate the methods and clarify the logical consistencies of the
sciences. The independent critical function which reason should
exercise vis-a-vis science, which is its own creation, has dis-
appeared so that this child of the human mind has itself become
the judge of human values and the criterion of truth. In this pro-
2.3
Man and Nature
cess of reduction in which the independent and critical role of
philosophy has itself been surrendered to the edicts of modern
science, it is often forgotten that the scientific revolution pf the
seventeenth century is itself based upon a particular philosophical
position. It is not the science of nature but a science making certain
assumptions as to the nature of reality, time, space, matter, etc.
21
But once these assumptions were made and a science came into
being based upon them, they have been comfortably forgotten
and the results of this science made to be the determining factor
as to the true nature of reality.
23
That is why it is necessary to
turn, albeit briefly, to the view of modern scientists and philoso-
phers of science as to the significance of modern science especially
physics in determining the meaning of the total nature of things.
Whether we like it or not, it is precisely such views that determine
much of the modern conception of nature accepted by the general
public, and they are thereby important elements in the general
problem of the encounter of man and nature.
Without going into detail regarding the different schools of the
philosophy of science, a task for which others are much better
prepared than we, and which has in fact been carried out fully in
several recent works/
4
it is necessary to describe some of the
trends which pertain more directly to our discussion. Of these
perhaps the most influential, certainly in English speaking
countries, has been logical positivism born from the Vienna
circle of R. Camap, Ph. Frank, H. Reichenbach and others.
25
Seeking to remove the last spectre of metaphysical significance
from modern science, the followers of this school believe that it
is not for science to discover the nature of things, or some aspect
of the real. It is to establish connections between mathematical
and physical signs (which they call symbols) that can be elabor-
ated through the external senses and scientific instruments, con-
cerning that experience which appears to us as the external world.
Although this school has been instrumental in codifying and
clarifying some of the definitions and logical procedures of
modem science, particularly physics, it has also deprived science
24
The Problem
of the most important element that the Middle Ages bequeathed
to it, namely the quest for the real. Contrary to the Greek
astronomers and mathematicians, for whom the role of mathe-
matical sciences was to conceive of conceptual models which
'save the phenomena', the Muslim scientists, followed later by the
Latins, believed that even in the domain of the mathematical
sciences the function of science was to discover an aspect of the
real. They applied the realism of Aristotelian biology and physics
to the domain of the most exact mathematical science of the day,
namely astronomy, and converted the epicyclic system of Ptolemy
from mathematical configurations to crystalline spheres which
formed a part of the real t ~ x t u r e of the .Universe.
In a later work of Ptolemy, of course, allusion is made to the
crystalline nature of the heavens. Yet it was the Muslim mathe-
maticians, followed by the Latin scientists, who universalized this
indication and made it a principle of all science to seek knowledge
of that domain of reality with which it is concerned. This attitude
was so central that despite the revolt of seventeenth century
science, especially against Aristotelianism, the belief that science
seeks to discover the nature of physical reality survived from
Galileo and Newton to modern times. It must also be added that
the positivists, who claim they are returning to the point ot view
ofthe Greek mathematicians and astronomers against the realism
of the Peripatetics, forget the fact that the Greek mathematicians
were also seeking after a knowledge of the real. For them, how-
ever, reality was not in phenomena but in mathematical re-
lations, which themselves possessed an ontological status thanks
to the Pythagorean philosophy, by which their thought was
permeated.
The positivistic interpretation of science is, in reality, an aim
to de-ontologize science completely-not by shifting the onto-
logical status from the physical domain to the Pythagorean-
Platonic world of archetypes connected with mathematics, but
by denying its ontological significance completely. It is with
justice that a critic of the positivist school such as J. Maritain
accuses it of confusing an empiriological analysis of things with
25
Man and Nature
their ontological analysis, and adds that modern physics 'de-
ontologizes things'.
26
Likewise, certain philosophers of science,
chief ambng them E. Meyerson, have insisted on the ontological
aspect that all science must perforce possessP
Closely akin to the positivist attitude is that of the operation-
alists connected in the domain of physics mostly with the name of
P. Bridgman. Based on the background of a disdain for a unified
world view and a monolithic methodology for science, this
school ties all significance in science to operations which can
define its concepts. The operation itself, rather than the real, is
the ultimate matrix of scientific knowledge. There is in i:he
operational philosophy a tinge of the pluralistic world of William
James, namely a disdain for a total philosophical and methodo-
logical background for science characteristic of the Anglo-
Saxon mentality in general, as compared with that of the Con-
tinent. One is reminded of the famous saying that 'science is
what scientists do'. There are different domains of inquiry
lacking a unified and universal theory;
28
'a multiverse rather than
a Universe' to quote the phrase of R. Oppenheimer.
Another school, which again bears a relationship to the positivist
point of view in its denial of a connection between the concepts of
science and the real, is sometimes c a l l ~ d logical non-realist.
Among its members, the most outstanding are H. Poincare and
P. Duhem, both well-known mathematicians and physicists.
Duhem is also an eminent historian of science,
29
and so in a sense is
E.Maeh, both physicist and philosopher and historian of science.
The question of whether other forms of knowledge can reach
the ground of reality is not relevant here, for the different
members of this school have held different views on the matter.
The ground on which they do agree is that the concepts derived
by intellection, and which constitute the laws and unimpeachable
content of modern science, are not discovered aspects of reality
with an ontological aspect. Rather, they are irreducible mental
concepts and subjective conventions of a linguistic nature
established by scientists so that they in tum can establish com-
munication with each other. Science is thereby conceived of as
2.6
Tlze Problem
knowledge of subjective notions rather than of the existence of an
objective reality.
30
There are others, like E. Cassirer followed by H. Morgenau,
who accept the irreducible concepts of science, and employ them,
but only as regulative concepts. For them these concepts are
accepted 'as if' they existed but actually possess only a regulative
status.
31
This group, which has been called neo-Kantian pre-
cisely because of its acceptance of the als ob status of concepts, a
point of view which after Kant was to be systematized by
Vaihinger, must therefore also be considered as non-realist and
opposed to granting science the power to understand the nature
of things.
There is further the group of logical realists opposed to the
two above for whom concepts derived through the intellect have
a logically realistic status; they refer to an ontological object of
knowledge. Among this group may be mentioned A. Griinebaum
and F. S. C. Northrop, both of whom emphasize the corre-
spondence between the concepts of mathematical physics and the
real.
31
Northrop especially seeks to show that both the New-
tonian-Kantian world of mathematical physics and the qualita-
tive vision of nature emphasized by Goethe, which he calls
natural historical, and whose knowledge is immediat'e and
aesthetic rather than abstract and mathematical, are ultimately
real.
33
The world is order or cosmos rather than chaos, one that
is alive as an organism and at the same time governed by law.
34
But once again in this schooHt is emphasized that the knowledge
derived from the sciences is the way that leads us to an ultimate
knowledge. of things. There is no hierarchy of knowledge, only
a knowledge of the corporeal domain which determines know-
ledge as such.
Among scientists themselves, particularly physicists, there have
b e ~ many who have realized that by being bound to quantitative
re1anonships science can never gain a knowledge of the ultimate
nature and root of things, but is bound to move always within
the ~ l o s e d and subjective world of 'pointer readings' and mathe-
tnattcal concepts. This view made popular particularly by A.
2.7
Man and Nature
Eddington
35
and in another vein by J. Jeans has been used to a
great extent by non-scientists to show the limitations of science
or the 'ideal' character of the world. Again, however, it has not
served the purpose of defining the domain of scientific knowledge
within a universal hierarchy of knowledge. Nevertheless the thesis
of Eddington that science because of its method is selective and
bound to a 'subjectively-selected knowledge' is certainly of
significance; yet it deals with only an aspect of reality and not the
whole of it, in the question of the relation between science,
philosophy and religion. It is a point of view that has been also
expounded, although in quite a different fashion, by A. N.
Whitehead. His process philosophy of nature has also sought to
display the richness of a reality with which science deals only in
part.
36
Other scientists have insisted that, rather than being a unified
methodological pursuit of knowledge, science is so inextricably
tied to the practice and history of science that its premisses
cannot be independently formulated.
37
It is a total activity, and
there is no point in speaking of a distinct and explicit philosophy
and method of science. Likewise, some scientists insist that physics
or other sciences cannot prove or disprove any particular philo-
sophic thesis, whether it be materialistic or idealistic, and that
one should not seek philosophical im:plications of scientific
theories and views.
38
Needless to say, this perspective is not totally
accepted, especially by non-scientist vulgarizers of science who
often see more general implications in scientific theories than the
scientists themselves.
In contrast to this group, certain other scientists have seen the
deepest implications in the theories of modern science whether it
be relativity or quantum mechanics, the· corpuscular theories of
light or the principle of indeterminancy.
39
Only too often the
significance of a particular scientific discovery is lifted far above
the confines of the domain of physics itself, as if the self-imposed
restrictions of modern science, which by its choosing is limited
to the quantitative aspect of things, were non-existent. The
theory of relativity is made to imply that there is nothing absolute,
2.8
1
Tlte Problem
as if all reality were only physical motion. The principle of inde-
temunacy is made to mean the freedom of the human will or
lack of a nexus of causality between things. The hypothesis of
evolution, itself a child of nineteenth-century philosophy, be-
comes a dogma of biology presented to the world as an axiomatic
truth and furthermore a mental fashion that pervades all realms
so that one no longer studies anything in itself but only its evolu-
tion or history.
In this question the non-scientists have in fact proceeded much
further than the scientists themselves, especially in biology and
the question of evolution. Sometimes the most shallow proofs are
presented for a particular religious or philosophical truth as if
the only acceptable proof were recently discovered scientific
theories. How often has one heard in classrooms and from
pulpits that physics through the principle of indeterminacy
'allows' man to be free, as if the lesser could ever determine the
greater, or as if human freedom could be determined externally
by a science which is contained in human consciousness itself.
It must be added that many physicists are seriously concerned
with philosophical and religious problems, often more than those
who deal with the social and psychological sciences. Moreover,
some physicists, in trying to find solutions to dilemmas "placed
before them by modern physics, have turned to Oriental doctrines
-usually with genuine interest but rarely with the necessary
intellectual attitude to grasp their full import. Among those most
seriously interested in this field one may mention R. Oppen-
heimer and E. Schrodinger. The latter, who has written much on
the philosophy of modern physics, in his particular concern
with the problem of the multiplicity of consciousnesses who
share the world, has turned to Hindu doctrines for a solution. To
explain this multiplicity he believes that one of two miracles must
be true, either the existence of a real external world, or the ad-
~ i o n that all things and all consciousnesses are aspects of a
stngle reality, the One. -to The world is maya which does not con-
. cern 'me', the consciousness which says 'I'. Oriental metaphysics
'Wl>uld at this point add that it is not a matter of choosing between
2.9
M_an and Nature
the two miracles. Both are true but each on its own level. The
miracle of existence itself is the greatest of all miracles for those
who reside in the domain of existing things, while from the point
of view of the One, the Absolute, there is no 'otherness' or
'separation'. All things are one, not materially and
but inwardly and essentially. Again it is a question of realizing
the levels of reality and the hierarchy of the different domains of
being.
Nor have the scientists been totally negligent of the theological
and religious problems which the vulgarization of the scientific
view and a neglect of its inherent limitations have brought about.
A few, like C. F. von Weizacker, have even been concerned about
the scepticism caused by modern science and have tried to deal
in a meaningful way with the encounters of theology and modern
science. H In this domain these writings are sometimes more
serious and pertinent than some of the works of professional
theologians. This latter group has singularly neglected the
question of nature, and when it has considered it has been often
led to irrelevant or secondary problems. Religious authors have,
moreover, often exhibited a sense of inferiority and fear before
modem science which has led to an ever greater submission to
and adoptation of scientific views with the aim of appeasing the
opponent.
12
A few of the scientists however, have approached
the problem without these limitations, and have therefore been
able to make pertinent comments.
13
To summarize the survey of current opin:lon on the philosophy
of science, it can be said that for the most part philosophy, and in
fact the general use of intelligence itself, have been surrendered to
science. Rather than remain the judge and critic of scientific
methods and discoveries, philosophy has become a reflection of
science. There are of course the continental philosophical schools
of existentialism and phenomenology, which, however, have had
little effect on the scientific movement.
44
The phenomenological
interpretation of science has as yet had little influence. Existen-
tialism essentially cuts away the relations of man with nature and
is little concerned with scientific questions. There are, amidst
30
Tile Problem
this scene, those who seek to demonstrate the limitations of
science and others who explore with genuine interest the problems
of the encounter between science, philosophy and religion. But
throughout this complex scene the single factor that is nearly
everywhere present is the lack of a metaphysical knowledge, of a
scientia sacra which alone can determine the degrees of reality
and of science. Only this knowledge can reveal the significance,
symbolic and spiritual, of the ever more complex scientific
theories and discoveries themselves which in the absence of this
knowledge appear as sheer facts opaque and cut off from truths
of a higher order.
4
s
In as much as we are concerned with the spiritual aspect of the
crisis of the encounter between man and nature, it is also of im-
portance to discuss briefly the views of Christian theologians and
thinkers on this subject, in addition to those of the philosophers of
science noted above. It must be said at the outset that there has
been singular neglect of this domain among Christian theologians,
particularly Protestants. Most of the leading theological trends
have dealt with man and history, and have concentrated on the
question of the redemption of man as an isolated ind.,ividual
rather than on the redemption of all things. The theology of
P. Tillich is centred on the problem of ultimate concern with the
ground of being that encompasses the sacred and the profane and
turns more to the existential role of man in history and his
position as an isolated being before God rather than as a part of
creation and within the cosmos itself considered as a hierophany.
Even more removed from this question are the theologians like
K. Barth and E. Brunner, who have drawn an iron wall around
the world of nature.
16
They believe that nature cannot teach man
anything about God and is therefore of no theological and
spiritual interest.
17
As for the de-mythologizers like R. Bultmann,
rather than penetrate into the inner meaning of myth as symbol
of a transcendent reality which concerns the relation between
. man and God in history as well as in the cosmos, they, too,
neglect the spiritual significance of nature, and reduce it to the
31
Man. antl Nature
status of a meaningless artificial background for the life of modern
man.
Nevertheless there are a few who have realized the importance
of nature as a background for religious life, and a religious science
of nature as a necessary element in the integral life of a Christian.
48
They have understood the need to believe that the creation dis-
plays the mark of the Creator in order to be able to have a firm
faith in religion itself.
49
The day has passed when it was b$!lieved that science, in its
ever continuing onward march pushes back the walls of theology,
whose immutable principles appear from the view of a senti-
mental dynamism as rigid and petrified dogma, at least in many
leading academic circles.
50
There are scientists who realize and
respect the importance of the discipline of theology, while
certain Christian theologians have asserted that the modern
scientific view, because of its break with the closed mechanistic
conception of classical physics, is more congenial to the Christian
point of view. 5
1
This argument has in fact been advanced in so
many quarters that people have begun to forget that the secular-
ized world-view of modern science, once taken out of the hand
of the professional scientist and presented to the public, places a
great obstacle before the religious understanding of things.
Although in a sense the very destruction of a monolithic,
mechanistic conception of the world has given a certain 'breathing
space' to other views, the popularization of scientific theories and
technology today has deprived men even more of a direct contact
with nature and a religious conception of the world. 'Our Father
which art in heaven' becomes incomprehensible to a person de·
prived by industriali,zed society of the patriarchal authority of a
father and for whom heaven has lost its religious significance and
ceased to be any 'where', thanks to flights of cosmonauts. It is
only with respect to the theoretical relation between science and
religion that one can say in a way that the modern scientific view
is less incompatible with Christianity than the scientific views of
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Not forgetting the transient character of scientific theories,
32.
TA4Prohkm
certain other Christian writers have warned against the facile
and all too easy harmony between religion and science in which
superficial are made betWeen the two domains. All
too often the principles and tenets of religion, which are transcen-
dent and immutable, are presented as being in conformity with
the latest findings of science, again following the well-known
tendency of reducing the greater to the lesser. 5
1
Furthermore, by
the time this process of conforming theology to current scientific
theories is carried out and religion is made 'reasonable' by
appearing as 'scientific', the scientific theories themselves have
gone out of vogue. In this domain one can at least say that among
a small but significant group there is a reactiomagainst the
simplistic attitude prevalent in certain quarters in the nineteenth
century, although on the mass level there is much more retreat
of religion before what appears as scientific than in any previous
age •.
Yet other writers have emphasized the close relation between
Christianity and science by pointing out that many of the funda-
mental assumptions of science such as belief in the orderliness
of the world, the intelligibility of the natural world and the
reliability of human reason depend upon the religious and more
particularly Christian view of a world created by God iii which
the Word has become incarnated. 53 Some have related the prob-
lem of unity and multiplicity in nature to the Trinity in Christian-
ity'4 while others have insisted that only Christianity has, in a
positive sense, made science possible." But in all such cases one
wonders at the total validity of this assertion if one takes into
consideration the existence of sciences of nature in other civiliza-
tions (particularly Islam). These sciences insist on unity rather
than trinity. Further, we must consider the havoc modern science
and its applications have brought about within the world of
Christianity itself.
More specifically, the relation between subject and object as
held in modem science is said to derive from the relation be-
the spirit and the flesh in Christianity. 56 The order of the
Uruverse is identified with the Divine Mind,
57
and the scientist
33
• •
Man ant! Nature
is said to be discovering the mind of God in his scientific pursuits.
58
Scientific method itself has been called a Christian method of
discovering God's

Of more central concern to our problem is the attempt of a
few theologians, moving against the tide of the general modem
trends of theology, to bring to life once again the sacramental
character of all creation and to return to things the sacred nature
of which recent modes of thought have deprived them. The
importance of the created world as a sacrament revealing a dimen-
sion of religious life has been reasserted by this group,
60
and the
forgotten truth that from the Christian point of view incarnation
implies the sacramental nature of material things, without in
any way destroying the causal nexus between things, has already
been pointed out.
61
It has been re-affirmed that the only relation
between the spiritual and the material which can in a deep sense
be called Christian
61
is one in which the outward and material
aspect of things acts as a vehicle for the inward, spiritual grace
indwelling in all things, by virtue of their being created by God.
63
In order for God to be Creator and also eternally Himself, His
Creation must be sacramental both to His creatures and to
Himself.M
In the writings of this small group of theologians who have
devoted some attention to the question of man's relation with
nature, the revealed aspect of all the Universe has been brought
out. If creation were not in some way revealed there would be
no revelation possible.
65
Likewise, all creation must somehow
share in the act of redemption in the same way as all creation is
affected by the corruption and sin of man as asserted by St
Paul in the Epistle to the Romans (Chapter VIII). The total
salvation of man is possible when not only man himself but all
creatures are redeemed.
66
This point of view propounded above, which could have the
profoundest significance in modem man's relation to nature, has
however, rarely been understood and accepted. Even those who
have devoted themselves most to a sacramental theology have,
for the most part, failed to apply it to the world of nature. As a
34
Th.e Problem
result, those who still feel and understand the meaning of the
sacred, at least in religious rites, fail to extend it to the realm of
nature. The sacramental or symbolic view of nature-if we under-
stand symbol in its true sense-has not been in general propagated
by modern schools of Christian theology. In fact the reverse holds
true. In as much as the prevalent point of emphasis has been the
of the individual and disregard for the 'redemption
of creation', most of modern religious thought has helped to
secularize nature and has bent backwards to surrender to the
dicta of science in the natural domain.
In discussing views of Christian authors on the sciences of
nature, one cannot fail to mention the school of Neo-Thomism
which has challenged the claim to totality and exclusiveness of
scientific methods and has applied rigorous logical criteria to
them.
67
The main tenet of the Neo-Thomist position has been
to show that science is limited by its methods and cannot apply
itself to a solution of metaphysical problems. It is not permissible
to use the same methods and to proceed in the same manner in
the domains of science and metaphysics. For, to quote StThomas,
'It is a sin against intelligence to want to proceed in an
manner in the typically different domains-physical, mathe-
matical, and metaphysical--()f speculative knowledge'.
68
The knowledge of the whole Universe does not lie within the
competence of science
69
but of metaphysics. Moreover, the
principles of metaphysics remain independent of the sciences
and cannot in any way be disproved by them.
70
One must
different forms of knowledge and place each within
lts own bounds. In fact the most important result of the Neo-
!homist view has not been so much to provide a new spiritual

of nature and to return to it its sacred and sym-
bolic character as to provide a philosophy of nature for science
to show through philosophical arguments the limitations
within the scientific approach. It has been to safeguard
the Independence of theology and metaphysics from experi-
sciences.
71
Whatever its shortcomings through being too
rationalistic and not symbolic and metaphysical enough in the
35
h\''-•Cli'!>r""""""''"",----------------------..
Man an.J Nature
true sense, this school has at least affirmed and asserted a simple
truth which is being forgotten more and more today, namely
that the critical faculty of intelligence and of reason cannot be
surrendered to the findings of an experimental science which
that reason itself has made possible.
If one glances over the whole field of the relation between
science, philosophy and theology; as we have done in a scanty
and summary fashion, one becomes immediately aware of the
lack of common ground between these three domains. Meta-
physical doctrine, or that gnosis which alone can be the meeting
ground of science and religion, has been forgotten, and as a
result the hierarchy of knowledge has crumbled into a confused
mass in which the segments are no longer organically united.
Whereas philosophy has either recapitulated and surrendered
itself to science or reacted totally against it, theology has either
refused to consider the domain of nature and its sciences or has
in turn adopted step by step the findings and methods of the
sciences with the aim of creating a synthesis. This has often been
as shallow as it has been transient. Moreover, a misunderstanding
between the modern sciences of nature and a knowledge of the
natural order which is of theological and spiritual significance has
led to endless controversies and misunderstandings.
72
For this very reason, and also despite all the activity in the
natural sciences, there is today no philosophy of nature. While
the medieval science of physics, which was indeed a natural
philosophy, has become one science among othei: natural sciences,
nothing has taken its place as the background of all the particular
sciences of nature. Although the need for a philosophy of nature
is felt even by some physicists (and many turn to the history of
science precisely in order to receive inspiration for methods and
philosophies which could be of aid in modern science), there still
exists no generally accepted philosophy of nature, despite the
philosophies proposed by several modern thinkers such as
Whitehead and Maritain.
73
One can say with even greater regret that there is also no
theology of nature which could satisfactorily provide a spiritual
36
The Problem
bridge between man and nature. Some have realized the necessity
of harmonizing Christian theology and natural philosophy to
provide a theology of nature,H but such a task has not been
accomplished, and cannot be so, until theology is understood in
the intellectual light of the early Church Fathers, the Christian
metaphysicians of the Middle Age, such as Erigena and Eckhart,
or in the sense of the theosophy of Jacob Bohme. As long as by
theology is understood a rational defence of the tenets of the
faith, there is no possibility of a real theology of nature, no way
of penetrating into the inner meaning of natural phenomena and
making them spiritually transparent. Only the intellect can
penetrate inwardly; reason can only explain.
This lack of sense of the transparency of things, of intimacy
with nature as a cosmos that conveys to man a meaning that
concerns him, is of course due to the loss of the contemplative
and symbolist spirit which sees symbols rather than facts. The
near disappearance of gnosis, as understood in its true sense as a
unitive and illuminative knowledge, and its replacement by
sentimental mysticism and the gradual neglect of apophatic and
metaphysical theology in favour of a rational theology;"are all
effects of the same event that has taken place within the souls of
men. The symbolic view of things is for the most part forgotten
in the West and survives only among peoples of far away
regions,
75
while the majority of modern men live in a de-sacra-
lized world of phenomena whose only meaning is either their
quantitative relationships expressed in mathematical formulae
that satisfy the scientific mind, or their material usefulness for
man considered as a two legged animal with no destiny beyond his
~ y existence. But for man as an immortal being they bear no
direct message. Or rather it can be said that they still bear themes-
sage but there is no longer the appropriate faculty to decipher it.
There seems to be in this movement from the contemplative
to ~ e passionate, from the symbolist to the factual mentality, a
fall m the spiritual sense corresponding to the original fall of
mao. In the same way that Adam's fall from Paradise implies
that creation, which had until then been innocent and friendly
37
Man and Nature
and also inward, thus became hostile and also externalized, so
does the change of attitude between pre-modem and modern man
vis-a-vis nature imply a further stage in this alienation. The 1-thou
relation is destroyed to become the l-it and no amount of the
pejorative use of such terms as 'primitive', 'animistic' or 'pan-
theistic' can make one forget the loss implied in this change of
attitude. In this new fall man has lost a paradise as a compensation
for which he has discovered a new earth full of apparent but
illusory riches.
76
He has lost the paradise of a symbolic world
of meaning to discover an earth of facts which he is able to
observe and manipulate at his will. But in this new role of a
'deity upon earth' who no longer reflects his transcendent
archetype, he is in dire danger of being devoured by this very
earth over which he seems to wield complete dominion unless he
is able to regain a vision of that paradise he has lost.
For meanwhile the totally quantitative conception of nature
which thanks to technology has begun to dominate all of life is
gradually displaying cracks in its walls. Some are joyous about
this event and believe it is the occasion of a reassertion of the
spiritual view of things. But as a matter of fact most often the
cracks are filled by the most negative 'psychic residues' and the
practices of the 'occult sciences' which,_ once cut off from the
grace of a living spirituality, become !he most insidious of in-
fluences and are much more than materialism.
77
They are the water that dissolves rather than the earth that solidi-
fies. Yet, these are not the 'waters above' but the 'waters below',
to use the very significant Biblical symbolism. It is far from
accidental that in most pseudo-spiritualist circles much is made
of the synthesis of science and religion into a 'new spiritual
order' as if man could create a ladder to heaven by himself, or,
to speak in Christian terms, as if man could unite with the Christ
nature unless the Christ nature had itself become man.
What is needed is a filling of the cracks in the wall of science by
the light from above not by the darktless from below. Science
must be integrated into a metaphysics from above so that its
undisputed facts could also gain a spiritual significance.
78
And
38

')
. . .
Th.e Problem
because it is imperative, the need for such an integration is felt
in many quarters
79
and many people with a degree of perspicacity
look beyond the dangerous psycho-physical syntheses of today
to which is usually added a spice of pseudo-Oriental 'wisdom'.
A real synthesis would remain true to the deepest principles of
the Christian revelation and the most rigorous demands of
intelligence. This task can only be accompl_ished by
ing the spiritual meaning of nature. This discovery is itself de-
pendent upon the remembrance of the most intellectual and meta-
physical aspects of the Christian tradition which have been
forgotten in so many circles today, along with awareness of the
historical and intellectual causes that have brought about the
present impasse. That is why we must first turn to consider
certain phases in the history of science and philosophy in the
West, as it is related to the Christian tradition, before turning
to a discussion of metaphysical and cosmological principles in
this tradition and in the traditions of the East traditions which
can act as an aid to recollection for those within the world view of
Christianity.
NOTES TO CHAPTER I
I, 'The cosmic liturgy, the mystery of nature's participation in the Christo-
Iogical drama, have become inaccessible to Christians living in a modem
city. The religious experience is no longer open to the cosmos. In the last
analysis, it is a strictly private experience; salvation is a problem that concerns
man and his god; at most, man recognizes that he is responsible not only to
God hut also to history. But in these man-God-history relationships there is
no place for the cosmos. From this it would appear that, even for a genuine
Christian, the world is no longer felt as the work of God.' M. Eliade, Th.e
Sacred and the Profane, the Nature of Religion, New York, 1959, p. 179·
2. .Many criticisms have appeared during the past two or three decades by
philosophers, social scientists, architects and men of other pro-
.;;:ons. the danger of domination over nature for man himself.
Wnttngs of Lewis Mumford and Joseph Wood Krutch represent two
.-D known, but very different kinds of this type of literature which in a way
39
Man and Nature
echo in quite altered conditions the concerns of Wiiiiam Morris and John
Ruskin a century ago.
3· 'Experience of a radically desacralized nature is a recent discovery; more-
over, it is an experience accessible only to a minority in modern societies,
especially to scientists. For others, nature still exhibits a charm, a mystery, a
majesty in which it is possible to decipher traces of ancient religious values.'
Eliade, op. cit., p. 151.
4· 'In a certain, external sense it may be said that the great social and political
evil of the \Vest is mechanization, for it is the machine which most directly
engenders the great evils from which the world today is suffering. The
machine is, generally speaking, characterized by the use of iron, of fire and
of invisible forces. To talk about a wise use of machines, of their serving the
human spirit, is utterly chimerical. It is in the very nature of mechanization
to reduce men to slavery and to devour them entirely, leaving them nothing
human, nothing above the animal level, nothing above the collective level.
The kingdom of the machine followed that of iron, or rather gave to it its
most sinister expression. Man, who created the machine, ends by becoming
its creature.' F. Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts (trans.
D. M. Matheson), London, 1953, p. 21.
5· 'What needs to be understood, however, is that happiness depends on the
preliminary acceptance of a number of unpalatable facts. Chief among those
facts is the practical knowledge, as distinct from any theory, of what makes
for happiness. This knowledge is especially hard to come by for us of the
West, conditioned as we are to making large demands on our environment,
and to entertain the iiiusion that to raise the standard of living is equivalent
to nourishing the human spirit.' Dom A. Graham, Zen Catholicism, a Sug-
gestion, New York, 1963, p. 38. The same applies today to all of those
affected by the psychosis of progress on whatever continent they might live.
6. See J. Sittler, The Ecology of Faith., Philadelphia, 1961, p. 22. The same
author writes (p. 23): 'The entire experience of the peoples of America has
created and nurtured a world view which stands over against the world view
of the Bible in sharpest contrast possible.'
7· On this question see the masterly analysis of M. Pallis in Th.e Way and the
Mountain, London, 196o, Chapter I.
8. ' ... no longer is it human intellect but machines-or physics, or chemistry
or biology-which decide what man is, what intelligence is, what truth is.
Under these conditions man's mind more and more depends on the "climate"
produced by its own creations .•.. It is then science and machines which in
their turn create man and if such an expression may be ventured, they also
"create God" for the void thus left by dethroning God cannot remain empty,
the reality of God and his imprint in human nature require a usurper of
40
Th.e Problem
divinity, a false absolute which can fill the nothingness of an intelligence
robbed of its substance.' F. Schuon, UnJerstanding lskm (trans. D. M.
Mat}Jeson), London, 1963, pp. 32-3.
'Values which we accept today as permanent and often as self-evident
have grown out of the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. The arts
and the sciences have changed the values of the Middle Ages ...• ' J. Bronow-
ski, Science and Human Values, New York, 1965, p. 51.
9
• 'Man has abused his trusteeship in God's world. He has employed his
scientific knowledge to exploit nature rather than to use it wisely in accord-
ance with God's Will.' G. D. Yarnold, Th.e Spiritual Crisis of the Sciemijic
Age, New York, 1959, p. 168.
10. 'Modern science is well equipped to provide certain kinds of information,
but it denies itself the possibility of interpreting that information; the task
of doing so is therefore left to the play of opinion, individual or collective,
informed or ignorant. Its cardinal error therefore resides in its claim to be
science itself, the only possible science, the only science there is.' Lord
Northboume, 'Pictures of the Universe', Tomorrow, Autumn, 1964, p. 275.
' ••• before the separation of science and the acceptance of it as the sole
valid way of apprehending nature, the vision of God in nature seems to have
been the normal way of viewing the world, nor could it have been marked
as an exceptional experience.' F. Sherwood Taylor, The Fourfold Vision,
London, 1945, p. 91.
11. This fact has been often affirmed by scientists themselves. For example,
concerning the popular misunderstanding of the theory of relativity R. Op-
penheimer writes: 'The philosophers and popularizers who have ;Iiistaken
relativity for the doctrine of relativism have construed Einstein's great works
as reducing the objectivity, firmness, and consonance to law of the physical
world, whereas it is clear that Einstein has seen in his theories of relativity a
further confirmation of Spinoza's view that it is man's highest function to
kn?w and understand the objective world and its laws.' R. Oppenheimer,
Scwu:e and the Common Understanding, London, 1954, pp. 2-3.
11.: 'L'lquilibre du monde et des creatures depend de !'equilibre entre l'homme et
Dreu, done de notre COMaissance et notre vo[oflte a !' egard de !' Absolu. Avant
tk tkmander ce qui doitfaire l'homme, ilfout savoir ce qu'il est.' F. Schuon, 'Le
commandement supr!me', Etudes TraditioMelles, Sept.-Oct. 1965, p. 199·
1
3· 'It could be said that the very structure of the cosmos keeps memory of
~ celestial supreme being alive. It is as if the gods had created the world
m ~ c h a way that it could not but reflect their existence; for no world is
possible without verticality, and that dimension alone is enough to evoke
transcendence.' M. Eliade, op. cit., p. 129.
1
- ' ~ - •For religious man, nature is never only "natural"; it is always fraught
Man and Nature
with religious· value. This is easy to understand, for the cosmos is a divine
creation; coming from the hands of the gods, the world is impregnated with
sacredness.' Ibid., p. I I6.
IS· ' .•• our knowledge (of cosmic phenomena) must be either symbolically
true or physicaJly adequate; in the second case it must retain for us a symbolic
intelligibility, for without this all science is vain and harmful.' F. Schuon,
Liglu on tlze Ancient Worlds (trans. Lord Northboume), London, I965,
P· Ios.
16. For a profound analysis of this question in all its aspects seeR. Gu6ton,
Tlze Reign of Quantity and tlze Signs oftlze Times (trans. Lord Northboume),
London, I953·
I7. 'Modem science therefore asks us to sacrifice a good part of that which
makes for us the reality of the world, and offers us in exchange mathematical
schemes of which the only advantage is to help us to manipulate matter on
its own plane, which is that of quantity.' T. Burckhardt, 'Cosmology and
Modem Science', Tomorrow, Summer I964, p. I86.
I 8. 'It could be demonstrated too that science, although in itself neutral-for
facts are facts-is none the less a seed of corruption and annihilation in the
hands of man, who in general has not enough knowledge of the underlying
nature of Existence to be able to integrate-and thereby to neutralize-the
facts of science in a total view of the world.' Schuon, op. cit., p. 38.
Is>- ' ••• all genuine cosmology is attached to a divine revelation, even if the
object considered and the mode of its expression are situated apparendy
outside the message this revelation brings.
'Such is the case for instance, of Christian cosmology, the origin of which
appears at first sight somewhat heterogeneous, since it refer$ on the one
hand to the Biblical account of creation even while being based, on the other
hand, on the heritage of the Greek cosmologists.' T. Burckhardt, 'Cos-
mology and Modem Science', Tomorrow, Summer, 1964. p. I82.
20. See for example E. C. Mascall, CkristUzn. Tlzeoloi!Y and Natural Science,
London, I956, Chapter IV.
2I. 'Modem science will never reach that matter which is at the basis of this
world. But between the qualitatively differentiated world and undifferen-
tiated matter there lies something like an intermediate zone: This is chaos.
The sinister dangers attendant on atomic fission are but a pointer indicating
the frontier of chaos and of dissOlution.' T. Burckhardt, 'Cosmology and
Modem Science', p. I 90·
u. This fact has of course been realized by certain historians of science a n ~
philosophy such as E. A. Burtt in his Metaplzysical Foundations of Moderr.
Plzysical Science, London, I925; and A. Koyre in his many masterly workl
42.
Tile Prohlem
00
1\ena.issance and seventeenth-century science, but it is none the less too
often forgotten by a large number of philosophers and historians of science.
2 1
~ • .Anyone familiar with contemporary writing and talking knows that
people are readier to accept physics as true and to use it to construct a
"philosophy" than to investigate the method of physics, its presuppositions
and their philosophical basis.' E. F. Caldin, The Power and Limits of Science,
a P!i/osophical Study, London, 1949, p. 42.
14- See for example, M. White, The Age of Analysis, New York, 1955; A. W.
Levi, Philosoplzy and the Modern World, Bloomington, 1959; Ch. Gillispie,
T!e Edge of Objectivity, Princeton ,196o, and A. Danto and S. Morgenbesser
(eel.), Philosophy of Science, New York, 196o.
2
5. Concerning the Vienna circle and the school of positivism see, Ph.
Frank, Modern Science and its Philosophy, Cambridge, 1950, and Levi,
op. cit.
26. See his essay, 'Science, Philosophy and Faith', in Science, Philosophy
tlllll Religion, a Symposium, New York, 1941, p. 166. Concerning the Vienna
School he writes, 'The essential error of this school is to confuse that which
is true (with certain restrictions) of the science of phenomena, and that which
is true of all science and of all knowledge in general, of all scientific knowing.
It is to apply universally to all human knowledge that which is valid only in
one of its particular spheres. This leads to an absolute negation of meta-
physics, and the arrogant pretension to deny that metaphysical assertions have
any meaning.' pp. l ~ o . He describes this attitude to 'The positivistic
superstition concerniag positive science'. p. 170.
27. See particularly his De /'explication dans les sciences, 2 vols., Paris, 1921.
28. This tendency to speak of 'universes of inquiry' and opposition to any
'unified world hypothesis' derived from the sciences is also emphasized by
1. B. Conant in his Modern Science and Modern Man, New York, 1952,
especially PP· 84 ff.
As for the 'operational' philosophy of science see P. Bridgman, Logic of
Modern Physics, New York, 1927.
19- See H. Poincare, Science and Hypothesis, New York, 1952, particularly
Chapters IX and X; and his La Valeur de Ia science, Paris, 1948. Also, P.
Dubem, 'Essai sur Ia notion de theorie physique de Platon a Galilee', Annales
tk p/Uiosop!U chretie1111e, Paris, 1908; Origines de Ia statique, 2 vols., Paris,
;r.'S-6; and T!e Aim and Structure of Physical Theory (trans. Ph. Wiener),
nnceton, r
95
4-
wi Although some have interpreted Mach's position as claiming that it deals
tb.concepts rather than objective facts, the positivists claim that the main
message of his main works Beitriige rur Analyse der Empfindungen and Die
43
Ma11 and Nature
Mech.anik in ihrer Entwickelung is to remove all traces of metaphysics from
science and thereby unify it, a unification of science through elimination of
metaphysics! One wonders how it is possible to mistake unity and uni-
formity and attempt to unify any domain of multiplicity without a principle
that transcends that multiplicity. Concerning Mach see C. B. Weinberg,
Mach's Empirio-Pragmatism in Physical Science, New York, 1937·
30. As Poincare puts it, 'Tout ce qui n'est pas pensee est le pur La
Valeur de Ia science, p. 276. This is a clear indication of the subjectivism so
characteristic of modern thought because the 'pensie' in question here is not
in any way attached to the objective Intellect but is purely subjective and
changeable like the external nature of man itself.
31. See E. Cassirer, The Problem of KMwledge (trans. W. Woglom and
C. Hendel), New Haven, 1950; Substance and Function, La Salle, 1923; and
H. Morgenau, The Nature of Physical Reality, New York, 1950.
32. F. S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West, New York, 1946; and
Nature and God, a Quest for Life's Meaning, New York, 1962.
33· 'One of the most important results of the philosophy of natural science
of our own day is its demonstration that the sensuously and aesthetically
immediate natural history knowledge of nature which Goethe emphasized,
and the theoretically designated, experimentally verified, mathematical
knowledge of nature, which Newton and Kant emphasized are both equally
ultimate, irreducible and real.' Nature and God, pp. 153-4.
Concerning the views of Kant and Goethe regarding nature see E. Cas-
sirer, Rousseau-Kant-Goethe, Princeton, 1945·
34· 'Nature is a universally lawful organism. It is a cosmos, not a chaos ... .'
Nature God, p. 229.
35· See J. Jeans, Physics and Philosophy, Cambridge, 1942; and The New
Background of Science, New York, 1933; A. Eddington, The Philosophy of
Physical Science, New York, 1958 and especially his The Nature of the
Physical World, Cambridge, 1932, which has been probably more widely
influential than any work of its kind written by a modern scientist.
In contrast to Eddington certain physicists have turned to physics itself
for proofs of the existence and nature of God. See for example E. Whittaker,
Space and Spirit, Theories of the Universe the Arguments for the Existence
ofGod. London, 1946.
36. See especially A. N. Whitehead, Process and Reality, New York, 1929;
The Concept of Nature, Cambridge, 1920; and Science and the Modern World,
New York, 1948.
Whitehead decries the poverty of the scientific conception of nature that
excludes the realities of religion and art and seeks to construct an all pervasive
44
The Problem
View of nature. 'Thus, the science of nature stands opposed to the presup-
pOSitions of humanism. Where some conciliation is attempted, it often
assumes some sort of mysticism. But in general there is no conciliation',
Ndture and Life, Chicago, 1934, p. 4·
'J7· • .•• The premisses of science cannot be explicitly formulated, and can
be found authentically manifested only in the practice of science, as main-
tained by the tradition of science.' M. Polanyi, Scien&e, Faith and Society,
Chicago, 1964, p. 85.
]8. 'So that science, whether old or new, can never without self-contradic-
tion, prove an idealistic thesis and allow itself to be a base for attacking an
empirico-realistic standpoint. Idealistic thinkers ought to seek other ways to
fulfil their noble mission. But then science cannot be used to back up a
materialistic thesis either.' P. J. Chaudhury, The Philosophy of Scien&e,
Calcutta, 1955·
39· An outstanding modern physicist, W. Heisenberg writes: 'Like the
regular elementary bodies of Plato's philosophy, the elementary particles
of modem physics are defined by the mathematical conditions of symmetry;
they are not eternal and invariable and are therefore hardly what can be called
"real" in the true sense of the word. Rather, they are simple representations
of those fundamental mathematical structures that are arrived at in the
attempts to keep subdividing matter; they represent the content of fundamen-
tal laws of nature. For modern natural science there is no longer in the
beginning the material object, but form, mathematical symmetry. And since
mathematical symmetry is in the last analysis an intellectual content, }!e could
say in the words of Goethe's Faust; "In the beginning was the word, the
logos.'' To know this logos in all particulars and with complete clarity with
respect to the fundamental structure of matter is the task of present-day
atomic physics .•• .' W. Heisenberg, M. Born, E. Schrodinger, P. Anger; On
Motkrn Physics, New York, 1961, p. 19. Although this statement is to a cer-
tain 4egree true in that all natural laws and the intelligible comprehension
of their content come from the_ Logos, surely it is mistaking the reflection with
the thing itself to identify the intellectual content of mathematical symmetry
with the Logos itself. The significance .of this symmetry exists and is felt by
. physicists but only metaphysics can show that it is an application of a more
universal principle. Without metaphysics one falls again into the error of
reducing the higher to the lower, the Word to mathematical intelligibility of
the form of material objects.
Concerning the doctrine of identity which offers both a higher ethical
and a deeper religious consolation than materialism, E. SchrOdinger
'Materialism offers neither; though there are many people who con-
\!lnce themselves that the idea which astronomy gives us of myriads of suns
45
Man and Nature
with, perhaps, inhabitable planets, and of a multitude of galaxies, each with
myriads of such, and ultimately of a probably finite universe, affords us a
sort of ethical and religiously consoling vision, mediated to our senses by
the indescribable panorama of the starry heavens on a clear night. To me
personally all that is maya, albeit maya in a very interesting form, exhibiting
laws of great regularity. It has little to do with my eternal inheritance (to
express myself in a thoroughly medieval fashion).' E. Schrodinger, My View
of the World, Cambridge, 1964, p. 107.
41. 'Skepticism has been the privilege of a few men of learning who could
survive because around them stood a world of faith unshaken. Today,
skepticism has entered the masses, and has rocked the foundations of their
order of life. It is the men of learning who are frightened now.' C. F. von
Weizsacker, Tlte History of Nature, Chicago, 1949, p. 177.
42. 'Practically all the attempts that have been made to bridge the gap between
theology and the sciences have come from the theological side.' Y arnold,
Tlte Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age, pp. 54-5·
43· The type of work by scientists to which we refer here is exemplified by
C. F. von Weizsacker's, The Relevance of Science, London, 1964.
See also the writings of the botanist A. Arber especially her The Manifold
and the One, London, 1957, containing an extensive bibliography one the
traditional conception of nature.
44· There have been certain works by phenomenologists which concern
science but they have not until now received much attention from scientists
themselves. See for example E. Straker, Philosophische Untersucltungen
:rum Raum, Frankfurt am Main, 1965, on the notion of space as it pertains to
philosophy, physics and mathematics. Also seeM. Scheler, Man's Place in
Nature, (trans. H. Meyerhoff), Boston, 1961, the last of Scheler's works, in
which the unified view of man and the world about him characteristic of
phenomenology is set forth.
For a summary of the interaction of phenomenology and science especially
as it concerns the position of man in the world see A. Tymieniecka, Pheno-
menology and Science in Contemporary European Thought, New York, 1962.
45· 'Thus the picture of the universe presented by modern science becomes
ever more complex, obscure and remote from the natural picture. Never-
theless, independently of any question as to its relative validity, it exists as
an influential factor in contemporary thought; that being the case it is part
of ourselves and part of the universe. Its ultimate cause cannot therefore be
other than the ultimate cause of all things, and like all things, including the
natural picture, the scientific picture can be seen as a symbol of its cause,
that is to say, as a partial reflection of that cause on the plane of appearances.
But when its outward form alone is considered that form becomes a more or
The Problem
less impenetrable veil, hiding the causes although if its symbolical significance
can be discovered, the same can reveal the cause.' Lord N orthbourne,
'Pictures of the Universe', p, 275.
46· One of the followers of this school, K. Heim, has shown some interest
in science as seen by his Christian Faith and Natural Science, New York,
1953· But the deepest problems involved have been hardly delved into
especially as far as the question of the symbolic significance of natural
phenomena and their religious meaning are concerned.
47· It might be pointed out in passing that surely it is not accidental that
Barthian theology shows both a disregard for the study of nature and of
comparative religion. Both the cosmos and other religions thus appear as a
'natural' domain cut off from the domain of grace with which Christian
theology should be concerned.
48. See for example, J. Oman, TheN atural and the Supernatural, Cambridge,
1936.
49· 'Only a thoroughgoing belief that "the things that are made" do, in
spite of the Fall and its consequences, manifest the true nature of their
Maker can give any foundation for a reasonable faith.' C. E. Raven, Natural
Religion and Christian Theology, Cambridge, 1953, p. 137·
50. We mean the point of view so characteristic of the writings of the turn
of the century such as A. D. White, A History of the Warfare of Science and
Theology in Christendom, 2 vols., New York, 1900.
51. 'But it is at once evident that the general outline of the struct\.lfe of the
universe, as presented by science today, is far more congenial to the theistic
hypothesis, as we have been considering it, than were the scientific theories
prevalent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.' W. Temple, Nature,
Man and God, New York, 1949, p. 474·
52. 'I can think of no greater disservice that could be done to the Christian
religion than to tie it up with arguments based upon verbal confusions or
with scientific views that are merely temporary.' Mascall, Christian Theology
and Natural Science, p. 166.
53· See Smethurst, Modern Science and Christian Belief, pp. 17-18.
'Only the full' catholic Christian faith can supply both the necessary theo-
logical and philosophical beliefs as to the nature of the universe which are
required to justify studying it by the scientific method, and also the impulse
and inspiration which will impel men to undertake this study.' !hid., p. 20.
54· See for example R. G. Collingwood, Essay on Metaphysics, Oxford,
1
940, p. 227.
SS· 'I am convinced that Christianity alone made possible both positive
47
}.fan and Nature
science and technics.' N. Berdyaev, The Meaning of History, London, 1935,
P· II).
56. See W. Temple, Nature, Man and God, p. 478, where the author adds
that Christianity is able to dominate over matter precisely because in contrast
to other religions such as Hinduism it is 'the most avowedly materialist of
all the great religions'.
'I believe that the distance which in the modern mind exists between the
subject and the object is a direct legacy of the Christian distance from the
world.' von Weizacker, The History of Nature, p. 190.
57· This point of view is particularly developed by G. F. Stout in his
God and Nature, Cambridge, 1952
58. See for example Yamold, The Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age,
PP· 54 ff.
59· 'Thus, the scientific method should be regarded as one method which
Christians employ to obtain a better understanding of the wisdom of God
and the wonders of His Creation •.. .'Smethurst, Modern Science and Chris-
tian Belief, p. 71.
6o. One is reminded of the saying of Oliver Chase, 'For mankind there are
two unique sacraments which disclose the meaning and convey the ex-
perience of reality: They are the created Universe and the person of Jesus
Christ' (quoted by Raven, Natural Religion and Christian Theology, p. 105).
This is reminiscent of early American Protestant theologians like Jonathan
Edwards who were concerned with the theological meaning of nature.
61. See A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, Chapter I.
62. 'It is not simply the relation of ground and· consequent, nor of cause and
effect, nor of thought and expression, nor of purpose and instrument, nor of
end and means; but it is all of these at once. We need for it another name;
and there is in some religious traditions an element which is, in the belief of
adherents of those religions, so closely akin to what we want that we may
most suitably call this conception of the relation of the eternal to history, of
spirit to matter, the sacramental conception.' Temple, Nature, Mu,n and God,
pp. 481-2.
63. Through sacraments, 'The outward and visible sign is a necessary mea.'ls
for conveyance of the inward and spiritual grace'. Ibid., p. 482.
64. 'His creation is sacramental of Himself to His creatures; but in effectually
fulfilling that function it becomes sacramental of Him to Himself-the
means whereby He is eternally that which etetna:lly"He is.' !hid.-, p. 495·
65. 'The world, which is the self-expressive utterance of the Divine Word,
becomes itself a true revelation, in which what comes is not truth concerning
God, but God Himself.' !hid., p. 493·
48
The Prohlem
'Either all occurrences are in some degree revelations of God, or else
there is no such revelation at all; for the conditions of the possibility of any
revelation require that there should be nothing which is not revelation. Only
if God is revealed in the rising of the sun in the sky can He be revealed in
the rising of a son of man from the dead'; ibid., p. Jo6.
66. 'The theatre of redemption is the theatre of creation.' J. Sittler, The
Ecology of Faith, p. 25.
67. See for example the writings ofJ. Maritain, J. Weisheipl and A. G. Van
Melsen, especially the latter's The Philosophy of Nature, Pittsburg, 1961;
also V. E. Smith (ed.), TAe Logic of Science, New York, 1963, containing
essays by M. Adler, J. A. Weisheipl and others on the neo-Thomistic
philosophy of nature and science.
68. Quoted by J. Maritain in his essay, 'Science, Philosophy and Faith', in
Science, Philosophy and Religion, a Symposium, p. 171.
69· 'But the depiction of the whole cosmos, in its complete complexity is a
task that does not properly lie within the competence of Science.' F. n. S.
Thompson, Science and Common Sense, London, 1937, p. 54·
70. ' ••• in principle, theses of a genuinely metaphysical nature are not subject
to verification by the senses, so that no amount of experimental research can
ever dislodge them from their position.' H. J. Koren, An Introduction to the
Philosophy of Nature, Pittsburgh, 1960, p. 181.
71. This can be seen particularly in the writings of a leading spokesman of
this school, J. Maritain. See particularly his Philosophy of Nature, New York,
1947, and The Degrees of Knowledge (trans. B. Wall and M. Adamson),
New York, 1938.
72. 'Indeed it is largely out of the misunderstanding between the order of
nature and the field of science that our controversies have arisen.' Raven,
Natural Religion and Christian Theology, I, Science and Religion, p. 6.
73· Putting Whitehead and his school aside and a few individual philoso-
phers like Collingwood who have shown interest in nature, no other philo-
sophical school has been as insistent on the necessity of a philosophy of
nature and on trying to provide such a philosophy based on Thomism. Also
phenomenology provides in itself a philosophy of nature but none of those
schools have found wide or total acceptance.
74· See for example, Yarnold, The Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age, p. 23.
75· 'The feeling of the sanctity of nature survives today in Europe chiefly
among rural populations, for it is among them that a Christianity lived as a
COSmic liturgy still exists.' Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane ... , p. 178.
76. 'This transition from objectivism to subjectivism reflects and repeats in
49
Man anti Nature
its own way the fall of Adam and the loss of Paradise; in losing a symbolist
and contemplative perspective, founded both on impersonal intelligence and
on the metaphysical transparency of things, man has gained the fallacious
riches of the ego; the world of divine images has become a world of words.
In all cases of this kind, heaven-or a heaven-is shut off from above us
without our noticing the fact and we discover in compensation an earth
long unappreciated, or so it seems to us, a homeland which opens its arms
to welcome its children and wants to make us forget all lost Paradises ... .'
Schuon, Light on the Ancient Worlds, p. 29. See also Eliade, op. cit., p. 213.
77· Concerning this subject see Guenon, The Reign of Quantity ... , especially
Chapter XXV, 'Fissures in the Great Wall'.
78. 'I have suggested that scientific explanation, "from below", must be
supplemented by something far wider and deeper, interpretation, from
above. Until that is accomplished our hold upon essential Christian truth is
weak and often ineffectual.' Yamold, The Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific
Age, P· 7·
79· 'The division of labor in acquiring knowledge, although it begets new
sciences, is yet a recognition of the unity and integrity of all knowledge and
a challenge to expose it. This is a much different undertaking than trying to
piece together as parts of a whole the specific results of specific sciences or
using the results of one of them to shape the concerns of the others. Nature,
not the wit of man, gives to knowledge its integral character. This suggests a
science of nature which is neither physics nor chemistry and the like nor the
social sciences and their like ••• .' F. J. E. Woodbridge, An Essay on Nature,
New York, 1940, p. 58.
so
Chapter z
The Intellectual and
Historical Causes
A great deal of the blame for the neglect of other conceptions
of science and failure to grasp the true significance of ancient and
medieval cosmologies and. other sciences of nature rests upon
the manner in which these iciences are studied today. The investi-
gation of the history of science, which during this century has
become an important academic discipline, has concentrated more
on glorifying modern science or searching for its historic roots
than in making a study in depth of conceptions of nature in
different civilizations and epochs of history or penetrating into
the metaphysical significance of the ancient and medieval sciences.
Most scholars in this field have turned their sole attention to those
elements and factors in ancient and medieval or, for that matter,
Renaissance science that resemble, anticipate or have inflUenced
modern science.
1
In fact, modern science has been taken by most
science historians as the only' legitimate and possible form of
science of nature, and all other cosmological sciences have been
considered either as early anticipations of this form of science or
as deviations which have hindered modern science. The use of the
word "science" in English is particularly significant and indicative
of the point of view in question.
1
We do not, however, belittle the significance of the studies
made in the domain of the history of science in which, through
the historical approach, the roots of a particular science and its
past formation are clarified. The pioneering work of such men as
Berthelot, Mach, Duhem, Sarton, Tannery, Thorndike and
o t ~ e r ~ have contributed immensely to our understanding of the
sctenttfic activity of other ages. But few of these works can help
51
Man and Nature
in solving the problem of the modern crisis of the encounter of
man and nature. This is because rather than become independent
judges of ancient and medieval sciences and objective observers
or even critics of modern science they have completely adopted
the point of view that the only possible and legitimate form of
science is the modern one.
There has been in the professional ranks of science historians,
particularly before the nineteen-fifties, a singular neglect of the
symbolic meaning of the ancient and medieval sciences and a
tendency to read into older texts meanings and concepts proper to
modern science. Many have written about the concepts of matter
or motion in the ancient world as if in those days people held
the same views about the physical world as the contemporary
ones. Pre-Socratic philosophers have been hailed as forerunners
of modern physicists as if the water of Thales were the water of
modern chemistry; or the Babylonians are held as the first
astronomers in the modern sense, while the religious significance
of their astronomical observations is forgotten completely. No
doubt Babylonian mathematics is a brilliant chapter in the history
of mathematics but we wonder if it is 'scientifically' correct to
speak of Babylonian science as if its only meaning were that which
modern mathematicians understand by it. The symbolic signifi-
cance of the seven planets, their motion and relation to· the earthly
domain is, for those who understand it, as exact as that part of
Babylonian science which is treated as 'exact science' through
standards placed upon it by modern scholars who hold a view
totally alien to that of the Babylonians.
Alternatively, we could question whether Islamic science is
only that element which contributed to the rise of modern science;
or when we speak of medieval science whether we should concen-
trate only on those thirteenth- and fourteenth-century theologians
and philosophers like Ockham, Oresme, Buridan, Grosseteste and
others who anticipated the mathematical and physical works of
Benedetti, Galileo and other founders of modern science. The
existence of interest in dynamics and mechanics amongst late
medieval nominalists is surely of importance, but with the same
52
Th.e lmellectual and Historical Causes
certainty we can also assert that this is not the whole of medieval
science but is merely the view of modem historians of science as to
what, in fact, medieval science was. If we wish to use the history
of science beneficially to solve the acute problems modern science
and its applications have brought about, we cannot be satisfied
merely with the current method of studying the history of science.
We must also study the sciences of nature of other civilizations
and periods, independently of their contribution, or lack of it, to
modern science. We must consider these sciences as being inde-
pendent views about nature some of which may be of consider-
able aid in the solution of contemporary problems
3
and as provid-
ing a background for the criticism of certain aspects of modem
science. It is in this light that we turn, therefore, to the history of
science in the hope of discovering the intellectual and historical
causes of the present situation.
The historical background of both science itself and Greek and
Christian philosophy and theology are important for any present
day discussion, because the individual as well as the culture in
which he lives inevitably carry within them the deep roots of their
past. The present day encounter of man and nature, and all the
philosophical, theological and scientific problems connectecl with
it, carry within themselves elements connected with Christian
civilization
4
as well as with the civilization of Antiquity which
Christianity came to replace. In order then to discover the deep
causes of contemporary problems we are forced to return to the
beginning and to consider those causes, both intellectual and
historical, which still exist today.
The ancient Greeks possessed a cosmology similar to that of
other Aryan peoples of Antiquity. The elements, and nature
itself, were still inhabited by the Gods. Matter was alive with
spirit and the spiritual and corporeal substances had not as yet
become distinct. The rise of philosophy and science in the sixth
century BC was not so much the discovery of a new realm as an
attempt to fill a vacuum created by the fact that the Olympian
Gods had deserted their earthly abode. The basic ideas of phu.ris,
53
Man and Nature
dilce, nomos and the like which are fundamental to Greek science
and philosophy are all terms of religious significance which have
been gradually emptied of their spiritual substance.
5
The pre-
Socratic philosophers, far from being early examples of modern
naturalists and scientists, were still searching for the universal
substance which is both spiritual and corporeal and they can be
quite legitimately compared to the Hindu cosmologists of the
school of Sarpkhya. The water of Thales is not what flows in
rivers and streams but is the psycho-spiritual substratum and
principle of the physical world.
With the gradual increase in decadence of the Greek Olympian
religion, more and more the substance of nature itself became
divorced from its spiritual significance, and cosmology and
physics tended toward naturalism and empiricism. In the same
way that from the Orphic-Dionysian dimension of Greek
religion there developed the Pythagorean-Platonic school of
philosophy and mathematics, so from the body of Olympian
religious concepts, emptied of their meaning, arose a physics and
a natural philosophy which sought to fill the vacuum and to
provide a coherent explanation for a world no longer inhabited
by the gods.
6
The general movement was from symbolic inter-
pretation of nature to naturalism, from contemplative meta-
physics to rationalistic philosophy.
With the birth of Aristotle, philosophy as understood in the
West began and as understood in the East terminated.
7
After
Aristotle, rationalism as expressed in the Stoic, Epicurean and
other late schools became prevalent in the Roman empire, a
rationalism which however, contributed little to the natural
sciences
8
directly and which showed little concern for the meta-
physical and theological significance of the sciences. In Alex-
andria, however, mystical and religious schools of philosophy
developed during a period of intense activity in .. the mathematical
and physical sciences. It was here that Neoplatonic metaphysics,
Neopythagorean mathematics and Hermeticism were developed
and where the study of mathematical and natural sciences was
often carried out in the matrix of a metaphysics that was aware of
54
I
I.
,,
Tlze Intellectual and Historical Causes
the c;ymbolic and transparent nature of things. It is of significance
that the immediate background of Western civilization, in its
external and formal aspect, is Roman while that which Islam
received from the Graeco-Hellenistic heritage comes mostly
from Alexandria. Christianity, when it was called upon to save a
civilization rather than a few souls, was faced with a world in
which naturalism, empiricism and rationalism were rampant,
where knowledge of a human order had become divinized and
where an excessive attraction to nature seemed to the Christian
eye a blasphemy that blinded men to the vision of God.
Christianity, therefore, reacted against this naturalism by
emphasizing the boundary between the supernatural and the
natural and by making the distinction between the natural and
supernatural so strict as to come near to depriving nature of the
inner spirit that breathes through all things. To save the souls of
men in the particular atmosphere in which it found itself, Christi-
anity had to forget and neglect, or at least belittle, the theological
and spiritual significance of nature. Henceforth, the study of
nature from a theological point of view did not occupy a central
place in Western Christianity.
9
To preserve a correct theology Christianity became opposed
to the 'cosmic religion' of the Greeks, and some theologians called
nature massa perditionis. In the dialogue between the Christian
and the Greek, in which both sides were expressing an aspect of
the truth but each a half truth, the Christian emphasized the
nature of God, the human soul and salvation while the Greek
emphasized the 'divine' quality of the cosmos and the 'super-
natural' status of intelligence itself which enables man to know
the universe.
10
Against this cosmology Christianity opposed its
theology and against this emphasis upon knowledge, accented
the path oflove. To overcome the danger of rationalism divorced
from gnosis it made knowledge the handmaid of faith and ignored
the supernatural essence of natural intelligence within men. Only
in this way was it able to save a civilization and to instill into a
decadent world a new spiritual life; but in the process an aliena-
tion took place towards nature which has left its mark upon the
55
Man and Nature
subsequent history of Christianity. This is one of the deep-lying
roots of the present crisis of modern man in his encounter with
nature.
The character of Christianity as a way of love rather than as
knowledge needs particular emphasis. In envisaging man as a
will rather than an intelligence, Christianity has emphasized the
pull of faith and love over knowledge and certitude. Illuminative
knowledge or gnosis
11
has existed in Christianity but mostly on
the periphery, especially as far as Western Christianity is con-
cerned. Knowledge derived from intelligence without the aid
of faith came to be considered as 'knowledge according to the
flesh', in conformity with the Christian conception of man as an
essentially warped will whose wound must be healed through
the rite of Baptism. There was not that accent upon the super-
natural essence of the intelligence and on that gnosis or illumina-
tive knowledge which is at once the source and meeting ground
of both faith and reason. The Greek gnostic saw in man's
natural aptitude to know a means of reaching the Absolute Truth
itself. It may also be added that Islam in the cadre of Abrahamic
monotheism likewise made gnosis central and placed the accent
not so much on the will of man, whose wound had to be healed,
but on the intelligence which had only to be reminded through
revelation of its supernatural essence.
In any case, because of its character as a way of love and the
excessively naturalistic background in which it was called upon
to fill the spiritual vacuum caused by the decadence of Graeco-
Roman religions, Christianity drew a sharp line between the
supernatural and the natural, or grace and nature. The official
theology left the problem of nature as a positive domain in the
religious life out of its central concern, especially after the formu-
lation of the Creeds and the exteriorization of the esoteric way
that is Christianity; this followed inevitably, since after its
early days Christianity was called upon not only to save a
selected few but a whole civilization that was falling apart. The
gnostic element continued to exist, but only as a sideline develop-
ment which periodically, through the history of Christianity, has
s6
l
:
I
j
The Intellectual and Historical Causes
manifested itself in different forms. It has been the one element
which enabled Christianity to develop in the Middle Ages a:
cosmology of its own and to adapt to its needs those forms of
cosmology and sciences of nature that were conformable to its
perspective.
The relation between metaphysical and theological principles
of a religious tradition such as Christianity and the cosmological
sciences must be made clear. Either the cosmological sciences are
based on, or drawn from the metaphysical sources of the religion
itself, or they are adopted from an alien tradition but integrated
into the perspective of the tradition in question. The traditional
cosmological sciences-that whole series of sciences dealing with
figures, numbers, forms, colours and correspondence between
various otders of reality--can only be understood, and their
symbolic significance discovered, in the light of a living spiritu-
ality. Without the light of a living tradition with its own meta-
physics and theology the cosmological sciences become opaque
and unintelligible. Seen in this light these sciences become shining
crystals that illuminate the multiple phenomena of the Universe
and make them intelligible and transparent.
11
It was in this way
that both Islam and Christianity integrated Hermetic cosmology
into their esoteric dimensions and gave it new life and signihcance.
The ambivalent source of Christian cosmology is seen in the
fact that there, both Biblical or Hebrew cosmological concepts
and Greek ones stand side by side. There is the Biblical cosmogony
based on creation ex-nihilo and on a drama that occurs in time.
Then there are the Greek cosmologies which occur in 'space'
without regard for temporal and secular change, one in which
time is cyclic and the world appears to lack a temporal beginning.
Christianity adopted elements of both these cosmological views,
and the long disputes among theologians and philosophers as
to the creation or eternity of the world and the nature of time
and space, reflect this dual origin of cosmology within the
Christian perspective. It is this absorption of Graeco-Hellenistic
elements into Western Christian civilization, both directly at the
beginning of the Christian era and then again in the modified
57
Man and Nature
form given to them by Islam during the Middle Ages, that made
possible the arts and sciences in the medieval period, and also
served as the background for the scientific revolution. One
should therefore always remember both the character of the
sciences of the Greek world as they came to be known by later
ages and the attitude and reaction of Christianity itself vis-a-vis
this heritage. Both are of basic importance in the attitude of
Western man toward nature in all subsequent periods ofWestern
history including the contemporary.
As Christianity grew from the religion of a few to the spiritual
life force of a humanity, and began to mould a civilization which
was distinctly Christian, it had to develop both its own art,
cosmology and sciences of the natural world.
13
If theologically
Christianity emphasized a rejection of the 'life of this world' and
a search for a kingdom which was not of this world, in its total
view of things it also had to possess the means of equating the
techniques of the artisans with Christian activity and the world
in which the Christian man lived with a Christian Universe. It
succeeded on both accounts, in creating both an artisanal tradition
that could construct the medieval cathedrals which are a micro-
cosmic model of the Christian cosmos, and a total science of the
visible Universe which depicted this Universe as a Christian one.
When man stands in a medieval cathedral he feels himself at the
centre pf the world. 14. This could only be brought about through
the relation between sacred art and cosmology that existed in
medieval Christianity as it has in other traditions. The cathedral
recapitulates the cosmos and is its replica on the human plane in
the same way that the medieval city with its walls and gates is a
model of the bound medieval Universe.
15
The science of natural objects and the techniques of making
things, or art in its most universal sense, were developed together
in the new Christian civilization, and both were integrated as a
hidden and secret knowledge into the esoteric dimensions of
Christianity. The popular knowledge of nature was based on
survivals of such works as the Historia natura/is of Pliny and
ss
1
l
!.
The Intellectual and Historical Causes
other late popular encyclopaedias, on the writings of Isadore of
Seville, Gregory, Bede and similar medieval authors, and on ele-
ments of Platonic cosmology as derived from the Timaeus and
often cited in the writings of some of the Fathers as well as by
more popular writers. Yet the most profound elements of the
Christian knowledge of nature and things natural were to be
found in secret societies, guilds and associations connected with
the esoteric aspect of Christianity. Whether unformulated, as
among the guild of masons, or articulated as in the case of the
secret association of the Fedeli d' amore to which Dante belonged,
the sciences of nature and cosmology connected with this aspect of
medieval Christian civilization represent the most profound
aspects of the process of Christianization.
In order to achieve this end, Christianity integrated into its
more inward dimensions elements of the Hermetic-Pythagorean
cosmological sciences. The Pythagorean science of harmony, of
numbers, geometric forms and colours, pervaded the science and
art of the Middle Ages. So many of the medieval cathedrals, of
which Chartres is an outstanding example, are a synthesis of
medieval art and science in which the element of harmony is the
guiding principle. The proportions of so many of these ... sacred
structures are notes of music in stone.
16
·
As for Hermeticism, it provided Christianity with a sacred
science of material objects. The elemental materials of the natural
world became so many building blocks which led the soul from
the darkness of the materia prima to the luminosity of the in-
telligible world. The Hermetical and alchemical perspective,
which in an articulate form entered into the Christian world
through Islamic sources, extended the sacramental conception
present in the Christian mass to the whole of nature. Through
it, the artisan was able to transform the substance of the corporeal
world about him so that it could possess and convey spiritual
efficacy and significance.
17
As we glance at the Middle Ages we see on the one hand a
popular natural history imbued more and more with Christian
values of an ethical order, as reflected in medieval books of ani-
59
Man and Nature
mals, and on the other a science of nature associated closely with
the craftsman's guilds. In the latter an operative knowledge of
nature was primarily emphasized, while the theoretical knowledge
remained for the most part unwritten or unformulated. Occa-
sionally an intellectual expression would be given of this religious
science of things and of the cosmos as a whole. This we find in
the works of Dante and somewhat before him in the school of
Chartres.
The type of science of nature which is profoundly Christian,
both in its aims and its presuppositions, is however associated
more with the contemplative and metaphysical dimension of
Christianity than with the theological. In fact, the cosmological
perspective can be integrated only into the metaphysical dimen-
sion of a tradition and not into the theological aspect as this term
is usually understood. Theology is too rationalistic and man-
orientated to be concerned with the spiritual essence and sym-
bolism of cosmic phenomena, unless we understand by theology
the apophatic and contemplative theology. which is more meta-
physical than rationalistic and philosophical. And so, with certain
exceptions as in the case of Erigena or the school of Chartres, in
theological circles little interest was taken in the symbolic and
contemplative view of nature. It was left to St Francis of Assisi to
express, within the bosom of Christian spirituality, the pro-
foundest insights into the sacred quality of nature. A few northern
European scientists and philosophers like Roger Bacon were to
combine observation of nature with a mystical philosophy based
on illumination, but this was more of an exception than a rule.
Even later Franciscans like the great theologian St Bonaventure,
who expressed the necessity of a sapiemia as a background for
scientia, were not particularly interested in the study of nature.
Into the world of early medieval Christianity, dominated by
Augustinian theology, Dionysian angelology and a Christian
cosmology drawn from Platonic, Pythagorean and Hermetic
elements, there entered in the eleventh century a new form of
learning from the Islamic world. Besides the spread of certain
occult sciences like alchemy, and even esoteric contact between
6o
The lntelkctual arul Historieal Causes
Islam and Christianity through the Order of the Temple and
other secret organizations
18
, the main result of this contact was
acquaintance with Peripatetic philosophy and science as it had
been developed by the Muslims for several centuries.
Here, we are not concerned with how this transmission took
place nor with the different sciences that became known through
this process to the Latin world. Rather, we wish to turn to the
effect of this new development in the general view of nature. The
Muslims had for several centuries developed Peripatetic science
and philosophy as well as mathematics, but at the same time the
gnostic, illuminationist dimension associated with Sufism had
been alive from the start and continued as the inner life force of
this tradition.
19
In fact, Islam turned more and more to this direc-
tion during its later history.
In the Occident, however, the translation of Arabic works
into Latin, which caused a major intellectual change from the
eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, resulted gradually in the
Aristotelianization of Christian theology. Rationalism came to
replace the earlier Augustinian theology based on illumination
and the contemplative view of nature was increasingly pushed
aside as the gnostic and metaphysical dimension of
became ever more stifled in an increasingly rationalistic environ-
ment.
A case in point is the career of the philosophy of Ibn Sina-
the Latin Avicenna-the greatest of the Muslim Peripatetics in
the West. To the present day Avicenna has continued to exert
influence upon Islamic intellectual life. The later reviver of
Peripatetic philosophy, Ibn Rushd or Averroes, however,
exercised much less influence upon his co-religionists. In the
West a somewhat misunderstood A verroes became, during the
thirteenth century, the master of the Latin Averroists who were
associated with pre-Christian learning. YetAvicenna never gained
enough disciples in the West to have even the honour of a school
of 'Latin A vicennism' named after him.
20
The Aristotelianism of Averroes was much more pure and
radical than that of other Muslim philosophers, while Avicenna
61
Man and Nature
had combined this philosophy with the tenets of Islam and even
developed later in life an 'Oriental philosophy' based on illumina-
tion.
21
The interpretation of A verroes in the West as an even
more rationalistic philosopher than he actually was, and the
lack of a systematic acceptance of A vicenna, are the best indica-
tion of the movement toward rationalism in the Christian
world. This inclination is brought to light particularly when
the situation in the Occident is compared with the intellectual
life of its sister Islamic civilization during the same period.
Through this process, theology came to replace metaphysics or
rather rationalistic theology replaced the contemplative theology
of earlier centuries. The result of this change was to become
evident after an interim period of relative equilibrium.·
The career of A vicennian cosmology is of particular pertinence
in this development. For A vicenna, cosmology was closely con-
nected to angelology.
22
The Universe was peopled by angelic
forces, a view which accorded perfectly well with the religious
conception of the world. The spiritual agent in the form of the
angel was an integral and real aspect of cosmic reality. As it
spread in the West, however, Avicennian cosmology, although
accepted in outline, was criticized by men like William of
Auvergne who wanted to banish the angels from the Universe.
By neglecting the A vicennian souls of the spheres, these scholars
had to a certain extent already secularized the Universe and
prepared it for the Copernican revolution.
23
This revolution
could, in fact, only have occurred in a cosmos from which the
symbolic and spiritual meaning had been removed; a cosmos
which had become sheer fact drawn away from the bosom of
metaphysics and made the subject of a purely physical science.
While the thirteenth century was the golden age of scholasti-
cism and produced the synthesis of St Thomas and a few men
like Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Robert Grossteste who
within the matrix of a Christian philosophy were intensely
interested in the sciences of nature, the very domination of
rationalism during this period soon destroyed the equilibrium
established during the century. The balance tilted in the other
62.
'
j
The Intellectual arul Historical Causes
direction, and in the fourteenth century led to an attack against
reason and a scepticism that marked the end of the Middle Ages.
Two different but complementary movements can be seen at this
time. The first is the destruction of the esoteric organizations
within Christendom such as the Order of the Temple. The
result was that the gnostic and metaphysical element which had
until that time been continuously present began to disperse and
gradually disappear, at least as an active living force in the in-
tellectual framework of the Christian West.
24
The second was
the foundering of rationalism by its own weight and the intro-
duction of a denial of the power of reason to reach the truth. If
the mystics like Meister Eckhart sought to transcend reason
from above, the nominalist theologians rejected rational philo-
sophy, one might say from below, by refusing reason the very
possibility of knowing the universal.
The whole debate about universals which goes back to Abelard
became at this time the favourite weapon for attacking reason
and showing the inconsistencies of its conclusions. Ockham and
the Ockhamists created an atmosphere of philosophical doubt
which they tried to fill with a nominalist theology that was to
play the role of philosophy. Ockham created a theologism which
destroyed the certainty of' medieval philosophy and fed to
philosophical scepticism.
25
Meanwhile, in emphasizing particular
universal causes and criticizing Peripatetic philosophy and
science, Ockham and his followers like Oresme and Nicolas of
Autrecourt made important discoveries in mechanics and
dynamics, discoveries that form the basis of the seventeenth-
century revolution in physics. It is important to note, however,
that this interest in the sciences of nature went hand in hand with
philosophical doubt and a turning away from metaphysics. For
this was substituted a nominalist theology. Once the element of
faith became weakened this scientific development was left
without any element of philosophical certainty. Rather, it be-
came wedded to doubt and scepticism.
The Middle Ages thus drew to a close in a climate in which the
symbolic and contemplative view of nature had been for the
6J
Man and Nature
most part replaced by a rationalistic view, and this in turn through
the criticism of nominalist theologians had led to philosophical
scepticism. Meanwhile, with the destruction of the gnostic and
metaphysical elements within Christianity the cosmological
sciences became opaque and incomprehensible and the cosmos
itself was gradually secularized. Furthermore, within Christian
circles in general, neither the Dominicans nor Franciscans
showed particular interest in the study of nature.
26
The back-
ground was thus prepared in every way for that revolution and
upheaval which brought to an end the integral Christian civiliza-
tion of the medieval period and created an atmosphere in which
the sciences of nature began to be cultivated outside of the world
view of Christianity and where the cosmos gradually ceased to be
Christian.
With the Renaissance, European man lost the paradise of the age
of faith to gain in compensation the new earth of nature and
natural forms to which he now turned his attention. Yet it was a
nature which came to be less and less a reflection of a celestial
reality. Renaissance man ceased to be the ambivalent man of the
Middle Ages, half angel, half man, torn between heaven and earth.
Rather, he became wholly man, but now a totally earth-bound
creatureP He gained his liberty at the expense of losing the
freedom to transcend his terrestrial limitations. Freedom for him
now became quantitative and horizontal rather than qualitative
and vertical, and it was in this spirit that he went on to conquer
the earth and with it to open new horizons in geography and
natural history. However, there still existed a religious significance
in wilderness and nature that had come down through the
Christian tradition.
28
This new conception of an earth-bound man which is closely
tied to the humanism and anthropomorphism of this period,
coincided with the destruction and gradual disappearance of what
was left of the initiatic and esoteric organizations of the Middle
Ages. The Renaissance was witness to the destruction of such
organizations as the Society of the Rosy Cross, while at the same
64
The Intellectual anti Historical Causes
time all kinds of writings associated with secret organizations and
societies such as Hermetical and Kabbalistic works began to
appear. The vast number of these works during this period is due,
however, first and foremost to the destruction of the depositories
of this type of knowledge, thus facilitating their profanation and
vulgarization. Secondly it is due to an attempt on the part of
certain thinkers to discover a primordial religious tradition ante-
dating Christianity so that tliey turned to all that spoke of the
ancient mysteries.
29
Moreover, when we glance at the sciences of the Renaissance,
we see that besides new discoveries in geography and natural
history and certain a d v a ~ e s in mathematics, the framework is
essentially that of the Middle Ages. Renaissance science is con-
tinuous with that of the medieval period, despite its accent upon
naturalism. This is because what are seen as coming to the fore
at this time are the cosmological and occult sciences of the
medieval period that are now made to be publicly known and
elaborated, albeit sometimes with confusion and distonion.
Agrippa, Paracelsus, Basil Valentine, Meier, Bodin and so many
other figures belong more to the ancient and medieval tradition
of science than to the modern one. Yet the Hermetical and
magical schools of the Renaissance have had as significant a
role in the creation of modern science as the more frequently
studied mathematico-physical school connected with the name of
Galileo. Too little attention has been paid to this all important
element because of an a priori judgement as to what science is.
30
However, as is to be expected in a period of the eclipse of
metaphysical knowledge and even of philosophical doubt,
sciences such as alchemy became ever more incomprehensible,
opaque and confused until gradually they ceased to be science
as such and became the preoccupation of the occultists or the
curious. Paracelsus was still at the centre of the scientific stage of
his day. By the time Fludd and Kepler were exchanging notes, the
Hermetico-alchemical tradition for which Fludd stood had lost
the battle, and what was considered as science passed on into the
hands of Kepler and his like.
Man. and Nature
This loss of metaphysical insight and awareness into the
symbolic meaning of cosmological sciences is also seen in the
rapid transformation of cosmology into cosmography, a move-
ment from content to form. The numerous cosmographies of the
Renaissance no longer deal with the content and meaning of the
cosmos, but with its form and external description, although they
still describe the medieval cosmos.
31
All t!lat is left is the body
without its inner spirit and meaning. From these cosmographies
to the breakdown of the cosmic picture there is but a single step
which comes with the Copernican revolution.
The Copernican revolution brought about all the spiritual and
religious upheavals that its opponents forecasted would happen
precisely because it came at a time when philosophical doubt
reigned everywhere, and a humanism, already over a century old,
had taken away from man his position as the 'divine image' on
earth. The proposal that the sun is at the centre of the solar system
was not in itself new; for it was known by certain Greek, Islamic
and Indian philosophers and astronomers. But its proposal during
the without an accompanying new spiritual vision of
things could only mean a dislocation of man in the_ cosmos.
Theology and the external formulation of religion begins with
man and his needs as an immortal being. Metaphysics and the
esoteric aspect of tradition deal with the nature of things as such.
The Ptolemaic-Aristotelian astronomy corresponds to the more
immediately apparent structure of the cosmos and the profound
symbolism that the concentric spheres present to man as the visible
aspect of the multiple states of being. In this scheme, man is from
one point of view at the centre of the Universe by virtue of his
theomorphic nature, and from another point of view he is at the
lowest level of existence from which he has to ascend toward
the divine. The ascent through the cosmos as we see so plainly
in the Divine Comedy corresponds also to the ascent of the soul
through the degrees of purification and of knowledge. By
necessity it corresponds to existence itself. Medieval cosmology
had therefore, from the spiritual point of view, the advantage of
presenting the visible cosmos to men as a concrete symbol of a
66
···•
Tlu Intellectual an.J Historkal
metaphysical reality which in any case remains true, independently
of the symbols used to convey it. Also, by virtue of remaining
faithful to the immediate appearance of things as they present
themselves to man, the Ptolemaic-Aristotelian astronomy
corresponded more to a theological and exoteric truth while at the
same time it remained a most powerful symbol of a metaphysical
reality.
The heliocentric system also possesses its spiritual symbolism.
By placing the source of light at the centre, an argument to which
Copernicus himself in the introduction of his book
De revolutionihu.s orhium · coelestium, this astronomy symbolizes
clearly the centrality of the Universal Intellect for which the sun,
the supernal Apollo, is the most direct symbol. Moreover, by
removing the boundaries of the cosmos and presenting to man
the vastness of cosmic space, which symbolizes the illimitable
vastness of the Divine Being and man's nothingness before this
Reality, this view corresponds more to the esoteric perspective
based on the total nature of things than to the exoteric and
theological that are concerned with man's needs in order.,.that he
should be saved. But this astronomy was not accompanied by a
new spiritual vision even if occasionally a man like Nicolas of
Cusa pointed to the profound significance of the 'infinite uni-
verse', 'whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is
nowhere' .
31
The total effect of the new astronomy was like the
profanation of an esoteric form of knowledge,
33
somewhat like
our observations in the case of the alchemical and Kabbalistic
sciences. It presented a new vision of the physical Universe
without providing also a spiritual interpretation for it. The trans-
formation from the bound to the 'infinite universe' also had,
therefore, the deepest religious repercussions in the souls of
men and was closely intertwined with the whole religious and
philosophical development of the Renaissance and the seventeenth
century.
34
It may seem at first as if the Copernican revolution moved
counter to the prevalent humanism of the time by removing man
from the centre of the Universe. This is only an apparent effect;
f¥7
Man and Nature
its deeper effect was to aid the general humanistic and Prome-
thean spirit of the Renaissance. In medieval cosmology man had
been placed at the centre of the Universe, not as a purely terrestrial
and earth-bound man but as the 'image of God'. His centrality
was due not to anthropomorphic qualities but to theomorphic
ones. By removing him from the centre of things, the new
astronomy did not bestow upon man the transcendent dimension
of his nature; rather it affirmed the loss of the theomorphic
nature by virtue of which he had been placed at the centre.
Therefore, although on the surface it belittled the position of
man in the scheme of things, on a deeper level it assisted the
tendency toward anthropomorphism and the Promethean revolt
against the voice of heaven.
With the destruction of an immutable set of principles which
are the judge of both knowledge and virtue, and the appearance
of a purely terrestial man who became the measure of all things, a
trend from objectivism to subjectivism began in Western
civilization which continues to this day. No longer was there a
metaphysics and a cosmology to judge the truth and falsehood
of what men said, hut the thoughts of men in each epoch them-
selves became the criteria of truth and falsehood. The Renaissance,
although still following the formal medieval sciences, brought
forth a new conception of man which henceforth made all form
of knowledge including science in a certain sense anthropo-
morphic. It made of 'fallen man's' vision of things, to use the
Christian terminology, the truth itself and removed to the greatest
possible extent any objective criterion of intellectual knowledge.
Henceforth, science was only what the mental could grasp and
explain. It could not serve the function of transcending the mental
itself through the power of symbolism.
The scientific revolution itself came not in the Renaissance
but during the seventeenth century when the cosmos had already
become secularized, religion weakened through long, inner con-
flicts, metaphysics and gnosis in the real sense nearly forgotten
and the meaning of symbols neglected, which can be seen in the
art of this period. It also came after more than two centuries
68
The Intellectual and Historical Causes
of philosophical scepticism from which the philosophers of the
seventeenth century tried to escape and regain access to certainty.
Descartes was the heir to the Christian humanists of the late
Middle Ages and the Renaissance, of men like Petrarch, Gehrard
Groot and Erasmus as well as the whole group of Renaissance
philosophers like T elesio, Campanella and Adriano di Corneto.
These latter doubted the power of philosophy to reach certainty
about ultimate principles and as compensation usually turned
toward ethics and morality. Descartes was also most of all heir
to the scepticism expressed in the Essays of Montaigne to which
his Discours is an answer in more than one way.
35
In order to reach certainty in knowledge through his famous
method, Descartes had to reduce the rich diversity of external
reality to pure quantity and philosophy to mathematics. His was
a mathematicism, to use the term of Gilson,
36
and henceforth
Cartesian mathematicism became a permanent element of the
scientific world view. The physics Descartes constructed through
his method was rejected by Newton. His zoology in which he
sought to reduce animals to machines was violently attacked and
refuted by Henry More and John Ray. But his mathematicism,
the attempt to reduce reality to pure quantity with which one
could then deal in a purely mathematical way, has become the
background of mathematical physics and unconsciously of many
other sciences which desperately seek to find quantitative rela-
tionships between things by overlooking their qualitative aspect.
The distinction made by Galileo in the Discorsi between
primary and secondary qualities is an affirmation of Descartes'
reduction of reality to quantity, although Galileo succeeded in
creating a new physics where Descartes failed.
The genius of Newton was able to create a synthesis from the
works of Descartes, Galileo and Kepler and to present a picture
of the world which Newton, himself a religious man, felt was a
confirmation of a spiritual order in the Universe. In fact the
background of Newton's thought, connected with such figures
as Isaac Burrows and the Cambridge Platonists, was far from
being divorced from interest in the metaphysical meaning of
69
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Man and Nature
time, space and motion. Yet the Newtonian world view led to
the well-known mechanistic conception of the Universe and
totally away from the holistic and organic interpretation of things.
The result was that after the seventeenth century science and
religion became totally divorced. Newton was one of the first
to realize the adverse theological effects of his discoveries. We
must not forget how much effort he spent and how many pages
he wrote on the alchemical and Kabbalistic sciences of his day.
Perhaps for him the new physics, with its eminent success on the
mathematico-physicallevel, was just a science of material things.
For those who followed him it became the science, the only
legitimate knowledge of the objective world.
Also in the seventeenth century the last step in the seculariza-
tion of the cosmos took place in the hands of the philosophers and
scientists. In the Renaissance elements of traditional philosophy
still survived. The anatomy of existence consisted not only of the
physical and the purely intelligible worlds but also of the inter-
mediary world between matter and pure spirit, the 'imaginal
world' (mundu.r imaginalis). This, however, must not be con-
sidered in any way unreal or made to correspond to the modern
meaning of 'imaginary'. Such an intermediate world was the
immediate principle of nature, and through it the symbolic
science of nature was made possible. Among Christian thinkers
(albeit away from the centre of theological orthodoxy), even after
the Renaissance a man like Swedenborg could write a her-
meneutic commentary upon the Bible which was also an exposi-
tion of a symbolic science of nature and could rely upon this
intermediate world as the meeting ground of spiritual and material
forms.
17
The Cambridge Platonists, particularly Henry More,
were, however, the last of the European philosophers to speak ·of
this domain of reality in the same way that Leibniz was the last
major Western philosopher to speak of the angels.
Henceforth the Cartesian surgical operation in which spirit and
matter become totally separated dominated scientific and philo-
sophic thought. The domain of science was matter which was a
pure 'it' divorced completely from any ontological aspect other
70
The Intellectual and Historical Causes
than pure quantity. Although there were protests here and there
especially among English and German thinkers, this view became
the very factor that determined the relationship between man and
nature, scientifically and philosophically. Thus seventeenth-
century rationalism is the unconscious background of all later
scientific thought up to the present day. Whatever discoveries
are made in the sciences and whatever changes are brought about
in conceptions of time, space, matter and motion, the background
of seventeenth-century rationalism remains. For this very reason,
other interpretations of nature, especially the symbolic, have
never been seriously considered and accepted.
In the seventeenth century Hermeticism still continued strongly
particularly in England. There was also Jacob Bohme, the re-
markable cobbler and theosopher in Germany, whose very
appearance at this time is most significant and who influenced
deeply the school of Naturphilosophie that reacted so severely
against the prevalent mechanical philosophy. These develop-
ments are of importance as showing the continuity in certain
circles, especially of northern Europe, of a spiritual conception
of nature. These schools still remained peripheral as far as their
influence on modern science was concerned. The centre of the
stage continued to be occupied by mechanistic phil6Sophy and
science.
During the eighteenth century, while theoretically science
continued along lines established in the seventeenth, its philo-
sophic effect was more pronounced. The philosophy of Descartes
was drawn to its logical conclusion by the Empiricists, by Hume
and by Kant who demonstrated the inability of purely human
reason to reach knowledge of the essence of things, thereby
opening the door to the irrational philosophies that have followed
since his advent. Through the 'encyclopedists', Rousseau and
Voltaire, a philosophy of man without a transcendent dimension
became popularized and truth reduced to utility.
38
If the seven-
teenth century still considered problems on the level of their
theoretical truth or falsehood, the question now became the
utility of knowledge for man, who had now become nothing but
71
Man. and Nature
a creature of the earth with no other end but to exploit and
dominate its riches. This practical and utilitarian bent, crystallized
by the French Revolution, accentuated the effect of the new
mechanistic science by turning more attention to the empirical
sciences and seeking to destroy any vestiges of a contemplative
view toward nature that still survived.
39
With the help of the new
science the only role left to man was to conquer and dominate
nature and to serve his needs as an animal endowed somehow
with analytical reason and thought.
The materialistic conception of nature did not go unchallenged
during the nineteenth century, particularly in art and literature
where the romantic movement sought to re-establish a more
intimate bond with nature and the indwelling spirit within
nature. The philosophical Romantic poets like Navalis devoted
themselves most of all to the theme of nature and its significance
for man. One of the foremost among them, Wordsworth, could
write in the Excursion (Book IX):
'To every Form of being is assigned'
Thus calmly spake the venerable Sage,
'An active Principle:-howe'er removed
From sense and observation, it subsists
In all things, in all natures; in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks,
The morning waters, and the invisible air.
Whate'er exists hath properties that spread
Beyond itself, communicating good,
A simple blessing, or with evil mixed;
Spirit that knows no insulated spot,
No chasm, no solitude; from link to link
It circulates, the soul of all the worlds.
This is the freedom of the universe;'
Likewise a man like John Ruskin saw nature as something
72.
The Intellectual aru:l Historical Causes
divine
10
and spoke of the 'spiritual power of air, the rocks, and
waters'.
11
The romantic attitude toward nature, however, was more senti-
mental than intellectual. Wordsworth speaks of 'wise passive-
ness' and Keats of 'negative capability'. This passive attitude
could not make and mould knowledge. Whatever service the
romantic movement rendered in re-discovering medieval art or
the beauty of virgin nature, it could not affect the current of
science nor add a new dimension within science itself by which
man would be able to understand those aspects of nature that
seventeenth century science and its aftermath had failed to
consider.
As for the philosophy of the nineteenth century it surrendered
the possibility of knowing things in their immutable aspect and
so became, with Hegel, bound to process and change. The Abso-
lute itself was made to enter the current of the dialectical process
which was equated with a new logic of process and becoming.
The vision of a changeless and immutable reality became com-
pletely forgotten in a universe where, for some time now,
suprasensible reality had lost its objective and ontological ~ s t a t u s .
The intuitions of men like Schelling or Franz von Baader could
do little to turn the tide away from a further plunge into the world
of sheer becoming and change.
As for science, the major event occurred in biology where the
theory of evolution reflects more the 'zeitgeist' than a scientific
theory. In a world where the 'multiple states of being' had lost
their meaning, where the archetypal reality of species held no
significance, where there was no metaphysical and philosophical
background to enable men to interpret the appearance of differ-
ent species on earth as so many successive 'dreams of the World
Soul', where the hands of the Creator had been cut off from
creation through the spread of Deism there could be no other
explanation for the multipiicity of the species than temporal
evolution. The vertical 'chain of being' had to be made temporal
and horizontal,
12
whatever absurdities such a view might imply
metaphysically and theologically. The result of this theory,
73
Man anJ Nature
besides causing endless hickerings between popularizers of
evolution and theologians, brought a further alienation of man
from nature by removing from the world of life the immutable
form or essence of things which alone can he intellectually con-
templated and can become the object of metaphysical knowledge
and vision. It also condoned all kinds of excesses in usurping
the right of other forms of life in the name of the 'survival of the
fittest'.
The theory of evolution did not provide an organic view for
the physical sciences hut provided men with a way of reducing
the higher to the lower, a magical formula to apply everywhere
in order to explain things without the need to have recourse to
any higher principles or causes. It also went hand in hand with a
prevalent historicism which is a parody of the Christian philo-
sophy of history, hut which nevertheless could only take place
in the Christian world where the truth itself had become in-
carnated in time and history. A reaction is always against an
existing affirmation and action.
With the breakdown of classical physics at the end of the
nineteenth century, there was no spiritual force ready to re-
interpret the new science and integrate it into a more universal
perspective. Some found in this breakdown a chance to re-assert
other points of view which the monolithic mechanistic concep-
tion of the Universe had previously prevented. Also, the break-
down meant on the one hand a re-interpretation of science which
destroyed even further contact with the macrocosmic world and
the immediate symbolism of things. (This can he seen in the case
of the change from Euclidian geometry to those of Riemann or
Lohachevski.) On the other hand it meant the opening of the
gate to all kinds of pseudo-spiritual movements and occult
sciences which graft themselves upon the newest theories of
physics, but which are usually either degenerate residues of
older cosmological sciences, now no longer understood, or
simply dangerous and pernicious inventions. From the genuinely
religious quarters the breakdown of classical physics did not
bring forth a vigorous response that could lead to a meaningful
74
The Intellectual an.d Historical Causes
synthesis. For the most part the theological response has been a
weak echo that has often adopted discarded ideas of science
itself and sometimes, as in the case of Teilhard de Chardin, has
sought a synthesis which is metaphysically an absurdity and
theologically a heresyY
It is this long.history, some of whose features have been pointed
out here, that has at last led to the present crisis in the encounter
between man and nature. As pointed out in Chapter I it is only
through a re-discovery of true metaphysics, especially the
sapiential doctrines of Christianity and the revival of that tradition
within Christianity which has done justice to the relation be-
tween man and nature, that a hierarchy of knowledge can be
again asserted and a symbolic science of nature re-established
which will effectively complement the quantitative sciences of
today. Only in this way can an equilibrium be created, an equili-
brium from which the development of the past few centuries has
drawn away with ever greater speed until today the disequili-
brium and lack of harmony between man and nature threatens to
destroy them both together. Thus we must turn to a discussion of
metaphysics and the tradition of the spiritual study of nature
within Christianity.
NOTES TO CHAPTER II
I. 'Historians of science have, until recently, committed the same error as
historians of the early Church in the fourth and fifth centuries; they have
written as if the only events of importance in the previous period were those
which directly anticipated and promoted the current orthodoxy of their own
day.' Raven, Natural Religion and Christian Theology, I, p. 7·
2. Whereas science in English should logically mean the scientia of Latin
or Wissenschafi of German it has come to acquire a very restricted meaning
in most quarters leaving the English language without a general terrn cor-
responding to Wisseruchafi, or scientia. Recently in certain circles the full /
meaning of 'science' has been re-instated but this more universal meaning is //
far from being widely accepted or employed. . . . . . . . ~
75 ~
I
Man and Nature
l· Fortunately, in the past few years, some historians of science have turned
their attention to the study of ancient and medieval science as related to the
total world view of the cultures of these ages rather than as simply historical
preludes to modem science. Due to the lack of metaphysical knowledge and
disregard for the science of symbolism, this approach has not been wide-
spread.
4- One hardly need re-assert how many modem scholars insist on the close
nexus between science and Christian thought. Some take into consideration
positive relations and others the reactions between the two. See for example,
Smethurst, Mot/ern Sciuu:e and Christian Befref, J. MacMurray, &ason and
EmJJtion, London, 1935; J. Baillie, Natural Science and the Spiritual Lifo,
London, 1951; and S. F. Mason, Main Currentl of Scientific Thought, New
York, 1956.
5· See F. Comford, Principium sapientiae, Cambridge, 1951.; and W. Jaeger,
Theology of the Early Greelc Philosophers, Oxford, 1947•
6. See Comford, From Religion to PIU/osophy, New York, 1958, Also G.
DiSantillana, FourultJtions of Scientific Thought, Chicago, 1961.
7· See F. Schuon, Light on the Ancient Worlds, p. 6+
8. Of course Stoicism has had much importance during the Renaissance
and the seventeenth century as a weapon against Aristotelianism and has
contributed much to the rise of seventeenth-century physics as shown by
S. Sambursky in Pleysics oftlae Stoics, New York, 1959. But nevertheless it
cannot be denied that the scientific achievements of the Stoics, Epicureans
and similar late schools that were disseminated in the Roman Empire hardly
compare with that of Aristotle or the school of Alexandria in general.
It is also of interest to note that after Aristode himself his school turned
mosdy from a study of the organic aspect of nature, as witnessed in the bio-
logical works of Aristotle and the botany of Theophrastus, to an interest in
mechanics and simple machines as seen in the pseudo-Aristotelian Mechanics.
9· See B. Bavink, 'The Natural Sciences' in, Introduction to th.e Scientific
Philosophy of TodDy, New York, 1931., where the author writes that except
for a few Teutons, St Francis of Assisi, the German mystics and Luther,
Christianity has neglected the study of nature outside of the human being.
See particularly p. 576.
10. Referring to the debate and dialogue between the ChriStian and the
Hellenist Schuon writes, ' ••• a half truth which tends to safeguard the tran-
scendence of God at the expense of the metaphysical intelligibility of the
world is less erroneous than a half-truth which tends to safeguard the divine
nature of the world at the expense of the intelligibility of God.' Ligh.t on
the Ancient Worlds, p. 6o.
Th.e Intellectual and Historical Causes
On the struggle between early Christian theology and the 'cosmic
religion' of the Greeks see J. Pepin, TMologie cosmique et tMologie ch.retienne,
Paris, 1964.
11. By gnosis of course we mean that unitive knowledge which saves and
illumines and is inseparable from love and not gnosticism which was banned
as a heresy by the Christian councils.
12. On this question see T. Burckhardt, 'Nature de Ia perspective cosmolo-
gique', Etudes Traditionnelles, vol. 49, 1948, pp. 1 . 1 ~ 1 9 ; and in the context
of Islam, S. H. Nasr, An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines,
Cambridge (U.S.A.), 1964, especially the introduction.
13. Traditional cosmology is very much like sacred art which, out of the
many forms of the world of multiplicity, chooses a certain number which it
moulds and transmutes so as to make of them an intelligible and transparent
symbol of the spiritual genius of the religious tradition in question. See
Burckhardt, "'Nature de !a perspective cosmologique'.
14. See 'Aesthetics and Symbolism in Art and Nature' in F. Schuon, Spiritual
Perspectives and Human Facts, pp. 24 ff.
15. It is not accidental that the walls of European cities began to be broken
about the same time that heliocentric astronomy destroyed the idea of the
world as cosmos or 'order' and removed the finite boundary of the Universe.
16. See the Appendix of E. Levy in 0. von Simpson, Th.e Goth.ic Cathedral,
New York, 1956; also T. Burckhardt, Chartres und die Gehurt der Kat1iedrale,
Lausanne and Freiburg, 1961.. H. Keyser in many studies such as Akroasis,
die Leh.re von Harmonike der Welt, Stuttgart, 1947, has re-discovered for
the modern world this forgotten traditional science of harmony which is
so important as an integrating principle of the arts and the sciences. The
trivium and quadrivium, the medieval arts and sciences themselves, come
from the Pythagorean seven-fold division of the musical scale.
17. SeeM. Aniane, 'Notes sur l'alchimie, "yoga" cosmologique de Ia chre-
tiente medievale', in Yoga, science de l'h.omme integral, Paris, 1953, pp. 243-
73; also T. Burckhardt, Die Alch.emie, Sinn wui Welthild, Osten, 196o; and
S. H. Nasr, 'The Alchemical Tradition' in Science and Civilir_ation in Islam,
Cambridge (U.S.A.), 1968.
18. See H. Probst-Biraben, Les Mysteres des templiers, Nice, 1947; also
P. Ponsoye, Islam et le Graal, Paris, 1957.
19. As far as the relation between the sciences, philosophy and the gnostic
and Sufi dimension within Islam is concerned seeS. H. Nasr, Th.ree Muslim
Sages, Cambridge (U.S.A.), 1964; An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological
Doctrines and Science and Civili{ation in Islam.
77
Man and Nature
20. See Three Muslim Sagu, Chapter I.
21. See, An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines, pp. 1 8 5 ~ 1 .
22. See H. Corbin, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital, section II; also S. H.
Nasr, Three Afuslim Sages, pp. 28-31.
23. Corbin, op. cit., pp. 101 ff.
24- See R. Guerwn, Aperfu sur l'isotlrisme chritien, Paris, 1954.
25. E. Gilson, The Unity of Philosophical Experience, London, 1938,
PP· 62 ff.
26. 'That neither Fransiscans nor Dominicans succeeded in establishing a
serious regard for the study of nature within the Church, during the century
in which medieval Christendom rose to its splendid zenith, made inevitable
the upheavals and revolts of the Renaissance and Reformation.' Raven,
Science and Religion, p. 72.
27. See F. Schuon, Light on the Ancient Worlds, Chapter II, 'In the Wake of
the Fall'.
28. See G. Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought, Chapter
III.
29. For the analysis of this aspect of the question as far as Hermeticism is
concerned see M. Eliade, 'The Quest for the "Origin" of Religion', History
of Religions, vol. IV, no. 1, Summer 1964, pp. 156 ff.
30. Only a small number of scholars such as W. Pagel and in recent years
A. Debus and F. Yates have studied and made known the immense influence
of the Paracelsian and alchemical tradition of the Renaissan·ce in seventeenth-
century sciences.
31. See T. Burckhardt 'Cosmology and Modern Science', pp. 183-4.
p. Already a century before Copernicus Nicolas of Cusa in his De docta
ignorantia referred to the earth as a star and believed in an unbounded
Universe to whose metaphysical and esoteric significance he pointed more
than once. See R. Klibansky, 'Copernic et Nicolas de Cuse', in Leonard de
Vinci et !'experience scientifique du.XV/e siecle, Paris, 1953·
33· 'The heliocentric system itself admits of an obvious symbolism, since
it identifies the source oflight with the centre of the world. Its rediscovery by
Copernicus, however, produced no new spiritual vision of the world; rather
was it comparable to the dangerous popularization of an esoteric truth.
The heliocentric system has no common measure with the subjective ex-
periences of the people, in it man had no organic place; instead of helping
the human mind to go beyond itself and to consider things in terms of the
immensity of the cosmos, it only encouraged a materialistic Prometheanism
78
The Intellectual and Historical Causes
which, far from being superhuman, ended by becoming inhuman.' Burck-
hardt, 'Cosmology and Modern Science', pp. 184-5.
34· See A. Koyre, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe, New York,
1958.
35· See E. Gilson, The Unity of Philosophical Experience, p. 127.
36. Gilson, ibid., Chapter V.
37· See H. Corbin, Hermeneutique spirituelle comparee (!. Swedenborg-Il.
G!Wse ismaelienne), Era!Ws Jahrbuch, Zlirich, 1965.
38. 'With Voltaire, Rousseau and Kant bourgeois unintelligence erects
itself into a "doctrine" and becomes definitely entrenched in European
"thought", giving birth, through the French Revolution, to positivist science,
industry and quantitative "culture". Henceforward the mental hypertrophy
of the "cultured" man ekes out the absence of intellectual penetration; all
feeling for the absolute and for principles is drowned in a commonplace
empiricism, on to which is grafted a pseudo-mysticism with "positivistic" or
"humanistic" tendencies. Perhaps some people will reproach us with lack of
reticence, but we would like to ask where is the reticence of the philosophers
who shamelessly slash at the wisdom of countless centuries.' F. Schuon,
Language of the Self (trans. M. Pallis and D. M. Matheson), Madras, 1959,
p. 8, nt. r.
39· 'At the time of the Revolution of the late eighteenth century, the earth
had become definitely and exclusively the goal of man; the "Supreme Being"
was merely a "consolation" and as such a target for ridicule; the s<;_emingly
infinite multitude of things on earth called for an infinity of activities, which
furnished a pretext for rejecting contemplation ... , man was at last free to
busy himself, on the hither side of transcendence, with the discovery of the
terrestrial world and the exploitation of its riches; he was at last rid of symbols,
rid of metaphysical transparence; there was no longer anything but the
agreeable or the disagreeable, the useful or the useless, whence the anarchic
and irresponsible development of the experimental sciences.' Schuon,
Light on the Ancient Worlds, p. 30.
40. 'Ruskin looked at the material universe with preternatural vivacity and
clarity, and believed that what he saw was divine.' J. Rosenberg, The Dark-
ening Glass, a Portrait of Ruskin's Genius, New York, 1961, pp. 4-5.
4r. Ibid., p. 7·
42. On the chain of being and its relation to the theory of evolution see,
0. Lovejoy, The Great Chains of Being, Cambridge, (U.S.A.), 1933·
43· 'As a symptom of our time, Teilhardism, is comparable to one of those
cracks that are due to the very solidification of the mental carapace, and
79
Man ana Nature
which do not open upwards, towards the heaven of true and transcendent
unity, but downward towards the reaim of the inferior psychisrn: weary of
its own discontinuous vision of the world, the materialist mind lets itself
slide toward a pseudo-spiritual intoxication, of which this falsified and
materialized faith-<lr this sublimated materialism-that we have just de-
scribed marks a phase of particular significance.' Burckhardt, 'Cosmology
and Modem Science', Tomorrow, Autumn, 1!}64, p. 315.
8o
'.'
w,
l
1'.
Chapter 3
Some Metaphysical
Principles Pertaining to
Nature
We have so far often mentioned metaphysics. It is now time to
define what we mean by this all important form of knowledge,
whose disappearance is most directly responsible for our modern
predicament. Metaphysics, which in fact is one and should be
named metaphysic in the singular, is the science of the Real,
of the origin and end of things, of the Absolute and, in its light,
the ·relative. It is a science as strict and exact as mathematics
and with the same clarity and certitude, but one which can
only be attained through intellectual intuition and not simply
through ratiocination. It thus differs from philosophy as it,js
usually understood.
1
Rather, it is a theoria of reality whose
realization means sanctity and spiritual perfection, and therefore
can only be achieved within the cadre of a revealed tradition.
Metaphysical intuition can occur anywhere-for the 'spirit
bloweth where it listeth' -but the effective realization of meta-
physical truth and its application to human life can only be
achieved within a revealed tradition which gives efficacy to
certain symbols aQd rites upon which metaphysics must rely for
its realization.
This supreme science of the Real, which in a certain light is the
same as gnosis, is the only science that can distinguish between
the Absolute and the relative, appearance and reality. It is only in
its light that man can distinguish between levels of reality and
states of being and be able to see each thing in its place in the total
scheme of things. Moreover, this science exists, as the esoteric
dimension, within every orthodox and integral tradition and is
81
Man and Nature
united with a spiritual method derived totally from the sources
of the tradition in question.
In the traditions of the East, metaphysics has been continuously
alive to this day, and despite differences of foundation there is a
unity of doctrine which justifies the use of the term 'Oriental
Metaphysics? although metaphysics knows no Orient or Occi-
dent. In the West there has also been true metaphysics of the
highest order, among the Greeks in the Pythagorean-Platonic
writings, and especially in Plotinus. In all these cases metaphysics
is the doctrinal exposition that was the fruit of a living spiritual
way. Likewise in Christianity one finds metaphysics in the writ-
ings of some of the early founders of Christian theology like
Clement and Origen, Irenaeus, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory
of Nazianzen, in Erigena, Dante and Eckhart and again in Jacob
Bohme. Among Orthodox writers there is an even more open
and complete metaphysical exposition than that which is found
among Latin authors. But even the official theology of the Latin
church, especially the Augustinian school, contains metaphysics
which, however, is much more hidden and indirect.
In Western philosophy, however, since Aristotle the unfor-
tunate practice of considering metaphysics as a branch of philo-
sophy came into being so that with the appearance of philo-
sophical doubt metaphysics has also been discredited. In this
. domain, the rationalism of later Greek philosophy fortified the
tendency within official Christian theology to emphasize will and
love rather than intelligence and sapiential knowledge. These
two factors combined to make of metaphysics and gnosis a
peripheral aspect of the intellectual life of Western man, especially
since the end of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. What is
usually called metaphysics in post-medieval philosophy is, for
the most part, nothing but an extension of rationalistic philosophy
and at best a pale reflection of true metaphysics. The so-called
metaphysics that philosophers like Heidegger have criticized
and consider as having come to an end is not the metaphysical
doctrine we have in mind. Metaphysics, tied to a philosophy that
is at once perennial and universal, knows no beginning or end.
8l.
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
is the heart of the ph.ilosoph.ia perennis to which Leibnitz
referred.
In as much as the loss of metaphysical knowledge is responsible
for the loss of harmony between man and nature and of the role
of the sciences of nature in the total scheme of knowledge, and by
the fact that this knowledge has been nearly forgotten in the West
while it has continued to survive in the traditions of the East, it
is to these Oriental traditions that one must turn in order to re-
discover the metaphysical significance of nature and to revive
the metaphysical tradition within Christianity. If the East is
learning by compulsion and necessity the Western techniques of
domination over nature, it is from Oriental metaphysics that one
must learn how to prevent this domination from becoming sheer
self-annihilation.
Turning first to the Far East we see in the Chinese tradition,
especially in Taoism and also in Neo-Confucianism, a devotion to
nature and a comprehension of its metaphysical significance that
is of the greatest importance. This same reverential attitude
toward nature, together with a strong sense of symbolism and an
awareness of the lucidity of the cosmos and its transp7irency
before metaphysical realities, is to be found in Japan. Shintoism
has strongly fortified this attitude. That is why in the art of the
Far East, especially in the Taoist and Zen traditions, paintings
of natural scenes are veritable icons. They do not just evoke a
sentimental pleasure in the onlooker but convey grace, and are a
means of communion with transcendental reality.
In Taoism there is always the awareness of the presence of the
transcendent dimension symbolized by the void so dominant in
landscape paintings. But this void is not non-being in the negative
sense, but the Non-Being which transcends even Being and is
dark only because of an excess of light. It is like the divine
darkness to which Dionysius the Areopagite refers, or the wilder-
ness of Godhead (die wiisste Gottheit) of Meister Eckhart. That
is why this Non-Being or Void is also the principle of Being,
and through Being the principle of all things. So we read in the
sacred text of Taoism, the Tao Te-C!Ung:
83
Man anJ Nature
'All things under Heaven are products of Being, but Being
itself is the product of Not-Being.'
3
In this simple assertion is
contained the principle of all metaphysics, in pointing to the
hierarchic structure of reality and the dependence of all that is
relative upon the Absolute and the Infinite, symbolized by the
Void or Non-Being that is unbound and limitless. Likewise
Chuang-Tzu affirms the same principle somewhat more elabor-
ately when he writes: . · \
'In the Grand Beginning (of all things) there was riothing in
all the vacancy of space; there was nothing that could be named.
It was in this state that there arose the first existence;-the first
existence, but still without bodily shape. From this things could
then be produced (receiving) what we call their proper character.
That which had no bodily shape was divided; and then without
intermission there was what we call the process of conferring.
(The two processes) continuing in operation, things were pro-
duced. As things were completed, there were produced the dis-
tinguishing lines of each, which we call the bodily shape. That
shape was the body preserving in it the spirit, and each had its
peculiar manifestations, which we call its Nat_ure. When the
Nature has been cultivated, it returns to its proper character;
and when that has been fully reached, there is the same condition
as at the beginning.'
4
In as much as Heaven, in the metaphysical sense, and in its
characteristic Chinese usage, comes from the Origin and Earth,
again in its metaphysical significance, from Heaven, man must
live in this world with a full awareness of the hierarchy. For as
the Tao-Te Ching asserts: 'The ways of men are conditioned by
those of earth, the ways of earth by those of heaven, the ways of
heaven by those of the Tao, and the Tao comes into being by
itself.'
5
Heaven is thus a reflection of the Supreme Principle
and the Earth the reflection of heaven. The Earth of Taoism is
not profane nature that stands as gravity opposed to grace, but
it is an image of a divine prototype whose contemplation leads
upward toward that reality for which 'heaven' is the traditional
expression. For this reason also the world can be known, in a
84
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
metaphysical and not empirical sense, through its Cause and
Principle.
'The World has a First Cause, which may be regarded as the
Mother of the World. When one has found the Mother, one can
know the Child. Knowing the Child and still keeping the Mother,
to the end of his days he shall suffer no harm.'
6
That science is safe and without harm which realizes the mani-
festation without losing sight of the Principle.
It is of cardinal importance that the Tao is both the Principle,
the way to attain the Principle and also the order of things. It is
in fact the order of nature
7
if we remember all that Taoism means
by nature. Tao, the Principle that is also the order and harmony of
all things, is everywhere present, in everything that is great
or small. 'The Tao does not exhaust itself in what is greatest,
nor is it ever absent from what is least; and therefore it is
to be found complete and diffused in all things.'
8
To live in
peace and harmony with nature or the Earth, one must live
in harmony with Heaven, and in order to attain this end one
must live according to the Tao and in conformity with
it, the Tao which pervades all things and also transcends all
things.
9
Nature, as the direct effect of the Tao and its laws, stands as
opposed to the trivialities of human artefacts and the artificiality
with which man surrounds himself. For as Chuang-Tzu says,
'what is of Nature is internal. What is of man is external ...
That oxen and horses should have four feet is what is of Nature.
That a halter should be put on a horse's head, or a string through
an ox's nose, is what is of man.'
10
That is why the aim of the spirit-
ual man is to contemplate nature and become one with it, to
become 'natural'. This is not intended in a pantheistic or natura-
listic sense, but in a metaphysical sense, so that to become natural
means to abide fully by the Tao which is at once both transcendent
and the principle of nature. The aim of the sage is to be in
harmony with nature for through this harmony comes harmony
with men and this harmony is itself the reflection of harmony
with heaven. Chuang Tzu writes, 'Anyone who sees clearly the
ss
I
Man arul Nature
excellence of all nature may be called God's Trunk or God's
Stock, because he is in harmony with nature. Anyone who brings
the world into accord is in harmony with his fellow men and
happy with men. Whoever is in harmony with nature is happy
with nature.'
11
To be happy with nature means precisely to accept its norms
and its rhythms rather than to seek to dominate and overcome it.
Nature should not be judged according to human utility nor
earthly man made the measure of all things. There is no anthropo-
morphism connected with man's relation with nature.U Man
should accept and follow the nature of things and not seek to
disturb nature by artificial means.
13
Perfect action is to act without
acting, without self-interest and attachment, or, in other words,
according to nature which acts freely and without greed, lust or
other ulterior motives. There is in fact in Taoism an opposition
to the application of the sciences of nature for the purely material
welfare of man ~ seen in the well-known story recorded in the
works of Chuang-Tzu:
'Hwang-Ti had been on the throne for nineteen years, and his
ordinances were in operation all through the kingdom, when he
heard that Kwang Khang-Tze [a Taoist sage] was living on the
summit of Khung-Thung, and went to see him. "I have heard,"
he said, "that you, Sir, are well acquainted with the perfect Tao.
I venture to ask you what is the essential thing in it. I wish to
take the subtlest influences of heaven and earth, and assist with
them the (growth of the) five cereals for the ( b ~ t t e r ) nourishment
of the people. I also wish to direct the (operation of the) Yin and
Yang, so as to secure the comfort of all living beings. How shall
I proceed to accomplish those objects?" Kwang Khang-Tze re-
plied, "What you wish to ask about is the original substance of
all things; what you wish to have the direction ofis that substance
as it was shattered and divided. According to your government
of the world, the vapours of the clouds, before they were col-
lected, would descend in rain; the herbs and trees would shed
their leaves before they become yellow; and the light of the sun
and moon would hasten to extinction. Your mind is that of a
86
Metaphysical Prineiplu Pertaining to Nature
flatterer with his plausible words;-it is not fit that I should tell
you the perfect Tao."'
14
It must be remembered that this same Chinese civilization in
which such a contemplative view of nature was cultivated, and
where there was even opposition to the application of the sciences
of nature, developed physics, mathematics, astronomy and natural
history and furthermore has been known throughout history for
its technological prowess and genius. It must, moreover, be
remembered that most of the early alchemists, geologists and
pharmacologists in China were

and that the polariza-
tion of Heaven and Earth and the religious significance of nature
persisted as long as the Chinese tradition remained strong. The
metaphysical significance of nature as expounded in Taoism, and
also Buddhism, while even contributing to the development of
sciences of nature, remained as a balance which preserved the
hierarchy of knowledge and prevented nature from becoming
profane.
The Chinese even developed an astronomical system, the
Hsii.an yeh, which like astronomy was based on
an unlimited conception of space and time and was even used by
proponents of the Copernican system in Europe against Ptolemaic
astronomy. But in China this 'open cosmos' was
to a metaphysical explanation and never allowed to destroy the
harmony between man and nature that is so central to the Far
Eastern traditions.
In Japan, likev.rise, we find the Taoist and also Buddhist con-
ceptions of nature coming from China integrated with the local
Shinto religion in which again, like all branches of the Shamanic
tradition, there is a particular emphasis upon the significance of
nature in a cultic sense.
16
Among a people with remarkable
artistic sensitivity there developed the most intimate contact
with nature, from rock gardens and landscape paintings to flower
arrangements, all based on the knowledge of cosmic corre-
spondences, sacred geography, the symbolism of directions, forms
and colours. Spiritual methods became closely allied to the inward
contemplation of nature and intimacy with its rhythms and forms.
87
Man and Nature
·The avid quest after things Japanese in the West in recent years
is in many cases the sign of a hidden nostalgia to find peace with
nature again and to escape the ugliness of the ambiance created
by modern technology. In their special devotion to nature as a
means of grace and spiritual sustenance, the traditions of the Far
East in their metaphysics, science and art have a cardinal message
for the modern world in which the encounter of man and
nature is almost always on the basis of war and rarely of the
peace which is so avidly sought after and so rarely found.
When we turn to the Hindu tradition, there also we find an
elaborate metaphysical doctrine concerning nature along with
the development of many sciences in the bosom of Hinduism,
some of which in fact influenced Western science through Islam.
When we think about the Hindu tradition, our attention usually
turns to the Vedantic doctrine of Atman and maya, the world
being considered not as absolute reality but as a veil that hides the
Supreme Self. A simplistic interpretation of such a view, especially
as prevalent among modern pseudo-V edantins, would conclude
that the world being maya, usually translated as illusion, it matters
little whether one lives in virgin nature or the ugliest urban
environment, whether one surrounds oneself with sacred art or
the worst trash produced by the machine.
But this view is itself the worst possible delusion. It is maya
pure and simple. What Hinduism asserts, like all Oriental doc-
trines, is the need to gain deliverance from the cosmos which is
maya. But maya is not only illusion, which is its negative aspect,
but also the divine play or artP It veils the Supreme Self, the
Absolute Reality, but also reveals and displays it. From the
point of view of Atman or Brahman, the Universe is unreal; only
the Absolute itself is Real in the absolute sense. For one living in
maya the relative reality in which he finds himself is at least as
real as his own empirical self, and can moreover, be an aid in his
gaining deliverance. Although the cosmos is a prison for the sage
it is also possible to transcend this prison through a knowledge of
its struct.Jre and even with its aid. That is why Hinduism as
88
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining co Nature
an integral tradition has developed elaborate cosmological and
natural sciences and even spiritual techniques tied intimately to
the use of the energy within nature. Yet, every science, physical,
mathematical and alchemical, as well as the properly religious
and spiritual ones, are connected to the total matrix both of
Hinduism and in certain cases Buddhism and to the metaphysical
principles dominating the whole tradition.
18
Among the six darsluinas or intellectual schools of Hinduism,
none is as analytical and attached to the corporeal world as the
This school is concerned with the physical world
and holds a thoroughly atomistic view, beginning with the five
elements or hhutas from which bodies are formed. It seems on
the surface a system most akin to the atomistic and mechanistic
physics that developed in the West in late Antiquity and again
in the seventeenth century and which was usually anti-religious
in its sentiment.
19
But in Hinduism, as in Buddhism, there
developed an atomism combined with a spiritual view of the
Universe. The system is based on the knowledge of
the six categories or padiirthas which are: substance, attribute or
quality, action, generality, individuality and inherence. Sub-
stance itself is nine kinds: earth, water, fire, air, ether, time, space,
mind and spirit. Knowledge of the physical world, or ultimately
these six categories, is correct knowledge (tattvajiiafma), a
knowledge that can only be attained through inner purity and
with the help of dharma or grace, for it must be remembered
that in the Nyaya- system above the six padiirthas
stands ISvara, the Personal Deity, who is the cause of the world.
A system as analytic and as closely concerned with natural
things as the Vai.Sefilca, has as its end the deliverance of the soul
from the atomistic world to which it is attracted by false know-
ledge.20 In fact at the beginning of one of the main treatises of
this school, the Padarthadharmasangraha, it is said, 'A treatise
that deals with the properties of things can never lead to the
highest bliss; as words cannot accomplish anything besides the
denoting of the vernal meanings'. To which objection the answer
is given; 'A knowledge of the true nature of the six categories-
89
I
Man. and Nature
substance, quality, action, generality, individuality and in-
herence-through their similarities and dissimilarities-is the
means of accomplishing the highest bliss'.
21
Knowledge of the external world is ultimately knowledge of
oneself and even an analytical cosmological and natural science
is not divorced from man's entelechy in the highest sense, namely
deliverance from all limitation. This is not anthropomorphism at
all. On the contrary it is the only form of knowledge through
which man can escape the limitations of his own ego. Concerning
the traditional founder of the Vaisefilca system, KaQiida, it has
been said; 'He [Kai)iida] had accomplished the knowledge of the
principles (tattvas), dispassion and lordliness. He thought within
himself that the knowledge of the principles of the six padarthas
(predicables), by means of their resemblances and differences, is
the only royal road to the attainment of self-realization, and that
that would be easily accomplished by the disciples through the
dharma (merit or worth) of renunciation.m Thus the knowledge
of nature is inextricably bound to moral and spiritual laws and
the purity of the seeker after this knowledge. It seems as if
Hinduism like so many other traditions had felt intuitively that
the only safe way to penetrate the mysteries of nature and to
cultivate physics, in the universal sense of this term, is to become
saintly and to seek the saintly life.
Another of the darshanas, the Sa.,lchya, which contains one
of the most elaborate cosmologies and natural philosophies in
any tradition, likewise begins with the problem of the three-
fold pain present in the soul and the means to remove this pain,
as is clearly asserted at the beginning of the Saqz/chya Karikii.
23
The three kinds of pain, which are the natural and intrinsic such
as diseases, the natural and extrinsic such as any pain caused by
an external source and finally divine or supernatural pain caused
by spiritual factors, can only be overcome by an analytical
knowledge of the three principles of this school, namely, the
prime substance or nature (Prakriti), manifested matter that is
in a state of flux ( vyakti) and finally the Spirit that neither begets
nor is begotten (Purufa).
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
The Saf{lkhya system seeks to remove the pain and misery of
the soul through discriminative knowledge, Siif{lkhya itself
meaning etymologically discrimination.
24
It begins with Prakriti,
the maternal prime substance of the Universe or nature in its
vastest sense from which through the action of the three cosmic
tendencies or gu!}as, namely satwa, rajas and tamas, or goodness,
passion and obscurity or the upward, expansive and downward
tendencies, the whole cosmic domain is brought into being.
There are twenty-five tattvas or principles whose knowledge
forms the basis of the Saf{lkhya system. There is first of all the
four-fold division of things into the productive which is Prakriti,
that which produces and is produced such as the intellect or
Buddhi, that which is only produced such as the senses and the
elements and finally that which neither produces nor is produced,
that is, Purufa, the Universal Spirit which stands above and
distinct from Prakriti and all its products.
25
Furthermore, there is the more detailed division into the
tattvas. Through the action of the gWJas which are present at all
levels of cosmic reality, first the Buddhi or the intellect is generated
and from BuJdhi the principle of Egoism or Ahankara. From
Ahanlcara there proceeds in turn the five subtle elements (tan-
matra) which are the principles of the gross, corporeal elements.
Also from Ahankara there come into being the eleven senses
consisting of the five organs of sense, the five organs of action
and the receptive and discriminative faculty (manas). From the
subtle elements are produced the gross elements (mahabuta).
Above this whole domain stands P u r u ~ a and the object of all
sciences of nature is precisely for the soul to disentangle itself
from the sense perceptions with which by mistake it identifies
itself through the action of manas and ahanlcara.
The Universe itself which comes into being from the bosom
of Prakriti or Nature is formed in such a way as to enable man
to contemplate it in the metaphysical sense and thereby also
achieve from it its separation or catharsis.
26
Moreover, once the
spirit gains knowledge of nature, nature itself aids in this separa-
tion and withdraws from the scene. For as we read in the Saf{lkhya-
91
Man and Nature
Karilca: 'As a dancer having exhibited herself on the stage, ceases
to dance, so does nature (Prakriti) cease (to produce) when she
has made herself manifest to the soul.m Thus in the Samlchya
system as in the V aise#lca the knowledge of nature leads to the
catharsis of the soul and its deliverance. Moreover, Nature itself
is an aid in this process of realization and assists that spirit which
is armed with discriminative knowledge.
This theme of relying upon nature in the task of spiritual
realization is carried to its full conclusion ih t ~ e practices con-
nected with Tantra Yoga. In Tantrism the Salcti or feminine
principle becomes the incarnation of all force and power in the
Universe, and through the use of this very power, as if riding
upon the waves of the sea, the Yogi seeks to pass beyond nature
and the ocean of cosmic manifestation. In Tantrism there is an
elaborate correspondence between man and the cosmos, the
spinal column itself being called the Meru of the human body.
18
In fact, in the Tantric way or sa.dhana, the body and flesh of
man and the living cosmos are the most fundamental elements.
19
The Universe is the 'body of the Lord'
30
and by dying and bury-
ing himself in its bosom, in the arms of nature as the Divine
Mother, the Yogi finds his deliverance. The death and resurrec-
tion of the Yogi is very much like the salve e t coagula of medieval
Christian alchemists and in fact Tantrism became connected to
alchemy in India and presents do<;trines closely resembling those
of the Western Hermeticists who also died in the maternal
principle in order to be reborn in the spirit and sought the
'glorious body' as the Tantric Yogis sought the 'body of dia-
mond' (vajraya.na). Tantrism in its connection with alchemy
presents a most profound symbolic interpretation of nature
closely associated with a spiritual way. Because of its close
parallel with the Christian alchemical tradition it is a most
effective means of recollecting ideas and doctrines which in the
West have been long lost and forgotten.
Indian civilization also developed a great many sciences which
were .completely integrated within the structure of the tradition.
The Vedangas, consisting of the six sciences of phonetics (silcsa.);
92
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
ritual (lcalpa); grammar (vyalcarat.za); etymology (nirulcta);
metrics (chandas) and astronomy came into being at the
end of the Brahrpana period as inspired sciences (smrti) as
commentaries and complements of the divinely revealed Vedas
(Iruti)Y Vedanga itself means literally 'limb of Veda' and
implies that these sciences are an extension of the main body of
the tradition contained in the Vedas. Below these sciences stands
Upaveda (secondary Veda) consisting of medicine (Ayur-veda);
military science (Dhanur-veda); music (Gandharva-veda) and
physics and mechanics (Sthapatya-veda). Again these sciences are
considered as an application of the principles contained in the
Vedas to particular domains.
32
Even elements taken from Baby-
lonian, Greek or Iranian sources were integrated into this tradi-
tional structure.
Furthermore, the sciences of arithmetic (vyalca-ganita);
algebra (bija-ganita) and geometry (relcha-ganita) which in-
fluenced Muslim and Western science so greatly were closely
tied to the metaphysical principles ofHinduism and also Buddhism
as we see in the relation between the indefinite of algebra and the
metaphysical Infinite, or the number zero first used in Indian
arithmetic and the metaphysical doctrine of the void (shunya).
33
There was thus at every level an intricate and inextricable bond
between the sciences and the metaphysical principles of the tradi-
tion. No science was ever cultivated outside the intellectual world
of the tradition nor was nature ever profaned and made the
subject of a purely secular study.
When we turn to Islam we find a religious tradition more akin
to Christianity in its theological formulations yet possessing in
its heart a gnosis or sapientia similar to the metaphysical doctrines
of other Oriental traditions. In this, as in many other domains,
Islam is the 'middle people', the ummah wasa.tah to which the
Quran refers, in both a geographical and metaphysical sense.
For this reason the intellectual structure of Islam and its cosmo-
logical doctrines and sciences of nature can be of the greates! aid in
awakening certain dormant possibilities within Christianity.
34
93
.......••
J .•. r.,.;
i
Man arul Nature
One finds in Islam art elaborate hierarchy of knowledge inte-
grated by the principle of unity (a!-taw bid) which runs as an axis
through every mode of knowledge and also of being. There are
juridical, social and theological sciences; and there are gnostic
and metaphysical ones alJ derived in their principles from the
source of the revelation which is the Quran. Then there have
developed within Islamic civilization, elaborate philosophical,
natural and mathematical sciences which became integrated into
the Islamic view and were totally Muslimized. On each level of
knowledge nature is seen in a particular light. For the jurists
and theologians (mutakallimiin) it is the background for human
action. For the philosopher and scientist it is a domain to be
analyzed and understood. On the metaphysical and gnostic level
it is the object of contemplation and the mirror reflecting supra-
sensible realities.
35
Moreover, there has been throughout Islamic history an
intimate connection between gnosis, or the metaphysical dimen-
sion of the tradition, and the study of nature as we also find it in
Chinese Taoism. So many of the Muslim scientists like Avi-
cenna, Qutb al-Din Shirazi and Baha' al-Din 'Amili were either
practising Sufis or were intellectually attached to the illumina-
tionist-gnostic schools. In Islam as in China observation of
nature and even experimentation stood for- the most part on the
side of the gnostic and mystical element of the tradition while
logic and rationalistic thought usually remained aloof from the
actual observation of nature. There never occurred the alignment
found in seventeenth-century science, namely a wedding of
rationalism and empiricism which however was now totally
divorced from the one experiment that was central for the men
of old, namely experiment with oneself through a spiritual
discipline.
36
In Islam the inseparable link between man and nature, and also
between the sciences of nature and religion, is to be found in the
Quran itself, the Divine Book which is the Logos or the Word of
God. As such it is both the source of the revelation which is the
basis of religion and that macrocosmic revelation which is the
94
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
Universe. It is both the recorded Quran (al-Qur'an al-tadwini)
and the 'Quran of creation' (al-Qur'an al-takwini) which contains
the "ideas" or archetypes of all things. That is why the term
used to signify the verses of the Quran or riyah also means events
occurring within the souls of men and phenomena in the world of
nature.
37
Revelation to men is inseparable from the cosmic revelation
which is also a book of God. Yet the intimate knowledge of
nature depends upon the knowledge of the inner meaning of the
sacred rext or hermeneutic interpretation (ta'wil).
3
B The key to
the inner meaning of things lies in ta'wil, in penetrating from the
outward (tahir) to the inward (barin) meaning of the Quran, a
process which is the very opposite of the higher criticism of today.
The search for the roots of knowledge in the esoteric meaning of
a sacred text is also found in Philo and certain medieval Christian
authors such as Hugo of St Victor and Joachim of Flora. Outside
the mainstream of Christian orthodoxy it is found after the
Renaissance in such writers as Swedenborg. It is precisely this
tradition, however, that comes to an end in the West with the
obliteration of metaphysical doctrines leaving the sacred text
opaque and unable to answer the questions posed by the natural
sciences. Left only with the external meaning oT the Holy
Scripture later Christian theologians could find no other refuge
than a fundamentalism whose pathetic flight before nineteenth
century science is still fresh in the memory.
By refusing to separate man and nature completely, Islam has
preserved an integral view of the Universe and sees in the arteries
of the cosmic and natural order the flow of divine grace or
barakah. Man seeks the transcendent and the supernatural, but
not against the background of a profane nature that is opposed
to grace and the supernatural. From the bosom of nature man
seeks to transcend nature and nature herself can be an aid in this
process provided man can learn to contemplate it, not as an inde-
pendent domain of reality but as a mirror reflecting a higher
reality, a vast panorama of symbols which speak to man and have
meaning for him.
39
95
Man and Nature
The purpose of man's appearance in this world is, according
to Islam, in order to gain total knowledge of things, to become
the Universal Man (al-insan al-kamil), the mirror reflecting all the
Divine Names and Qualities.
40
Before his fall man was in the
Edenic state, the Primordial Man (al-insan al-qadim); after his
fall he lost this_ state, but by virtue of finding himself as the central
being in a Universe which he can know completely, he can sur-
pass his state before the fall to become the Universal Man.
Therefore, if he takes advantage of the opportunity life has
afforded him, with the help of the cosmos he can leave it with
more than he had before his fall.
The purpose and aim of creation is in fact for God to come 'to
know' Himself through His perfect instrument of knowledge that
is the Universal Man. Man therefore occupies a particular position
in this world. He is at the axis and centre of the cosmic milieu at
once the master and custodian of nature. By being taught the
names of all things he gains domination over them, but he is
given this power only because he is the vicegerent (khalifah)
of God on earth and the instrument of His Will. Man is given the
right to dominate over nature only by virtue of his theomorphic
make-up, not as a rebel against heaven.
In fact man is the channel of grace for nature; through his
active participation in the spiritual world he casts light into the
world of nature. He is the mouth through which nature breathes
and lives. Because of the intimate connection between man and
nature, the inner state of man is reflected in the external order.
41
Were there to be no more contemplatives and saints, nature
would become deprived of the light that illuminates it and the
air which keeps it alive. It explains why, when man's inner
being has turned to darkness and chaos, nature is also turned
from harmony and beauty to disequilibrium and disorder. H Man
sees in nature what he is himself and penetrates into the inner
meaning of nature only on the condition of being able to delve
into the inner depths of his own being and to cease to lie merely
on the periphery of his being. Men who live only on the surface
of their being can study nature as something to be manipulated
96
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
and dominated. But only he who has turned toward the inward
dimension of his being can see nature as a symbol, as a transparent
reality and come to know and understand it in the real sense.
In Islam, because of this very conception of man and nature,
nature has never been considered as profane nor have the sciences
of nature considered as natura naturata ever been studied without
the remembrance of natura naturans. The presence of meta-
physical doctrine and the hierarchy of knowledge enabled Islam
to develop many sciences which exerted the greatest influence on
Western science without these sciences disrupting the Islamic
intellectual edifice. A man like A vicenna could be a physician
and Peripatetic philosopher and yet expound his 'Oriental
philosophy' which sought knowledge through illuminationY A
N a ~ i r al-Din Tusi could be the leading mathematician and
astronomer of his day, the reviver of Peripatetic philosophy, the
author of the best known work on Shi'ite theology and an out-
standing treatise on Sufism. His student Quth al-Din Shirazi
could be the first person to explain correctly the cause of the
rainbow and write the most celebrated commentary upon the
Theosophy of the Orient of Light (Hikmat al-ishra9) of Suhrawardi.
The examples could be multiplied but these suffice to demonstrate
the principle of the hierarchy of knowledge and the presence of a
metaphysical dimension within Islam which satisfied the intel-
lectual needs of men so that they never sought the satisfaction
of their thirst for causality outside the religion as was to happen
in the West during the Renaissance.
In fact it might be said that the main reason why modern
science never arose in China or Islam is precisely because of the
presence of metaphysical doctrine and a traditional religious
structure which refused to make a profane thing of nature.
-Neither the 'Oriental bureaucratism' ofNeedhamH nor any other
social and economic explanation suffices to explain why the
scientific revolution as seen in the West did not develop else-
where. The most basic reason is that neither in Islam, nor India
nor the Far East was the substance and stuff of nature so depleted
of a sacramental and spiritual character, nor was the 'intellectual
97
ill
1111
II
I
I
II
Iii I
'I
:Iii
Man and Nature
dimension of these traditions so enfeebled as to enable a purely
secular science of nature and a secular philosophy to develop
outside the matrix of the traditional intellectual orthodoxyY
Islam, which resembles Christianity in so many ways, is a perfect
example of this truth, and the fact that modern science did not
develop in its bosom is not the sign of decadence as some have
claimed but of the refusal of Islam to consider any form of
knowledge as purely secular and divorced from what it considers
as the ultimate goal of human existence.
Before passing to the Christian tradition it is impossible not to
mention briefly the case of the American Indians whose view con-
cerning nature is a most precious message for the modern world.
The Indians, especially of the Plains, did not develop an articu-
lated metaphysics, but nevertheless they possess the profoundest
metaphysical doctrines expressed in the most concrete and
primordial symbols.
46
The Indian, who is something of a primor-
dial monotheist, saw in virgin nature, in forests, trees, streams
and the sky, in birds and buffalos, direct symbols of the spiritual
world. With the strong symbolist spirit with which he was
endowed he saw everywhere images of celestial realities. For him,
as for other nomads, nature was sacred and there was a definite
disdain of the artificialities of sedentary life. Virgin nature was
for the Indian the cathedral in which he lived and worshipped.
His desperate struggle against the white man was not only for a
living space but also for a sanctuary. His civilization was so
different from, and diametrically opposed to, that of the modern
world that after living for thousands of years in nature, he left it
in such a condition that today that very segment of nature must be
turned into a national park in order to prevent it from becoming
spoiled. \Vhen one sees the tracks of the Indian high in the Rocky
Mountains, tracks which he crossed for millenia without disturb-
ing the ambiance about him, one feels so strongly that the Indian
was one who really walked gently upon the earth. For this, if
for no other reason, the heritage of the American Indian contains
a most precious message for the modem world.
98
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
If a day were to come when Christianity, rather than trying to
convert the followers of Oriental religions, should also try to
understand them and enter into an intellectual dialogue with
them
47
then Oriental metaphysics, which is also in its essence the
philosophia perennis, as well as the cosmological doctrines of the
Oriental traditions (which could also be referred to as cosmologia


could act as a cause and occasion for recollection of
elements forgotten in the Christian tradition. They could aid in
restoring a spiritual vision of nature that would be able to provide
the background for the sciences. Also, if we review the history of
Christianity in the light of Oriental metaphysical and cosmo-
logical principles, some of which have been mentioned above,
we shall discover a tradition of the study of nature which can
act as the background for a new theological appraisal of the
Christian vision of nature. It is in the light of these doctrines
that we turn to a few representatives of this tradition in the
history of Christianity.
In the Old Testament there are certain references to the parti-
cipation of nature in the religious view of life, such as in the
vision of Hosea in which God entered into covenant with beasts
and plants in order to secure peace, or when Noah was or .. dered
to preserve all animals whether they were clean or unclean, that is,
irrespective of their usefulness or relation to manY Likewise,
. virgin nature or wilderness is conceived as a place of trial and
punishment as well as refuge and contemplation or as the re-
flection of paradise. This vision and tradition of the contempla-
tive view of nature was to survive later in Judaism in both the
Kabbalistic and Hassidim schools. As for the New Testament
the death and resurrection of Christ is accompanied by a wither-
. ing and rejuvenation of nature pointing to the cosmic character
of Christ. St Paul also believed that all creation shares in the
redemption.
In the \Vest, however, the early Church as a reaction to
paganism gradually became withdrawn and totally distinct from
', the world about it. Even the terms paradise and wilderness in
their positive sense became connected solely with the Church
99
Man anJ Nature
and later with the monastery and the university as distinct institu-
tions. 50 Gradually in the Western Church the selective character
of salvation became more emphasized, and virgin nature and
wilderness became interpreted as a domain of warfare and com-
bat rather than of peace and contemplation. Even the geographic
expansion of the Renaissance and the conquest of the New
World were accomplished with this motif in mind. 5
1
In the East-
ern Church, however, the contemplative view of nature was
emphasized and made much more central. Nature was considered
as a support for the spiritual life and the belief was held that all
nature shares in salvation (apolcatastasis panton) and the Universe
is renovated and reconstructed by Christ in his second coming.
Among the early fathers also the Greek fathers like Origen,
lrenaeus, Max.imus the Confessor and Gregory of Nyssa who
were so influential in the formation of Orthodox theology
developed a theology of nature. Origen and lrenaeus are,
particularly important since they applied the Logos doctrine
not only to man and his -religion but also to the whole of nature
and all creatures. Their followers likewise showed much sym-
pathy for a spiritual vision of nature.
51
The Latin fathers, however,
did not for the most part show great interest in nature to the
extent that the most famous among them, St Augustine, in the
City of God considers nature as fallen and not yet redeemed. 5
3
With the spread of Christianity into northern Europe, new
ethnic groups entered the fold of Christianity who, far from
being infected with the paganism of the Mediterranean world
possessed a keen insight into the spiritual value of nature. Among
Anglo-Saxons and Celts there was a strong awareness of the
harmony between man and nature.
5
* The Celtic monks sought
after the theoria or vision of the cosmos as a divine theophany
and went on pilgrimages in the hope of discovering harmony
with God's creation. Some of the best nature poetry in the West
is a product of their spiritual quest. 5
5
It remained for a northerner, Johannes Scotus Erigena, to gi"Ve
the first complete metaphysical formulation of nature in the Latin
Middle Ages. The ninth-century Irish scholar, who wrote
IOO
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
commentaries on the Bible, in which he sought to reveal its
inner meaning, as well as on Dionysus the Areopagite, is best
known for his De divisione naturae dealing with God, creation
and t h ~ return of creation to God. Some theologians and philo-
sophers, who do not understand a metaphysical and cosmo-
logical doctrine of nature, are apt to accuse any doctrine of this
kind of being pantheistic, but Erigena was fully aware of the
Transcendent Origin of the Universe. Yet, for him all things in
the Universe come from God and are created through Christ.
56
The first opening phrase of the Scriptures 'In the beginning God
made the heaven and the earth' in fact means for Erigena the
creation of all the primordial causes in Christ.
57
Erigena, following Gregory of Nyssa, held a conception of
matter according to which matter rather than being an opaque
quantity is a combination of incorporeal qualities,
58
while form
is all that gives existence to corporeal bodies and relates this do-
main to higher planes of existence. In the corporeal world as
· well as through all realms of creation the Trinity is present; the
essentia of the Father as the source of existence, the sapientia of
the Son as the source of wisdom and the vita of the Spirit as the
life of all things in the Universe. And so man also has a triune
nature comprised of the intellect (nous), reason (logos) a;d sense
(dianoia).
Man stands in fact between the spiritual and material creations
and partakes of the nature of both. In him the whole creation
is contained in an essential rather than in a material or substantial
sense.
59
Man is created in the image of God, yet as an animal,
so that from one side the spiritual world is reflected in him and
from the other the animal world. His destiny is inextricably
tied to both the spiritual and natural worlds. That is why the
apolcatastasis or the final restoration means the passage of
spiritualized nature to God and the restoration of all things in-
cluding animals and trees.
In the light of this spiritual conception of nature, Erigena
possessed a strong symbolic vision of things. Even in his astron-
. omy, which in certain ways resembles the scheme of Tycho
IOI
Man anJ Nature
Brahe, he gives a more eminent place to the Sun because of the
symbolic nature of the Sun as the source of all existence and
vitality, as the universal efficient cause in the cycle of the world.
60
He also expounds a doctrine of the states of being, and the inter-
relation between levels in the hierarchy of existence. This inter-
relation very much resembles the universal metaphysical doctrines
of the Orient.
61
Another eminent example of the Christian contemplative
vision of nature is Saint Hildegard of Bingen, the visionary whose
exposition of the structure of the cosmos is combined with re-
markable miniatures going back to Saint Hildegard herself.
62
In
her works the wedding of science and art so characteristic of the
Middle Ages can be clearly seen. We observe a Christian cos-
mography and cosmology expounded through the means of the
sacred art of Christianity,
63
expressed in symbolic colours and
forms which could be conveyed only through the medium of
traditional art.
Saint Hildegard had a vision of the Universe, similar to that
of Hugo of Saint Victor in which nature is totally in the domain
of the Spirit manifesting itself in all products of nature. In
her vision she is addressed by the Spirit in· these remarkable
words:
'I am that supreme and fiery force that sends forth all the
sparks of life. Death hath no part in me, yet do I allot it, wherefore
I am girt about with wisdom as with wings. I am that living and
fiery essence of the divine substance that flows in the beauty of the
fields. I shine in the water, I burn in the sun and the moon and the
stars. Mine is that mysterious force of the invisible wind:' I
sustain the breath of all living. I breathe in the verdure, and in
the flowers, and when the waters flow like living things, it is I.
I found those columns that support the whole earth ..• I am the
force that lies hid in the winds, from me they take their source,
and as a man may move because he breathes, so doth a fire burn
but by my blast. All these live because I am in them and am of their
life. I am wisdom. Mine is the blast of the thundered word by
which all things were made. I permeate all things that they may
102.
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
not die. I am life.'
64
Here is a vision of nature still sacred and
spiritual before it became profane.
If Erigena expounded a metaphysical doctrine of nature and
Saint Hildegard a vision of a Christian cosmos expressed in
terms of Christian iconography and symbolism, Roger Bacon
was, as well as a mystic, a scientist and experimentor. He has
often been called a forerunner of modern science and along with
Robert Grosseteste the founder of the experimental method.
65
What is usually forgotten is that Roger Bacon was also an illumi-
nationist and Pythagorean who tried to cultivate the sciences of
nature in the matrix of supernatural knowledge, and conceived
of mathematics itself in a symbolic sense. He experimented, not
only with nature but also with the Holy Spirit within himself.
66
He possessed a vision of the hierarchy of knowledge much like
that of the Muslim Avicenna whom he so greatly admired.
He cultivated the mathematical and natural sciences within the
fold of Christian intellectuality. It is unfortunate that his example
was not followed. Had he had successors, perhaps the Renais-
sance and seventeenth-century development of science wholly
outside the fold of Christianity would never have come"".about,
and the schism in Western civilization between science and
religion would have been preventedP The fact that after Roger
Bacon, what came to be known later as science was cultivated
by rationalist and nominalist theologians rather than 'illumina-
tionists' and esoterists like Bacon, could only point to an inevit-
able divorce between science and religion.
We also find in the figure of St Francis of Assisi a most
startling reminder of the possibility of a reverential attitude to-
:wards nature within the aura of the Christian saintly life. His
among the birds and beasts whom he addressed was a con-
crete example of the Christian belief that through holiness man
can gain a relationship with nature. This is a return to conditions
before the fall with its ensuing disruption of harmony between
man and nature.
68
In the Canticle of the Sun and in many other sermons St
Francis displays a disinterested contemplative view of nature
IOJ
I'
I
Mtm tmtf Nature
outside all human utility. In his conversation with animals and
even the elements, such as fire which he addressed when he was
being cauterized, he illustrates the inner relation and intimacy that
the saint gains with nature by virtue of his becoming identified
with the Spirit that breathes within it.
Likewise, in Dante we see an eminent example of the integra-
tion of all knowledge, scientific, philosophical and theological into
the total structure of Christianity. A synthesis whose highest
meaning is revealed only to those who can unravel the ana-
gogical meaning hidden within the Divin.e Comedy. The cosmos
is a Christian one, the seven liberal arts correspond to so many
levels of existence which the soul must realize, and the flight from
the summit of the mount of Purgatory symbolizes the departure
of the soul from the pinnacle of human perfection or the 'Lesser
Mysteries', to states that are veritably transhuman and belong to
the 'Greater Mysteries.'
69
The Divine Comedy contains in this
cathedral of Christian intellectuality metaphysical and cosmo-
logical doctrines of lasting value not because of the symbolism
of the Aristotelian astronomy which it employs, but because of
the delineation of the structure of reality both externally and
within the souls of men. This remains true independently of
the symbolism used to express it. One must actually traverse the
cosmos, or the levels of existence, to realize that the force that
pervades all things is the 'love that moves the sun and the stars'.
Contemporary with Dante and following him during the next
few centuries are the Christian alchemists, who integrated the
Hermetic-alchemical doctrines of Alexandrian origin as later
developed by Muslims into the perspective of Christianity. With
men like Nicola Flame) who was a saintly and devout Christian
and Basil Valentine, the attachment of alchemical doctrines to
Christianity could no longer be denied. In the writings of these
alchemists one finds, most significantly a vast doctrine of nature
infused with the Christian spirit.
Alchemy is neither a premature chemistry nor a psychology in
the modern sense, although both of these are to be found in
alchemical writings.
70
Alchemy is a symbolic science of natural
104
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
forms based on the correspondence between different planes of
reality and making use of mineral and metal symbolism to ex-
pound a spiritual science of the soul. For alchemy, nature is
sacred, and the alchemist is the guardian of nature considered as
a theophany and reflection of spiritual realities.
71
A purely
profane chemistry could come into being only when the sub-
stances of alchemy became completely emptied of their sacred
quality. For this very reason, a re-discovery of the alchemical
view of nature, without in any way denying the chemical sciences
which deal with substances from another point of view, could
reinstate the spiritual and symbolic character of the forms,
colours and processes that man encounters throughout his life
in the corporeal world.
Although after the Middle Ages the Christian tradition of the
study of nature based on a metaphysical doctrine is more difficult
to observe, it nevertheless continued until the nineteenth century.
Men like John Ray and other Christian natural historians still
went into the fields searching for the vestiges of God, the Yestigio
Dei. In Germany, the alchemist and theosopher, Jacob Bohme,
one of the last Christian gnostics, continued the alchemical
tradition of the study of nature. He spoke of the inner forces of
nature, and of primordial nature in its pristine purity, still
present here and now but which men cannot see because of
turmoil and darkness within their souls that make them absent
from it.
72
He invited men to seek to regain a vision of this pure
and primordial nature. After him, Goethe in his Farhenlehre was
to continue the interest in symbolism of colours and harmony
within nature, while the followers of Naturphilosophie fought a
losing battle against the mechanistic conception of nature. But
by now even this battle was no longer fought from the camp of
official Christianity.
The long tradition of the spiritual vision of nature, with the
metaphysical doctrines upon which it is based, must again be
brought to life within Christianity if the encounter of man and
nature is not to result in complete disaster. Theologians and
philosophers have been for the most part responsible, or at least
IOS
Man and Nature
have contributed during the past few centuries to making nature
profane, thus setting the stage for its becoming profaned through
the industrial revolution and the unending applications of modern
sciences. They are thus responsible also for reinstating a more
wholesome and integral attitude toward nature. Too many
modern religious thinkers and theologians have put aside the
question of nature and considered man's salvation with a total
disregard for the t:est of God's creation. In the present situation,
however, human existence on this earth, not to mention
man's ultimate salvation, has become a precarious matter. Because
of this callous disregard for the rights of nature and other living
things, it is high time for those who are really concerned with
the state of man to turn to this long tradition of the study of
nature within Christianity and to seek to restore the metaphysical
doctrines of Christianity with the help of Oriental metaphysics.
Only the revival of a spiritual conception of nature that is based
on intellectual and metaphysical doctrines can hope to neutralize
the havoc brought about by the applications of modern science
and integrate this science itself into a more universal perspective.
NOTES TO CHAPTER III
1. 'A metaphysical doctrine is the incarnation in the mind of a universal
truth. A philosophical system is a rational attempt to resolve certain questions
which we put to ourselves.' See F. Schuon, Spiritual Perspectives and Human
Facts, p. 11.
2. On Oriental metaphysics see R. Guenon, La Metaplr.ysigue orientale,
Paris, 1951.
3· L. Giles, The Sayings of Lao T:{u, London, 1950, p. 22. Concerning
Chinese metaphysical doctrines in general see Matgioi, La Voie metaphysiiJue,
Paris, 1956; and M. Granet, La Pensee chinoise, Paris, 1934·
4· Tlr.e Sacred Books of China, Tlr.e Texts ofT aoism (trans. J. Legge), vol. I,
New York, 1962, pp. 315-16.
5· J. Needham, Science and Civiliration in Clr.iNz, vol. II, Cambridge, 1956,
p. so. Needham interprets this saying as proof of belief in scientific naturalism
Io6
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
and even makes a comparison with Lucretius. But there is a world of dif-
ference between the Hellenistic - Roman 'naturalism' and 'naturism' of
other traditions in which the substance of nature has not become profane
but acts as a means of conveying grace.
6. The Sayings of Lao T{u, p. 23.
7· Needham, op. cit., pp. 36 ff.
8. The Sacred Books ofChin.:z, The Texts of Taoism, Part I, p. 342.
9· Chuang-Tzu referring to the sages writes: '(Such men) by their stillness
become sages; and by their movement, kings. Doing nothing, they are
hono1,1red; in their plain simplicity, no one in the world can strive with them
(for the palm of) excellence. The clear understanding of the virtue of Heaven
and Earth is what is called "The Great Root", and "The Great Origin";- · ~
they who have it are in harmony with Heaven, and so they produce all
equable arrangements in the world;-they are those who are in harmony
with men.' Ibid., p. 332·
10. Quoted in Fung Yu-Lan, A History of Chinese Philosophy (trans. D.
Bodde), vol. I, Princeton, 1952, p. 224.
11. The Sayings of Chuang Chou (trans. J. Ware), New York, 1963, p. 88.
12. See Needham, op. cit., pp. 49 f.
13· Ibid., P· 51·
14. The Sacred Books of China; The Texts of Taoism, Part I, pp. 297-8.
15. This point has been emphasized in several works by Needham: 'Em-
bodied therefore in the common present-day name for a Taoisf temple
[kuan] is the ancient significance of the observation of Nature, and since in
their beginnings magic, divination and science were inseparable, we cannot
be surprised that it is among the Taoists that we have to look for most of
the roots of Chinese scientific thought.' 'The Pattern of Nature-Mysticism
and Empiricism in the Philosophy of Science, Third Century B.C. China,
Tenth Century A.D. Arabia, and Seventeenth Century A.D. Europe, in
Science, Medicine and History, Essays in Honor of Charles Singer (ed. E.
Ashworth Underwood), London, 1953, p. 361.
16. 'In Asia, Shamanism properly so-called is met with not only in Siberia,
hut also in Tibet (in the form of Bi:in-po) and in Mongolia, Manchuria and
Korea. The pre-Buddhist Chinese tradition, with its Confucian and Taoist
branches, is attached to the same traditional family, and the same applies to
Japan, where Shamanism has given rise to the specifically Japanese Shinto
tradition. Characteristic of all these doctrines is a complementary opposition
of Heaven and Earth, and a cult of Nature .• .' Schuon, Light on the Ancient
Worlds, p. TJ..
IO'J
IIIII III
ill
ii
I
I
Man and Nature
17. This in fact is the way that incomparable scholar of Hinduism and of
Oriental metaphysics and art in general, A. K. Coomaraswamy, translated
mdya.
18. Of the immense number of works on Hinduism in the European lan-
guages very few have understood the proper Hindu point of view and ex-
pressed the view of the tradition itself. As far as the metaphysical doctrines of
Hinduism and the structure of this tradition is concerned see R. Guenon,
Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines (trans. M. Pallis), London,
1945; R. Guenon, Man and His Becoming, according to the Vedanta (trans.
R. Nicholson), London, 1945; F. Schuon, The Language of the Self; and
the many works of A. K. Coomaraswamy especially Hinduism and Buddhism,
New York (n.d.). See also the lucid expositions ofM. Eliade and H. Zimmer.
19. There are of course exceptions as those in the seventeenth century who
spoke of the atomism of Moses and related the atomistic view to the Hebrew
prophet himself.
20. 'The bondage of the world is due to false knowledge which comists in
thinking as my own self that which is not myself, namely, body senses,
manas, feelings and knowledge; when once the true knowledge of the six
padarthas, and as Nyaya says, of the proofs, the objects of knowledge, and
of the other logical categories of inference is attained, fasle knowledge is
destroyed.' S. Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, vol. I, Cambridge,
1922, p. )65.
21. Paddrthadharmasa"'gralza ofPrac;astapada (trans. M.G. Jha), Allahabad,
1916, p. IJ·
The same text asserts: 'Here also the declaration that the knowledge of
similarity etc. is the means of highest beatitude implies that such beatitude
is brought about by a true knowledge of the categories themselves; as there
could be no knowledge of the said similarity etc. independently of the
categories.' p. 15.
22. The Sacred Books of the Hindus (ed. B. D. Basu), vol. VI, The
Sutras of (trans. Nandalal Sinha), Allahabad, 1923, p. 2.
23. 'From the injurious effect of the threefold kinds of pain (arises) a
desire to know the means of removing it (pain). If, from the visible (means
of removing it), this (desire) should seem to be superfluous, it is not so, for
these are neither absolutely complete nor abiding.' The Sankhya Karika of
lswar Krishna (trans. by J. Davies), Calcutta, 1957, p. 6.
We have made some use for this analysis of of the Persian work
of D. Shayegan, which is now in press (Tehran Univ. Press). Concerning
the Siilpkhya system see A. B. Keith, Saf!llclzya System, Calcutta, 1949 and
B. N. Seal (Vrajendranatha-$ila), Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus,
London, 1915.
Io8
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
14. 'The way of eradicating the root of sorrow is thus the practical enquiry
of the Samkhya philosophy.' Dasgupta, op. cit., p. 165.
15. This four-fold division has a startling resemblance to the De divisione
naturae of Erigena.
16. 'It is that the soul may be able to contemplate Nature, and to become
entirely separated from it, that the union of both is made, as of the halt and
the blind, and through that (union) the universe is formed.' The Sanlclzya
Karika, p. 34·
17. /hid., p. 67. The commentary Tattva-Kaumudi moreover adds, 'as a
qualified servant accomplishes the good of his unqualified master, through
purely unselfish motives, without any benefit to himself; so does Nature
endowed with the three Attributes, benefit the Spirit without any good in
return to herself. Thus the pi.Jre unselfishness of Nature's motives is estab-
lished.' Tattva-KaumudiofVachaspati Mi§ra(trans. G. Jha), Bombay, 1896,
p. 104.
18. See Sir J. Woodruffe, Introduction to Tantra Sastra, Madras, 1956, pp.
34-5·
19. SeeM. Eliade, Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, New York, 1958, p. 104.
JO. See Sir J. Woodruffe, The Wor!J As Power, Madras, 1957, p. 3·
Jl· See Cultural Heritage of India, vol. I, Calcutta, 1958, pp. 164-1 (chapter
on the Vetlangas by V. M. Apte).
Jl. Concerning the Upavedas see Guenon, Introduction to the Study of the
Hindu Doctrines, Chapter VIII.
...
33· On the relation between zero and the centre of the cosmic wheel as well
· as the void see A. K. Coomaraswamy, 'Kha and Other Words Denoting
"Zero", in Connection with the Metaphysics of Space', Bull. School of
Oriental Studies, vol. VII, 1934, pp. 487--97.
34· Concerning cosmological doctrines in Islam seeS. H. Nasr, An Introduc-
tion to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. As for the Islamic sciences themselves
see S. H. Nasr, Science and Civili{ation in Islam.
35· SeeS. H. Nasr, Islamic Scudies, Beirut, 1966, chapter V, 'The Meaning of
nature in Various Intellectual Perspectives in Islam' and Chapter XIII
'Contemplation and Nature in the Perspective of Sufism'.
36. Even in the Renaissance many of the observers and experimenters far
from being rationalistic were steeped in the Kabbalistic,
other mystical schools of the period as shown so clearly by W. Pagel m
'Religious Motives in the Medical Biology of the Seventeenth Century ·
Bull. History of Medicine, 1935, vol. II, no. 1, pp. 97-Il8; no. 3, PP·
11
3-31;
109
II
I
Man and Nature
no. 4, pp. 265-312. As for the case of Taoism see Needham, Science and
Civilqation in China, vol. II, pp. 91 ff. in addition to his article already cited.
37· In fact'lhe Quran asserts, 'We shall show them our portents upon the
horizons and within themselves, until it be manifest unto them that it is the
Truth'. (XLI; 53) (Pickthal! translation); see Nasr, An Introduction to Islamic
Cosmological Doctrines, p. G.
38. See H. Corbin (with the collaboration of S. H. Nasr and 0. Yahya),
Histoire de Ia philosophie islamique, Paris, 1964, pp. IJ-JO; and H. Corbin,
'L'interiorisation du sens en hermeneutique soufie iranienne', Eranos
Jahrhuch, XXVI, Zurich, 1958. See also S. H. Nasr, Ideals and Realities of
Islam, London, 1966, chapter II.
39· 'Nor is there anything which is more than a shadow. Indeed, if a world
did not cast down shadows from above, the worlds below it would at once
vanish altogether, since each world in creation is no more than a tissue of
shadows entirely dependent on the archetypes in the world above. Thus the
foremost and truest fact about any form is that it is a symbol, so that when
contemplating something in order to be reminded of its higher realities the
traveller is considering that thing in its universal aspect which alone explains
its existence.' Abu Bakr Siraj Ed-Din, The Book of Certainty, London, 1952,
P· so.
40. On this capital doctrine see al-Jili, De l'h.omme universe! (trans. T.
Burckhardt), Lyon, 1953; and T. Burckhardt, An Introduction to Sufi Doc-
trine (trans. D. M. Matheson), Lahore, 1959.
41. 'In considering what the religions teach, it is essential to remember that
the outside world is as a reflection of the soul of man .• .' The Book of
Certainty, p. 32. 'The state of the outer world does not merely correspond
to the general state of men's souls; it also in a sense depends on that state,
since man himself is the pontiff of the outer world. Thus me corruption of
man must necessarily affect the whole, .. .' Ibid., p. 33·
42. A traditional Muslim would see in the bleakness and ugliness of modern
industrial society and the ambiance it creates an outward reflection of the
darkness within the souls nf men who have created this order and who live
in it.
43· See H. Corbin, At·icenna and the Visionary Recital (trans. W. Trask),
New York, 1961; and S. H. Nasr, Three Muslim Sages, Chapter I; An
Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines, pp. 177 ff.
44· See J. Needham, 'Science and Society in East and West', Centaurus;
vol. 10, no. J, 1964, pp. 174-97·
45· By orthodoxy we do not mean simply following the exoteric and literal
110
Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature
interpretation of a religion but to possess the right doctrine (ortlws-Joxia)
on both the exoteric and esoteric levels. see F. Schuon, 'Orthodoxy and
Intellectuality', in Language of Tlr.e Self, Madras, 1959, pp.
1
_
14

46. Concerning the metaphysical teachings of the Indians see J. Brown,
T!&e Sacred Pipe, Norman, 1953; also F. Schuon, 'The Shamanism of
North American Indians', in Light on t!&e Ancient World, pp. 72-8.
47. As far as the Islamic world is concerned, with a few rare exceptions,
there has been no intellectual contact with Christianity since the Middle Ages.
48. Concerning this perennial cosmology see T. Burckhardt, Cosmologia
Puenn.is, Kairos, vol. VI, no. 2, 1964, pp. 18-p.
This is not to say of course that there are no differences in the role and
meaning of nature in the various traditions cited. But there is enough agree-
ment on principles and on the metaphysical significance of nature to warrant
the use of the term 'cosmologia perennis'.
49· Williams, Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Tnoug!&t, introduction
p. x.
so. 'The corresponding term to paradise, in the sense of the Garden of the
Great King of the universe, will in due course be applied provisionally to
· the Church, then more exclusively to the disciplined monastery alone, then
to the school growing out of the Church and monastery, namely, the
medieval university, and at length in the New World to the theological
seminary as the seedbed of missionaries and ministers.' /hid., p. 6.
51. This development has been fully traced in Williams, Wilderness and
Paradise.
...
52. Basil ofNeo-Caesarea, an Origenist, writes in his Hexaemeron: 'A single
blade of grass is enough to occupy your whole mind as you contemplate the
skill that produced it', and lectures on nature as the handiwork of God. See
Raven, Natural Religion and Christian Tlr.eology !, Science and Religion,
p. 47, where this saying is quoted.
53· For the attitude of St Augustine and the early Church as well as later
Christianity toward nature see Raven, op. cit.
54· Williams, Paradise and Wilderness, pp. 46 ff.
55· 'The pilgrimage of the Irish monk was therefore not merely the restless
search of an unsatisfied romantic heart, it was a profound and existential
tribute to the realities perceived in the very structure of the world, and of
men, and of their being: a sense of ontological and spiritual dialogue between
man and creation in which spiritual and bodily realities interweave and
interlace themselves like manuscript illuminations in the Book of Kells · • •
Better perhaps than the Greeks, some of the Celtic monks arrived at t h ~
purity of that theoria physike which sees God not in the essences or logoz
III
Man and Nature
of things, but in a hierophanic cosmos: hence the marvellous vernacular
nature poetry of the 6th and 7th century Celtic hermits.' T. Merton, 'From
Pilgrimage to Crusade', Tomorrow, Spring, 1C}65, p. 94·
56. Erigena followed the view of Clement of Alexandria who asserted, 'The
Son is neither absolutely one, as one; nor yet many, as parts; but one, as all
things; for from Him are all things; and He is the circle of all powers col-
lected and united into one'. Stromata, IV, 6J5·9 quoted in H. Bett, Johannes
Scotus Erigena, a Swdy in Mediaeval Philosophy, Cambridge, 1925, p. 32.
51· Ibid., p. 40.
58. 'The space of a point is not a space perceived by the senses, but a space
understood by the intellect. So a point is incorporeal, and the beginning of
lines; a line is incorporeal and the beginning of surfaces; a surface is incor-
poreal and the beginning of solidity, and solidity is the perfection of matter.
Matter, therefore, is really a combination of incorporeal qualities. It is form
which constitutes and contains all material bodies, and form is incorporeal.'
!hid., p. 46.
59· 'As man is the middle point between the extremes of spiritual and cor-
poreal, a unique union of soul and body, it is natural to suppose that every
creature, visible and invisible, from one extreme to the other, is created in
man, and that all are reunited and reconciled in man.' !hid., p. 58.
6o. Concerning his astronomy see E. von Erhardt - Siebold and R. von
Erhardt, The Astronomy of Johannes Scotus Erigena, Baltimore, 1940 and
their Cosmology in the 'Annotations in Marcianum', Baltimore, 1940.
61. See G. B. Burch, Early Medieval Philosophy, New York, 1951 and
'The Christian non-dualism of Scotus Erigena', Philosophical Quarterly,
vol. 26, 1954, pp. 2C>Srl4, where some comparisons are made, more from the
philosophical than the properly metaphysical point of view.
62. The scientific works of St Hildegard are contained in Scivias and
Liher divinorum operum simplicis nominis whose Luccan ms. contains the
beautiful miniatures.
6J. There is a close link between cosmology and sacred art in that both
select from the multitude of forms certain elements that reflect a particular
religious and ethnic genius. See T. Burckhardt, Von Wesen Heiliger Kunst
in den Welt Religionen, 1955. For Christian cosmography in its relation to
art see J. Baltrusaitis, Cosmographie chrltienne dans !'art du moyen-dge, Paris,
1
939·
64. C. Singer, Studies in the History and Method of Science, Oxford, vol. I,
1917, 'The Scientific Views and Visions of Saint Hildegard', p. JJ·
At the end of her life St Hildegard wrote. 'And now that I am over
seventy years old my spirit according to the will of God soars upward in
I I ~
Principles Pertaining to Nature
vision to the highest heaven and to the farthest stretch of the air and spreads
itself among different peoples to regions exceeding far from me here, and
thence I can behold the changing clouds and the mutations of all created
things; for all these I see not with the outward eye or ear, nor do I create
t}!em from the cogitations of my heart ••• but withiri my spirit, my eyes being
open, so that I have never suffered any terror when they left me.' !hid., p. 55·
65. See A. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and th.e Origins of Experimental
Science, Oxford, 1955·
66. Referring to Roger Bacon A. E. Taylor writes, 'There is at bottom no
difference between natural and supernatural knowledge. His serious theory
is that all certain knowledge is experimental, but experiment is of two kinds,
' experiment made on external nature, the source of certainty in natural science,
and experimental acquaintance with the work of the Holy Spirit within the
soul, the source of the knowledge of heavenly things which culminates in
.the vision of God.' European Ci!Jilqation, vol. III, London, 1935, p. 817.
ff7. F. Picanet writes that if the path of R. Bacon had been followed, 'there
would have been no room for a Renaissance wholly separated from Catholic-
ism, nor for an open struggle and total rupture between theology, philosophy
and science'. Quoted by C. Raven, Science and Religion, p. 87.
68. 'Whatever the actual episodes may have been, it is significant that both
the saints and the hagiographer felt that only through the recovery of
pristine holiness could man help undo the ferocity brought into the world
by man's primordial disobedience in the first Paradise.' Williams, Wilderness
and Paradise, p. 41.
69· See R. Guenon, L' Esott!risme de Dante, Paris, n.d.
70· Whatever service the works of C. G. Jung may have rendered to make
·. alchemy better known, they are inadequate in that they limit alchemy to a
' psychology that is devoid of a transcendent and spiritual origin for the
symbols that appear to the human psyche.
71. See Burckhardt, De Alckemie. Sinn und Welthild where examples of
Christian alchemists are given; see also M. Eliade, The Forge and tlr.e Cru-
cible, New York, 1956.
71. Concerning Bohme, see A. Koyre, La Ph.ilosopkie de Boeh.me,
Paris, 1918; and the section devoted to Bohme in Hermes, J, Wmter,
1
964-
6s.
'
·'
Chapter 4
Certain Applications to the
Contemporary Situation
If there were to be a re-discovery of metaphysics and the re-
establishment of a metaphysical tradition in the West tied to the
appropriate spiritual methods and within the fold of•Christianity,
then one could hope for the rejuvenation of both theology and
philosophy, and the birth of a criterion to judge and regulate
the sciences. In the light of this restoration, theology could
expand so as to embrace also a theology of nature. Philosophy,
rather than being a footnote to the fruits of experimental science,
could regain its independence and become at once a judge and
critic of the methods and hypotheses of science. Further, the
metaphysical doctrines themselves could act as the immutable
centre around which all intellectual effort rotates and whose
applications to different domains determines the path to be fol-
lowed in each.
The first result of the application of the principles in question
would be the creation of standards by which to judge the results
and implications of different sciences; not to dictate to them, but
to point out the boundary within which each science functions,
and the meaning that its discoveries possess beyond those borders.
It would be, in short, the creation of the means to criticize science
and its applications creatively and fruitfully. It is indeed curious
that in the modern world, where everything is criticized and
questioned, where there are critics of art, of literature, of politics,
of philosophy and even of religion there are no critics of science.
1
Even if occasional critics are found they are expelled from the
respected academic and scholarly community and do not occupy
at all the same status as the art or literary critic.
114
Applications to tire Contemporary Situation
Some might say that whereas art and literature, or even politics
and religion, are a matter of personal choice and taste, science is
validated by its positive applications which no one can deny or
criticize. But this objection is false not only in that it neglects
the objective norms and principles of religion, art and other non-
scientific domains, but also completely misinterprets the theor-
etical structure of science and its practical applications in tech-
nology and engineering. Nineteenth-century inventors of the
steam engine used a physical theory which today is considered as
scientifically false.
2
In fact most of the inventors up to very recent
·times have been, for the most part, ignorant of the science of their
. day and have applied theories that have proved to be false. More-
over, even today a physical or chemical theory can change while
its application continues untouched. The success of applied
science, therefore, is no reason for accepting the infallibility of
scientific theories involved. There should be an intelligent and
conscious criticism of science and its implications, both for those
involved in the sciences, and most of all for those who are the
recipients of the popularized versions of scientific theories. The
philosophy of science has in certain cases tried to point to the
lack of logical consistency in some scientific definitions and
methods. But having surrendered itself to the fruits of the-experi-
mental and analytical methods, it cannot itself be an independent
judge of modern science.
The restoration of a complete metaphysical doctrine could also
serve the all important function of delineating once again the level
and stages of realiry, and of presenting the anatomy of being in
· its multiple grades and states. With Descartes, reality in Western
philosophy became reduced to mind and matter, and through
the later generation of philosophers such as Malebranche, Spinoza
and even Leibnitz this impoverishment of reality became an
accepted fact and serves as the background of science and especi-
ally mathematical physics to this day. The long debate between
idealists and realists is no more than the attempt to answer a
which from the metaphysical point of view is ill posed
·to start with.
us
Man. an.d Nature
In this background of the reduction of reality to two totally
distinct and separate substances, nature has perforce become
reduced to quantity, and the human microcosm has itself lost its
tripartite structure of spirit (spiritus), soul (anima) and body
(corpus) to become a mind mysteriously connected to a body
with which it has no common measure. Likewise, all that belongs
to the psychic and spiritual domains has been banished from
nature.
A re-discovery of the anatomy of being which places each
mode of existence, the corporeal, the psychic and the spiritual
in its place, to mention the most fundamental divisions, can
also serve to clarify certain phenomena which modern science is
forced to reject but in which society as a whole displays great
interest. Such are for example the phenomena connected with the
subtle or psychic substance which has a cosmic as well as a human
component. The multitude of phenomena connected with this
order are left for occultists to deal and play with. By being
banished from the official scientific world-view they have not by
any means been made to disappear from man's life and society.
Their very exclusion from the domain of reality accepted by
science has both impoverished the present conception of the
total science of things, and led to the cultivation of dangerous
practices by all kinds of occultist organizations that only increase
from day to day. One could say that modern man has not ex-
perienced the psychic substance within nature to the same extent
as men of other ages, due to a difference of his own make up as
well as the constitution of the ambiance around him. However, to
the extent that he has had experiences of this kind, they are rele-
gated to a category whose negation by official scientific circles
does not in any way make them any less real, or their effect on
society any less felt. The exponential rise in societies and publica-
tions associated with spiritism and the like, amidst the supposedly
most scientific age of human history should at least be a source of
reflection.
Likewise, the delineation of the grades of reality could again
elucidate and clarify the traditional sciences such as alchemy,
116
Applications tO Contemporary Situation
·. astrology, etc., whose true significance lies in their symbolic
meaning and the correspondence and concordance between
different stages of reality. The loss of this metaphysical knowledge
has made these sciences appear as superstitions, contrary to both
reason and experience. Again, their rejection by the official
scientific view has not caused them to disappear by any means.
There are an astounding number of works published on them
every year, and in such a citadel of rationalism as France there are
more works published on the occult sciences every year than on
· many branches of modern science. With a total disregard for
··the symbolic meaning of these sciences-whose real sense has
long been forgotten-this enormous interest only fosters super-
stition in the true sense of the word and adds to the confusion of
thought. No amount of attack by scientists can help to overcome
or stop it. Only a metaphysical knowledge of the grades of reality,
the correspondences based on them, could again place these
in their proper perspective and neutralize the harm that is
•1>r1DU!lht about through a misunderstanding of their teachings:
3
This function of metaphysics is closely related to its role as
. background for a philosophy of nature into which the modern
· could be integrated. We have already alluded to the lack
a comprehensive philosophy of nature today, and the need for
preClSie.IV such a philosophy. A re-vitalized intellectual tradition
on a real metaphysical knowledge could firstly free philo-
from total slavery to the senses, the fruit of experimentation
empiricism, and secondly could help in the creation of a
of nature which would outline the anatomy of
and the different sciences that could be associated with it.
···• This does not mean the imposition of a restriction from above
a particular science or a change of the method of, let us say,
from induction to deduction. It means rather, the
... '"' ... of a total vision of nature which would place the findings
any particular science such as physics or chemistry within a
scheme of knowledge and relate the discoveries of each
to knowledge as a whole. Today, all kinds of philo-
conclusions are made concerning physical or astro-
117
Man and Nature
nomical theories and discoveries, often with total neglect for the
limitations and assumptions originally made by the scien-
tists. With Kant, physics became the source of philosophy
and there developed a physicism very much similar to the earlier
mathematicism of Descartes. With a real philosophy of nature
there would be an independent matrix within which the implica-
tions of different sciences could be tested and tried and their
meaning made known without the aberrations which so often
accompany philosophical interpretations of scientific theories
today.
Metaphysical doctrine could also aid in the of
virgin nature by removing the strangulating hold tnat rationalism
has placed upon man's vision of nature. There is a need to re-
discover virgin nature as a source of truth and beauty in the most
strict intellectual sense and not merely in the sentimental one.
Nature must be seen as an affirmation and aid in the spiritual life
and even a means of grace rather than the obscure and opaque
reality it has come to be considered.
4
It must once again become
a means of recollection of Paradise and the state of felicity which
man naturally seeks.
5
The re-discovery of virgin nature does not mean a flight of
individualistic and Promethean man toward nature. While in
the state of rebellion against Heaven man carries with him his own
limitations even when he turns to nature. These limitations veil
the spiritual message of nature for him so that he derives no benefit
from it. It is in this way that the modern urbanized citizen in
search of virgin nature takes with him those very elements that
destroy nature and thereby he destroys the very thing he is
searching for. Nor is the re-discovery of virgin nature a return
to paganism from a theological point of view. There is a profound
difference between the paganism of the Mediterranean world, this
idolatry of created things against which Christianity has fought,
and the 'naturism' of the northern European people for whom
nature possessed a symbolic and spiritual significance. The re-
discovery of virgin nature with the aid of traditional principles
would mean a reunification of the symbolic meaning of natural
118
Applications to the Contemporary Situation
forms and the. of a spiritual sympathy (sym-patlaia}
for nature whtch has nothmg to do with either ancient paganism ·
and idolatry or the modern individualistic revolt.6 It would
mean the restoration of man to his home in the cosmos.'
Such an attitude could also aid in cultivating a sense of love
for nature which is the very antithesis of the prevalent attitude
of modern man as the conqueror and enemy of nature; Few
realize that by the very fact that nature is finite its boundaries
cannot be pushed back indefinitely. Man simply cannot con-
tinue to conquer and dominate nature endlessly without expecting
a reaction on the part of nature to re-establish equilibrium
destroyed by man. A spiritual sense of nature could, at least to a
certain extent, ameliorate this existing attitude and the danger
inherent in it and provide a remedy for the acute illness from
which the modern world suffers. The suffering is brought about
by the excessive application of technology and the waging of ·
war both of which are united in their enmity and aggression
against nature. The bitter fruit of the purely antagonistic attitude
toward nature is so evident today that few can afford to overlook
any means that might provide a solution to it.
As for the modern sciences of nature, a metaphysical•·science
rooted in the intellect, revelation, and a philosophy of nature
based upon it could provide both criticism and evaluation of
scientific discoveries and hypotheses. The two would be com-
plementary in as much as the modern sciences deal with detailed
knowledge and metaphysics with the ultimate knowledge of
things. At the same time metaphysics, being independent of
science, could examine its presuppositions and act as its indepen-
dent critic and judge.
8
• •
Nature is altogether richer than the knowledge which
arrives at through its quantitative methods which are selectt:e
1
.n
both their data and the interpretation of these data.
9
Phystcs ls
a science of nature limited by the very selections it makes ex-
ternal reality very much like the ichthyologist with a
size of net whose example Eddington has made well known.
119
Mrm and Nature
Likewise, the very fact that its conclusions are based on experi-
ments implies.that their validity holds only within the conditions
of those experiments.
11
Physics then, like the other sciences of
nature is a particular science of things, legitimate within its own
assumptions and limitations, but it is not the only valid science
of the natural world. It is only one possible science of nature
among others.
12
Physics gives us some knowledge of the physical
world but not all the knowledge that is needed, especially as
far as the integral relation of man and nature is concerned.
13
The
very qualities, forms and harmonies which physics leaves aside
from its quantitative point of view, very far from being acci-
dental or negligible, are the aspects most closely tied to the
ontological root of things. That is why the application of a
science which neglects these elements causes disequilibrium and
brings about disorder and ugliness, especially in a world where
other sciences of nature do not exist and where there is no wisdom
or sapientia which could place the quantitative sciences in their
proper position in the total scheme of knowledge.
Due to the lack of this total science it is also forgotten that
phenomena participate on several cosmic levels and their reality is
not exhausted by a single level of existence, least of all the material
one.
14
In the same way that a living tissue can be made the object
of study of biology, chemistry and physics or a mountain the
subject of geology, geophysics and geomorphology, so does each
phenomenon lend itself to study from different points of view
and on different planes of existence. For this reason there is no
single science of nature but different pictures and visions of the
world each valid to the extent that it can depict a certain aspect
of cosmic reality. It is not true to say that the sun is only incan-
descent gas, although this is an aspect ofits reality. It is also as true
to say that the sun is the symbol of the intelligible principle in
the Universe and this element is as much an aspect of its ontologi-
cal reality as the physical features discovered by modern
astronomy.
Seen in the perspective of the total science of nature, the
immediate appearance of nature with the solid earth below, the
uo
App/icatwns to tne Contemporary Situation
· blue sky above and the sun moving regularly across the firma-
ment, the Aristotelian and the medieval cosmologies based on
the appearance of things as well as the Newtonian and relativistic
views of the world are all, from a certain point of view, true.
Mathematically speaking, the theory of relativity is more general /-
and exact, the Newtonian physics a special case of it, and medieval
·· cosmology and physics only a rough, qualitative estimate. But the
' mathematical aspect of things is not everything. It is concerned
: only with their quantitative dimension, not with the qualitative
' which connects each being ontologically to its source. That is
( why each picture of the world as it becomes mathematically more
also becomes symbolically less direct and farther removed •
the metaphysical knowledge which the immediate appear-
ranee of nature conveys through its symbolism. IS yet, as long as
t' any conceptual scheme in physics is capable of explaining
tphenomena it s.ome symbolic
1 that transcends tts factual mearung by Its very correlation wtth an
,._·aspect of objective reality. Yet it must always be remembered
; that the success of any particular theory in explaining phenomena
"mathematically, no matter how exact, does not in the reast in-
1 Validate the symbolic significance of other pictures of world,
( ..Vhich are based either on the direct appearances of thmgs or on
{ cosmological doctrines reflecting metaphysical principles .
. · As a criticism of philosophies and general conclusions based on
· physics, one could point to the exclusivity accorded to mathe-
matical logic as if this were the only form of logic. What is
f1Dathematically satisfactory is considered to be true even if it
violates the principles of intelligence and the logic connected
:; lrith the imaginative faculty. But there is no reason whatsoever
' to limit all the intellectual faculties to mathematical logic and
the demands of the rest. So much of modem philosophy
relies on physics, and so many generalizations within
itself, are based on this unconscious mathematicism which
philosophy bestowed upon mathematical physics, and
has become accentuated in contemporary science. In the
of both micro- and astrophysics direct contact with
II
II
Man and Nature
objective reality has been removed, leaving only an abstract mathe-
matical model as the means of analysing the structure of matter.
The conception of matter based solely on mathematical criteria
leads, even in the domain of modern physics, to certain conclu-
sions which philosophically and metaphysically seem incon-
gruent and in certain cases contradictory. A purely mathematical
physics may be able to afford the privilege of remaining un-
concerned about such matters, but for a total science of nature,
and especially generalizations of the world view of physics, these
questions are of great significance. For example, one often speaks
of fields of force or waves which possess energy and have specific
characteristics but which move in a vacuum. Now, mathematically
such a model may be a convenient one upon which to base cal-
culations, but physically one cannot accept a total void as ex-
hibiting characteristics. A void is nothing and what does not
exist cannot exhibit anythingY Likewise, the discontinuity ex-
hibited in matter at the sub-atomic level, with all the significance
that Planck's constant has, does not invalidate a substratum of
continuity which so many other natural phenomena, especially
light, demand. The ambivalent nature of light points if anything
to a continuous underlying substance, what traditional cosmology
calls the ether, which also exhibits a discontinuous aspect by
virtue of its being indistinct. The debate in this domain today, if
one glances at the principles involved, is not very much different
from that of the followers of hylomorphism and atomism in the
Middle Ages and in Antiquity.
Likewise, in the theory of relativity one speaks of the absolute
speed of light and the dependence of the time-space structure
upon it. However satisfactory the Lorenz transformations and
generalizations of Einstein concerning the theory of relativity
may be mathematically, it is not possible to accept the concep-
tions of time and space, the notion of simultaneity and other
aspects of this theory as being exclusive and as exhausting the
nature of physical reality as such. The Euclidian space from which
we begin continues to possess its validity an.:l reality, not only
as an approximation or special case of non-Euclidian geometries,
Il.l
Applications to tire Contemporary Situation
but independently of them: In same way, conceptions of time
and space based on our tmmedtate apprehension of them are
valid not approximately but and completely. It is the
that ts thetr extension, attained by
pursumg a parttcular tram of thought based on certain presump-
tions upon the nature of physical reality. In all these cases meta·
physics and an independent philosophy of nature would not
invalidate physical theories but show exactly what they mean.
They would point out the reality of those elements of the physical
world which the highly abstract and mathematical models of
modern physics have left aside. Further, they would point out
the fact that quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity and
• particle physics deal, without doubt, with an aspect of the
physical world, but would add that the picture derived from them
is not that of the whole of physical reality but only its most
quantitative and material aspect. Moreover, when this quantita· ·
rive analysis of matter is carried to its limit it leads to disorder and
dissolution bordering upon what the medieval philosophers called
materia prima. The disorder and dissolution accompanying the
.explosion of thermonuclear devices in fact point to the same
conclusion.
Metaphysics would distinguish carefully between factS"assem-
bled diligently by scientists and hypotheses, many unproven,
which are used to integrate these facts into some meaningful
pattern. A total and complete science of things would he able to
judge these hypotheses and their implications. It would stand as
a standard with respect to which modern science would be com-
. pared and judgedP It would criticize the vulgarizations of science
and the popular philosophies based upon them as well as
·. contradictions within the sciences themselves. Moreover, thts
would be carried out not only in physics but in all sciences such
. as biology and psychology where even more than in physics
wild conjectures are often paraded as scientifically proven facts .
. ·. With psychology and some of its misdeeds and shortcomings
; we are not concerned, although errors in the Jungian interpreta-
tion of traditional sciences and symbols definitely need to be
123
Man and Nature
pointed out!
8
In the domain of biology, however, one can hardly
avoid mentioning the theory of evolution which has become
fashionable in this century and has dominated nearly every branch
of knowledge from astronomy to history itself. We have become
accustomed to speaking about the evolution of the galaxies as
well as of this or that tribe or society. Rarely in fact has a theory
connected with a particular science had such wide acceptance,
perhaps because the theory of evolution itself, instead of being a
scientific theory that became popularized, began as a general
tendency that entered into the domain of biology. For this very
reason it soon gained acceptance more as a dogma than as a
useful scientific hypothesis.
From the metaphysical point of view, the reality of a species is
not exhausted by its purely material manifestations. Like other
things the species is an 'idea' whose imprint in material form does
not confine and exhaust its essential reality which remains inde-
pendent of matter. A species could not evolve into another
because each species is an independent reality qualitatively
different from another. As is true of the domain of quality in
general each quality is an independent reality even if materially
produced by others as exemplified in the case of colours where a
colour produced by the mixture of two other colours is itself a
new and independent quality. As far as the species are concerned
they are, from the metaphysical point of view, ultimately so
many 'ideas' in the Divine Mind which at a particular cosmic
moment have become imprinted in the corporeal world and
retain their reality on other planes of existence-whatever their
careers and histories in the corporeal domain. Most of all, meta-
physics and also logic cannot accept the possibility of the greater
coming into being from the lesser, unless it is already there one
way or another. Consciousness or the spirit could not evolve
from matter unless it were already present anteriorly to matter,
just as one could not physically lift an object against a gravita-
tional field, unless there were already a reserve of energy in the
mover.
Moreover, from the point of view the effect can
U4
App/U:ation.s to tlu Contemporary Situtztion
·. never be divorced from its cause. The world can never be totally
separated from its Creator, and there is no logical or philosophical
reason whatsoever to refuse the possibility of continuous creation
or a series of creations as all traditional doctrines have held. The
understanding of metaphysics could at least make clear the often
forgotten fact that the plausibility of the theory of evolution is
based on several non-scientific factors belonging to the general
philosophical climate of eighteenth-century and nineteenth-
century Europe such as belief in progress, Deism which cut off
the hands of the Creator from His creation and the reduction- of
reality to the two levels of mind and matter. Onlywithsuch.beliefs
· could the theory of evolution appear as 'rational', and the most
to accept for a world which had completely lost sight of the
: multiple levels of being and had reduced nature to a purely
corporeal world totally cut off from any other order of existence.
In the light of this background, biologists and geologists have
· come to uphold the theory of evolution,
19
and usually refuse
to submit it to a methodological and scientific scrutiny or
it to be questioned like any other scientific hypothesis.
10
most books written on the subject facts are marshalled in
a way as to present evolution as an established fact. Rarely
the views of respected scientists who have opposed<-evolu-
been presented, because evolution has come to gain a status
· biological and geological circles very different from what one
in any other science.
But opposition to the theory of evolution continues on scien-
• tific lines and in fact has increased in the past few years. It was
··. . only the nineteenth century naturalists and biologists like
Agassiz who opposed Darwinian evolution, but also
scientists like Bounoure, Bertrand-Semet, Collins,
Lemoine Dewar Grant-Watson and rnany
' '
f
The arguments presented by such men are all a
ieie:ntific nature rather than being theological or metaphystcal.
is first of all the assertion made by Lemoine and
the palaeontological evidence upon which evolunoru:
their arguments in fact contradicts evolution
11
and that t
u.s
Man an.d Nature
argument is circular.U The geologic record shows sudden ex-
plosions of new species which some evolutionists have sought
to explain through the theory of 'quanta of evolution' (tachy-
genesis), or the 'systematic suppression of origins' proposed by
Teilhard de Chardin. But neither of these theories stands scientific
criticism, and the difficulty remains that contrary to evolutionary
theory each new species makes its entrance upon the stage of life
very suddenly and over an extended region.
24
Nor does the
established fact that in the geologic record there is a gradation
of fauna prove evolution of one form into another, since each
fauna arises suddenly with all its essential characteristics.
25
The great types of zoology have been shown by some scien-
tists to be independent of each other and without a specific posi-
tion on the palaeontological record.
26
The few cases where the
actual process of transformation has been described by biologists
have shown themselves to be combined with obstacles which
make them appear as miraculous, to say the leastY The family
trees of biology first drawn by Haeckel, and now popular main-
stays ofbooks on biology, are shown to contain overt contradic-
tions and to be based more on fantasy than on scientific evidence.
These and many other arguments are presented by a minority
of biologists and geologists whose voice the present mental
climate does not allow to be fully heard.
In the whole question of evolutionary theory and its implica-
tions a clear distinction is not made between objective and subjec-
tive elements. Taken as a dogma, evolution is presented without
considering biological cases which cannot be explained by it.
28
Likewise, the opposition of the evolutionary hypothesis to the
law of entropy, and the implications it has in the light of the
belief held by other sciences of the gradual running down of the
whole corporeal universe, is rarely emphasized in general presen-
tations of evolution which is made to appear as most logical and
scientific. Most important of all, few bother to mention that in
the world in which we live there is no evolution observed at all.
29
Nor have the experiments made to provide a laboratory case of
the transformation of one species into another been successful.
30
u6
Applications to the Contemporary Situation
What is more, there are species that have survived from the first
geologic age without evolving at all. If we were to make a truly
scientific statement about the world of life about us we would
have to say in fact that nature presents to us species that are
constant and unchanging but who occasionally die and disappear.ll
If we have repeated these scientific criticisms of evolution here,
it is not to open a biological debate but to distinguish between
scientific facts and the philosophical assumptions that underlie
them. A re-discovery of metaphysics would be particularly
pertinent in this case because it would remove this philosophical
obstacle and allow biological and geological facts to be discussed
and debated, as in other sciences, without reliance upon evolution
as a dogma which cannot be challenged. Furthermore, it would
prevent the abuse of evolutionary theory in other fields, a practice
which is very widespread to the extent that even contradictory
philosophical views appeal to evolution as their 'scientific•
justification.
32
This is particularly important as far as man's
encounter with nature is concerned because pseudo-philosophies
of this kind can do the greatest damage to the harmony between
man and nature, by presenting man as the inevitable victor of a
, long struggle who therefore has the right to conquer and dom-
inate all things or by destroying the spiritual of
. nature which depends precisely on the fact that it reflects an abid-
ing and permanent reality beyond itself.
Pseudo-philosophies become even more dangerous when they
begin to incorporate religious elements and present themselves
as a synthesis of science and religion, or of religion based on
scientific facts, which in reality are no more than hypotheses
supported by a particular philosophical attitude. The case of
T eilhard de Chardin, the most recent adventure of this kind, is a
perfect example of pseudo-metaphysics tied to the
evolution, and stands at the very antipodes and is the
of the spiritual vision of nature we have discussed in our earher
cltapters.
.
What is desperately needed in biology, as in physics, is a .philo-
. sophy of nature which again cannot be abstracted from btology
11.7
-------------
Man and Nature
itself and even less from physics. The debate between teleology
and mechanism reflects so clearly an inert view of nature drawn
from physics forced upon the sciences of life. For this reason
many outstanding biologists have rebelled against the mechanistic
thesis and asserted the importance of teleology in all life pro-
cesses.
33
In other questions of biology difficulties are also en-
countered because the philosophical assumptions are those of a
world seen through the eyes of physics. There has been as yet no
philosophy of biology which does justice to the subject of this
science even less than that found in the case of physics.
34
And in
biology, even more than in the sciences dealing with quantity,
there is a need for a vision of reality in which qualities and forms
of life have an ontological rather than an accidental status. Such
vision can only find its justification within that ultimate science
of reality that is metaphysics.
Metaphysical doctrines can also assist in the elimination of
false implications in biological theories, especially those of the
theory of evolution. Throughout the world today particularly in
the Orient where there are still societies that remain faithful to
their religious principles and the social structure based upon them,
men are asked to evolve and change simply because evolution is
in the nature of things and is inevitable. A more objective assess-
ment of the findings of biology would insist that as long as man
has been living on earth he has not evolved at all; nor has his
natural environment changed in any way. The same plants and
animals are still born, grow, wither and die and regenerate
themselves except for the unfortunate species that modern man
who believes himself to belong to the process of evolution has
made extinct. In fact it could be asserted that although the rise,
change, and decay of human societies is an inevitable truth the
one factor that has not evolved throughout this process is nature
itself. The so-called progressive evolution of mankind, far from
being the inevitable consequence of cosmic and natural processes,
is completely opposed to the immediate and contemporary life
of the natural environment in which man lives, an environment
whose movement is cyclic rather than evolutionary and which
u.S
Applications to the Contemporary Situation
through cyclic change reproduces the same permanent forms.
33
Perhaps one of the reasons why modern man who believes in
progress and evolution has come to a severe crisis in his encounter
with nature is that his evolutionary beliefs with all that these
beliefs imply religiously, politically, socially and economically
do not conform to the life in that domain of reality that surrounds
him but which he has not made, namely virgin na,ture and all the
forms of life flourishing in its bosom.
The application of metaphysical principles to other sciences such
as chemistry, geology, astronomy or mathematics itself
36
could
be continued along the lines mentioned briefly as providing both
an overall matrix and a criterion for judging between hypotheses
and facts and between scientific discoveries and their so-called
philosophical implications. The examples cited concerning
physics and biology suffice, however, in this brief exposition to
indicate the principle we have in mind. In each case metaphysical
knowledge does not grow but of an experimental science but
stands as a universal science which provides the general back-
ground for each science and which brings to light the universal
and symbolic significance of the discoveries of each science, a pro-
cess which the sciences cannot carry out themselves by"'Virtue of
the self-imposed restriction of dealing only with facts and general-
izations or mental constructions based upon them and not with
the symbolic significance of facts or phenomena.
In this domain metaphysics can also render another service of
great value, namely bringing to light the true significance of the
traditional sciences of nature which, because of the loss of meta-
physical knowledge, have lost their meaning. Only a re-discovery
of the doctrine of the multiple states of being, of cosmic corre-
spondences and of the science of symbolism can reveal again the
meaning of such sciences as alchemy or astrology. There is no
validity in the assertion that modern man can no longer see God
in the sun and the sky except if one means by this that man has
dosed his eyes to this aspect of things. Otherwise the structUre
of reality has not changed. Only man's vision of it has altered.
11.9
Man and Nature
No matter how deeply one pierces into the depths of cosmic
space or the heart of the atom, the structure of reality taught by
metaphysical doctrines, and the traditional cosmological sciences
that are their extension, remain unchanged and unaffected. All
extensions of modern scientific knowledge are horizontal in the
domain of corporeal and material existence, even if it be galactic
matter, and thus do not in the least affect other planes of existence.
Moreover, this extended knowledge of material things is itself
in need of the synthetic cosmological knowledge provided by the
traditional sciences of the cosmos. Man's intelligence is made so
that he can come to know with certainty the Infinite and the
Absolute, not the indefinite and the relative. Knowledge that is
concerned solely with the material world is dealing truly with the
indefinite, or at least its quantitative aspect, with what the Hindus
call the cosmic labyrinth or maya and the Buddhists samsara.
Although legitimate as all other knowledge, this form of science
can remain wholesome only when cultivated in the matrix of a
science that is centred on the Absolute and the Infinite and can
thus, by virtue of this immutable centre, locate and define the
periphery and the relative with which the modern sciences are
concerned. In this task revitalized cosmological sciences, again
made meaningful through metaphysical knowledge, could play a
vital role as the link between the modern sciences and purely
metaphysical doctrines themselves, as a bridge between the
modern scientific knowledge of nature and gnosis that deals
with realities beyond all cosmic manifestation.
Such a revitalization of the traditional sciences, however,
requires a re-discovery of the true meaning of symbolism and the
education of modern man to understand the language of sym-
bolism in the same way that he is taught to master the languages of
logic or mathematics. This century has been witness to the re-
discovery of the significance of myth and symbol,
37
but this
event has as yet had little effect upon theology, science or even
art. Modern man too rarely understands the meaning of symbols
and due to his lack of discriminative knowledge is apt to mistake
forms and signs of diabolical origin with symbols whose source
130
Applications to tlze Conremporary Sicuacion
is transcendental and luminous. Much of the poetry and painting
that is so-called symbolic and the Jungian search for the origin of
symbols in a collective unconscious that is like the rubbish-heap
of a particular culture or ethnic group bear witness to this fact.
Symbolism, in the essential meaning of the term we have in
. mind, is concerned with the process of sacralization of the cosmos.
It is through the symbol that man is able to find meaning in the
cosmic environment that surrounds him.
38
It is the symbol that
reveals objective reality as sacred; in fact all that is objective
reality is sacred and symbolic of a reality that lies beyond it.
39
Only the Origin or the One is completely real and totally Itself
and not the symbol of something other than Itself. Everything
is a symbol of a state of being that transcends it. It can be
said that even the void and nihilism felt by modern man is a
symbol, a symbol of the transcendent aspect of God who, after
, bestowing all qualities, also takes all qualities back unto Himself.
The profane itself symbolizes a religious reality in the same way
that 'Satan is the ape of God'. Yet one must already be possessed
the knowledge of symbolism and the principles it involves in
to discern in every situation the symbolic meq.ning in-
herent in it.
In fact to understand fully the meaning of symbolism, of the
<n .• uL•uuoc meaning of forms, colours and shapes, of all that sur-
. rounds us, is a way to see God everywhere. It is thus a way of
tnaking all things sacred. For this very reason it requires meta-
au"'"" .. ., discrimination and a conformity to Pure Being which is
the source of all symbols.
40
It needs an education in the deepest
meaning of the word, a re-orientation of man so that he becomes
of the transparent nature of the world that surrounds him
the transcendent dimension that is present in every cosmic
To instruct men to understand symbols in this manner does not
mean a negation of the factual aspect of things. Rather, it means
a revelation of the knowledge of another aspect of things which
even more real and more closely tied to their existential root
the sensible qualities and the quantitative aspect with which
IJI
Man anJ Nature
modem science is concerned. To teach the significance of the tree
as the symbol of the multiple states of being, or of the mountain
as the symbol of the cosmos, or the sun as the symbol of the in-
telligible. principle of the Universe does not in any way detract
from the discoveries of botany, geology or astronomy. But if
nature is to be possessed of meaning again, and if the encounter
of man and nature is ·to avoid the disasters and calamities that
threaten it today, this symbolic knowledge must be presented,
not as poetic fantasy but as a science tied to the ontological root
of things. The symbolic nature of the tree or the mountain is as
closely a part of its being as the bark of the tree or the granite
rocks of the mountain. A true symbol is no more man-made
than the properties of the bark or the granite. It is only in this
light, as a science of natural forms that complements modem
scientific knowledge, that the science of symbols can play a vital
role in restoring man to his home in the Universe. Moreover,
this science can also aid in increasing the understanding of those
particular symbols which Christianity like every other religion
has sanctified, symbols the forgetting of which has forced many
an intelligent soul to search for answers to pressing questions
outside the teachings of the Church.
Yet another application of metaphysical concerns not
so much the domain of knowledge but that of action. It concerns
the application of modern science whether it be in technology or
in war. In fact the anxiety of most of those who· have at last be-
come interested in the question of the relation of man and nature
springs up usually not from theoretical considerations but from
observing the unbelievable horrors of war which the applications
of modem science have made possible. In this domain unending
debates continue and as so often happens these days a situation is
created where no clear cut answer is found, precisely because the
ground has not been prepared properly.
Some believe there are things worth fighting for and even
dying for and others for whom the terrestrial life of man is the
ultimate end therefore do not believe it is worth jeopardizing

Applications to the Contemporary Situation
this existence for any reason whatsoever even if the price be
the loss of the dignity which makes man human rather than
animal. Further, when the immediate question of this alternative
concerning war is not being considered the focus of attention is
usually turned to the peaceful extension of technology which is
supposed to obliterate all misery on earth but which usually
brings with it greater problems than those it succeeds in solving.
In all these questions of a political, social and economic nature
metaphysical principles can also cast some light not by providing
a painless solution to a particular predicament where one must
accept the reaction of an action committed but by revealing the
principia! causes that have brought about a particular situation.
They can most of all dispel the illusion about the existence of
that purely economic being whose indefinite material progress is
supposed to be the goal of every social and political organization.
They can help to correct some of the errors of other sciences
concerned with man and society which still copy blindly the
methods of seventeenth-century physics and study man without
knowing what he really is. They can also set bounds upon the
application of technology and in fact upon this unrelenting drive
to satisfy man's animal desires and even to create new needs
and desires when possible. .,..
In the same way that the rise of a purely material and quanti-
tative science of nature in the West is due to deep rooted causes
and certain limitations in the theological formulations of Latin
Christianity, which at the moment of the weakening of faith led
to the divorce between science and religion, so does the illimitable
and unrestricted application of modern science in the West in the
form of technology depend on the fact that Christianity is a
religion without a Sacred Law or as Muslims would say without a
Shari'ah.
41
This fact may not be evident for a Christian who sees his
religion as the norm with which he compares other religions, but
it becomes obvious if a comparison is made with the other mono-
theistic religions issuing from the 'Abrahamic tree', namely
Judaism and Islam. Both of these religions have a Sacred Law, the
133
Man ant! Nature
Talmudic and the Quranic, which are inseparable from the reve-
lation of each religion. In fact in both cases the will of God is
seen as manifested in concrete laws which theoretically govern all
aspects of human life and are the blueprint of the perfect human
society. Man's political, social and economic life is governed by
the divine iniunctions contained in the Sacred Law.
Christianity, on the other hand in conformity with its esoteric
character, came as a spiritual way without a Sacred Law. Christ
brought a way that was not of this world and a set of exalted
spiritual teachings which can be followed fully only by a society
of saints. As it became the religion of a civilization it incorporated
Roman and even common law into its structure and whil:e the
unity of medieval Christendom lasted the law was given a
divine sanction as we see in the theological discussions of St
Thomas on natural and divine law. But the fact remained that the
laws that governed the political, social and economic life of men
did not enjoy the same direct authority of revelation as the teach-
ings of Christ which concern general spiritual principles such as
the necessity to be charitable. Men continued to accept the virtue
of charity, but once the unity of Christendom was destroyed they
began to interpret in different ways exactly what was meant by
being charitable. It is a paradox of modern Western history that
every politico-economic system, even those that are most secular
and anti-Christian, makes of charity the supreme virtue, even if
it is only charity towards man considered as an animal. Even in
Marxism t h ~ supreme virtue is charity which in this case has
become a parody of the charity of the saints.
The lack of a Sacred Law in Christianity not only made social
upheavals easier but also facilitated the disruption of nature
through its unrestricted and unlimited exploitation. The develop-
ment of economics as an independent discipline, whose subject
is man considered solely as a being with material needs, is a
result of a situation in which there is no direct religious instruc-
tion as to what man's rights and obligations are toward both
nature and God. It is of course true that Christian theology has
influenced social and economic attitudes throughout the ages.1'he
134
Applit:ation.s to tiN Contemporary Situation
debate about faith and good works, or the glorification of work
among New England Puritans is only too well known. But
theological views are not the same as revealed law. The very fact
that there was not within Christianity a detailed instruction about
social structure and economic practices led, with a weakening of
Christianity in the West, through economic practices and appli-
cations of technology to an amassment of wealth which knows no
bounds and limits. It has also led to the creation of a modem civi-
lization which has spread to other continents and has brought
about political and military situations in which the choice has
often had to be made between annihilation and the sacrifice of
those values which give dignity to human life.
A re-discovery of metaphysical knowledge, and a revitalization
of a theology and philosophy of nature could set a limit upon the
application of science and technology. In the old days man had to
be saved from nature. Today nature has to be saved from man in
both peace and war.
42
Many labour under the illusion that only
war is evil and that if only it could be averted man could go on
peacefully to create paradise on earth. What is forgotten is that
in both the state of war and peace man is waging an incessant
war upon nature. The official state of war is no more than an
occasional outburst of an activity that goes on all the time..i\Vithin
the souls of men, in human society and towards nature. It is no
more than a chimerical dream to expect to have peace based
upon a state of intense war toward nature and disequilibrium
with the cosmic environment, It is only the complete ignorance
of what man's relation to nature means that could allow such
views to be entertained. Whether one pollutes water resources in a
' single bombing or does so over a twenty-year period is essentially
the same; the only difference is the matter of time. The net result
does not differ in the two cases because in both instances man is
waging war against nature.
Perhaps the answer to the burning question of how to avoid
war and also of how to preserve human dignity in face of the
threat of total war, lies in coming to peace with nature. But the
development of this peaceful accord depends in turn upon the re-
135
Man and Nature
discovery of the spiritual significance of nature. W
ith the help of
metaphysical principles and a re-awakening of interest in the
tradition within Christianity that has had a spiritual vision of
nature a love of nature based on the science of its symbolic and
ontological reality can be developed and indeed must be de-
velopedY In this way, a harmonious relation can be created for
all those who are able to understand and grasp this metaphysical
knowledge which leads to a love and respect for nature.
O
f course the feasibility of applying the programme proposed
in these chapters, and the question of whether t&e proposals of this
kind ever have the chance of being carried out in a world which
does not seem to want to change its course until events force it to
do so is itself a matter to consider, one which however important
we cannot treat here. Our task, rather, has been to make this
analysis concerning the causes of the crisis in the encounter of man
and nature and to propose means whereby this crisis can be
ameliorated. W
hether any suggestions of a spiritual and intellec-
tual nature will be heard by a world which has turned its ears to
the sound and fury of its own making and become deaf to all
other voices remains to be seen. The attempt to think of this
major problem and to p r p v ~ e an answer is nevertheless itself
worth while, for to seek to discover the truth in any matter is the
most constructive of all acts.
In the end what we can say with all certainty is that there is
no peace possible among men unless there is peace and harmony
with nature. And in order to have peace and harmony with
nature one must be in harmony and equilibrium with Heaven,
and ultimately with the Source and Origin of all things. H He who
is at peace with God is also at peace with His creation, both with
nature and with man.
N
O
TES TO
C
H
A
PTER
IV
I. 'II y a des critiques littiraires et des critiques d'art. Pourquoi n'y aurait-il
pas de critiques scientifiques ?' M. Ollivier, Physique rrwderru et rialiti, Paris,
1962, p. 58.
Applications to tlu Con.ttmporary SitlU:ltion.
z. Ibid., p. 9·
J· As far as the true meaning of the occult sciences and spiritism are con-
cerned see R. Guenon, L' Erreur spirite, Paris, 192.3; also his Symboles
fondameruaux de !a science sacrie, Paris, 191h.
4· 'Wild Nature is at one with holy poverty and also with spiritual child-
likeness; she is an open book containing an inexhaustible teaching of truth
and beauty. It is in the midst of his own artifices that man most easily be-
comes corrupted, it is they that make him covetous and impious; close to
virgin Nature, who knows neither agitation nor falsehood, he had the hope
of remaining contemplative like Nature herself. And it is Nature, quasi-
divine in her totality, who will have the final word.' Schuon, Ligftt on tke
Ancient Worlds, p. 84.
5• 'Nature inviolate is at once a vestige of the Earthly Paradise and a pre-
figuration of the Heavenly Paradise •.. .' Schuon, op. cit., p. 143·
6. 'Christianity, having had to react against a wholly "pagan" spirit (in
the Biblical sense) has at the same time caused to disappear-as always
happens in such cases-values which did not deserve the reproach of pagan-
ism. Having to oppose, among the Mediterraneans, a philosophic and
''flat" naturalism, it suppressed at the same time, amongst the Nordics,
"naturism" of spiritual character. Modern technology is the result-very
indirect no doubt-of a perspective which, having banished from nature the
and the genies, and, having also, by this very fact, rendered it profane,
ended by allowing it to be "profaned" in the most brutal sense of the
word. The Promethean Westerner-but not every Westerner-is affected
by a kind of innate contempt for nature; for him nature is a prop;rty to be
enjoyed or exploited, or even an enemy to conquer.' F. Schuon, 'The
Symbolist Outlook', Tomorrow, Winter, 1966, pp. 54-5.
7· See W. J. Ong, 'Religion, Scholarship and the Restitution of Man',
Daedalus, XCI Spring, 1961., where he speaks of the need to reunite 'the
interior and exterior, to restore man to his home in the cosmos'. PP· 41.8-9. 8. 'In a sense, metaphysics and science are complementary. Metaphysics
does not deal with the detailed behaviour of nature, science does not deal
with the ultimate interpretation of natural knowledge. They are both
necessary to a synthetic view of the world. But the relation is one-sided;
science cannot begin without assuming a metaphysical principle, whereas
metaphysics does not presuppose any scientific principle for the validity of
.its conclusions. One of the functions of metaphysics is to examine the
grounds for the presuppositions of science, just as one function of logic is
to lay bare these presuppositions. But this does not exhaust metaphysics. • • .'
Caldin, The Power and Limits of Science, A Pkilosopkical Study, P· II7·
137
Man arul Nature
9· 'Physics is restricted by its own method, and cannot be expected to yield
a full account of experience: it cannot deal with the fundamentals of rational
thought and action, it omits considerations of qualities, of fonns, of a g ~ n t s
and causality. Accordingly the knowledge of nature provided by its theo-
retical interpretations is very limited; but these limitations do not carry
consequences outside physics. A philosophy cannot, then, be based on
physics alone; not only would it have to leave unexplained the basic assump-
tions of physics, but it would be absurdly limited in scope.' Caldin, op. cit.,
PP· 47-8.
'What must be immediately apparent is that physical science has abstrac-
ted certain measurable quantities from an altogether richer reality, and has
concerned itself with these, and these alone, to the exclusion of everything
else which is of interest.' Yarnold, Tlze Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age,
P· 2.8.
See also Mascall, Christian TlzeokJgy and Natural Science, chap. II; and
Smethurst, Motkrn Science and Christian Belief, chap. V.
IO. Eddington cites d1e story of the ichthyologist who uses a particular
size net to catch fish from the sea and then arrives at the conclusion that all
fish in the sea are of that particular size. See Eddington, Tlze Philosophy of
Physical Science, p. 16.
II. 'The fact that experiment is made imposes a strict limitation on the
general conclusions. They are valid within the context of dre experiment and
the experimenter.' Yarnold, op. cit., pp. 16--17
I 2.. 'But we have seen that science concerns itself with only a part of w ~ t
we can perceive, and so the knowledge of the natural world that could be
gained by the use of all our faculties that can bring us in relation with it
gready exceeds and transcends that which can be acquired by the use of the
scientific method. We must set up the ideal of a sapientia natura/is, a wisdom
concerning nature to which our present scientia or knowledge is a valid
contribution.' Sherwood Taylor, Tlze Fourfold Vision, p. 84.
I). 'Physical science then, is not an adequate description of nature; it is a
portrait made by an observer with a particular point of view and a definite
limitation on his vision. He selects the data, somewhat as an artist selects.
Science is a construction, made by synthesizing selected data; it is not an
untouched vision of nature. Certainly it gives us some understanding of the
order of nature's workings, but not a full understanding. Moreover, it
entirely neglects me relation of nature to man and to the first cause. From
natural science we cannot learn what material nature is for, how and why
it exists at all, and why it has any laws. The beauty of nature, then, in its
widest sense, is not to be apprehended through science alone ••• Besides the
minute investigations of science and the unification of them that theoretical
1)8
Applications to t!te Contemporary Situation
science effects, we need to understand the relation of nature to man and God ..•
We need a wisdom that transcends science if we are to have a full view of
nature. Science alone will not give us the conceptions we need for a full
knowledge of nature .. .' Caldin, op. cit., pp. 130-1.
14. 'The least phenomenon participates in several continuities or cosmic
dimensions, incommensurable in relation to each other •.. ' Burckhardt,
'Cosmology and Modern Science', Tomorrow, Autumn, 1964, p. 308.
15. See Lord Northboume, 'Pictures of the Universe'; Tomorrow, Autumn,
1964, PP· 267-78.
16. On this and other contradictions in modem physical theories see M.
Ollivier, Physique moderne et realite.
17. On the 'perfect'· science and its comparison with modern science see
F. Brunner, Science et rialite, Paris, 1954, where he writes, 'La science
parfaite, si elle existe, n'est pas, comme Ia science moderne, une demarche de Ia
raison individuelle, liee aux donnees limities de l' experimentation et du calcul.
Relative a !' origine, a !' etre et a Ia fin absolue des choses, sa propriite est
d'etre tout entiere suspendue d: Ia connaissance du Principe de l'univers.' (pp.
8-9).
I 8. ' ... for J.ung, the "collective unconscious" is stiuated "below", at the
level of physiological instinct: it is important to bear this in mind since the
term "collective unconscious", in itself, could carry a wider and in some
sort more spiritual meaning, as certain assimilations made by J ung seem to
suggest, especially his utilizing- or rather in point of fact his usurping- the
term "archetype" .. .' Burckhardt, 'Cosmology and Modern Science',
Tomorrow, Winter, 1965, p. 2.7. 'Jung breached certain strictly m<fterialistic
frameworks of modern science; but this fact is of no use to anyone, to say
the least-one would have liked to rejoice over it-because the influences
that infiltrate through this breach come from the inferior psychism and not
from the Spirit, which alone is true and alone able to save us.' Ibid., p. 55·
19. One of the great French biologists writes, 'Bref, on nou.r demande ici
Uti acte de foi, etc' est bien en e.ffet so us Ia forme d'Utle vericl revelie que chacUII
de nous a re;u jadis Ia notion d' evolution.' L. Bounoure, Diterminisme et
finalitl douhle kJi de Ia vie, Paris, 1957. See also the same author's Recherche
d'Utle doctrine de Ia vie, Paris, 1964, for a biological criticism of evolution and
some of its defenders.
2.0. 'The concept of organic Evolution is very highly prized by biologists,
for many of whom it is an object of genuinely religious devotion, because
they regard it as a supreme integrative principle. This is probably the reason
why the severe methodological criticism employed in other departments of
biology has not yet been brought to bear against evolutionary speculation.'
Thompson, Science and Common Sense, p. 22.9.
139
Mtu1 and Nature
We recall once in a class of stratigraphy when we asked the professor a
question which seemed to criticize the postulate of evolution he answered
c:urtly, 'We no longer ask questions about evolution. We only accept and
follow it.'
:.u. Only too often the works of such authors have been deliberately neg-
lected or suppressed. A case in point is the work by D. Dewar called the
Transformist IUusion, Murfreesboro, 1957, which has assembled a vast
amount of palaeontological and biological evidence against evolution. The
author who was an evolutionist in his youth wrote many monographs which
exist in the libraries of comparative zoology and biology everywhere. But
his last work, The Transformisc Illusion, had to be published in Murfreesboro,
Tennessee(!) and is not easy to find even in libraries that have all his earlier
works. There is hardly any other field of science where such obscurantist
practices are prevalent.
i2. Lemoine, a French geologist, as the editor of a volume of the French
encyclopaedia on Living Organisms after reviewing articles by different
contributors on the palaeontological proofs of evolution writes; 'It follows
from this account that the theory of evolution is impossible. In reality,
despite appearances, no one any longer believes in it, and one speaks, with-
out attaching any importance to it, of evolution to denote linkage-or more
evolved, less evolved in the sense of more perfected, less perfected, because
it is the conventional language, admitted and almost obligatory in the
scientific world. Evolution is a kind of dogma, in which the priests no longer
believe, but which they maintain for their people.' Quoted by Dewar in
Transformisc Illusion, p. 262.
23. 'De Ia vient que l'ivolucionisme repose tout entier sur·une vaste petition de
principe: les faits palionrologiques sonc uti!Uis pour prouver Nvolucion et, a Ia
fois, trouvent leurpplication dans cette theorie inventie pour eux. C'est un
magnififue exempfe de circulus vitiosus. Bounoure, Diterminisme et jinalitl,
pp. 8cr1.
:1.4- For a criticism of these theories which seek to provide an answer for
the explosion of new forms see Bounoure, op. cit., pp. 65 ff.
:1.5. 'Qu'il y ait eu, au cours des ages, une certaine gratlation des formes, cela
est certain, mais ne prouve nuUemenr un rapport de descendence entre les dif-
forents groupes, done chacun, au conrraire, surgic brusquement, de novo, avec
tous ses caraccdres essentiels.' Bounoure, op. cit., pp. 57-B·
:1.6. 'La nuzjeure partie des types fountlamentaux tlu regne animal se presentent
a nous sans aucun lieu tu1 point de vue palioncologit.fue.' C. Deperet, Les Trans-
formations tlu montk animal, Paris, 1907, p. 76.
:1.7. See Dewar, The Transformist Illusion, Chapter XVII, 'Some Trans-
formations Postulated by the Doctrine of Evolution.'
140
Applicatwn.s to the Contemporary Situation
28. See the various studies of E. L. Watson such as Nature AbounJin6.
London, I941; Enigmas of Natural Hmory, London (n.d.) and TheM etj···.
of Physical Life, London, I964, where such cases are The
seeks in these works to study the 'wisdom of nature' by turning to

·
cases where this 'wisdom' is most directly manifested.
29. 'Quoi qu'il en soit, dans le monde actuel, nous ne constaton.s aucun signe
d' evolution; cel:e-ci :xclue du monde, que nous avon.s sous fes yeux
et done nous faiSon.s pame. Bounoure, Determmzsme et finalite, p.
5
I.
30. M. Caullery, Le Probleme de !'evolution, Paris, 1931, p. 4or; Bounoure,
op. cit.' pp. 5tr-I.
3I. 'Elles [especes] n'ont devant elles qu'une alternative: ou se mainten.ir
inchanges, on s'iteindre.' Caullery, op. cit., pp. 84-5.
32. 'Le succes de !a theorie evolucioniste, c' est le succes des personnes faciles,
il n' est point de bio-philosophie qui ne recoure d cette fille complaisance: elle sert
le materialisme de Haeckel et de Lyssenko, le pantheisme de Teilhard de
Char din, le lyrisme eperdu de Saint-Seine, !' anti-hasard de Cuenot, !e spiritual-
isme de Le Roy et de Leconte de Noiiy, l'orthodoxie religieuse des precres,
moines et princes de grand' clergie. I! existe aujourd' hui un scientisme cUrical
done !'ardent empressement est manifeste pour !'evolution: chq_ celle-ci se
reconcilient les passiones de !' atheisme et les croyants de stricte obedience.'
Bounoure, op. cit., p. 78.
33· Such an outstanding biologist as D' Arcy Thomson is an example.
34· On the problems concerned with the philosophy of biology see E. W. F.
Tomlin, Living and Knowing, London, I955, parts two and three . .,.
35· This assertion is not meant in any way to be opposed to the gradual
solidification and coagulation of the cosmic ambiance asserted by traditional
doctrines, especially the Hindu doctrines of cosmic cycles.
36. As far as mathematics is concerned an example of metaphysical
principles can be applied and the metaphysical significance _of. a branch of
mathematics elucidated can be found in R. Guenon, Les Prznczpes du calcul
injinitesmial, Paris, I 946.
37· The writings of traditional authors like R. Guenon, A. K. Coomara:
wamy, F. Schuon and T. Burckhardt as well as such
figures as H. Zimmer and M. Eliade are especially significant m this
38. 'The religious symbol translates a human situation into cosmologtcal
tenns and vice versa; more precisely it reveals the continuity between the
structures of human existence and structures. This means that man
does not feel himself "isolated" in the cosmos, but that he "opens a
world which, thanks to a symbol, proves "familiar". On the other ? . e
cosmological values of symbols enable him to leave behind the su JecUVlty
141
M= arul Nature
of a situation and to recognize the objectivity of his personal experiences.'
M. Eliade, 'Methodological Remarks on the Study of Religious Symbolism',
in M. Eliade and J. Kitagawa (ed.), The History of Religions- Essays in
Metlwtlology, Chicago, 1959, p. 103.
39· 'Religious symbols are capable of revealing a modality of the real or a
structure of the World that is not evident on the level of immediate ex-
perience ... .'
'For the primitive, symhols are always religious because they point to some-
thing real or to a structure of the worltl. For on the archaic ·levels of culture,
the real-that is, the powerful, the meaningful, the living-is equivalent to
the sacred.' Eliade, op. cit., pp. 98--9.
40. 'The science of symbols-not simply a knowledge of traditional symbols-
proceeds from the qualitative significances of substances, forms, spatial
directions ... and other properties or state of things; we are not dealing here
with subjective appreciations, for the cosmic qualities are ordered both in
relation to Being and according to a hierarchy which is more real than the
individual; they are, then, independent of our tastes, or rather they deter-
mine them to the extent that we are ourselves conformable to Being; we
assent to the qualities to the extent that we ourselves are "qualitative".
Symbolism, whether it resides in nature or whether it is affirmed in sacred
art, also corresponds to a manner of "seeing God everywhere", on con-
dition that this vision is spontaneous thanks to an intimate knowledge of
the principles from which the science of symbols proceeds ••. .' F. Schuon,
Gnosis Divine Wist/om (trans. G. E. H. Palmer), London, 1959, p. 110.
41. On the special character of Christianity as a spiritual way without a law
in comparison to Judaism and Islam see F. Schuon, The Transcendent Unity
of &ligions (trans. P. Townsend), London, 1.948, Chaps. VI and VII.
42. 'Because of the true man's totality and centrality he has the almost
divine function of guardianship over the world of nature. Once this role is
ignored or misused he is in danger of being shown ultimately by nature who
in reality is the conqueror and who the conquered. It could also be said that
in the past man had to protect himself from the forces of nature, whereas
today it is nature which must be protected from man.' J. E. Brown, 'The
Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian', Tomorrow, Autumn, 1964, p. 30:1.
43· 'This dethronement of nature, or this scission between men and the
earth-a reflection of the scission between man and Heaven-has borne such
bitter fruits that it should not be difficult to show how, in these days, the
timeless message of nature constitutes a viaticum of the first importance.
Some may object that theW est has always known--especially in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries-returns to virgin nature, but this is besides the
point, as it is not here a question of a "naturism" that might well be de-
141.
Applications to the Contemporary Situation
$Cribed as romantic and "deist" or even atheist. It is not a question of ro-
jecting a supersaturated and disillusioned individualism into a d e s a c ~ t e d
nature-this would be a piece of wordliness like any other-but, on the
contrary, of finding again in nature, on the basis of a traditional outlook, the
divine substance which is inherent in it; in other words, to "see God every-
where", and to see nothing apart from His mysterious presence.' F. Schuon,
'The Symbolist Outlook', pp. 55-<i.
44· 'The clear understanding of the virtue of Heaven and Earth is what is
called "The Great Root", and "The Great Origin";-they who have it are
in harmony with Heaven, and so they produce all equable arrangement in the
world;-they are those who are in harmony with men.' The Sacred Books of
China, The Texts of Taoism (trans. J. Legge), vel. I, p. 331.
143
INDEX
Abelard, 63
Abrahamic, 56, 133
Absolute, JO, s6, 73. 81' 64, 88, IJO
Abu Bakr Siraj Ed-Din, 110
Adam, 37, so
Adamson, M., 49
Adler, M., 49
Adriano di Corneto, 69
Agassiz, L., us
Agrippa, 65
Ahankara, 91
Alberrus Magnus, 62
alchemy, 21, 65, Io4, 105, II6, I l9
Alexandria, 54, 55, 76, 104
Alexandrian, 104
algebra, 93
America, 19, 40
American, 48
American Indians, 98
angelology, 6o, 6l
Anger, P., 45
Anglo-Saxon, l6, 1 oo
Aniane, M., 77
Antiquity, 89, Ill
apokatastasis, 100, 101
Apollo, 67
Apte, V. M., Io9
Arabic, 61
Arber, A., 46
Aristotle, 54, 76, 8l
Aristotelian, lS, 76, 104, 121
Arisrotelianism, lS, 61
Arisrotelianization, 61
arithmetic, 93
Arvan, 53
astrology, 117, Il9
astronomy, lS, 66, 67, 101, 104, no,
124, 129, I Jl
astrophysics, ll I
atomism of Moses, I08
Arman, 88
Augustinian, 6o, 61, 82
Averroes, 61, 62
Avicenna, 61, 6l, 94, 97, 103
ifyc&h, 95
Ayur-veda, 93
von Baader, F., 73
Babylonian, Sl, 93
Bacon, Roger, 6o, 62, IO), 113
Bahii' al-Din 'Amili, 94
Baillie, T., 76
Baptism, 56
barakah, 95
Barth, K ., 3 1
Barthian, 47
Basil of Neo-Caesarea, 111
Basil Valentine, 6 5, 104
batin, 95
Bavink, B., 76
Bede, 59
Being, 83, 84
Benedetti, 52
Berdyaev, N., 48
Berthelot, M., 51
Berrrand-Semet, ns
Bett, H., Ill
hhutas, 89
Bible, 40, 70, 101
Biblical, 57
bija-ganita, 9 3
biology, lS, 29, 40, 73, no, 123, 124,
126-9, 140
Bodde, D., 107
Bodin, J., 65
Bohme, J., 37, 71, 89, 105, 113
Bon-Po, 107
Book of Kells, 111
Born, M., 45
botany, 76, 1 Jl
Bounoure, L., us, 139-41
Brahe, Tycho, 102
Brahman, 88
Briihmana period, 93
Bridgman, P., l6, 43
Brown, J., 111, 142
Bronowski, J., 41
Bultmann, R., 3 1
Brunner, E., 31, 139
Buddhi, 91
Buddhism, 87, 89, 93
Buddhist, 87, 107, 130
Burch, G. B., 112
Burckhardt, T., 42, 77-8o, IIo--n,
139· 141
Buridan, Sl
Burrows, Isaac, 69
Burtt, E. A., 4l
145
Man and Nature
Caldin, E. F., 43, 137-9
C3mbridge Platonists, 69, 70
Campanella, 69
Canticle of the Sun, !OJ
Cartesian, 69, 70, 121
Cassirer, E., 27, 44
Carnap, R., 24
Catholicism, 1 1 3
Caullery, M., 125, 141
Celtic monks, 100
Celts, 100
chain of being, 73
chandas, 93
Chartres, 59
Chase, Oliver, 48
Chaudhury, P. J., 45
chemistry, 22, 40, so, 5!, 104, 105, 117,
120, 129
China, 87, 94, 97
Chinese, 83, 84, 87, 94, 107
Christ, 38, 99-101, 134
Christendom, 63, 78, 1 34
Christian, 2 3, v-s, 37-9, 42, 47, 48,
so, 53, 55, 58-64, 6 ~ o , 74, 76,
77, 82, 92, 95. 99. 102-5, 112, 1)4
Christianity, 19, )2, JJ, 39, 47--<J, 53,
ss-6•, 64, 6s, 75, 76, 82, 8J, 93,
98--100, 102, 104-6, 111, 114, 118,
tp--6, 142
Chuang-Tzu, 84--6, 107
Church Fathers, 3 7
Clark, 125
Clement of Alexandria, 82, 112
City of God, too
Collins, 125
Collingwood, R. G., 47, 49
Conant, J. B., 43
Confucian, 107
Coomaraswamy, A. K., 108, 109,
141
Copernican Revolution, 62, 66, 67
Copernican system, 87
Copernicus, 67, 78
Corbin, H., 78, 79, 110
Comford, F., 76
corpus, 116
cosmologia perenni.s, 99, 111
cosmology, 22, 23, 42, 51, 53, 55,
57-Go, 62, 66-8,77, 121, 122
Creator, 73
Crombie, A., 113
Cuenot, L., 141
Dante, 59, 6o, 82, 104
Danto, A., 43
D'Arcy Thomson, 141
darshiinas, 89, 90
Darwinian, 125
Dasgupta, S., 108, 109
Davies, J., 108
De revo!utionihus orhium coelesrium, 67
De diYisione naturae, I o 1
Debus, A., 78
Deism, 73, 1 2 5
Deperct, C., 104
Descartes, 69, 71, 115, 118
Dewar, D., 125, 140
dharma, 90
Dhanur-veda, 93
dianoia, 101
dih, 54
Dionysian, 6o
Dionysius the Areopagite, 83, 101
Di Samillana, G., 76
Discorsi (of Galileo), 69
Discours (of Descartes), 69
Divine Comedy, 19, 66, 104
Divine Mind, 33, 124
Dominicans, 64, 78
Duhem, P., 26, 43, 51
Earth, 84, 87
East, 39, 54, 82, 83
Eckhart, Meister, 37, 63, 82, 83
Eddington, A., 28, 44, 119, IJ8
Edenic state, 96
Edwards, Jonathan, 48
Einstein, A., 41, U2
Eliade, M., 39-41, 49, so, 78, 108, 109,
IIJ, 141, 142
Empiricists, 71
'Encyclopedists', 71
England, 71
English, 71, 75
Epicurean, 54, 76
epicyclic system, 25
Epistk to tlu Romans, 34
Erasmus, 69
von Erhardt, R., 112
von Erhardt-Siebold, E., 1 12
Erigena, Johannes Scotus, 37, 6o, 82,
100, 101, !OJ, 109, 112
Essays (of Montaigne), 69
evolution, 29, 73, 74, 1:14--<J, 139, 140
Euclidian, 74, 122
146
Index
Europe, 49, 7I, 87, roo, ll.l.
European 64, 70, 77, 79, 1 I 8
Excursion (of Wordsworth), 7:J.
Farhenlehre, 105
Far East, 8J, 88, 97
Far Eastern, 87
Faust, 45
Fedeli d'amore, 59
Flame!, N., 104'
Fludd, R., 65
Frank, Ph., :z4, 43
France, Il7
Franciscans, 6o, 64, 78
French, I40
French Revolution, 7:z, 79
Fung Yu-Lan, 107
Galileo, :z5, 5z, 65, 69
Ghandharva-veda, 93
Gehrard Groot, 69
geology, no, u9, 1 Jl.
geometry, 9J, 122
geomorphology, no
geophysics, I :zo
German, 71, 75, 76
Germany, 71, 105
Giles, L., Io6
Gillispie, Ch., 43
Gilson, E., 69, 78, 79
gnosis, J6, J7, 55. 56, 68, 77. 8!, 8:z,
93. 94
gnostic, r6r
gnosticism, 77
God, :zo, JI, J4, 39-41, 44, 48, 49, 55,
68, 76, 86, 9 4 ~ , 99, Ior, III, 113,
u9, 1JI, 1J4, IJ6, 14:z, 143
Godhead, 8J
Goethe, :z7, 45, ros
Graeco-Hellenistic, 55, 57
Graeco-Roman, 56
Graham, Dom A., 40
Granet, M., 1o6
Grant-Watson, E. L., us, 141
Greater Mysteries, 104
Greek, zs, 42, sJ-s, 57, s8, 66, 8:z, 9J
Greek Fathers, 100
Gregory, the Great, 59
Gregory of Nazianz.en, 8:z
Gregory of Nyssa, 8:z, 100, 101
Grossteste, R., 52, 6:z, IOJ
Grunebaum, A., :z7
f!unas, 91
Guenon, R., 42, so, 78, ro6, ro8, IO<J,
IIJ, IJ7, 141
Haeckel, E., 126, 141
Hassidim, 99
Heaven, 84, 87, 118, 142, I4J
Hebrew, 57, 108
Hegel, 7J
Heidegger, 82
Heim, K., 47
Heisenberg, W., 45
Hellenist, 76
Hellenistic, 107
Hendel, C., 44
Hermetic, 57, 59, 6o, 104
Hermetical, 65
Hermeticism, 54, 59, 71
Hermeticists, 92
ljilr.mat al-ishriJ.q, 97
Hindu, 29, 54, 88, ro8, IJO, 141
Hinduism, 48, 88-90, 98, 1 o8
Historia natura/is, 58
Holy Scripture, 9 5
Holy Spirit, IOJ, IIJ
Hosea, 99
Hsiianyeh, 87
Hugo ofSt Victor, 95, 102
Hume, 71
Hwang-Ti, 86
Ibn R ushd (see A verroes)
Ibn Sina (see Avicenna)
llluminationist, 1 OJ
India, 92, 97
Indian, 66, 92, 9J
Infinite, 84, 9J, 1 OJ
al-insiJ.n al-kamil, 96
al-insan al-qadim, 96
intellectus, 20
Irenaeus, 82, roo
Iranian, 9J
Isadore (of Seville), 59
Islam, 19, JJ, 55-8, 6r, 77, 88, 93-s,
IJJ, 142
Islamic,
5
2, 59, 6o, 62, 66, 94, 97,
111
ISvara, 89
James, William, 26
Japan, 8J, 87
Japanese, 88
Jeans, J ., 28, 44
147
Jesus Chri,t, 48
Jha, M. G., ws, 109
al-Jili, 'A., 110
Joachim of Flora, 91
Judaism, 99, IJ3, 142
Jun!!:, C. G., 113, 139
Jungian, 1:13, 13 1
jyotisa, 93
KabbaJiqic, 1\5, 67, 70, 99, 109
Kalpa, 93
Kanada, 90
Kant, 27, 44, 71, 79, 118
Kantian, 27
Keats, 73
Keith, A. B., to8
Kepler, 65, 169
Keyser, H., 77
kltalifah, 9 6
Kitagawa, J., 142
Klibansky, R., 78
Korea, 107
Koren, H. J., 49
Koyre, A., 42, 79, 11 1
Krutch, Joseph Wood, 39
Kwang Khang-Tze, 86
Latin, 61, 75, 82, 133
Latin Averroists, 61
Latin fathers, 100
Latins, 25
Lecomte de Noi.iy, 141
Legge, J., to6, 143
Leibni tz, 70, 8 J, 1 1 5
Lemoine, I 25, 140
LeRoy, I41
Lesser Mysteries, 1 04
Levi, A. W., 43
Levy, E., 77
Leutber, 76
Lobachevski, N. I., 74
fogoi, I I I
Logos, li, 45, 94, Ioo, IOI
Lorenz, H. A., 12.2
Lovejoy, A., 79
Lucretius, 107
Lyssenko, T. D., I4I
Mach, E., 26, 43,
44
,
5
I
MacMurray, J., 76
mal.ahuta, 91
Maier, Michael, 65
MalehranJhe, n5
lvfan and Nature
manus, 91
Manchuria, I07
Maritain, J., 25, 36, 49
Marxism, I 34
Mascall, E. C., 42, 47, 138
Mason, S. F., 76
materia prima, 2 3, 59, 12 3
Matgioi, 1 o6
mathematics, 25, 46, 52, 54, 61, 65, 69,
8I, I29, 130
Matheson, D. M., 40, 4I, 79, 110
Maximus the Confessor, IOO
maya, 29, 88, 108, 130
medicine, 93
Mediterranean \Vorld, too, I IS
Merton, T., 1 u
Meru, 92
metaphysics, 23, 29, 35, 38, 45, 54, 57,
62, 63, 66, 68, 75, 8I, 82, 88, 99,
w6, 108, 117, 119, 123-5, 12.7-9,
137> 141
Meyerhoff, H., 46
Meyerson, E., 26
Middle Ages, 25, 37, 58, 59, 63-5, 69,
82, IOO, 102, 105, III, 12.2
al-mi 'raj, 19
mysticism, 37
Mongolia, 107
Montaigne, 69
More, Henry, 69, 70
Morgenau, H., 27, 44
Morgenbesser, S., 43
Morris, William, 40
mount of Purgatory, 104
M u ~ a m m a d , 19
Mumford, L., 39
mundus imaginalis, 70
music, 93
Muslim, 25, 61, 93, 94, 104, 133
mutakallimun, 94
Nasr, S. H., 77, 78, 109, I 10
natura naturans, 97
natura naturata, 97
Naturphilosophie, 71, 105
natural philosophy, 36, 37
Needham, J., 97, to6, IO'J, no
Nee-Confucianism, 83
Neo-Kantian, 27
Neoplatonic, 54
Neopythagorean, 54
Neo-Thomism, 35
148
Neo-Thomistic, 49
New England, 135
New Testament, 99
Newton, 25, 44, 69, 70
Newtonian, 27, 70, 12.1
New World, 100
Nicholson; R. A., ro8
Nicolas of Autrecourt, 63
Nicolas of Cusa, 67, 78
nirukta, 93
Noah, 99
nomos, 54
Non-Being, 83
non-Euclidian geometry, 12.2
Northbourne, Lord, 41, 42, 47, 139
Northrop, F. S. C., 27, 44
Not-Being, 84
nous, 101
Novalis, 72
number theory, 22
Nyaya, ro8
Nyaya-Vaise•ika, 89
Occident, 61, 62, 82
Ockham, 52, 63
Old Testament, 99
Ollivier, M., 136, 139
Olympian, 53, 54
Oman, J., 47
Ong, W. J., 137
Oppenheimer, R., 26, 29, 41
Order of Ihe Temple, 61, 63
Oresme, 52, 63
Orient, 82., 102, n8
ltukx
Petrarch, 69
Philo, 95
philosophia perennis, 83, 99
physics, 22, 24-6, 29, 36, 40, 46, so,
54, 6J, 69, 70, 74, 89, 93, II7-2.3,
12.7--9, I J J, IJ8
phusis, 53
Picanet, F., 113
Planck's constant, I22
Platonic, 22, 25, 59, 6o
Pliny, 58
Plotin us, 8 2
pMuma, II6
Poincare, H., ::r.6, 43, 44
Polanyi, M., 45
Ponsoye, P., 77
Post-Copernican astronomy, 87
Pra<;astapada, 1 o8
Prakriti, 90-2.
Pre-Socratic, 52., 54
Primordial Man, 96
principle of indeterminacy, 29
Probst-Biraben, H., 77
Promethean, 68, 118, 137
Prometheanism, 78
Protestant, 31, 48
Pseudo-Aristotelian, 76
pseudo-Vedantiris, 88
Ptolemaic astronomy, 87
Ptolemaic-Aristotelian, 66, 67
Ptolemy, 25
Pure Being, 13 I
Puritans, 135
P u r u ~ a , 90, 9 I
Oriental, 29, 39, 8::r., 83, 88, 93, 97, Pythagorean, n, 2.5, 59, 6o, 77, 103
Pyihagorean-Platonic, 54, 82
99, ro6, ro8
Oriental bureaucratism, 97
Oriental philosophy, 62
Origen, 82, roo
Originist, 111
Orphic-Dionysian, 54
Orthodox, 82, roo
PaJiirthadharmasangraha, 89
padiirthas, 89, 90
Pagel, W., 78, 109
Pallis, M., 4o, 79, ro8
Palmer, G. E. H., 142
Paracelsian, 78
Paracelsus, 65
Pepin, 77
Peripatetic, 25, 6r, 63, 97
quadrivium, 77
quanta of evolution (tachygenesis), 12.6
quantum mechanics, 28, 12.3
Quran, 93, 94, no
al-Qur' an al-tadwini, 95
al-Qur' an al-takwini, 95
Quranic, I 34
rajas, 91
ratio, 20
Raven, C. E., 47--9, 75, 78, I 1 I, 113
Ray, John, 69, 105
Reformation, 78
rekha-ganita, 93
relativity, 28
149
Man and Nature
Reichenbach, H., 24
Renaissance, 4 I, 4 3, 5 I, 64-70, 76, 78,
82, 95, 97, 100, I03, I I 3
Riemann, G., 74
Rocky Mountains, 98
Roman, 54, 55, 76, 134
Romantic poets, 72
Rosenberg, 1 ., 79
Rosicrucian, I09
Rou"eau, 71, 79
Ruskin, John, 4c, 72, 79
geography, 87
Sacred Law, I 34
siidltano, 92
St Augustine, 55
St Bonaventure, 6o
St Fran cis of Assisi, 6o, 76, I o J
St Hildegard of Bingen, 102, 103, I 12
St Paul, 34, 99
Saint-Seine, I 4 I
S_t Thomas, 35, 62, I 34
Salai, 92
salve et coagula, 92
Sambursky, S., 76 •
Sar:nkhya, 54, 90, 9I: 1o8, 109
Sa,iJ:Itya Kiirika, 90--2
samsiira, IJO
sapientia, 6o, 93, 101, I 20
Sarton, G., 5 I
Satan, I 3 I
.ratwa, 91
Scheler, M., 46
Schelling, 73
School of Chartres, 6o
Schrodinger, E., 29, 45, 46
Schuon, F., 40--2, so, 76--9, Io6--8,
III, I37, I4I-3
scientia, 6o, 75
scieruia sacra, 31
Scientific Revolution, 4I
Seal, B. N., 108
Seville, 59
Shamanic, 87
Shamanism, I07
Sltari'alt, I 33
Sherwood Taylor, F., 4I, 138
Shi'ite, 97
Shinto, 87, 107
Shintoism, 83
Shirazi, Qu!b ai-Din, 94, 97
sltunya, 93
Siberia, 107
92
von Simpson, 0., 77
Singer, C., 1 1
Sinha, N., Io8
Sirtler, I, 40, 49
Smethurst, A. F., 47, 48, 7G, 138
Sf!ltrtl, 93
Smith, V. E., 49
Societv of the Rosy Cross, 64
Spinoza, 41, II 5
spiritus, 1 16
Sruti, 93
Stltiipatya-veda, 93
Stoic, 54. 76
Stoicism, 76
Stout, G. F., 48
Straker, E., 46
Sufi, 77,94
Sufism, 61, 97
Suhrawardi, 97
Swedenborg, E., 70, 95
Talmudic, 134
tamas, 91
tanmatra, 91
Tannery, P., 51
Tantra Yoga, 92
Tantrism, 92
Tao, 84, 85, 87
Tan Te-Citing, 83, 84
Taoism, 83, 85, 87, 94. 110
Taoist, 83, 86, 87, 107
tattYas, 90, 91
tattvajilaana, 89
al-taw l).id, 94
ta'wil, 95
Taylor, A. E., 113
Teilhard de Chardin, P., 75, 126, 127,
141
T eilhardism, 79
Telesio, 69
Temple, W., 47,48
Tennessee, 140
Teutons, 76
Thales, 52, 54
theology, 30, 32-7, 47, 53, 55, 57,
6o--3, 66, 77, 82, 97. 100, 114, 134.
135
Theophrastus, 76
theoria, 81, 100
tlteorie pltysil:e, 111
theosophy, 37
Theosophy of the Orient of Light, 97
Thomism, 49
Thompson, F. R. S., 49, 139
Thorndike, L., 51
Tibet, 107
Tillich, p ., 3 I
Timaeus, 59
Tomlin, E. W. F., 141
Townsend, P., 142
Trinity, 33, 101
triYium, 77
Tiisi, al-Din, 97
Tymieneiecka, A., 46
ummah wasatah, 93
Universal Intellect, 67
Universal Man, 96
UpaYeda, 93
Vachaspati Misra, 109
Vaihinger, 27
89, 90, 9:1.
Van Melsen, A. G., 49
Veda, 93
Vediinga, 92, 93
V edantic, 88
yestigia Dei, 105
Vienna circle, 24, 43
Vienna school, 43
Yijrayiina, 92
Voltaire, 71, 79
yyaka-ganita, 93
Yy<ikara(la, 93
>yakti, 90
Index
Wall, B., 49
Weinberg, C. B., 44
Weisheipl, J., 49
von Weizacker, C. F., 30, 46, 48
\Vest, :1.3, 37, 39, 40, 54, 62, 63, 82, 83,
88, 89, 92, 95, 99, too, 114, 133, 135
Western, 20, 55-8, 68, 92, 91, 97, too,
ttS, 134
Westerner, 137
White, A. D., 47
White, M., 43
Whitehead, A. N., 28, )6, 44, 49
Whittaker, E., 44
William of Auvergne, 61
\Villiams, G., 78, III, 113
W oglom, W ., 44
Woodbridge, F. J. E., so
\Voodruffe, J., 109
Word, 45, 48
Wordsworth, 7l, 73
World Soul, 73
Yahya, 0., 110
Yang, 86
Yamold, G. D., 41, 46,48-50, 138
Yates, F., 78
Yin, 86
Yogi, 92
{ahir, 95
Zen, 83
Zimmer, H., 108, 141
zoology, 62, 1:1.6, 140

MAN AN? NATURE
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Seyyed Hossein Nasr was born in Tehran where he received his early education. He later studied in the West and received his B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he studied the History of Science and Learning with special concentration on Islamic science and philosophy. In 1958 he returned to Iran and taught at Tehran University where he was Professor of the History of Science and Philosophy. From 1974 he was also president and founder of the Iranian Academy of Philosophy: He is now Professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, Washington DC, in the USA. He is the author of Ideals and Realities ofIslam, Living Sufism

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'"d !<Iamie Lif< ..d Tb,.gbt (.U Unwin Hym'")·

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OTHER WORKS BY SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR IN EUROPEAN LANGUAGES Three Muslim Sages Ideals and Realities of Islam An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines Science and Civilization in Islam Living Sufism (also as Sufi Essays) An Annotated Bibliography of Islamic Science Islam and the Plight of Modern Man Islamic Sci<mce: An Illustrated Study The Transcendent Theosophy of Sadr al-Din Shirazi Islamic Life and Thought Knowledge and the Sacred Islamic Art and Spirituality Need for a Sacred Science The Islamic Philosophy of Science

MAN AN D NATURE The Spiritual Crisis of Mod ern Man SEYYED HOS SEIN NASR ( MAND ALA UNW IN PAPERBACKS London Boston Sydney Wellington .

electronic. stored in a retrieval system. Winchester.[ Encounter of man and nature] Il. without the prior permission of Unwin Hyman Limited. Unwin Hyman Limited 15-17 Broad wick Street. London W1V 1FP Unwin Hvman. Australia Allen & Unwin New Zealand Pry Ltd in association with the Port Nicholson Press. 8 Winche~ter Place. Inc. mechanical. Wellington.First published by George Allen & Unwin in 1968 Reprinted in 1976 and 1988 First published by Unwin® Paperbacks. Compusales Building 75 Ghuznee Street.rcat Britain b\· Cox & W\·nun Ltd.1 '78362 ISBN 0~04~440620 7 Printed in <_. Reading . Title 291. Man. NSW 2060. Seyyed Hossein. USA Allen & Unwin Australia Pry Ltd 8 Napier Street. New Zealand British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Nasr. 1968 All rights reserved. recording or otherwise. photocopying. 1933[Encounter of man and nature] Man and nature_ 1. or transmitted in any form or by any means. Mass 01890. Ecology -Religious viewpoint' 1. in 1990 © George Allen & Unwin Ltd. an imprint of Unwin Hyman Limited. No part of this publication mav be reproduced. North Sydnev.

TO MARCO PALLIS .

were supported by a grant by the Rockefeller Foundaton to the University of Chicago.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The lectures upon which this book are based. \ . and part of the publication costs.

Most Merciful. overbearing summer heat. For a humanity turned towards outwardness by the very processes of modernization.by a chorus of experts who have finally joined the earlier lonely voices of environmentalists and nature lovers. And precisely because of the loss of the dimension of inwardness. has begun to make itself heard. a vox populi. When this book was first written. the ecological crisis had already arrived ·but few saw its consequences or spoke of it and fewer still sought to delve into the more profound causes for its occurrence. much of the effort of those involved with environmental issues turns 3 . by and large purely external.PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION In the N arne of God. The rapidly deteriorating conditions of the environment soon made the crisis evident but still complacency continued until only recently when the external threat has become so great that a kind of popular reaction. Prophets of doom now abound and "green parties" have mushroomed everywhere. It has taken the innocent eyes of dying seals to finally move hardened hearts and force human beings to think about the consequences of living on the earth as if no other creature mattered. however. drought and dying seals have to remind us that all is not well in that earthly abode for whose sake modern man forewent his quest for Heaven and which he is now destroying with unprecedented ferocity. The moving force for those movements remains. it is not so easy to see that the blight wrought upon the environment is in reality an externalization of the destitution of the inner state of the soul of that humanity whose actions are responsible for the ecological crisis. Most Compassionate It is a sign of the present state of humanity that only such blatant acts of aggression against nature as major oil spills. the burning of tropical forests and the consequences of man's rape of nature and his destructive technology in the form of the warming of the climate and the depleting of the ozone layer should turn the attention of modern man to the environmental crisis. Consequently. joined.

etc. for example. and the outward face of things to an inner reality which they at once veil and reveal. 4 . One of the chief causes for this lack of acceptance of the spiritual dimension of the ecological crisis is the survival of a scientism which continues to present modem science not as a particular way of knowing nature. the problem would be solved or at least ameliorated. While not denying the legitimacy of a science limited to the physical dimension of reality. why it is that modern man feels the need to travel so much. not opposed to better care of the planet through the use of wiser means of production.Man and Nature to one form or another of environmental engineering. But such feats of science and engineering alone will not solve the problem. that if we could only change our means of transportatio n and diminish the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy. There is no choice but to answer these and similar questions and to bring to the fore the spiritual dimension and the historical roots of the ecological crisis which many refuse to take into consideration to this day. from turning to the more inward causes of the environmental crisis. Why is the domicile of much of humanity so ugly and life so boring that the type of man most responsible for the environmental crisis has to escape the areas he has helped to vilify and take his pollution with him to the few still well-preserved areas of the earth in order to continue to function? Why must modern man consume so much and satiate his so-called needs only outwardly? Why is he unable to draw from any inward sustenance? We are. than those which exist today. Many claim. This reductionism and scientism has prevented Western science. needless to say. for the most part. Few ask. while many individual scientists become ever more interested in ecological questions and even somewhat more responsible for the often catastrophic effects of their "disintereste d" and "pure" research. however. but as a complete and totalitarian philosophy which reduces all reality to the physical domain and does not wish under any condition to accept the possibility of the existence of non-scientistic world-views. transportatio n. Alternative forms of technology are to be welcomed and such institutions as the New Alchemy Institute of Cape Cod in America must be praised. alternative world-views drawn from traditional doctrines remain constantly aware of the inner nexus which binds physical nature to the realm of the Spirit.

begins to be resuscitated in certain quarters. Until recendy. did not react until quite recendy to develop "a theology of ecology" drawing from the depth of the Christian tradition as suggested originally in this book. the· Renaissance and the seventeenth century. many who are also interested in religion have turned to religious movements of doubtful origin and in any case outside the established churches in theWest. At the same time. meanwhile. numerous vocal groups and even political parties have sprung up to defend the environment. a few marginal figures who have taken the ecological crisis seriously from a Christian theological point of view have either moved away from theological orthodoxy or beendis9wned by the mainstream established churches. While some have sought to convert the ecological movement into a religion itself. Still. although this is now changing somewhat. combined until recendy with an aloofness on the part of orthodox Christian theologians towards the theological significance of nature and the need for its "resacralization". The result of this frontal attack against the monotheistic religions in general and Western Christianity in particular by many proponents of a sane ecological policy. however. In the meantime. much of the onus of responsibility for the ecological crisis is placed by many scientists. but upon the whole of the monotheistic tradition as seen in the writings of as well known a figure as Arnold Toynbee. The churches.Preface to the l:Jew Edition During the past two decades as awareness of the environmental crisis has increased. Such thinkers forget that the pure monotheism of Islam whic~ belongs to the same Abrahamic tradition as Judaism and Christianity never lost sight of the sacred quality of nature as asserted by the Quran. has led to a 5 . there is some sign of hope in this direction as the spiritual legacy of certain branches of the orthodox Christian tradition. such as the Celtic Church with its love of nature. most of these have had a leftish tendency with a tone decisively opposed to established religions. · and that Oriental Christianity and Judaism never developed the attitude of simple domination and plunder of nature that developed later in the history of the West. historians and even a few theologians. not upon certain developments within Western civilization starting with the late Middle Ages.

Today . that sea is polluted because of man's supposed needs. this forest is destroyed because of man's rights. the ecological movement has become deprived of the revivif ying breath of authentic spirituality and the significance of the veritab le spiritual dimension of the ecological crisis has become forgotten. and the very blinding Majesty of God as the Absolute made it imposs ible for him ever to consider himself as being in any way absolute. faced with the unprecedented crisis of his own making which now threatens the life of the whole planet. dominate her and force her to reveal her secrets not for the glory of God but for the sake of gaining worldl y power and wealth . He turns his gaze to the Book of Genesis and the rest of the Bible as the source of the crisis rather than looking upon the gradual de-sacralization of the cosmo s which took place in the West and especially the rationalism and humanism of the Renaissance which made possible the Scienti fic Revolution and the creation of a science whose function. Even if he did not often heed the call of certain of his saints and sages such as St Francis. accord ing to Francis Bacon. even if few realize even now the dangerous role of this human ism in the present impasse created in man's relation with the natural order. In either case despite claims to the contra ry. for there is no authentic spirituality withou t orthod oxy unders tood in the most universal sense of the term. 6 . he never dream t of turning himself and especially his earthly existence into something absolu te. Man is made absolu te. Medieval European man was always aware that only God was absolute and that he was relative. one of its leading propon ents. The absolutization of the human state is a heritage of the Europe an Renais sance whose deadly consequences are being manifested only today. was to gain power over nature. his "rights " dominating over both God's rights and the rights of His creation. The very reality of the Beyon d prevented him from sacrificing everything for an earthly life which would in any case be transitory.Man and Nature strange wedding in many instances between ecological movem ents and all kinds of pseudo-religious sects or the development of such heterodox and in fact dangerous so-called "synth ese" as "the new religion" of Teilhardism. still refuses to see where the real causes of the proble m lie. Moder n man. to apprec iate the salvific beauty of the natural order.

But because the reality of the Spirit is such that it cannot be denied by any form of sophism or limited science of the material order. the ecological crisis cannot be solved without paying particular attention to the spiritual dimension of the problem.evident the role of religion in the unfolding of the drama which has led to the present crisis. Nothing is more dangerous in the current ecological debate than that scientistic view of man and nature which cuts man from his spiritual roots and takes a desacralized nature for granted while expanding its physical boundaries by billions of light years. whose perspective gained victory over the non-positivistic views of 7 . Most historians of scie~ce still see the subject of their field as the continuous glorious march of science towards an even greater degree of knowledge of and power over nature. Having devastated nature through the application of a science of a purely material order combined with greed. but these efforts have been minor compared to the dimensions of the problems. modern man now wishes to put the blame at the door of the whole Western religious tradition. It destroys man's centrality in the cosmic order and his access to the spiritual world while speaking of the incredible science-fiction of the evolution of man frorri the original soup of molecules which supposedly contained the whole of cosmic reality at the beginning following the big bang. embedded strangely enough in the anti-humanism of scientific rationalism.Preface to the Nea: Edition This humanism. refuses to see the underlying causes of the ecological crisis and cuts Western man from the very spiritual sources which could help save him from the present crisis. Mach and G. This view destroys the reality of the spiritual world while speaking of awe before the grandeur of the cosmos. Nor can one ignore the historical roots of this crisis~hich reveal the significance of the spiritual and intellectual factors involved and make . some effort has been spent to make correct use of these disciplines and especially the history of science to clarify the roots of the present day impasse. The positivism of the history of science which has dominated the field since its founding by E. Sarton. Since the rise of awareness in the ecological crisis. In the pages which follow we have sought to delve into the roots of the ecological crisis through recourse to the history of science as well as philosophy and religion in theWest.

As far as the history of science is concerned. But for the most part the flood of material on these subjects has entered the arena of moder n man's life garbed in the dress of occultism and riding the wave of the pseudo-religious movem ents with which so much of this type of material is associated. which should not be to trace the major "break throug hs" of science but to explain how the cultivation and application of Weste rn science has placed man in such a desperate position.Man and Nature P. We had also originally propos ed the rediscovery of the tt:aditio nal cosmologies of the Oriental traditions as means of gaining a new vision of the world of nature and its significance. but not always in a meaningful or wholesome way. Wolfgang Smith and Jacob Needle man in America and Keith Critch low. during the 1960s and the studen t unrest in American universities at least one group of students invaded a history of science depart ment in a leading American university specifically deman ding a new role for the history of science. Nor is the situation much better in the field of philos ophy with the dominating positivism which pervades it. a transformation of aim and direction on the part of this discipl ine in the West is not observable anywh ere on a major scale. Yet. Theod ore Roszak. and the interes t of students in studying the history of science to discover other science s of nature and means of finding a path out of the present day morass usually outrun s the interest of professors teaching them. there is now an extreme polarization of a most dangerous kind. This is still the norm despite a few notable exceptions. It seems that again with certain notewo rthy exceptions (seen in the writings of such men as Husto n Smith. Gilber t Duran d and Elemire Zolla in Europ e-men who have sought to rediscover the traditional sciences from the traditional perspective). Depart ments of philos ophy and much of the humanities in universities contin ue to be immersed in the closed world of logic devoid of transcendence. continues to hold sway over most practitioners of the discipline. This too has taken place to a notable degree in the years that have passed. by and large. Duhem . while the "fringe " or "count er-cult ure" is seeking for transcendence (often 8 . There have been fine new translations and expositions of authentic traditional sources bearing upon the symbolism of natural forms and vario·us traditio nal cosmologies.

it has been the forces that wish to repeat the errors of modernism within the very structure of Western religious doctrines and rites that have gained ascendancy. except for the exponents of traditional doctrines such as Frithjof Schuon. it is hopeless to expect to live in harmony with that grand theophany which is virgin nature. there being notable exceptions such as those who follow the teachings of Thomas Merton. where from the perspective of tradition a universal panorama is unfolded in which both logic and transcendence receive their appropriate due. Otherwise.Preface to the New Edition in the dress of immanence) but is impervious to the logic which emanates from the inner Intellect and also to revelation. the forces for a genuine renewal within the religious traditions in the West have not advanced appreciably. Logic and Transcendence. in the pages which follow we had clearly stated that the ecological crisis is only an externalization of an inner malaise and cannot be solved without a spiritual rebirth of Western man. Titus Burckhardt. There have also been noteworthy groups interested in the Western tradition but not of a directly religious background such as the Lindisfarne School and the Temenos circle which are•worth mentioning in this connection. which is also a manifestation of the Universal Intellect or Logos. whose works are often cited in this book. Finally. This theme has been followed forcefully by a number of authors since this work was first written mcluding Theodore Roszak in his Where the Wasteland Ends and occasionally in certain of his other writings and Philip Sherrard in his The Rape ofMan and Nature. How rare is that vision contained in the majestic work of Frithjof Schuon. However. Marco Pallis and Martin Lings. Nevertheless. which always means a spiritual rebirth and through his rebirth attain a new harmony with the world of nature around him. while remaining oblivious and indifferent to the Source of that theophany both beyond nature and at the centre of man's being. he will begin a true reform of himself. forcing many thoughtful people to seek elsewhere for genuine traditional teachings. May the following pages be a humble aid 9 . It is still our hope that as the crisis created by man's forgetfulness of who he really is grows and that as the idols of his own making crumble one by one before his eyes.

roots which lie deep in the hardened and forgetful mind of modern man. DC October 1989 AD Rabi' al-awwal141 0 AH 1 2 Hugo of St Victor.Man and Nature in drawing attention to the roots of the problems of which so many discern the outward signs. 1 To destroy the natural environment is therefore to fail in one's humanity. and witness to the truth that Om.1is natura Deo loquitur (The whole of nature speaks of God). Quran XVI (Banu Isra'il). and there is not a single thing but extols His limitless Glory and Praise. Eruditio Didascalica. 1. whose destiny nevertheless calls upon him to fulfil his role as God's viceregent on earth. ) 10 . Muhammad Asad trans. modified. 6. for "The seven heavens and the earth and all that they contain extol His limitless Glory.805. 176.5 p. It is to commit a veritable crime against creation. protector of the natural order. 44."2 SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR Washington.

....CONTEN TS Preface to theN ew Edition Introduction I The Problem The Intellectual and Historical Causes Some Metaphysical Principles Pertaining toNature Certain Applications to the Contempora rySituation page 3 13 17 51 81 114 145 II III IV Index .

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And this change few are willing to accept or to undergo. Few would be willing to_admit that the acutest social and technical problems facing mankind today come not from so-called 'under development' but from 'over-development'. In other words they wish to remove the problems brought about by the destruction of the equilibrium between man and nature through funher conquest and domination of nature. Funhermore. But only ~ely have the underlying and essential causes been brought to light perhaps partly because if they were to be made known there would have to be a radical change in the very thought pattern of many of those who discern the ill effects of these causes. over-population or the pollution of air and water.INTRODUCTION The chapters of this book are based on four lectures delivered at the University of Chicago during May 1966. perhaps not all realize that in order to gain this peace with nature there must be peace with the spiritual 13 . Few are willing to look reality in the face and accept the fact that there is no peace possible in human society as long as the attitude toward nature and the whole natural environment is one based on aggression and war. The very fact that such lectures are held annually attests the apprehension existing in many circles today about the misdeeds of technology and the threat of science and technology to peace. Everyone talks today of the danger of war. Causes are sought for the present disorder whose existence is so obvious that few can any longer afford to ignore it. and forming part of a series of annuall~tures that take place at that University under the sponsorship of the Rockefeller Foundation. or war against 'human misery' stemming from conditions imposed by terrestrial existence itself. The aim of these lectures is to investigate in the broadest sense the problems posed for peace and human life itself by the various applications of modem science. But usually the same people who discern these obvious problems speak of the necessity of funher 'development'.

providing a new background for the sciences without negating their value or legitimacy within their own domain. Peace in human society and the preservation of human values are impossible without peace with the natural and spiritual orders and respect for the immutable supra-human realities which are the source of all that is called 'human values'.s. To be at peace with the Earth one must be at peace with Heaven. When we were invited to deliver these lectures in 1966. To remedy this situation the metaphysical knowledge pertaining to nature must be revived and the sacred quality of nature given back to it once again.Man and Nature order. namely science. The result would be the bestowal once again of a sacred quality upon nature. the 14 . In order to accomplish this end the history and· philosophy of science must be reinvestigated in relation to Christian theology and the traditional philosophy of nature which existed during most of European history. Christian doctrine itself should be enlarged to include a doctrine concerning the spiritual significance of nature and this with the aid of Oriental metaphysical and religious traditions where such doctrines are still alive. to the remembrance of teachings within Christianity now mostly forgotten. It would mean not to secularize theology but to bestow a theological and sacred significance upon what modem man considers to be most secular of all domains. It would be the very antithesis of the movement current today under the name of 'secular theology'. The thesis presented in this book is simply this: that although science is legitimate in itself. There is no way for man to defend his humanity and not be dragged through his own inventions and machinations to the infra-human. except by remaining faithful to the image of man as a reflection of something that transcends the merely human. These traditions would not be so much a source ofnew knowledge as an aid to anamnui. the role and function of science and its application have become illegitimate and even dangerous because of the lack of a higher form of knowledge into which science could be integrated and the destruction of the sacred and spiritual value of nature.

we felt it was imperative to step beyond the boundaries of modern science or even the disciplines of the history and philosophy of science to delve into questions of a metaphysical and theological order. We do not by any means claim to possess a mastery of all of these domains nor of all the languages involved. The thesis presented is essentially metaphysical and philosophical and should be considered in itself irrespective of whether all the necessary scholarly footnotes are provided or not. we have often made use of secondary sources. are meant to be additional support for our argu"'"fnents and not their scholarly proof. in carrying out the programme outlined above we also had to step beyond the confines of Western civilization into the vast domain that is called comparative religion today. Furthermore. philosophy of science and comparative 15 . To carry out such a vast programme requires knowledge of many disciplines and access to sources in many languages. excluding those which serve as reference. Because of these reasons as well as the limited time at our disposal for the preparation of these lectures.Introduction choice of our name was due particularly to the fact of our being a follower of a non-Western religion and culture. yet somewhat acquainted with modern science and its history and philosophy. In accepting this perhaps audacious task of acting as an Oriental critic of the West and thus reversing what orientalists have been doing for over a century about all Eastern cultures and religions. This whole travail was undertaken with the hope of finding once again a sacred foundation for science itself. These essays do not claim at all to be exhaustive but are a humble introduction to a type of investigation that has not as yet been pursued to any appreciable extent. In fact most of the notes. In the notes we have not sought to exhaust the sources that substantiate our position nor to provide all the scholarly proofs necessary to convince the sceptical reader but to provide certain evidence and to point out the way for further investigation by others. To do full justice to all the themes treated here would need many volumes and the collaboration of many scholars working in a domain that cuts across several academic disciplines including the history of science.

a role which these essays have not been meant to fulfil. the Department of Biological Sciences and the Center of Middle Eastern Studies of the University of Chicago who acted as host for these lectures and to Dean Jerald Brauer and particularly Professor John Rust of the same University for their assistance and kindness in making both the lectures and their publication possible. In conclusion we wish to thank the Divinity School. SEYYED HOSSEIN NASR Tehran December 1967 Ramadan 1387 .Man and Nature religion. We only hope that the ideas presented here will stimulate some thinking in a constructive direction toward the solution of a problem that is both urgent and vital and will not simply be brushed aside by the would-be critics because of lack of full historical and scholarly evidence.

numerous studies have been made concerning the crisis brought about by modern science and its applications. and at the same time the void created by the disappearance of this vital aspect of human existence continues to live within the souls of men and to manifest itself in many ways. therefore. almost everyone living in the urbanized centres of the Western world feels intuitively a lack of something in life. When invited to deliver a series of lectures in this University on the meaning of war and struggle for the preservation of human dignity under conditions which threaten human existence itself. This is due directly to the creation of an artificial environment from which nature has been excluded to the greatest possible extent. so that the crisis brought about 17 . even this type of secularized and urbanized existence is itself threatened. through the very domination of nature that has made it possible. to state the problem which has resulted from the encounter of man and nature today. but few have sought the profound intellectual and historical causes that are responsible for this state of affairs. Even the religious man in such circumstances has lost the sense of the spiritual significance of nature. Today. sometimes violently and desperately. We hope.Chapter I The Problem Of late. Furthermore. one of which is the problem of moral action on the social and human level. 1 The domain of nature has become a 'thing' devoid of meaning. together with the possible consequence of war which modern technology and science have made total. we felt that it would be more appropriate to deal with principles and causes rather than contingencies and effects. then to seek the underlying causes that have brought this condition about and to cite the principles whose neglect hav~ maeie the modern crisis so acute.

And.Man and Nature through the encounter of man and nature and the application of the modern sciences of nature to technology has become a matter of common concern. the destruction of natural beauty. The dangers brought about by man's domination over nature are too well known to need elucidation. The sense of domination over nature and a materialistic conIS . many realize in their hearts that the castles they are building are on sand and that there is a disequilibrium between man and nature that threatens all man's apparent victory over nature. yet because ofits total and almost 'cosmic' nature brought about by moderf! technology. that is why many have begun to worry about its condition. that has made the problem of war so crucial. 3 Moreover. must be avoided. although this process itself has been carried to its logical conclusion only in the case of a small minority. the lack of 'breathing space'. the coagulation and congestion of city life. Rather than being like a married woman from whom a man benefits but also towards whom he is responsible. nature has come to be regarded as something to be used and enjoyed to the fullest extent possible. It is precisely the 'domination of nature' that has caused the proble~ of over-population. in fact. The difficulty is that the condition of prostituted nature is becoming such as to make any further enjoyment of it impossible. for modern man nature has become like a prostitute-to be benefited from without any sense of obligation and responsibility toward her. limited to external nature and coupled with giving complete freedom to the animal nature within man. Nature has become desacralized for modern man. and the so-called progress which is supposed to be its economic concomitant. war which seems unavoidable. it is the same 'domination of nature'.1 Despite all the official clamour about the ever increasing domination over nature. the marring of the living environment by means of the machine and its products. the abnormal rise in mental illnesses and a thousand and one other difficulties some of which appear completely insurmountable.4 And finally. the exhaustion of natural resources of all kinds.

together with the belief. although of much value. Rather than man deciding the value of science and technology. Only rarely has any votce been raised to show that the current belief in the domination of nature is the usurpation.5 Incited by the elusive dream of economic progress.' 19 . They now want to conquer all mountain peak. considered as an end in itself. of boundless and illimitable possibilities within things. is destroyed and his very existence threatened. there remains the urge to fly into space and conquer the heavens. a sense of the unlimited power of man and his possibilities is developed. Their voice. symbolized in Christianity by the spiritual experience of the Divine Comedy and in Islam by the nocturnal ascension (al-mi'nij) of the Prophet Mul:tammad (upon whom be· peace) is no longer available to men.' Man wants to dominate nature not only for economic motives but also for a 'mystique' which is a direct residue of a one-time spiritual relation vis-a-vis nature. moreover.8 Practically the only protest that is heard is that of the conservationists and other lovers of nature. of man's role as the custodian and guardian of nature. Wellknown theologians and philosophers have for the most part remained silent or have bent backwards in order to avoid offend~ the prevailing scientific mood of the day. particularly well developed in America. but in the process the value of the conqueror himself. with a lust and sense of greed which makes an ever greater ·demand upon the environment. from the religious point of view. Men no longer climb spiritual mountains-or at least rarely do so. these creations of man have become the criteria of man's worth and value.7 They wish to deprive the mountain of all its majesty by overcoming it-preferably through the most difficult line of ascent. When the experience of flight to the heavens. as if the world of forms were not finite and bound by the very limits of those forms.Tl&e Prohlem ception of nature on the part of modem man are combined. who is man. There is everywhere the desire to conquer nature. is not fully heard because their arguments are often taken as being sentimental rather than intellectual.s.

which is like the projection or subjective prolongation of the intellect or the intellectus. through a gradual process which we shall examine later. or often as a reaction against it. That is the reason why it is necessary to begin our analysis by turning firstly to the natural sciences and the views held concerning their philosophical and theological significance. which are in one sense the fruit. 11 Altogether one can say that the problem concerns both the sciences and the means whereby they are understood. due to the distance separating the scientist from the layman a major distortion and discrepancy has been created between scientific theories and their vulgarization upon which their supposed theological and philosophical implications are too often based. concern all Western man's intellectual and religious heritage. far from being limited to the domain of nature. But not everyone realizes that this disequilibrium is due to the destruction of the harmony between man and God. have themselves. And in fact the modern sciences themselves are the fruit of a set of factors which. There is nearly total disequilibrium between modern man and nature as attested by nearly every expression of modern civilization which seeks to offer a challenge to nature rather than to co-operate with it. Because of this. become secularized. is a fact which most people admit. 12 It involves a relationship which concerns all knowledge. The power of reason given to man. And this secularized knowledge of nature divorced from the vision of God in nature has become accepted as the sole legitimate form of science.Man and Nature The sciences of nature themselves. and then to the limitations inherent within them which are responsible for the crisis that their appli- w . his ratio. divorced from its principle. interpreted and applied. That the harmony between man and nature has been destroyed. the modem sciences have come into being. and in another the cause of the present crisis of man's encounter with nature. 10 Moreover. has become like an acid that burns its way through the fibre of cosmic order and threatens to destroy itself in the process. There are crises in the domains of both understanding and application.

the substance of the cosmos had first to be emptied of its sacred character and become profane. which can be compared to the celebration of a cosmic mass. The cosmos speaks to man and all of its phenomena contain meaning. The very structure of the cosmos contains a spiritual message for man and is thereby a revelation coming from the same source as religion itself. They are symbols of a higher degree of reality which the cosmic domain at once veils and reveals.ll Both are the manifestations of the Universal Intellect. 15 The quantitative character of modern science must be pou1ted out in particular because it exists as a general tendency which seeks as an ideal the reduction of all quality to quantity and all that is essential in the metaphysical sense to the material and substantial. a fact that is most directly responsible for the crisis which the modern scientific world view and its applications have brought about. The cosmos which had been transparent thus became opaque and spiritually meaningle ss-at least to those who were totally immersedin the scientific view of nature--ev en if individual scientists believed otherwise. the Logos.1 . and the cosmos itself is an integral part of that total Universe of meaning in which man lives and dies. have brought about for modern man.2. 14 In order for the modern sciences of nature to come into being. The world view of modem science. It must never be forgotten that for non-modem man--whe ther he be ancient or contempo rary-the very stuff of the Universe has a sacred aspect. In the process. the sciences of nature lost their symbolic intelligibility. which is felt by all who live .e Problem cation. became reduced to a chemistry in which the substances had lost all their sacramental character. especially as propagated through its vulgarization. entities in themselves that are totally divorced from other orders of reality.Tlr. itself contributed to this secularization of nature and of natural substances. and the acceptance of their world view. The symbols in nature became facts.16 The suffocating material environment created by industrialization and mechanization. The traditional sciences such as alchemy.

The quantitative sciences of nature which. are a possible and in the appropriate circumstances legitimate science. and the use of the word is really a usurpation of a term whose original meaning has been forgotten. provided they are willing to forgo a knowledge of the substance that underlies all things. All other knowledge of the natural and cosmic orders is deprived of the status of science and relegated to the rank of sentimentality or superstition. . Today there is no modern cosmology. like so many other traditional sciences. of which the material order is hut one aspect. is a consequence of the purely material and quantitative nature of the sciences whose applications have made industrialization possible. and which is moreover based on individual conjectures that change from day to day. It seems as if modern science has made a condition of its acceptance the rejection of knowledge about the root of existence itself. Moreover. and as 2. 19 A cosmology which is based solely on the material and corporeal level of existence. is not real cosmology. And it is this limitation which threatens the most dire circumstances for man as an integral heing. moreover. come in fact to he the only valid and acceptable sciences of nature. the symbolic aspect of number and quantity is itself forgotten. The PythagoreanPlatonic number theory has been made to appear. It is a sacred science which is hound to he connected to revelation and metaphysical doctrine in whose bosom alone it becomes meaningful and efficacious. 18 The very restrictive outlook connected with modern science makes the knowledge of cosmology in the true sense impossible in the matrix of the modern scientific world view. however far it may extend into the galaxies.Man anti Nature in large urban centres of today. Cosmology is a science dealing with all orders of formal reality.2. although again many scientists as individuals may not share this view. 17 The total impact of modern science on the mentality of men has been to provide them with a knowledge of the accidents of things. due to the lack of a total world view of a metaphysical nature into which the modern sciences could he integrated. It is a generalized view of a terrestrial physics and chemistry. as an old wives' tale.

and more particularly to a failure to remember the hierarchies of being and of knowledge. As a result. 20 Moreover. an ideal however. not only has cosmology become reduced to the particular sciences of material substances.The Problem has been pointed out by certain Christian theologians and philosophers. In this pro2. 21 The disappearance of a real cosmology in the West is due in general to the neglect of metaphysics. but in a more general sense the tendency of reducing the higher to the lower. has disappeared so that this child of the human mind has itself become the judge of human values and the criterion of truth. it is based on a material physics which tends to ever greater analysis and division of matter with the ideal of reaching the 'ultimate' matter at the basis of the world. has become widely prevalent. as if the third dimension were suddenly to be taken out of our vision of a landscape. causing thes~ sciences to appear as superstition (in the etymological sense of this word) and as something whose principle or basis has been destroyed or forgotten.3 . The multiple levels of reality are reduced to a single psychophysical domain. With the destruction of all notion of hierarchy in reality. Metaphysics is similarly reduced to rationalistic philosophy. and thic. it is really devoid of any direct theological significance unless it be by accident. which can never be attained because of the ambiguity and unintelligibility lying within the nature of matter and the border of chaos separating formal matter from that 'pure matter' which medieval philosophers called materia prima. The independent critical function which reason should exercise vis-a-vis science. philosophy itself has become gradually the ancillary of the natural and mathematical sciences. to the extent that some modern schools consider the only role of philosophy to be to elucidate the methods and clarify the logical consistencies of the sciences. and conversely trying to make the greater come into being out of the lesser. which is its own creation. the rapport between degrees of knowledge and the correspondence between various levels of reality upon which the ancient and medieval sciences were based have disappeared.

21 But once these assumptions were made and a science came into being based upon them. it is precisely such views that determine much of the modern conception of nature accepted by the general public. space. Camap. Although this school has been instrumental in codifying and clarifying some of the definitions and logical procedures of modem science. the followers of this school believe that it is not for science to discover the nature of things. Reichenbach and others.Man and Nature cess of reduction in which the independent and critical role of philosophy has itself been surrendered to the edicts of modern science. Ph. it has also deprived science 24 . or some aspect of the real. they have been comfortably forgotten and the results of this science made to be the determining factor as to the true nature of reality. time. 23 That is why it is necessary to turn. albeit briefly. particularly physics. matter. a task for which others are much better prepared than we. to the view of modern scientists and philosophers of science as to the significance of modern science especially physics in determining the meaning of the total nature of things. It is to establish connections between mathematical and physical signs (which they call symbols) that can be elaborated through the external senses and scientific instruments. concerning that experience which appears to us as the external world. Frank. and which has in fact been carried out fully in several recent works/ 4 it is necessary to describe some of the trends which pertain more directly to our discussion. Without going into detail regarding the different schools of the philosophy of science. 25 Seeking to remove the last spectre of metaphysical significance from modern science. and they are thereby important elements in the general problem of the encounter of man and nature. Of these perhaps the most influential. has been logical positivism born from the Vienna circle of R. Whether we like it or not. It is not the science of nature but a science making certain assumptions as to the nature of reality. it is often forgotten that the scientific revolution pf the seventeenth century is itself based upon a particular philosophical position. certainly in English speaking countries. etc. H.

Yet it was the Muslim mathematicians. but by denying its ontological significance completely. forget the fact that the Greek mathematicians were also seeking after a knowledge of the real. allusion is made to the crystalline nature of the heavens.The Problem of the most important element that the Middle Ages bequeathed to it. It must also be added that the positivists. For them. Maritain accuses it of confusing an empiriological analysis of things with ot 25 . They applied the realism of Aristotelian biology and physics to the domain of the most exact mathematical science of the day. followed later by the Latins. In a later work of Ptolemy. in reality. by which their thought was permeated.Universe. an aim to de-ontologize science completely-not by shifting the ontological status from the physical domain to the PythagoreanPlatonic world of archetypes connected with mathematics. of course. the Muslim scientists. followed by the Latin scientists. reality was not in phenomena but in mathematical relations. The positivistic interpretation of science is. especially against Aristotelianism. believed that even in the domain of the mathematical sciences the function of science was to discover an aspect of the real. This attitude was so central that despite the revolt of seventeenth century science. for whom the role of mathematical sciences was to conceive of conceptual models which 'save the phenomena'. Contrary to the Greek astronomers and mathematicians. which themselves possessed an ontological status thanks to the Pythagorean philosophy. who claim they are returning to the point view ofthe Greek mathematicians and astronomers against the realism of the Peripatetics. who universalized this indication and made it a principle of all science to seek knowledge of that domain of reality with which it is concerned. namely the quest for the real. the belief that science seeks to discover the nature of physical reality survived from Galileo and Newton to modern times. however. namely astronomy. and converted the epicyclic system of Ptolemy from mathematical configurations to crystalline spheres which formed a part of the real t~xture of the . It is with justice that a critic of the positivist school such as J.

is the ultimate matrix of scientific knowledge.28 'a multiverse rather than a Universe' to quote the phrase of R. Among its members. One is reminded of the famous saying that 'science is what scientists do'. as compared with that of the Continent. Rather.6 . are not discovered aspects of reality with an ontological aspect. both physicist and philosopher and historian of science. namely a disdain for a total philosophical and methodological background for science characteristic of the AngloSaxon mentality in general. both well-known mathematicians and physicists. have insisted on the ontological aspect that all science must perforce possessP Closely akin to the positivist attitude is that of the operationalists connected in the domain of physics mostly with the name of P. the most outstanding are H. and which constitute the laws and unimpeachable content of modern science. they are irreducible mental concepts and subjective conventions of a linguistic nature established by scientists so that they in tum can establish communication with each other.Man and Nature their ontological analysis. certain philosophers of science. The ground on which they do agree is that the concepts derived by intellection. Duhem. Poincare and P. Science is thereby conceived of as 2. which again bears a relationship to the positivist point of view in its denial of a connection between the concepts of science and the real. for the different members of this school have held different views on the matter. 29 and so in a sense is E. rather than the real. There are different domains of inquiry lacking a unified and universal theory. 26 Likewise. There is in i:he operational philosophy a tinge of the pluralistic world of William James. Duhem is also an eminent historian of science. and adds that modern physics 'deontologizes things'. Bridgman.Maeh. is sometimes call~d logical non-realist. Meyerson. Oppenheimer. chief ambng them E. Based on the background of a disdain for a unified world view and a monolithic methodology for science. Another school. this school ties all significance in science to operations which can define its concepts. The operation itself. The question of whether other forms of knowledge can reach the ground of reality is not relevant here.

Among this group may be mentioned A. but only as regulative concepts.31 This group. 31 Northrop especially seeks to show that both the Newtonian-Kantian world of mathematical physics and the qualitative vision of nature emphasized by Goethe. C. Among scientists themselves.7 . 2. S. 30 There are others. only a knowledge of the corporeal domain which determines knowledge as such. which has been called neo-Kantian precisely because of its acceptance of the als ob status of concepts. Northrop. a point of view which after Kant was to be systematized by Vaihinger. Cassirer followed by H. For them these concepts are accepted 'as if' they existed but actually possess only a regulative status. must therefore also be considered as non-realist and opposed to granting science the power to understand the nature of things. and whose knowledge is immediat'e and aesthetic rather than abstract and mathematical. 34 But once again in this schooHt is emphasized that the knowledge derived from the sciences is the way that leads us to an ultimate knowledge. like E. there have be~ many who have realized that by being bound to quantitative re1anonships science can never gain a knowledge of the ultimate nature and root of things. they refer to an ontological object of knowledge. Griinebaum and F. are ultimately real. There is no hierarchy of knowledge. This view made popular particularly by A. but is bound to move always within the ~losed and subjective world of 'pointer readings' and mathetnattcal concepts. one that is alive as an organism and at the same time governed by law. both of whom emphasize the correspondence between the concepts of mathematical physics and the real. who accept the irreducible concepts of science. particularly physicists.33 The world is order or cosmos rather than chaos. Morgenau.Tlze Problem knowledge of subjective notions rather than of the existence of an objective reality. which he calls natural historical. There is further the group of logical realists opposed to the two above for whom concepts derived through the intellect have a logically realistic status. and employ them. of things.

yet it deals with only an aspect of reality and not the whole of it.39 Only too often the significance of a particular scientific discovery is lifted far above the confines of the domain of physics itself. philosophy and religion. the· corpuscular theories of light or the principle of indeterminancy. by A. 36 Other scientists have insisted that.8 .1 Man and Nature Eddington35 and in another vein by J. 38 Needless to say. some scientists insist that physics or other sciences cannot prove or disprove any particular philosophic thesis. rather than being a unified methodological pursuit of knowledge. certain other scientists have seen the deepest implications in the theories of modern science whether it be relativity or quantum mechanics. In contrast to this group. Jeans has been used to a great extent by non-scientists to show the limitations of science or the 'ideal' character of the world. and that one should not seek philosophical im:plications of scientific theories and views. in the question of the relation between science. this perspective is not totally accepted. N. and there is no point in speaking of a distinct and explicit philosophy and method of science. although in quite a different fashion. Again. however. science is so inextricably tied to the practice and history of science that its premisses cannot be independently formulated. Nevertheless the thesis of Eddington that science because of its method is selective and bound to a 'subjectively-selected knowledge' is certainly of significance. whether it be materialistic or idealistic. 37 It is a total activity. were non-existent. The theory of relativity is made to imply that there is nothing absolute. 2. Likewise. it has not served the purpose of defining the domain of scientific knowledge within a universal hierarchy of knowledge. which by its choosing is limited to the quantitative aspect of things. especially by non-scientist vulgarizers of science who often see more general implications in scientific theories than the scientists themselves. as if the self-imposed restrictions of modern science. His process philosophy of nature has also sought to display the richness of a reality with which science deals only in part. It is a point of view that has been also expounded. Whitehead.

It must be added that many physicists are seriously concerned with philosophical and religious problems. How often has one heard in classrooms and from pulpits that physics through the principle of indeterminacy 'allows' man to be free. has turned to Hindu doctrines for a solution.9 . The principle of indetemunacy is made to mean the freedom of the human will or lack of a nexus of causality between things. some physicists. cern 'me'. in his particular concern with the problem of the multiplicity of consciousnesses who share the world. Moreover. often more than those who deal with the social and psychological sciences. Schrodinger. Oriental metaphysics 'Wl>uld at this point add that it is not a matter of choosing between 2. -to The world is maya which does not con. The latter. have turned to Oriental doctrines -usually with genuine interest but rarely with the necessary intellectual attitude to grasp their full import. becomes a dogma of biology presented to the world as an axiomatic truth and furthermore a mental fashion that pervades all realms so that one no longer studies anything in itself but only its evolution or history. either the existence of a real external world. or as if human freedom could be determined externally by a science which is contained in human consciousness itself. the One. as if the lesser could ever determine the greater. In this question the non-scientists have in fact proceeded much further than the scientists themselves. To explain this multiplicity he believes that one of two miracles must be true.Tlte Problem as if all reality were only physical motion. the consciousness which says 'I'. Among those most seriously interested in this field one may mention R. Sometimes the most shallow proofs are presented for a particular religious or philosophical truth as if the only acceptable proof were recently discovered scientific theories. itself a child of nineteenth-century philosophy. who has written much on the philosophy of modern physics. in trying to find solutions to dilemmas"placed before them by modern physics. or the ad~ion that all things and all consciousnesses are aspects of a stngle reality. Oppenheimer and E. The hypothesis of evolution. especially in biology and the question of evolution.

M_an and Nature

the two miracles. Both are true but each on its own level. The miracle of existence itself is the greatest of all miracles for those who reside in the domain of existing things, while from the point of view of the One, the Absolute, there is no 'otherness' or 'separation'. All things are one, not materially and substan~ially but inwardly and essentially. Again it is a question of realizing the levels of reality and the hierarchy of the different domains of being. Nor have the scientists been totally negligent of the theological and religious problems which the vulgarization of the scientific view and a neglect of its inherent limitations have brought about. A few, like C. F. von Weizacker, have even been concerned about the scepticism caused by modern science and have tried to deal in a meaningful way with the encounters of theology and modern science. H In this domain these writings are sometimes more serious and pertinent than some of the works of professional theologians. This latter group has singularly neglected the question of nature, and when it has considered it has been often led to irrelevant or secondary problems. Religious authors have, moreover, often exhibited a sense of inferiority and fear before modem science which has led to an ever greater submission to and adoptation of scientific views with the aim of appeasing the opponent. 12 A few of the scientists however, have approached the problem without these limitations, and have therefore been able to make pertinent comments. 13 To summarize the survey of current opin:lon on the philosophy of science, it can be said that for the most part philosophy, and in fact the general use of intelligence itself, have been surrendered to science. Rather than remain the judge and critic of scientific methods and discoveries, philosophy has become a reflection of science. There are of course the continental philosophical schools of existentialism and phenomenology, which, however, have had little effect on the scientific movement. 44 The phenomenological interpretation of science has as yet had little influence. Existentialism essentially cuts away the relations of man with nature and is little concerned with scientific questions. There are, amidst 30

Tile Problem

this scene, those who seek to demonstrate the limitations of
science and others who explore with genuine interest the problems of the encounter between science, philosophy and religion. But throughout this complex scene the single factor that is nearly everywhere present is the lack of a metaphysical knowledge, of a scientia sacra which alone can determine the degrees of reality and of science. Only this knowledge can reveal the significance, symbolic and spiritual, of the ever more complex scientific theories and discoveries themselves which in the absence of this knowledge appear as sheer facts opaque and cut off from truths of a higher order. 4 s In as much as we are concerned with the spiritual aspect of the crisis of the encounter between man and nature, it is also of importance to discuss briefly the views of Christian theologians and thinkers on this subject, in addition to those of the philosophers of science noted above. It must be said at the outset that there has been singular neglect of this domain among Christian theologians, particularly Protestants. Most of the leading theological trends have dealt with man and history, and have concentrated on the question of the redemption of man as an isolated ind.,ividual rather than on the redemption of all things. The theology of P. Tillich is centred on the problem of ultimate concern with the ground of being that encompasses the sacred and the profane and turns more to the existential role of man in history and his position as an isolated being before God rather than as a part of creation and within the cosmos itself considered as a hierophany. Even more removed from this question are the theologians like K. Barth and E. Brunner, who have drawn an iron wall around the world of nature.16 They believe that nature cannot teach man anything about God and is therefore of no theological and spiritual interest.17 As for the de-mythologizers like R. Bultmann, rather than penetrate into the inner meaning of myth as symbol of a transcendent reality which concerns the relation between . man and God in history as well as in the cosmos, they, too, neglect the spiritual significance of nature, and reduce it to the

31

Man. antl Nature

status of a meaningless artificial background for the life of modern man. Nevertheless there are a few who have realized the importance of nature as a background for religious life, and a religious science of nature as a necessary element in the integral life of a Christian. 48 They have understood the need to believe that the creation displays the mark of the Creator in order to be able to have a firm faith in religion itself. 49 The day has passed when it was b$!lieved that science, in its ever continuing onward march pushes back the walls of theology, whose immutable principles appear from the view of a sentimental dynamism as rigid and petrified dogma, at least in many leading academic circles.50 There are scientists who realize and respect the importance of the discipline of theology, while certain Christian theologians have asserted that the modern scientific view, because of its break with the closed mechanistic conception of classical physics, is more congenial to the Christian point of view. 5 1 This argument has in fact been advanced in so many quarters that people have begun to forget that the secularized world-view of modern science, once taken out of the hand of the professional scientist and presented to the public, places a great obstacle before the religious understanding of things. Although in a sense the very destruction of a monolithic, mechanistic conception of the world has given a certain 'breathing space' to other views, the popularization of scientific theories and technology today has deprived men even more of a direct contact with nature and a religious conception of the world. 'Our Father which art in heaven' becomes incomprehensible to a person de· prived by industriali,zed society of the patriarchal authority of a father and for whom heaven has lost its religious significance and ceased to be any 'where', thanks to flights of cosmonauts. It is only with respect to the theoretical relation between science and religion that one can say in a way that the modern scientific view is less incompatible with Christianity than the scientific views of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Not forgetting the transient character of scientific theories,
32.

in a positive sense. These sciences insist on unity rather than trinity. the intelligibility of the natural world and the reliability of human reason depend upon the religious and more particularly Christian view of a world created by God iii which the Word has become incarnated. Yet other writers have emphasized the close relation between Christianity and science by pointing out that many of the fundamental assumptions of science such as belief in the orderliness of the world.TA4Prohkm certain other Christian writers have warned against the facile and all too easy harmony between religion and science in which superficial co~parisons are made betWeen the two domains. the relation between subject and object as held in modem science is said to derive from the relation betw~n the spirit and the flesh in Christianity." But in all such cases one wonders at the total validity of this assertion if one takes into consideration the existence of sciences of nature in other civilizations (particularly Islam). the scientific theories themselves have gone out of vogue. we must consider the havoc modern science and its applications have brought about within the world of Christianity itself.51 Furthermore. Further.56 The order of the Uruverse is identified with the Divine Mind. by the time this process of conforming theology to current scientific theories is carried out and religion is made 'reasonable' by appearing as 'scientific'. In this domain one can at least say that among a small but significant group there is a reactiomagainst the simplistic attitude prevalent in certain quarters in the nineteenth century. More specifically. again following the well-known tendency of reducing the greater to the lesser. All too often the principles and tenets of religion. are presented as being in conformity with the latest findings of science.53 Some have related the problem of unity and multiplicity in nature to the Trinity in Christianity'4 while others have insisted that only Christianity has.57 and the scientist 33 . which are transcendent and immutable. although on the mass level there is much more retreat of religion before what appears as scientific than in any previous age• . made science possible.

rarely been understood and accepted. moving against the tide of the general modem trends of theology. If creation were not in some way revealed there would be no revelation possible. The importance of the created world as a sacrament revealing a dimension of religious life has been reasserted by this group.M In the writings of this small group of theologians who have devoted some attention to the question of man's relation with nature. for the most part.60 and the forgotten truth that from the Christian point of view incarnation implies the sacramental nature of material things. all creation must somehow share in the act of redemption in the same way as all creation is affected by the corruption and sin of man as asserted by St Paul in the Epistle to the Romans (Chapter VIII). 63 In order for God to be Creator and also eternally Himself. spiritual grace indwelling in all things.61 It has been re-affirmed that the only relation between the spiritual and the material which can in a deep sense be called Christian61 is one in which the outward and material aspect of things acts as a vehicle for the inward. has already been pointed out. has however.oo<'""o••--~-"------------------------ Man ant! Nature is said to be discovering the mind of God in his scientific pursuits. As a 34 .66 This point of view propounded above. The total salvation of man is possible when not only man himself but all creatures are redeemed.58 Scientific method itself has been called a Christian method of discovering God's mind. His Creation must be sacramental both to His creatures and to Himself. without in any way destroying the causal nexus between things.65 Likewise. which could have the profoundest significance in modem man's relation to nature. the revealed aspect of all the Universe has been brought out. to bring to life once again the sacramental character of all creation and to return to things the sacred nature of which recent modes of thought have deprived them.~9 Of more central concern to our problem is the attempt of a few theologians. by virtue of their being created by God. Even those who have devoted themselves most to a sacramental theology have. failed to apply it to the world of nature.

e Problem sacred. mathematical. and metaphysical--()f speculative knowledge'. Moreover. those who still feel and understand the meaning of the in religious rites. It has been to safeguard the Independence of theology and metaphysics from experi~tal sciences.Th. one cannot fail to mention the school of Neo-Thomism which has challenged the claim to totality and exclusiveness of scientific methods and has applied rigorous logical criteria to them. The sacramental or symbolic view of nature-if we understand symbol in its true sense-has not been in general propagated by modern schools of Christian theology. In fact the reverse holds true. 68 The knowledge of the whole Universe does not lie within the competence of science69 but of metaphysics. 70 One must ~the different forms of knowledge and place each within lts own bounds. For.71 Whatever its shortcomings through being too rationalistic and not symbolic and metaphysical enough in the 35 . the principles of metaphysics remain independent of the sciences and cannot in any way be disproved by them. 'It is a sin against intelligence to want to proceed in an id~ntical manner in the typically different domains-physical. It is not permissible to use the same methods and to proceed in the same manner in the domains of science and metaphysics. In as much as the prevalent point of emphasis has been the red~ption of the individual and disregard for the 'redemption of creation'.67 The main tenet of the Neo-Thomist position has been to show that science is limited by its methods and cannot apply itself to a solution of metaphysical problems. at least result. In fact the most important result of the Neo!homist view has not been so much to provide a new spiritual 1~retation of nature and to return to it its sacred and symbolic character as to provide a philosophy of nature for science ~ to show through philosophical arguments the limitations ext~ within the scientific approach. to quote StThomas. In discussing views of Christian authors on the sciences of nature. most of modern religious thought has helped to secularize nature and has bent backwards to surrender to the dicta of science in the natural domain. fail to extend it to the realm of nature.

h\''-•Cli'!>r""""""''"". Whereas philosophy has either recapitulated and surrendered itself to science or reacted totally against it. one becomes immediately aware of the lack of common ground between these three domains. namely that the critical faculty of intelligence and of reason cannot be surrendered to the findings of an experimental science which that reason itself has made possible. 72 For this very reason. and as a result the hierarchy of knowledge has crumbled into a confused mass in which the segments are no longer organically united. theology has either refused to consider the domain of nature and its sciences or has in turn adopted step by step the findings and methods of the sciences with the aim of creating a synthesis. or that gnosis which alone can be the meeting ground of science and religion. has become one science among othei: natural sciences. If one glances over the whole field of the relation between science. Moreover. which was indeed a natural philosophy. Although the need for a philosophy of nature is felt even by some physicists (and many turn to the history of science precisely in order to receive inspiration for methods and philosophies which could be of aid in modern science).----------------------. despite the philosophies proposed by several modern thinkers such as Whitehead and Maritain. this school has at least affirmed and asserted a simple truth which is being forgotten more and more today. This has often been as shallow as it has been transient. Metaphysical doctrine. While the medieval science of physics. and also despite all the activity in the natural sciences. there is today no philosophy of nature.J Nature true sense. a misunderstanding between the modern sciences of nature and a knowledge of the natural order which is of theological and spiritual significance has led to endless controversies and misunderstandings. Man an. philosophy and theology.. has been forgotten. there still exists no generally accepted philosophy of nature.73 One can say with even greater regret that there is also no theology of nature which could satisfactorily provide a spiritual 36 . as we have done in a scanty and summary fashion. nothing has taken its place as the background of all the particular sciences of nature.

This lack of sense of the transparency of things. is of course due to the loss of the contemplative and symbolist spirit which sees symbols rather than facts. reason can only explain. There seems to be in this movement from the contemplative to ~e passionate. of intimacy with nature as a cosmos that conveys to man a meaning that concerns him. which had until then been innocent and friendly 37 . until theology is understood in the intellectual light of the early Church Fathers. The symbolic view of things is for the most part forgotten in the West and survives only among peoples of far away regions. In the same way that Adam's fall from Paradise implies that creation. and cannot be so. Only the intellect can penetrate inwardly. Or rather it can be said that they still bear themessage but there is no longer the appropriate faculty to decipher it."are all effects of the same event that has taken place within the souls of men. Some have realized the necessity of harmonizing Christian theology and natural philosophy to provide a theology of nature. such as Erigena and Eckhart. as understood in its true sense as a unitive and illuminative knowledge. or in the sense of the theosophy of Jacob Bohme. or their material usefulness for man considered as a two legged animal with no destiny beyond his ~y existence. But for man as an immortal being they bear no direct message. the Christian metaphysicians of the Middle Age. As long as by theology is understood a rational defence of the tenets of the faith.75 while the majority of modern men live in a de-sacralized world of phenomena whose only meaning is either their quantitative relationships expressed in mathematical formulae that satisfy the scientific mind. The near disappearance of gnosis.H but such a task has not been accomplished. no way of penetrating into the inner meaning of natural phenomena and making them spiritually transparent.The Problem bridge between man and nature. from the symbolist to the factual mentality. there is no possibility of a real theology of nature. a fall m the spiritual sense corresponding to the original fall of mao. and its replacement by sentimental mysticism and the gradual neglect of apophatic and metaphysical theology in favour of a rational theology.

to speak in Christian terms. so does the change of attitude between pre-modem and modern man vis-a-vis nature imply a further stage in this alienation. 'animistic' or 'pantheistic' can make one forget the loss implied in this change of attitude. Science must be integrated into a metaphysics from above so that its 78 undisputed facts could also gain a spiritual significance. It is far from accidental that in most pseudo-spiritualist circles much is made of the synthesis of science and religion into a 'new spiritual order' as if man could create a ladder to heaven by himself. Some are joyous about this event and believe it is the occasion of a reassertion of the spiritual view of things. In this new fall man has lost a paradise as a compensation for which he has discovered a new earth full of apparent but illusory riches.76 He has lost the paradise of a symbolic world of meaning to discover an earth of facts which he is able to observe and manipulate at his will. to use the very significant Biblical symbolism. or._ once cut off from the grace of a living spirituality. But as a matter of fact most often the cracks are filled by the most negative 'psychic residues' and the practices of the 'occult sciences' which. thus became hostile and also externalized.Man and Nature and also inward. And 38 . Yet. The 1-thou relation is destroyed to become the l-it and no amount of the pejorative use of such terms as 'primitive'. They are the water that dissolves rather than the earth that solidifies. What is needed is a filling of the cracks in the wall of science by the light from above not by the darktless from below. become !he most insidious of in77 fluences and are much more d~ngerous than materialism. For meanwhile the totally quantitative conception of nature which thanks to technology has begun to dominate all of life is gradually displaying cracks in its walls. he is in dire danger of being devoured by this very earth over which he seems to wield complete dominion unless he is able to regain a vision of that paradise he has lost. But in this new role of a 'deity upon earth' who no longer reflects his transcendent archetype. as if man could unite with the Christ nature unless the Christ nature had itself become man. these are not the 'waters above' but the 'waters below'.

. but very different kinds of this type of literature which in a way 39 . From this it would appear that. This task can only be accompl_ished by re-discover~ ing the spiritual meaning of nature. New York. along with awareness of the historical and intellectual causes that have brought about the present impasse. In the last analysis. architects and men of other pro. the need for such an integration is felt in many quarters79 and many people with a degree of perspicacity look beyond the dangerous psycho-physical syntheses of today to which is usually added a spice of pseudo-Oriental 'wisdom'. Th.:ons. ~onceming the danger of domination over nature for man himself. NOTES TO CHAPTER I I. This discovery is itself dependent upon the remembrance of the most intellectual and metaphysical aspects of the Christian tradition which have been forgotten in so many circles today. the world is no longer felt as the work of God. the Nature of Religion. philosophers. it is a strictly private experience.-D known. ') . the mystery of nature's participation in the ChristoIogical drama.. A real synthesis would remain true to the deepest principles of the Christian revelation and the most rigorous demands of intelligence. before turning to a discussion of metaphysical and cosmological principles in this tradition and in the traditions of the East traditions which can act as an aid to recollection for those within the world view of Christianity. even for a genuine Christian. Eliade.~· ~ . The religious experience is no longer open to the cosmos. have become inaccessible to Christians living in a modem city. 179· 2. Th. salvation is a problem that concerns man and his god. p. 'The cosmic liturgy. But in these man-God-history relationships there is no place for the cosmos.e Sacred and the Profane. 1959. man recognizes that he is responsible not only to God hut also to history. social scientists. Wnttngs of Lewis Mumford and Joseph Wood Krutch represent two . as it is related to the Christian tradition..Many criticisms have appeared during the past two or three decades by :a~ralists.' M.e Problem because it is imperative. That is why we must first turn to consider certain phases in the history of science and philosophy in the West. at most. .

p. 38. 151. p. its creature. See J. The Ecology of Faith. as distinct from any theory. p. external sense it may be said that the great social and directly evil of the \Vest is mechanization. Chapter y 8. For others. of the of invisible forces.' of the Bible in sharpest contrast possible and the 7· On this question see the masterly analysis of M. Chief among those preliminary acceptance of a number of makes facts is the practical knowledge. The engenders the great evils from which fire and machine is. West.. "create God" for the void thus left by dethroni of the reality of God and his imprint in human nature require a usurper 40 . it is an experience accessible only to a minority in modern societies still exhibits a charm. Schuon. of their serving in the very nature of mechanization human spirit. human. ' .' majesty in which it is possible to decipher traces of ancient religious Eliade. they ng God cannot remain empty. ends by becomin (trans. M. New York.. characterized by the use of iron. or biology -which " Under these conditions man's mind more and more depends on the "climate . nature values. Matheson).. It is then science and machines which in produced by its own creations also their turn create man and if such an expression may be ventured. London . cit. 196o. view created and nurtured a world view which stands over against the world . Graham.' Dom A. for it is the machine which most the world today is suffering. a mystery. It is to reduce men to slavery and to devour them entirely. what truth is. leaving them nothing e level.' F.. nothing above the animal level. no longer is it human intellect but machin es-or physics. more3· 'Experience of a radically desacralized nature is a recent discovery. a especially to scientists. 1963. generally speaking. conditioned as we are to making nt and to entertain the iiiusion that to raise the standard of living is equivale a Sugto nourishing the human spirit. Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts D. To talk about a wise use of machines. . 1961. or rather gave to it its The kingdom of the machine followed g most sinister expression..•.e Way I. This knowledge is especially hard to come by for us large demands on our environment. political 4· 'In a certain. The 23): 'The entire experience of the peoples of America has author writes (p. those gestion. what intelligence is. 21. op. Sittler. London . who created the machine. Mountain. p. Man. Pallis in Th. however. The same applies today to all of psychosis of progress on whatever continent they might live.Man and Nature John echo in quite altered conditions the concerns of Wiiiiam Morris and Ruskin a century ago. 22. or chemistr decide what man is. is that happiness depends unpalatable facts. Zen Catholicism. over. is utterly chimerical. Philadelphia. on the 5· 'What needs to be understood. nothing above the collectiv that of iron. 1953. affected by the same 6. of what of the for happiness.

Science and Human Values.: 'L'lquilibre du monde et des creatures depend de !'equilibre entre l'homme et Dreu. the task of doing so is therefore left to the play of opinion. and that dimension alone is enough to evoke transcendence.Th. p. Bronowski. London. 'Values which we accept today as permanent and often as self-evident have grown out of the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. nature is never only "natural". p.•For religious man. D. Schuon. pp. Its cardinal error therefore resides in its claim to be science itself. Etudes TraditioMelles. 1959. New York. p. Scwu:e and the Common Understanding. The arts and the sciences have changed the values of the Middle Ages. He has employed to exploit nature rather than to use it wisely in accordscientific knowledge ance with God's Will.. the only science there is. but it denies itself the possibility of interpreting that information. London. nor could it have been marked as an exceptional experience. 1 -'~. Tomorrow. Mat}Jeson). ilfout savoir ce qu'il est. 51. cit.' F. 1965. op. it is always fraught . M. 1954.' F. Th. 1963. Yarnold. New York.. concerning the popular misunderstanding of the theory of relativity R. The Fourfold Vision.' Lord Northboume. individual or collective. the vision of God in nature seems to have been the normal way of viewing the world. 'Pictures of the Universe'. p.. 'Modern science is well equipped to provide certain kinds of information.' F. London. 'Le commandement supr!me'. firmness. 275.e Spiritual Crisis of the Sciemijic Age. This fact has been often affirmed by scientists themselves. 91. Sherwood Taylor. for no world is possible without verticality. Oppenheimer writes: 'The philosophers and popularizers who have . the only possible science. 1964. D.' G. 129. Sept. p.Iiistaken relativity for the doctrine of relativism have construed Einstein's great works as reducing the objectivity. 11. 10.' M. For example. whereas it is clear that Einstein has seen in his theories of relativity a further confirmation of Spinoza's view that it is man's highest function to kn?w and understand the objective world and its laws. 2-3. Eliade. 168. Avant tk tkmander ce qui doitfaire l'homme. a false absolute which can fill the nothingness of an intelligence robbed of its substance. informed or ignorant. pp. Oppenheimer. 1965. UnJerstanding lskm (trans. Schuon.' R. It is as if the gods had created the world m ~ch a way that it could not but reflect their existence. 32-3. his 9• 'Man has abused his trusteeship in God's world. 1945. done de notre COMaissance et notre vo[oflte a !'egard de !'Absolu. and consonance to law of the physical world. p. Autumn.-Oct.• ' J. 199· 1 3· 'It could be said that the very structure of the cosmos keeps memory of ~ celestial supreme being alive. ' ••• before the separation of science and the acceptance of it as the sole valid way of apprehending nature.e Problem divinity. 11.

16.'••• all genuine cosmology is attached to a divine revelation. 2I. I965.•• our knowledge (of cosmic phenomena) must be either symbolically true or physicaJly adequate. London. Science. This is easy to understand. Burckhardt. in itself neutral-f or I 8. for without this all science is vain and harmful. 'Cosmology and Modem Science'. I953· I7.Man and Nature with religious· value. who in general has not enough knowledge of the underlying nature of Existence to be able to integrate -and thereby to neutralize-the facts of science in a total view of the world. London. which is that of quantity. IS· ' . 'Modem science will never reach that matter which is at the basis of this world. and offers us in exchange mathematical schemes of which the only advantage is to help us to manipulate matter on its own plane. London. See for example E. of Christian cosmology. Lord Northboume). 1964. Lord Northboume). The sinister dangers attendant on atomic fission are but a pointer indicating the frontier of chaos and of dissOlution. I956. Burtt in his Metaplzysical Foundations of Moderr. even if the object considered and the mode of its expression are situated apparendy outside the message this revelation brings. Gu6ton. 'It could be demonstrated too that science. op. Plzysical Science.. A. 20. Mascall. Is>. For a profound analysis of this question in all its aspects seeR. p. p. . I82. I925. and A. coming from the hands of the gods. Summer. for the cosmos is a divine creation. Tlzeoloi!Y and Natural London. Summer I964. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. I 90· u. C.' T. p. P· Ios. cit. 'Cosmology and Modem Science'. I I6.. CkristUzn. Schuon.' Schuon.' F. the origin of which appears at first sight somewhat heterogeneous. on the other hand.' T. Liglu on tlze Ancient Worlds (trans. I86. Burckhardt. in the second case it must retain for us a symbolic intelligibility. Koyre in his many masterly workl 42. 38. although are facts-is none the less a seed of corruption and annihilation in the facts hands of man. 'Such is the case for instance. Chapter IV. p. But between the qualitatively differentiated world and undifferentiated matter there lies something like an intermediate zone: This is chaos. the world is impregnated with sacredness. Tlze Reign of Quantity and tlze Signs oftlze Times (trans. on the heritage of the Greek cosmologists. p. 'Modem science therefore asks us to sacrifice a good part of that which makes for us the reality of the world. This fact has of course been realized by certain historians of science an~ philosophy such as E.' Ibid. 'Cosmology and Modem Science'.' T. Burckhardt. since it refer$ on the one hand to the Biblical account of creation even while being based.

p. M. the positivists claim that the main message of his main works Beitriige rur Analyse der Empfindungen and Die 43 . Morgenbesser (eel. in Science. See his essay. Danto and S. 'The essential error of this school is to confuse that which is true (with certain restrictions) of the science ofphenomena. 28. This leads to an absolute negation of metaphysics.'S-6. Ch. 19. Wiener). Paris. Frank. nnceton. . B. Philosophy tlllll Religion. W.196o. people are readier to accept physics as true and to use 27. a P!i/osophical Study. The Power and Limits ofScience. 1952. Logic of Modern Physics. 1927. cit. Philosophy of Science. 1955. Annales tk p/Uiosop!U chretie1111e. particularly Chapters IX and X. 21 ~ •. and that which is true of all science and of all knowledge in general. l~o. Philosoplzy and the Modern World. especially PP· 84 ff. 1949. New York. Princeton . and his La Valeur de Ia science. 14. r 95 4wiAlthough some have interpreted Mach's position as claiming that it deals tb.. 196o. Concerning the Vienna circle and the school of positivism see. White.concepts rather than objective facts. 1941. New York. New York. and Levi. 1959. P. 2 vols. Concerning the Vienna School he writes. Science and Hypothesis. 42. its presuppositions and their philosophical basis. Bloomington. Caldin.issance and seventeenth-century science. Paris. and the arrogant pretension to deny that metaphysical assertions have any meaning. Paris. New York.See H.). 1952. 1948. but it is none the less too often forgotten by a large number of philosophers and historians of science. and A. op.Anyone familiar with contemporary writing and talking knows that it to construct a "philosophy" than to investigate the method of physics. See particularly his De /'explication dans les sciences. New York. Bridgman. Paris. 166. a Symposium. New York. Dubem. As for the 'operational' philosophy of science see P.See for example. Poincare. 'Essai sur Ia notion de theorie physique de Platon a Galilee'. Gillispie. 2 vols. Ph.' pp. 170. London. p. A. Ph. Levi. 1950.Tile Prohlem 00 1\ena. This tendency to speak of 'universes of inquiry' and opposition to any 'unified world hypothesis' derived from the sciences is also emphasized by 1. F. Modern Science and its Philosophy. Cambridge. 'Science. Conant in his Modern Science and Modern Man. It is to apply universally to all human knowledge that which is valid only in one of its particular spheres. Origines de Ia statique. T!e Edge ofObjectivity.' E. and T!e Aim and Structure of Physical Theory (trans. Also. 1908.. Philosophy and Faith'. p. The Age ofAnalysis. 1921. of all scientific knowing. 2 5. He describes this attitude to 'The positivistic superstition concerniag positive science'.r. 26.

1958 and especially his The Nature of the Physical World. 1929. p. which has been probably more widely influential than any work of its kind written by a modern scientist. 1942. 1946. New York. 36. pp. A. La Salle. 33· 'One of the most important results of the philosophy of natural science of our own day is its demonstration that the sensuously and aesthetically immediate natural history knowledge of nature which Goethe emphasized. Whittaker. 1920. Cambridge. 32. Eddington. B.' Ma~~. Concerning Mach see C. 31. In contrast to Eddington certain physicists have turned to physics itself for proofs of the existence and nature of God. Morgenau. London. New York. Whitehead. 229. 276. which Newton and Kant emphasized are both equally ultimate. 'Tout ce qui n'est pas pensee est le pur nia~~t. not a chaos. This is a clear indication of the subjectivism so characteristic of modern thought because the 'pensie' in question here is not in any way attached to the objective Intellect but is purely subjective and changeable like the external nature of man itself. mathematical knowledge of nature. N. and Science and the Modern World. Princeton.' La Valeur de Ia science. 1950. Nature a~~d God. New York. and H. Concerning the views of Kant and Goethe regarding nature see E. See especially A. 1948. Hendel). The Meeting ofEast and West.C. It is a cosmos. 1937· 30. a unification of science through elimination of metaphysics! One wonders how it is possible to mistake unity and uniformity and attempt to unify any domain of multiplicity without a principle that transcends that multiplicity.Ma11 and Nature Mech. Theories of the Universe a~~d the Arguments for the Existence ofGod. F. New York. Cassirer. a Quest for Life's Meaning. New Haven. Woglom and C. Space and Spirit. S. and the theoretically designated. irreducible and real. The Nature of Physical Reality. Whitehead decries the poverty of the scientific conception of nature that excludes the realities of religion and art and seeks to construct an all pervasive 44 . Process and Reality. W. See E. New York. Mach's Empirio-Pragmatism in Physical Science. 1945· 34· 'Nature is a universally lawful organism.anik in ihrer Entwickelung is to remove all traces of metaphysics from science and thereby unify it. 1923. Northrop. experimentally verified.' Ma~~. The Problem of KMwledge (trans. See for example E. New York. Physics and Philosophy. 1933. Substance and Function. The Philosophy of Physical Science. 153-4. p. 35· See J. and The New Background of Science.. New York. 1932. . Cassirer. Rousseau-Kant-Goethe. Cambridge. Jeans. As Poincare puts it. 1946. The Concept ofNature. Ma~~. 1950. and Nature and God. Nature and God. Weinberg. 1962.. Cambridge. New York.

Chicago. 'Materialism offers neither. 'So that science. "In the beginning was the word.of this symmetry exists and is felt by . Although this statement is to a certain 4egree true in that all natural laws and the intelligible comprehension of their content come from the_ Logos. 19. Scien&e. Anger. Calcutta. ~o. Born. p. But in general there is no conciliation'.The Problem View of nature. Heisenberg. And since mathematical symmetry is in the last analysis an intellectual content. The Philosophy of Scien&e. the Word to mathematical intelligibility of the form of material objects. Concerning the doctrine of identity which offers both a higher ethical ~tent and a deeper religious consolation than materialism.•• . though there are many people who con\!lnce themselves that the idea which astronomy gives us of myriads of suns 45 . Schrodinger. they are not eternal and invariable and are therefore hardly what can be called "real" in the true sense of the word. Chaudhury. New York. surely it is mistaking the reflection with the thing itself to identify the intellectual content of mathematical symmetry with the Logos itself. 1964. Rather. For modern natural science there is no longer in the beginning the material object. Chicago. p. 1961. the elementary particles of modem physics are defined by the mathematical conditions of symmetry. The significance . Ndture and Life. P. J.'' To know this logos in all particulars and with complete clarity with respect to the fundamental structure of matter is the task of present-day atomic physics . whether old or new. Heisenberg writes: 'Like the regular elementary bodies of Plato's philosophy. they are simple representations of those fundamental mathematical structures that are arrived at in the attempts to keep subdividing matter.' P. can never without self-contradiction. Where some conciliation is attempted. 4· 'J7· •. as maintained by the tradition of science. physicists but only metaphysics can show that it is an application of a more universal principle. 1934.' W. 1955· 39· An outstanding modern physicist. But then science cannot be used to back up a materialistic thesis either. 85. On Motkrn Physics. it often assumes some sort of mysticism. }!e could say in the words of Goethe's Faust. W. they represent the content of fundamental laws of nature. but form.•• The premisses of science cannot be explicitly formulated. SchrOdinger ~tes. Idealistic thinkers ought to seek other ways to fulfil their noble mission. mathematical symmetry. Without metaphysics one falls again into the error of reducing the higher to the lower. the logos. E. M.' M. Faith and Society. Polanyi. 'Thus. p. and can be found authentically manifested only in the practice of science. E. prove an idealistic thesis and allow itself to be a base for attacking an empirico-realistic standpoint. the science of nature stands opposed to the presuppOSitions of humanism. ]8.

Meyerhoff). Arber especially her The Manifold and the One. Its ultimate cause cannot therefore be other than the ultimate cause of all things. inhabitable planets.' Yarnold. To me personally all that is maya. 54-5· 43· The type of work by scientists to which we refer here is exemplified by C. and like all things. mediated to our senses by the indescribable panorama of the starry heavens on a clear night. Tymieniecka. Frankfurt am Main. p. Cambridge. 1961. Boston. The Relevance of Science. H. Philosophische Untersucltungen :rum Raum. Phenomenology and Science in Contemporary European Thought. New York. von Weizsacker's. albeit maya in a very interesting form.' E. affords us a sort of ethical and religiously consoling vision. 45· 'Thus the picture of the universe presented by modern science becomes ever more complex.' C. on the notion of space as it pertains to philosophy. For a summary of the interaction of phenomenology and science especially as it concerns the position of man in the world see A. that being the case it is part of ourselves and part of the universe. Nevertheless. But when its outward form alone is considered that form becomes a more or . Schrodinger. 1962. physics and mathematics. and ultimately of a probably finite universe. (trans. 1957.Man and Nature with. p. obscure and remote from the natural picture. My View of the World. 'Skepticism has been the privilege of a few men of learning who could survive because around them stood a world of faith unshaken. Also seeM. Today. 41. the scientific picture can be seen as a symbol of its cause. Tlte History of Nature. the last of Scheler's works. F. 1964. 42. 177. London. von Weizsacker. it exists as an influential factor in contemporary thought. Man's Place in Nature. F. 1949. skepticism has entered the masses. 1964. containing an extensive bibliography one the traditional conception of nature. Straker. perhaps. including the natural picture. 107. each with myriads of such. 44· There have been certain works by phenomenologists which concern science but they have not until now received much attention from scientists themselves. that is to say. 'Practically all the attempts that have been made to bridge the gap between theology and the sciences have come from the theological side. It is the men of learning who are frightened now. independently of any question as to its relative validity. See for example E. Scheler. and of a multitude of galaxies. pp. in which the unified view of man and the world about him characteristic of phenomenology is set forth. as a partial reflection of that cause on the plane of appearances. Chicago. Tlte Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age. It has little to do with my eternal inheritance (to express myself in a thoroughly medieval fashion). See also the writings of the botanist A. exhibiting laws of great regularity. and has rocked the foundations of their order of life. 1965. London.

Heim. White. Oman. Raven. Natural Religion and Christian Theology. Temple. 46· One of the followers of this school. the same can reveal the cause. hiding the causes although if its symbolical significance can be discovered. Modern Science and Christian Belief. 474· 52. A History of the Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom. has shown some interest in science as seen by his Christian Faith and Natural Science. 49· 'Only a thoroughgoing belief that "the things that are made" do. 1949. New York. E. p. J.' !hid. as presented by science today. 1936. Essay on Metaphysics. K. 54· See for example R. G. Oxford. Cambridge. 1 940. 1953· But the deepest problems involved have been hardly delved into especially as far as the question of the symbolic significance of natural phenomena and their religious meaning are concerned. 227. New York.' C. Man and God. p. 51. than were the scientific theories prevalent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. p.. p. 'But it is at once evident that the general outline of the struct\. 166. D. in spite of the Fall and its consequences.The Problem less impenetrable veil. 20. 'Pictures of the Universe'. TheNatural and the Supernatural. Both the cosmos and other religions thus appear as a 'natural' domain cut off from the domain of grace with which Christian theology should be concerned. 137· 50. We mean the point of view so characteristic of the writings of the turn of the century such as A. 275. pp.' Lord N orthbourne. 'Only the full' catholic Christian faith can supply both the necessary theological and philosophical beliefs as to the nature of the universe which are required to justify studying it by the scientific method. 53· See Smethurst. p. p. Cambridge.' W. See for example. 1900. manifest the true nature of their Maker can give any foundation for a reasonable faith. 48. 47· It might be pointed out in passing that surely it is not accidental that Barthian theology shows both a disregard for the study of nature and of comparative religion. 'I can think of no greater disservice that could be done to the Christian religion than to tie it up with arguments based upon verbal confusions or with scientific views that are merely temporary. 17-18. is far more congenial to the theistic hypothesis. SS· 'I am convinced that Christianity alone made possible both positive 47 .' Mascall.lfe of the universe. Christian Theology and Natural Science. as we have been considering it.. New York. Nature. Collingwood. 1953. and also the impulse and inspiration which will impel men to undertake this study. 2 vols.

Stout in his God and Nature. PP· 54 ff. which is the self-expressive utterance of the Divine Word.. p. 1952 58. 57· This point of view is particularly developed by G. 'It is not simply the relation of ground and· consequent. One is reminded of the saying of Oliver Chase. Chapter I. We need for it another name. P· II). 'I believe that the distance which in the modern mind exists between the subject and the object is a direct legacy of the Christian distance from the world. Berdyaev. the sacramental conception.}. See A.' Temple. N. but in effectually fulfilling that function it becomes sacramental of Him to Himself-t he means whereby He is eternally that which etetna:lly"He is. 63. Modern Science and Christian Belief. 481-2. This is reminiscent of early American Protestant theologians like Jonathan Edwards who were concerned with the theological meaning of nature. nor of cause and effect. Science and the Modern World. 71. p. 62. p.'ls for conveyance of the inward and spiritual grace'. . 59· 'Thus. Whitehead. the scientific method should be regarded as one method which Christians employ to obtain a better understanding of the wisdom of God and the wonders of His Creation•. See for example Yamold. p. but it is all of these at once.' !hid.n and God. where the author adds that Christianity is able to dominate over matter precisely because in contrast to other religions such as Hinduism it is 'the most avowedly materialist of all the great religions'. F. 190. Natural Religion and Christian Theology. Through sacraments. in which what comes is not truth concerning God. p. p.' N.' !hid. 1935.'Smethurs t. London. 478. 'His creation is sacramental of Himself to His creatures. of spirit to matter. in the belief of adherents of those religions. 482. pp.' von Weizacker.fan and Nature science and technics. nor of purpose and instrument. 'For mankind there are two unique sacraments which disclose the meaning and convey the experience of reality: They are the created Universe and the person of Jesus Christ' (quoted by Raven. 56. The Meaning of History. The Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age. 495· 65. and there is in some religious traditions an element which is. Ibid. Cambridge. becomes itself a true revelation. Nature. p. so closely akin to what we want that we may most suitably call this conception of the relation of the eternal to history.. Man and God. 'The outward and visible sign is a necessary mea. 64. 493· 48 . 'The world.. Mu. Temple. nor of end and means. but God Himself.-. nor of thought and expression. 6o. See W. Nature. The History ofNature. 105). 61.

New York. The Ecology of Faith.The Prohlem 'Either all occurrences are in some degree revelations of God. 73· Putting Whitehead and his school aside and a few individual philosophers like Collingwood who have shown interest in nature. or else there is no such revelation at all. A. Weisheipl and others on the neo-Thomistic philosophy of nature and science. p. The Sacred and the Profane . p. Pittsburgh. 1938. 171. 54· 70.' Raven. This can be seen particularly in the writings of a leading spokesman of this school. in Science. New York. E. for the conditions of the possibility of any revelation require that there should be nothing which is not revelation. 68. 'The theatre of redemption is the theatre of creation. Weisheipl and A. TAe Logic of Science. p. containing essays by M. Science and Religion. J. Yarnold. 69· 'But the depiction of the whole cosmos. Jo6. also V. Philosophy and Religion. 181. 6. Adamson). Maritain. 'Science. Thompson. Pittsburg..' H. Smith (ed. 67. 1963. a Symposium. J. 'Indeed it is largely out of the misunderstanding between the order of nature and the field of science that our controversies have arisen. Adler. Wall and M. 66.' J. p. Science and Common Sense.. J. no other philosophical school has been as insistent on the necessity of a philosophy of nature and on trying to provide such a philosophy based on Thomism. S. p. Natural Religion and Christian Theology. 1960. Maritain in his essay. and The Degrees of Knowledge (trans. for it is among them that a Christianity lived as a COSmic liturgy still exists. 76.). 75· 'The feeling of the sanctity of nature survives today in Europe chiefly among rural populations. Philosophy and Faith'. 1937. 25. 74· See for example. The Spiritual Crisis ofthe Scientific Age. ' ••• in principle. J. 23. Also phenomenology provides in itself a philosophy of nature but none of those schools have found wide or total acceptance. theses of a genuinely metaphysical nature are not subject to verification by the senses. B. p. especially the latter's The Philosophy of Nature. p. so that no amount of experimental research can ever dislodge them from their position. n. ibid. 178. Only if God is revealed in the rising of the sun in the sky can He be revealed in the rising of a son of man from the dead'. New York.' Eliade. 'This transition from objectivism to subjectivism reflects and repeats in 49 . 72. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Nature. in its complete complexity is a task that does not properly lie within the competence of Science. Quoted by J. Van Melsen. Maritain. . 71.. See for example the writings ofJ. Sittler. p. Koren. 1961.' F. I. 1947. London. G. See particularly his Philosophy ofNature.

Man anti Nature

its own way the fall of Adam and the loss of Paradise; in losing a symbolist and contemplative perspective, founded both on impersonal intelligence and on the metaphysical transparency of things, man has gained the fallacious riches of the ego; the world of divine images has become a world of words. In all cases of this kind, heaven-or a heaven-is shut off from above us without our noticing the fact and we discover in compensation an earth long unappreciated, or so it seems to us, a homeland which opens its arms to welcome its children and wants to make us forget all lost Paradises ... .' Schuon, Light on the Ancient Worlds, p. 29. See also Eliade, op. cit., p. 213. 77· Concerning this subject see Guenon, The Reign ofQuantity ... , especially Chapter XXV, 'Fissures in the Great Wall'. 78. 'I have suggested that scientific explanation, "from below", must be supplemented by something far wider and deeper, interpretation, from above. Until that is accomplished our hold upon essential Christian truth is weak and often ineffectual.' Yamold, The Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age, P· 7· 79· 'The division of labor in acquiring knowledge, although it begets new sciences, is yet a recognition of the unity and integrity of all knowledge and a challenge to expose it. This is a much different undertaking than trying to piece together as parts of a whole the specific results of specific sciences or using the results of one of them to shape the concerns of the others. Nature, not the wit of man, gives to knowledge its integral character. This suggests a science of nature which is neither physics nor chemistry and the like nor the social sciences and their like ••• .' F. J. E. Woodbridge, An Essay on Nature, New York, 1940, p. 58.

so

Chapter z

The Intellectual and Historical Causes
A great deal of the blame for the neglect of other conceptions of science and failure to grasp the true significance of ancient and medieval cosmologies and. other sciences of nature rests upon the manner in which these iciences are studied today. The investigation of the history of science, which during this century has become an important academic discipline, has concentrated more on glorifying modern science or searching for its historic roots than in making a study in depth of conceptions of nature in different civilizations and epochs of history or penetrating into the metaphysical significance of the ancient and medieval sciences. Most scholars in this field have turned their sole attention to those elements and factors in ancient and medieval or, for that matter, Renaissance science that resemble, anticipate or have inflUenced modern science. 1 In fact, modern science has been taken by most science historians as the only' legitimate and possible form of science of nature, and all other cosmological sciences have been considered either as early anticipations of this form of science or as deviations which have hindered modern science. The use of the word "science" in English is particularly significant and indicative of the point of view in question. 1 We do not, however, belittle the significance of the studies made in the domain of the history of science in which, through the historical approach, the roots of a particular science and its past formation are clarified. The pioneering work of such men as Berthelot, Mach, Duhem, Sarton, Tannery, Thorndike and ot~er~ have contributed immensely to our understanding of the sctenttfic activity of other ages. But few of these works can help

51

Man and Nature

in solving the problem of the modern crisis of the encounter of man and nature. This is because rather than become independent judges of ancient and medieval sciences and objective observers or even critics of modern science they have completely adopted the point of view that the only possible and legitimate form of science is the modern one. There has been in the professional ranks of science historians, particularly before the nineteen-fifties, a singular neglect of the symbolic meaning of the ancient and medieval sciences and a tendency to read into older texts meanings and concepts proper to modern science. Many have written about the concepts of matter or motion in the ancient world as if in those days people held the same views about the physical world as the contemporary ones. Pre-Socratic philosophers have been hailed as forerunners of modern physicists as if the water of Thales were the water of modern chemistry; or the Babylonians are held as the first astronomers in the modern sense, while the religious significance of their astronomical observations is forgotten completely. No doubt Babylonian mathematics is a brilliant chapter in the history of mathematics but we wonder if it is 'scientifically' correct to speak of Babylonian science as if its only meaning were that which modern mathematicians understand by it. The symbolic significance of the seven planets, their motion and relation to· the earthly domain is, for those who understand it, as exact as that part of Babylonian science which is treated as 'exact science' through standards placed upon it by modern scholars who hold a view totally alien to that of the Babylonians. Alternatively, we could question whether Islamic science is only that element which contributed to the rise of modern science; or when we speak of medieval science whether we should concentrate only on those thirteenth- and fourteenth-century theologians and philosophers like Ockham, Oresme, Buridan, Grosseteste and others who anticipated the mathematical and physical works of Benedetti, Galileo and other founders of modern science. The existence of interest in dynamics and mechanics amongst late medieval nominalists is surely of importance, but with the same

52

to the history of science in the hope of discovering the intellectual and historical causes of the present situation. 53 . We must consider these sciences as being independent views about nature some of which may be of considerable aid in the solution of contemporary problems3 and as providing a background for the criticism of certain aspects of modem science. The historical background of both science itself and Greek and Christian philosophy and theology are important for any present day discussion. Matter was alive with spirit and the spiritual and corporeal substances had not as yet become distinct. both intellectual and historical.Th. It is in this light that we turn. because the individual as well as the culture in which he lives inevitably carry within them the deep roots of their past. and nature itself. In order then to discover the deep causes of contemporary problems we are forced to return to the beginning and to consider those causes.e lmellectual and Historical Causes certainty we can also assert that this is not the whole of medieval science but is merely the view of modem historians of science as to what. The elements. theological and scientific problems connectecl with it. medieval science was. The ancient Greeks possessed a cosmology similar to that of other Aryan peoples of Antiquity. therefore. in fact. we cannot be satisfied merely with the current method of studying the history of science. independently of their contribution. If we wish to use the history of science beneficially to solve the acute problems modern science and its applications have brought about. to modern science. which still exist today. We must also study the sciences of nature of other civilizations and periods. were still inhabited by the Gods. carry within themselves elements connected with Christian civilization4 as well as with the civilization of Antiquity which Christianity came to replace. and all the philosophical. The rise of philosophy and science in the sixth century BC was not so much the discovery of a new realm as an attempt to fill a vacuum created by the fact that the Olympian Gods had deserted their earthly abode. The basic ideas of phu. or lack of it. The present day encounter of man and nature.ris.

emptied of their meaning. 5 The preSocratic philosophers. It was here that Neoplatonic metaphysics. rationalism as expressed in the Stoic. . contributed little to the natural sciences8 directly and which showed little concern for the metaphysical and theological significance of the sciences. more and more the substance of nature itself became divorced from its spiritual significance.. and cosmology and physics tended toward naturalism and empiricism. far from being early examples of modern naturalists and scientists. were still searching for the universal substance which is both spiritual and corporeal and they can be quite legitimately compared to the Hindu cosmologists of the school of Sarpkhya. In Alexandria.. 6 The general movement was from symbolic interpretation of nature to naturalism.Man and Nature dilce. 7 After Aristotle. In the same way that from the Orphic-Dionysian dimension of Greek religion there developed the Pythagorean-Platonic school of philosophy and mathematics. Epicurean and other late schools became prevalent in the Roman empire. from contemplative metaphysics to rationalistic philosophy. With the birth of Aristotle. . a rationalism which however. The water of Thales is not what flows in rivers and streams but is the psycho-spiritual substratum and principle of the physical world. nomos and the like which are fundamental to Greek science and philosophy are all terms of religious significance which have been gradually emptied of their spiritual substance. however. mystical and religious schools of philosophy developed during a period of intense activity in. philosophy as understood in the West began and as understood in the East terminated. arose a physics and a natural philosophy which sought to fill the vacuum and to provide a coherent explanation for a world no longer inhabited by the gods. With the gradual increase in decadence of the Greek Olympian religion. so from the body of Olympian religious concepts. Neopythagorean mathematics and Hermeticism were developed and where the study of mathematical and natural sciences was often carried out in the matrix of a metaphysics that was aware of 54 I I.the mathematical and physical sciences.

Only in this way was it able to save a civilization and to instill into a decadent world a new spiritual life. To save the souls of men in the particular atmosphere in which it found itself. and some theologians called nature massa perditionis. To overcome the danger of rationalism divorced from gnosis it made knowledge the handmaid of faith and ignored the supernatural essence of natural intelligence within men. reacted against this naturalism by emphasizing the boundary between the supernatural and the natural and by making the distinction between the natural and supernatural so strict as to come near to depriving nature of the inner spirit that breathes through all things. therefore. or at least belittle. In the dialogue between the Christian and the Greek. Christianity. is Roman while that which Islam received from the Graeco-Hellenistic heritage comes mostly from Alexandria. where knowledge of a human order had become divinized and where an excessive attraction to nature seemed to the Christian eye a blasphemy that blinded men to the vision of God.9 To preserve a correct theology Christianity became opposed to the 'cosmic religion' of the Greeks.Tlze Intellectual and Historical Causes the c. was faced with a world in which naturalism. Henceforth. Christianity. the human soul and salvation while the Greek emphasized the 'divine' quality of the cosmos and the 'supernatural' status of intelligence itself which enables man to know the universe. the theological and spiritual significance of nature. accented the path oflove. 10 Against this cosmology Christianity opposed its theology and against this emphasis upon knowledge. empiricism and rationalism were rampant. the Christian emphasized the nature of God. in its external and formal aspect. in which both sides were expressing an aspect of the truth but each a half truth. the study of nature from a theological point of view did not occupy a central place in Western Christianity. when it was called upon to save a civilization rather than a few souls. but in the process an alienation took place towards nature which has left its mark upon the 55 .ymbolic and transparent nature of things. It is of significance that the immediate background of Western civilization. Christianity had to forget and neglect.

The official theology left the problem of nature as a positive domain in the religious life out of its central concern. Christianity has emphasized the pull of faith and love over knowledge and certitude. especially as far as Western Christianity is concerned. It may also be added that Islam in the cadre of Abrahamic monotheism likewise made gnosis central and placed the accent not so much on the will of man. since after its early days Christianity was called upon not only to save a selected few but a whole civilization that was falling apart. Illuminative knowledge or gnosis11 has existed in Christianity but mostly on the periphery. through the history of Christianity. whose wound had to be healed. In envisaging man as a will rather than an intelligence. In any case. has s6 I j . There was not that accent upon the supernatural essence of the intelligence and on that gnosis or illuminative knowledge which is at once the source and meeting ground of both faith and reason. in conformity with the Christian conception of man as an essentially warped will whose wound must be healed through the rite of Baptism. The Greek gnostic saw in man's natural aptitude to know a means of reaching the Absolute Truth itself. Knowledge derived from intelligence without the aid of faith came to be considered as 'knowledge according to the flesh'. but on the intelligence which had only to be reminded through revelation of its supernatural essence. The gnostic element continued to exist. because of its character as a way of love and the excessively naturalistic background in which it was called upon to fill the spiritual vacuum caused by the decadence of GraecoRoman religions. but only as a sideline development which periodically. The character of Christianity as a way of love rather than as knowledge needs particular emphasis. especially after the formulation of the Creeds and the exteriorization of the esoteric way that is Christianity.l Man and Nature : subsequent history of Christianity. or grace and nature. this followed inevitably. Christianity drew a sharp line between the supernatural and the natural. This is one of the deep-lying roots of the present crisis of modern man in his encounter with nature.

both Biblical or Hebrew cosmological concepts and Greek ones stand side by side. both directly at the beginning of the Christian era and then again in the modified 57 . forms. There is the Biblical cosmogony based on creation ex-nihilo and on a drama that occurs in time.The Intellectual and Historical Causes manifested itself in different forms. Either the cosmological sciences are based on. Christianity adopted elements of both these cosmological views. and their symbolic significance discovered. colours and correspondence between various otders of reality--can only be understood. Then there are the Greek cosmologies which occur in 'space' without regard for temporal and secular change. reflect this dual origin of cosmology within the Christian perspective. or they are adopted from an alien tradition but integrated into the perspective of the tradition in question. Without the light of a living tradition with its own metaphysics and theology the cosmological sciences become opaque and unintelligible. one in which time is cyclic and the world appears to lack a temporal beginning. It has been the one element which enabled Christianity to develop in the Middle Ages a: cosmology of its own and to adapt to its needs those forms of cosmology and sciences of nature that were conformable to its perspective. or drawn from the metaphysical sources of the religion itself. It is this absorption of Graeco-Hellenistic elements into Western Christian civilization. 11 It was in this way that both Islam and Christianity integrated Hermetic cosmology into their esoteric dimensions and gave it new life and signihcance. in the light of a living spirituality. and the long disputes among theologians and philosophers as to the creation or eternity of the world and the nature of time and space. Seen in this light these sciences become shining crystals that illuminate the multiple phenomena of the Universe and make them intelligible and transparent. The relation between metaphysical and theological principles of a religious tradition such as Christianity and the cosmological sciences must be made clear. numbers. The traditional cosmological sciences-that whole series of sciences dealing with figures. The ambivalent source of Christian cosmology is seen in the fact that there.

and also served as the background for the scientific revolution. Both are of basic importance in the attitude of Western man toward nature in all subsequent periods ofWeste rn history including the contemporary. in creating both an artisanal tradition that could construct the medieval cathedrals which are a microcosmic model of the Christian cosmos. As Christianity grew from the religion of a few to the spiritual life force of a humanity. The popular knowledge of nature was based on survivals of such works as the Historia natura/is of Pliny and ss . were developed together in the new Christian civilization. and a total science of the visible Universe which depicted this Universe as a Christian one. form given to them by Islam during the Middle Ages. and began to mould a civilization which was distinctly Christian. One should therefore always remember both the character of the sciences of the Greek world as they came to be known by later ages and the attitude and reaction of Christianity itself vis-a-vis this heritage. that made possible the arts and sciences in the medieval period.Man and Nature 1 l!. The cathedral recapitulates the cosmos and is its replica on the human plane in the same way that the medieval city with its walls and gates is a model of the bound medieval Universe. or art in its most universal sense. It succeeded on both accounts. and both were integrated as a hidden and secret knowledge into the esoteric dimensions of Christianity. This could only be brought about through the relation between sacred art and cosmology that existed in medieval Christianity as it has in other traditions. 14. it had to develop both its own art. 15 The science of natural objects and the techniques of making things. 13 If theologically Christianity emphasized a rejection of the 'life of this world' and a search for a kingdom which was not of this world. When man stands in a medieval cathedral he feels himself at the centre pf the world. in its total view of things it also had to possess the means of equating the techniques of the artisans with Christian activity and the world in which the Christian man lived with a Christian Universe. cosmology and sciences of the natural world.

16 As for Hermeticism. of numbers.. The elemental materials of the natural world became so many building blocks which led the soul from the darkness of the materia prima to the luminosity of the intelligible world. which in an articulate form entered into the Christian world through Islamic sources. are a synthesis of medieval art and science in which the element of harmony is the guiding principle. and on elements of Platonic cosmology as derived from the Timaeus and often cited in the writings of some of the Fathers as well as by more popular writers. Through it. In order to achieve this end. as reflected in medieval books of ani- 59 . Whether unformulated. The Hermetical and alchemical perspective. of which Chartres is an outstanding example. or articulated as in the case of the secret association of the Fedeli d' amore to which Dante belonged. Gregory. the artisan was able to transform the substance of the corporeal world about him so that it could possess and convey spiritual efficacy and significance. on the writings of Isadore of Seville.The Intellectual and Historical Causes other late popular encyclopaedias. Yet the most profound elements of the Christian knowledge of nature and things natural were to be found in secret societies. it provided Christianity with a sacred science of material objects. pervaded the science and art of the Middle Ages. Bede and similar medieval authors. the sciences of nature and cosmology connected with this aspect of medieval Christian civilization represent the most profound aspects of the process of Christianization. as among the guild of masons. extended the sacramental conception present in the Christian mass to the whole of nature. The Pythagorean science of harmony.. guilds and associations connected with the esoteric aspect of Christianity. Christianity integrated into its more inward dimensions elements of the Hermetic-Pythagorean cosmological sciences. The proportions of so many of these. geometric forms and colours. 17 As we glance at the Middle Ages we see on the one hand a popular natural history imbued more and more with Christian values of an ethical order. So many of the medieval cathedrals.sacred · structures are notes of music in stone.

which is more metaphysical than rationalistic and philosophical. And so. in theological circles little interest was taken in the symbolic and contemplative view of nature. Even later Franciscans like the great theologian St Bonaventure. Occasionally an intellectual expression would be given of this religious science of things and of the cosmos as a whole. were not particularly interested in the study of nature. who expressed the necessity of a sapiemia as a background for scientia. the cosmological perspective can be integrated only into the metaphysical dimension of a tradition and not into the theological aspect as this term is usually understood. and even esoteric contact between 6o . Theology is too rationalistic and manorientated to be concerned with the spiritual essence and symbolism of cosmic phenomena. Dionysian angelology and a Christian cosmology drawn from Platonic. is however associated more with the contemplative and metaphysical dimension of Christianity than with the theological. Into the world of early medieval Christianity. In the latter an operative knowledge of nature was primarily emphasized. unless we understand by theology the apophatic and contemplative theology. while the theoretical knowledge remained for the most part unwritten or unformulated. but this was more of an exception than a rule. Pythagorean and Hermetic elements. there entered in the eleventh century a new form of learning from the Islamic world. and on the other a science of nature associated closely with the craftsman's guilds. within the bosom of Christian spirituality. A few northern European scientists and philosophers like Roger Bacon were to combine observation of nature with a mystical philosophy based on illumination. This we find in the works of Dante and somewhat before him in the school of Chartres. the profoundest insights into the sacred quality of nature. both in its aims and its presuppositions. dominated by Augustinian theology. In fact. The type of science of nature which is profoundly Christian. It was left to St Francis of Assisi to express. Besides the spread of certain occult sciences like alchemy. with certain exceptions as in the case of Erigena or the school of Chartres.Man and Nature mals.

during the thirteenth century. however. Ibn Rushd or Averroes. while Avicenna 61 . A case in point is the career of the philosophy of Ibn Sinathe Latin Avicenna-the greatest of the Muslim Peripatetics in the West. In the Occident. Here.The lntelkctual arul Historieal Causes Islam and Christianity through the Order of the Temple and other secret organizations18 . which caused a major intellectual change from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries.19 In fact. The later reviver of Peripatetic philosophy. 20 The Aristotelianism of Averroes was much more pure and radical than that of other Muslim philosophers. we wish to turn to the effect of this new development in the general view of nature. the translation of Arabic works into Latin. The Muslims had for several centuries developed Peripatetic science and philosophy as well as mathematics. YetAvicenna never gained enough disciples in the West to have even the honour of a school of 'Latin Avicennism' named after him. we are not concerned with how this transmission took place nor with the different sciences that became known through this process to the Latin world. To the present day Avicenna has continued to exert influence upon Islamic intellectual life. the master of the Latin Averroists who were associated with pre-Christian learning. exercised much less influence upon his co-religionists. resulted gradually in the Aristotelianization of Christian theology. Rationalism came to replace the earlier Augustinian theology based on illumination and the contemplative view of nature was increasingly pushed aside as the gnostic and metaphysical dimension of Christ~anity became ever more stifled in an increasingly rationalistic environment. Islam turned more and more to this direction during its later history. however. In the West a somewhat misunderstood A verroes became. illuminationist dimension associated with Sufism had been alive from the start and continued as the inner life force of this tradition. the main result of this contact was acquaintance with Peripatetic philosophy and science as it had been developed by the Muslims for several centuries. Rather. but at the same time the gnostic.

For A vicenna. however. a cosmos which had become sheer fact drawn away from the bosom of metaphysics and made the subject of a purely physical science. these scholars had to a certain extent already secularized the Universe and prepared it for the Copernican revolution. was criticized by men like William of Auvergne who wanted to banish the angels from the Universe. although accepted in outline. While the thirteenth century was the golden age of scholasticism and produced the synthesis of St Thomas and a few men like Albertus Magnus. in fact. Roger Bacon and Robert Grossteste who within the matrix of a Christian philosophy were intensely interested in the sciences of nature. The result of this change was to become evident after an interim period of relative equilibrium. The spiritual agent in the form of the angel was an integral and real aspect of cosmic reality. cosmology was closely connected to angelology. Avicennian cosmology. and the lack of a systematic acceptance of Avicenna. theology came to replace metaphysics or rather rationalistic theology replaced the contemplative theology of earlier centuries. As it spread in the West. By neglecting the A vicennian souls of the spheres. This inclination is brought to light particularly when the situation in the Occident is compared with the intellectual life of its sister Islamic civilization during the same period. Through this process. 21 The interpretation of A verroes in the West as an even more rationalistic philosopher than he actually was. The balance tilted in the other 62.Man and Nature had combined this philosophy with the tenets of Islam and even developed later in life an 'Oriental philosophy' based on illumination. 22 The Universe was peopled by angelic forces. the very domination of rationalism during this period soon destroyed the equilibrium established during the century. only have occurred in a cosmos from which the symbolic and spiritual meaning had been removed. ' j . a view which accorded perfectly well with the religious conception of the world. 23 This revolution could.· The career of Avicennian cosmology is of particular pertinence in this development. are the best indication of the movement toward rationalism in the Christian world.

The result was that the gnostic and metaphysical element which had until that time been continuously present began to disperse and gradually disappear. Rather.The Intellectual arul Historical Causes direction. Once the element of faith became weakened this scientific development was left without any element of philosophical certainty. Two different but complementary movements can be seen at this time. The first is the destruction of the esoteric organizations within Christendom such as the Order of the Temple. that this interest in the sciences of nature went hand in hand with philosophical doubt and a turning away from metaphysics. however. by refusing reason the very possibility of knowing the universal. one might say from below. Ockham created a theologism which destroyed the certainty of' medieval philosophy and fed to philosophical scepticism. it became wedded to doubt and scepticism. If the mystics like Meister Eckhart sought to transcend reason from above. The Middle Ages thus drew to a close in a climate in which the symbolic and contemplative view of nature had been for the 6J . 24 The second was the foundering of rationalism by its own weight and the introduction of a denial of the power of reason to reach the truth. It is important to note. Ockham and the Ockhamists created an atmosphere of philosophical doubt which they tried to fill with a nominalist theology that was to play the role of philosophy. For this was substituted a nominalist theology. discoveries that form the basis of the seventeenthcentury revolution in physics. in emphasizing particular universal causes and criticizing Peripatetic philosophy and science. the nominalist theologians rejected rational philosophy. 25 Meanwhile. and in the fourteenth century led to an attack against reason and a scepticism that marked the end of the Middle Ages. Ockham and his followers like Oresme and Nicolas of Autrecourt made important discoveries in mechanics and dynamics. The whole debate about universals which goes back to Abelard became at this time the favourite weapon for attacking reason and showing the inconsistencies of its conclusions. at least as an active living force in the intellectual framework of the Christian West.

28 This new conception of an earth-bound man which is closely tied to the humanism and anthropomorphism of this period . neither the Dominicans nor Franciscans showed particular interest in the study of nature.Man and Nature most part replaced by a rationalistic view. within Christian circles in general. half angel. European man lost the paradise of the age of faith to gain in compensation the new earth of nature and natural forms to which he now turned his attention. Rather. half man. However. The Renaissance was witness to the destruction of such organizations as the Society of the Rosy Cross. Renaissance man ceased to be the ambivalent man of the Middle Ages. torn between heaven and earth. coincided with the destruction and gradual disappearance of what was left of the initiatic and esoteric organizations of the Middle Ages. and this in turn throug h the criticism of nominalist theologians had led to philosophical scepticism. Meanwhile. but now a totally earth-bound creatu reP He gained his liberty at the expense of losing the freedom to transcend his terrestrial limitations. and it was in this spirit that he went on to conquer the earth and with it to open new horizons in geography and natural history. Furthermore. Freedom for him now became quantitative and horizontal rather than qualitative and vertical. with the destruction of the gnostic and metaphysical elements within Christianity the cosmological sciences became opaque and incomprehensible and the cosmo s itself was gradually secularized. while at the same 64 . 26 The background was thus prepared in every way for that revolution and upheaval which brought to an end the integral Christian civiliza tion of the medieval period and created an atmosphere in which the sciences of nature began to be cultivated outside of the world view of Christianity and where the cosmos gradually ceased to be Christian. With the Renaissance. he became wholly man. there still existed a religious significance in wilderness and nature that had come down throug h the Christian tradition. Yet it was a nature which came to be less and less a reflection of a celestia l reality.

The Intellectual anti Historical Causes

time all kinds of writings associated with secret organizations and societies such as Hermetical and Kabbalistic works began to appear. The vast number of these works during this period is due, however, first and foremost to the destruction of the depositories of this type of knowledge, thus facilitating their profanation and vulgarization. Secondly it is due to an attempt on the part of certain thinkers to discover a primordial religious tradition antedating Christianity so that tliey turned to all that spoke of the ancient mysteries. 29 Moreover, when we glance at the sciences of the Renaissance, we see that besides new discoveries in geography and natural history and certain adva~es in mathematics, the framework is essentially that of the Middle Ages. Renaissance science is continuous with that of the medieval period, despite its accent upon naturalism. This is because what are seen as coming to the fore at this time are the cosmological and occult sciences of the medieval period that are now made to be publicly known and elaborated, albeit sometimes with confusion and distonion. Agrippa, Paracelsus, Basil Valentine, Meier, Bodin and so many other figures belong more to the ancient and medieval tradition of science than to the modern one. Yet the Hermetical and magical schools of the Renaissance have had as significant a role in the creation of modern science as the more frequently studied mathematico-physical school connected with the name of Galileo. Too little attention has been paid to this all important element because of an a priori judgement as to what science is.30 However, as is to be expected in a period of the eclipse of metaphysical knowledge and even of philosophical doubt, sciences such as alchemy became ever more incomprehensible, opaque and confused until gradually they ceased to be science as such and became the preoccupation of the occultists or the curious. Paracelsus was still at the centre of the scientific stage of his day. By the time Fludd and Kepler were exchanging notes, the Hermetico-alchemical tradition for which Fludd stood had lost the battle, and what was considered as science passed on into the hands of Kepler and his like.

Man. and Nature

This loss of metaphysical insight and awareness into the symbolic meaning of cosmological sciences is also seen in the rapid transformation of cosmology into cosmography, a movement from content to form. The numerous cosmographies of the Renaissance no longer deal with the content and meaning of the cosmos, but with its form and external description, althou gh they still describe the medieval cosmos.31 All t!lat is left is the body without its inner spirit and meaning. From these cosmograph ies to the breakdown of the cosmic picture there is but a single step which comes with the Copernican revolution. The Copernican revolution broug ht about all the spiritual and religious upheavals that its opponents forecasted would happen precisely because it came at a time when philosophica l doubt reigned everywhere, and a humanism, already over a centu ry old, had taken away from man his position as the 'divine image ' on earth. The proposal that the sun is at the centre of the solar system was not in itself new; for it was know n by certain Greek, Islamic and Indian philosophers and astronomers. But its proposal during the Renai~sance without an accompanying new spiritual vision of things could only mean a dislocation of man in the_ cosmo s. Theology and the external formulation of religion begins with man and his needs as an immortal being. Metaphysics and the esoteric aspect of tradition deal with the nature of things as such. The Ptolemaic-Aristotelian astronomy corresponds to the more immediately apparent structure of the cosmos and the profo und symbolism that the concentric spheres present to man as the visible aspect of the multiple states of being. In this scheme, man is from one point of view at the centre of the Universe by virtue of his theomorphic nature, and from another point of view he is at the lowest level of existence from which he has to ascend toward the divine. The ascent through the cosmos as we see so plainly in the Divine Comedy corresponds also to the ascent of the soul through the degrees of purification and of knowledge. By necessity it corresponds to existence itself. Medieval cosmo logy had therefore, from the spiritual point of view, the advan tage of presenting the visible cosmos to men as a concrete symbo l of a
66

Tlu Intellectual an.J Historkal C~ZUSes

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metaphysical reality which in any case remains true, independently of the symbols used to convey it. Also, by virtue of remaining faithful to the immediate appearance of things as they present themselves to man, the Ptolemaic-Aristotelian astronomy corresponded more to a theological and exoteric truth while at the same time it remained a most powerful symbol of a metaphysical reality. The heliocentric system also possesses its spiritual symbolism. By placing the source of light at the centre, an argument to which Copernicus himself refe~d in the introduction of his book De revolutionihu.s orhium · coelestium, this astronomy symbolizes clearly the centrality of the Universal Intellect for which the sun, the supernal Apollo, is the most direct symbol. Moreover, by removing the boundaries of the cosmos and presenting to man the vastness of cosmic space, which symbolizes the illimitable vastness of the Divine Being and man's nothingness before this Reality, this view corresponds more to the esoteric perspective based on the total nature of things than to the exoteric and theological that are concerned with man's needs in order.,.that he should be saved. But this astronomy was not accompanied by a new spiritual vision even if occasionally a man like Nicolas of Cusa pointed to the profound significance of the 'infinite universe', 'whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere' .31 The total effect of the new astronomy was like the profanation of an esoteric form of knowledge,33 somewhat like our observations in the case of the alchemical and Kabbalistic sciences. It presented a new vision of the physical Universe without providing also a spiritual interpretation for it. The transformation from the bound to the 'infinite universe' also had, therefore, the deepest religious repercussions in the souls of men and was closely intertwined with the whole religious and philosophical development of the Renaissance and the seventeenth century.34 It may seem at first as if the Copernican revolution moved counter to the prevalent humanism of the time by removing man from the centre of the Universe. This is only an apparent effect;

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inner conflicts. although on the surface it belittled the position of man in the scheme of things. His centrality was due not to anthropomorphic qualities but to theomorphic ones. It also came after more than two centuries 68 . religion weakened through long. The scientific revolution itself came not in the Renaissance but during the seventeenth century when the cosmos had already become secularized. which can be seen in the art of this period. science was only what the mental could grasp and explain. hut the thoughts of men in each epoch themselves became the criteria of truth and falsehood. not as a purely terrestrial and earth-bound man but as the 'image of God'. a trend from objectivism to subjectivism began in Western civilization which continues to this day. to use the Christian terminology.Man and Nature its deeper effect was to aid the general humanistic and Promethean spirit of the Renaissance. By removing him from the centre of things. Therefore. metaphysics and gnosis in the real sense nearly forgotten and the meaning of symbols neglected. The Renaissance. on a deeper level it assisted the tendency toward anthropomorphism and the Promethean revolt against the voice of heaven. It could not serve the function of transcending the mental itself through the power of symbolism. although still following the formal medieval sciences. In medieval cosmology man had been placed at the centre of the Universe. It made of 'fallen man's' vision of things. the truth itself and removed to the greatest possible extent any objective criterion of intellectual knowledge. rather it affirmed the loss of the theomorphic nature by virtue of which he had been placed at the centre. and the appearance of a purely terrestial man who became the measure of all things. the new astronomy did not bestow upon man the transcendent dimension of his nature. Henceforth. brought forth a new conception of man which henceforth made all form of knowledge including science in a certain sense anthropomorphic. No longer was there a metaphysics and a cosmology to judge the truth and falsehood of what men said. With the destruction of an immutable set of principles which are the judge of both knowledge and virtue.

The distinction made by Galileo in the Discorsi between primary and secondary qualities is an affirmation of Descartes' reduction of reality to quantity. His zoology in which he sought to reduce animals to machines was violently attacked and refuted by Henry More and John Ray. was far from being divorced from interest in the metaphysical meaning of 69 . felt was a confirmation of a spiritual order in the Universe. has become the background of mathematical physics and unconsciously of many other sciences which desperately seek to find quantitative relationships between things by overlooking their qualitative aspect. Descartes had to reduce the rich diversity of external reality to pure quantity and philosophy to mathematics. But his mathematicism. 36 and henceforth Cartesian mathematicism became a permanent element of the scientific world view. although Galileo succeeded in creating a new physics where Descartes failed. connected with such figures as Isaac Burrows and the Cambridge Platonists. the attempt to reduce reality to pure quantity with which one could then deal in a purely mathematical way. These latter doubted the power of philosophy to reach certainty about ultimate principles and as compensation usually turned toward ethics and morality. In fact the background of Newton's thought. himself a religious man. 35 In order to reach certainty in knowledge through his famous method. His was a mathematicism. The physics Descartes constructed through his method was rejected by Newton.The Intellectual and Historical Causes of philosophical scepticism from which the philosophers of the seventeenth century tried to escape and regain access to certainty. The genius of Newton was able to create a synthesis from the works of Descartes. Galileo and Kepler and to present a picture of the world which Newton. Campanella and Adriano di Corneto. Gehrard Groot and Erasmus as well as the whole group of Renaissance philosophers like T elesio. Descartes was also most of all heir to the scepticism expressed in the Essays of Montaigne to which his Discours is an answer in more than one way. Descartes was the heir to the Christian humanists of the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. to use the term of Gilson. of men like Petrarch.

were. the only legitimate knowledge of the objective world. Yet the Newtonian world view led to the well-known mechanistic conception of the Universe and totally away from the holistic and organic interpretation of things.r imaginalis). however. Henceforth the Cartesian surgical operation in which spirit and matter become totally separated dominated scientific and philosophic thought. the 'imaginal world' (mundu. We must not forget how much effort he spent and how many pages he wrote on the alchemical and Kabbalistic sciences of his day. the last of the European philosophers to speak ·of this domain of reality in the same way that Leibniz was the last major Western philosopher to speak of the angels. The anatomy of existence consisted not only of the physical and the purely intelligible worlds but also of the intermediary world between matter and pure spirit. Also in the seventeenth century the last step in the secularization of the cosmos took place in the hands of the philosophers and scientists. The result was that after the seventeenth century science and religion became totally divorced. 17 The Cambridge Platonists. For those who followed him it became the science. Perhaps for him the new physics. This. even after the Renaissance a man like Swedenborg could write a hermeneutic commentary upon the Bible which was also an exposition of a symbolic science of nature and could rely upon this intermediate world as the meeting ground of spiritual and material forms. with its eminent success on the mathematico-physicallevel. IIIII 'II II 1111 1 II ' 1/11 Iil IIIII [I 111!11 1//ii 11!/1 ll/111 III/II time. Newton was one of the first to realize the adverse theological effects of his discoveries. In the Renaissance elements of traditional philosophy still survived. and through it the symbolic science of nature was made possible. was just a science of material things. The domain of science was matter which was a pure 'it' divorced completely from any ontological aspect other 70 1!111 . Such an intermediate world was the immediate principle of nature. must not be considered in any way unreal or made to correspond to the modern meaning of 'imaginary'.Ill IIIII 'I I i Man and Nature 1[111!1 11!1111 IIIII/ lllj'/ 1[. however. Among Christian thinkers (albeit away from the centre of theological orthodoxy). space and motion. particularly Henry More.

who had now become nothing but 71 . the question now became the utility of knowledge for man. Whatever discoveries are made in the sciences and whatever changes are brought about in conceptions of time. a philosophy of man without a transcendent dimension became popularized and truth reduced to utility. For this very reason. space. 38 If the seventeenth century still considered problems on the level of their theoretical truth or falsehood. its philosophic effect was more pronounced. matter and motion. These developments are of importance as showing the continuity in certain circles. Rousseau and Voltaire. The philosophy of Descartes was drawn to its logical conclusion by the Empiricists. Through the 'encyclopedists'. During the eighteenth century. by Hume and by Kant who demonstrated the inability of purely human reason to reach knowledge of the essence of things. the background of seventeenth-century rationalism remains. thereby opening the door to the irrational philosophies that have followed since his advent. especially of northern Europe. The centre of the stage continued to be occupied by mechanistic phil6Sophy and science. of a spiritual conception of nature. scientifically and philosophically. Thus seventeenthcentury rationalism is the unconscious background of all later scientific thought up to the present day. this view became the very factor that determined the relationship between man and nature. have never been seriously considered and accepted. There was also Jacob Bohme. In the seventeenth century Hermeticism still continued strongly particularly in England.The Intellectual and Historical Causes than pure quantity. especially the symbolic. Although there were protests here and there especially among English and German thinkers. These schools still remained peripheral as far as their influence on modern science was concerned. whose very appearance at this time is most significant and who influenced deeply the school of Naturphilosophie that reacted so severely against the prevalent mechanical philosophy. while theoretically science continued along lines established in the seventeenth. other interpretations of nature. the remarkable cobbler and theosopher in Germany.

Wordsworth. no solitude. and Nature a creature of the earth with no other end but to exploit and dominate its riches. communicating good. accentuated the effect of the new mechanistic science by turning more attention to the empirical sciences and seeking to destroy any vestiges of a contemplative view toward nature that still survived. Spirit that knows no insulated spot. or with evil mixed. A simple blessing. in the stars Of azure heaven. it subsists In all things.Man. the soul of all the worlds. One of the foremost among them. This is the freedom of the universe. in all natures. The materialistic conception of nature did not go unchallenged during the nineteenth century. the stationary rocks. and the invisible air. crystallized by the French Revolution. No chasm. Whate'er exists hath properties that spread Beyond itself. 39 With the help of the new science the only role left to man was to conquer and dominate nature and to serve his needs as an animal endowed somehow with analytical reason and thought. The morning waters. in every pebbly stone That paves the brooks. the unenduring clouds. The philosophical Romantic poets like Navalis devoted themselves most of all to the theme of nature and its significance for man. particularly in art and literature where the romantic movement sought to re-establish a more intimate bond with nature and the indwelling spirit within nature. could write in the Excursion (Book IX): 'To every Form of being is assigned' Thus calmly spake the venerable Sage. 'An active Principle:-h owe'er removed From sense and observation. . from link to link It circulates.' Likewise a man like John Ruskin saw nature as something 72. This practical and utilitarian bent. In flower and tree.

bound to process and change. 73 . where the archetypal reality of species held no significance. 11 The romantic attitude toward nature. was more sentimental than intellectual. The vertical 'chain of being' had to be made temporal and horizontal. In a world where the 'multiple states of being' had lost their meaning. however. The Absolute itself was made to enter the current of the dialectical process which was equated with a new logic of process and becoming. and waters'. The vision of a changeless and immutable reality became completely forgotten in a universe where. where there was no metaphysical and philosophical background to enable men to interpret the appearance of different species on earth as so many successive 'dreams of the World Soul'. Whatever service the romantic movement rendered in re-discovering medieval art or the beauty of virgin nature. the rocks. The intuitions of men like Schelling or Franz von Baader could do little to turn the tide away from a further plunge into the world of sheer becoming and change. for some time now. the major event occurred in biology where the theory of evolution reflects more the 'zeitgeist' than a scientific theory.The Intellectual aru:l Historical Causes divine10 and spoke of the 'spiritual power of air. with Hegel. This passive attitude could not make and mould knowledge. suprasensible reality had lost its objective and ontological ~status. where the hands of the Creator had been cut off from creation through the spread of Deism there could be no other explanation for the multipiicity of the species than temporal evolution. The result of this theory. Wordsworth speaks of 'wise passiveness' and Keats of 'negative capability'. As for the philosophy of the nineteenth century it surrendered the possibility of knowing things in their immutable aspect and so became. it could not affect the current of science nor add a new dimension within science itself by which man would be able to understand those aspects of nature that seventeenth century science and its aftermath had failed to consider. As for science.12 whatever absurdities such a view might imply metaphysically and theologically.

It also condoned all kinds of excesses in usurping the right of other forms of life in the name of the 'survival of the fittest'. The theory of evolution did not provide an organic view for the physical sciences hut provided men with a way of reducing the higher to the lower.) On the other hand it meant the opening of the gate to all kinds of pseudo-spiritual movements and occult sciences which graft themselves upon the newest theories of physics. It also went hand in hand with a prevalent historicism which is a parody of the Christian philosophy of history. or simply dangerous and pernicious inventions. a magical formula to apply everywhere in order to explain things without the need to have recourse to any higher principles or causes.Man anJ Nature besides causing endless hickerings between popularizers of evolution and theologians. there was no spiritual force ready to reinterpret the new science and integrate it into a more universal perspective. From the genuinely religious quarters the breakdown of classical physics did not bring forth a vigorous response that could lead to a meaningful 74 . now no longer understood. brought a further alienation of man from nature by removing from the world of life the immutable form or essence of things which alone can he intellectually contemplated and can become the object of metaphysical knowledge and vision. A reaction is always against an existing affirmation and action. Some found in this breakdown a chance to re-assert other points of view which the monolithic mechanistic conception of the Universe had previously prevented. (This can he seen in the case of the change from Euclidian geometry to those of Riemann or Lohachevski. hut which nevertheless could only take place in the Christian world where the truth itself had become incarnated in time and history. Also. but which are usually either degenerate residues of older cosmological sciences. the breakdown meant on the one hand a re-interpretation of science which destroyed even further contact with the macrocosmic world and the immediate symbolism of things. With the breakdown of classical physics at the end of the nineteenth century.

that a hierarchy of knowledge can be again asserted and a symbolic science of nature re-established which will effectively complement the quantitative sciences of today.history. some of whose features have been pointed out here.I The Intellectual an. As pointed out in Chapter I it is only through a re-discovery of true metaphysics. . committed the same error as historians of the early Church in the fourth and fifth centuries. especially the sapiential doctrines of Christianity and the revival of that tradition within Christianity which has done justice to the relation between man and nature. . . 7· 2. . an equilibrium from which the development of the past few centuries has drawn away with ever greater speed until today the disequilibrium and lack of harmony between man and nature threatens to destroy them both together.d Historical Causes synthesis. For the most part the theological response has been a weak echo that has often adopted discarded ideas of science itself and sometimes. NOTES TO CHAPTER II I. Whereas science in English should logically mean the scientia of Latin or Wissenschafi of German it has come to acquire a very restricted meaning in most quarters leaving the English language without a general terrn cor/ responding to Wisseruchafi. . Thus we must turn to a discussion of metaphysics and the tradition of the spiritual study of nature within Christianity.' Raven. until recently. Natural Religion and Christian Theology. . as in the case of Teilhard de Chardin. I. that has at last led to the present crisis in the encounter between man and nature. . 'Historians of science have. has sought a synthesis which is metaphysically an absurdity and theologically a heresyY It is this long. Only in this way can an equilibrium be created.~ 75 ~ . they have written as if the only events of importance in the previous period were those which directly anticipated and promoted the current orthodoxy of their own day. p. Recently in certain circles the full meaning of 'science' has been re-instated but this more universal meaning is / / far from being widely accepted or employed. or scientia.

Mason. &ason and EmJJtion. FourultJtions ofScientific Thought. 1956. London. Baillie. 4. London. ' ••• a half truth which tends to safeguard the transcendence of God at the expense of the metaphysical intelligibility of the world is less erroneous than a half-truth which tends to safeguard the divine nature of the world at the expense of the intelligibility of God. 1931. Bavink. Theology ofthe Early Greelc Philosophers. Smethurst. Referring to the debate and dialogue between the ChriStian and the Hellenist Schuon writes. this approach has not been widespread. New York.t on the Ancient Worlds. 1947• 6. Also G. 1959. Introduction to th. Comford. where the author writes that except for a few Teutons. J. It is also of interest to note that after Aristode himself his school turned mosdy from a study of the organic aspect of nature. Some take into consideration positive relations and others the reactions between the two. Oxford. See particularly p. 1958. 576.. Chicago. 10. DiSantillana. 9· See B. Main Currentl of Scientific Thought. in the past few years. p. See for example. See Comford.. to an interest in mechanics and simple machines as seen in the pseudo-Aristotelian Mechanics. 1935. But nevertheless it cannot be denied that the scientific achievements of the Stoics. Christianity has neglected the study of nature outside of the human being. as witnessed in the biological works of Aristotle and the botany of Theophrastus. Mot/ern Sciuu:e and Christian Befref. New York. F. 1951. p. . the German mystics and Luther. 'The Natural Sciences' in. 6+ 8. J. 7· See F.Man and Nature l· Fortunately. Sambursky in Pleysics oftlae Stoics. Natural Science and the Spiritual Lifo. 1961. New York.e Scientific Philosophy of TodDy.One hardly need re-assert how many modem scholars insist on the close nexus between science and Christian thought. Epicureans and similar late schools that were disseminated in the Roman Empire hardly compare with that of Aristotle or the school of Alexandria in general. Schuon. and S. St Francis of Assisi. Principium sapientiae. Of course Stoicism has had much importance during the Renaissance and the seventeenth century as a weapon against Aristotelianism and has contributed much to the rise of seventeenth-century physics as shown by S. 1951. MacMurray. Jaeger. and W. From Religion to PIU/osophy. some historians of science have turned their attention to the study of ancient and medieval science as related to the total world view of the cultures of these ages rather than as simply historical preludes to modem science. 5· See F. Due to the lack of metaphysical knowledge and disregard for the science of symbolism. Cambridge. 6o. Light on the Ancient Worlds. New York.' Ligh.

Cambridge (U. The so important as an integrating principle of the arts and the sciences ves.S. On this question see T. 1968. von Simpson. See symbol of the spiritual genius of Burckhardt. . 'Notes sur l'alchimie. Chartres und die Gehurt der g. Burckhardt.).1~19. Die Alch. vol. Nasr. It is not accidental that the walls of European cities began to my destroyed the idea of the about the same time that heliocentric astrono Universe.. 16. Burckhardt. e. Spiritual 14. Cambri out of the 13.S. An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological dge (U. chooses a certain number which it many forms of the world transparent moulds and transmutes so as to make of them an intelligible and the religious tradition in question. Probst-Biraben.ic Kat1iedrale. and in the context gique'. of Islam. Les Mystere s des templiers. come trivium and quadrivium. 1948. be broken 15. "'Nature de !a perspective cosmologique'. 1947. 49. in Yoga. religion' of the Greeks see J. Alchemical Tradition' in Science and Civilir_ation in Islam.re von Harmonike der Welt.ree Muslim and Sufi dimension within Cosmological Sages. also T. 1. 1964. Islam et le Graal. P. de Ia perspective cosmolo12. See H.A.A.retienne.e Intellectual and Historical Causes 'cosmic On the struggle between early Christian theology and the e ch. Burckhardt.A.emie. Pepin.e Goth. Nasr. Lausanne and Freibur vered for die Leh. pp. 'Nature pp. S. 1947. 'The Cambridge (U. 1964. Aniane. Etudes Traditionnelles. especially the introduction. Nice. See the Appendix of E. Keyser in many studies such as Akroasi s. saves and 11. also T. TMologie cosmique et tMologi Paris. H. New York. and 73. Osten. de Ia chre17. SeeM. As far as the relation between the sciences. See 'Aesthetics and Symbolism in Art and Nature' in F. Sinn wui Welthild. philosophy and Islam is concerned seeS. H. Stuttgart. world as cosmos or 'order' and removed the finite boundary of the Cathedral.omme integral. 243tiente medievale'. 1964. Th. has re-disco al science of harmony which is the modern world this forgotten tradition . Traditional cosmology is very much like sacred art which. Perspectives and Human Facts. 196o.S. Paris. also 18. An Introduction to Islamic tion in Islam.). 24 ff.). Nasr. Levy in 0. Doctrines. H. of multiplicity. the medieval arts and sciences themsel from the Pythagorean seven-fold division of the musical scale. 1961. Schuon pp. 1956. "yoga" cosmologique Paris. H. science de l'h.Th. Ponsoy the gnostic 19. 1953. 1957. S. By gnosis of course we mean that unitive knowledge which gnosticism which was banned illumines and is inseparable from love and not as a heresy by the Christian councils. Th. Doctrines and Science and Civili{a 77 .

See Three Muslim Sagu. 72. Aperfu sur l'isotlrisme chritien. 28-31. See R. pp.Man and Nature 20. Nasr. 1954.XV/e siecle. 25. instead of helping the human mind to go beyond itself and to consider things in terms of the immensity of the cosmos. it only encouraged a materialistic Prometheanism 78 . 26. III. 30. Pagel and in recent years A. Avicenna and the Visionary Recital. p. 1. IV. E. produced no new spiritual vision of the world. 156 ff. Its rediscovery by Copernicus. 28. The heliocentric system has no common measure with the subjective experiences of the people. 185~1. Paris. 24. Debus and F. Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought. 'In the Wake of the Fall'. in Leonard de Vinci et !'experience scientifique du. See. 1953· 33· 'The heliocentric system itself admits of an obvious symbolism. Corbin. Burckhardt 'Cosmology and Modern Science'. 27. also S. Light on the Ancient Worlds. Three Afuslim Sages. The Unity of Philosophical Experience. Already a century before Copernicus Nicolas of Cusa in his De docta ignorantia referred to the earth as a star and believed in an unbounded Universe to whose metaphysical and esoteric significance he pointed more than once. Chapter II. Yates have studied and made known the immense influence of the Paracelsian and alchemical tradition of the Renaissan·ce in seventeenthcentury sciences. Chapter 29.See R.' Raven. 'Copernic et Nicolas de Cuse'. Summer 1964. Only a small number of scholars such as W. cit. London. Chapter I. pp.. See H. History of Religions. Corbin. since it identifies the source oflight with the centre of the world. See T. pp. Schuon. 22. 183-4. however. H. 31. For the analysis of this aspect of the question as far as Hermeticism is concerned see M. Paris. An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. op. Eliade. PP· 62 ff. p. during the century in which medieval Christendom rose to its splendid zenith. pp. 23. Guerwn. 1938. pp. in it man had no organic place. Williams. See G. vol. made inevitable the upheavals and revolts of the Renaissance and Reformation. Klibansky. no. section II. See F. 101 ff. 'That neither Fransiscans nor Dominicans succeeded in establishing a serious regard for the study of nature within the Church. rather was it comparable to the dangerous popularization of an esoteric truth. Gilson. 21. Science and Religion. 'The Quest for the "Origin" of Religion'.

39· 'At the time of the Revolution of the late eighteenth century. Rosenberg. 37· See H. 7· 42. The Darkening Glass.A. Perhaps some people will reproach us with lack of reticence. with the discovery of the terrestrial world and the exploitation of its riches. The Great Chains of Being. 'With Voltaire.. M. 1961. 'Cosmology and Modern Science'. Swedenborg-Il. New York. ibid. Lovejoy. Language of the Self (trans. Koyre. On the chain of being and its relation to the theory of evolution see. 30. Zlirich._emingly infinite multitude of things on earth called for an infinity of activities. a Portrait ofRuskin's Genius. p.' J. From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe. (U. 184-5. . 36. 40. Teilhardism. the useful or the useless. all feeling for the absolute and for principles is drowned in a commonplace empiricism.' Schuon. the "Supreme Being" was merely a "consolation" and as such a target for ridicule. New York. and believed that what he saw was divine. Rousseau and Kant bourgeois unintelligence erects itself into a "doctrine" and becomes definitely entrenched in European "thought". Hermeneutique spirituelle comparee (!. the s<. Ibid. to positivist science. Gilson. Light on the Ancient Worlds. industry and quantitative "culture". there was no longer anything but the agreeable or the disagreeable. Pallis and D. Corbin. pp. M. Chapter V.The Intellectual and Historical Causes which. r. on to which is grafted a pseudo-mysticism with "positivistic" or "humanistic" tendencies.S. far from being superhuman.' F. Madras. Gilson. the earth had become definitely and exclusively the goal of man. 4r. p. Henceforward the mental hypertrophy of the "cultured" man ekes out the absence of intellectual penetration. whence the anarchic and irresponsible development of the experimental sciences. G!Wse ismaelienne). and 79 .' Burckhardt. 8.. rid of metaphysical transparence. ended by becoming inhuman. 1959.. is comparable to one of those cracks that are due to the very solidification of the mental carapace.. which furnished a pretext for rejecting contemplation . through the French Revolution. Era!Ws Jahrbuch. 34· See A. giving birth. 35· See E. Matheson). 1933· 43· 'As a symptom of our time. but we would like to ask where is the reticence of the philosophers who shamelessly slash at the wisdom of countless centuries. 0. 'Ruskin looked at the material universe with preternatural vivacity and clarity. 1965. Schuon. The Unity of Philosophical Experience. Cambridge. 4-5. nt. 1958. on the hither side of transcendence. 38. p. pp. 127. p. he was at last rid of symbols. man was at last free to busy himself.).

Tomorrow.' Burckhardt. 8o . towards the heaven of true and transcen dent unity. 315. p.Man ana Nature which do not open upwards. the materialist mind lets itself slide toward a pseudo-spiritual intoxication. but downward towards the reaim of the inferior psychisrn: weary of its own discontinuous vision of the world. of which this falsified and materialized faith-<l r this sublimated materia lism-tha t we have just described marks a phase of particular significance. Autumn. 'Cosmol ogy and Modem Science'. 1!}64.

the ·relative. of the Absolute and. It is now time to define what we mean by this all important form of knowledge. Moreover. It is only in its light that man can distinguish between levels of reality and states of being and be able to see each thing in its place in the total scheme of things.. and therefore can only be achieved within the cadre of a revealed tradition. of the origin and end of things. which in a certain light is the same as gnosis. This supreme science of the Real. Metaphysical intuition can occur anywhere-for the 'spirit bloweth where it listeth' -but the effective realization of metaphysical truth and its application to human life can only be achieved within a revealed tradition which gives efficacy to certain symbols aQd rites upon which metaphysics must rely for its realization. Chapter 3 Some Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature We have so far often mentioned metaphysics. it is a theoria of reality whose realization means sanctity and spiritual perfection. but one which can only be attained through intellectual intuition and not simply through ratiocination.' l 1'. which in fact is one and should be named metaphysic in the singular. as the esoteric dimension. is the only science that can distinguish between the Absolute and the relative. whose disappearance is most directly responsible for our modern predicament. is the science of the Real. It thus differs from philosophy as it.js usually understood. within every orthodox and integral tradition and is 81 . 1 Rather. Metaphysics. It is a science as strict and exact as mathematics and with the same clarity and certitude. in its light. this science exists.'w. appearance and reality.

Likewise in Christianity one finds metaphysics in the writings of some of the early founders of Christian theology like Clement and Origen. In the traditions of the East. for the most part. metaphysics has been continuously alive to this day. tied to a philosophy that is at once perennial and universal. Irenaeus. In Western philosophy. however. nothing but an extension of rationalistic philosophy and at best a pale reflection of true metaphysics. especially since the end of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. however. In all these cases metaphysics is the doctrinal exposition that was the fruit of a living spiritual way. In the West there has also been true metaphysics of the highest order.Man and Nature united with a spiritual method derived totally from the sources of the tradition in question. . since Aristotle the unfortunate practice of considering metaphysics as a branch of philosophy came into being so that with the appearance of philosophical doubt metaphysics has also been discredited. and especially in Plotinus. What is usually called metaphysics in post-medieval philosophy is. contains metaphysics which. is much more hidden and indirect. The so-called metaphysics that philosophers like Heidegger have criticized and consider as having come to an end is not the metaphysical doctrine we have in mind. Among Orthodox writers there is an even more open and complete metaphysical exposition than that which is found among Latin authors. and despite differences of foundation there is a unity of doctrine which justifies the use of the term 'Oriental Metaphysics? although metaphysics knows no Orient or Occident. domain. Dante and Eckhart and again in Jacob Bohme. Metaphysics. These two factors combined to make of metaphysics and gnosis a peripheral aspect of the intellectual life of Western man. knows no beginning or end. But even the official theology of the Latin church. the rationalism of later Greek philosophy fortified the tendency within official Christian theology to emphasize will and love rather than intelligence and sapiential knowledge. especially the Augustinian school. in Erigena. In this . 8l. Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzen. among the Greeks in the Pythagorean-Platonic writings.

But this void is not non-being in the negative sense. That is why in the art of the Far East. but the Non-Being which transcends even Being and is dark only because of an excess of light. it is to these Oriental traditions that one must turn in order to rediscover the metaphysical significance of nature and to revive the metaphysical tradition within Christianity. and are a means of communion with transcendental reality. is to be found in Japan. and by the fact that this knowledge has been nearly forgotten in the West while it has continued to survive in the traditions of the East. paintings of natural scenes are veritable icons. They do not just evoke a sentimental pleasure in the onlooker but convey grace. In Taoism there is always the awareness of the presence of the transcendent dimension symbolized by the void so dominant in landscape paintings. It is like the divine darkness to which Dionysius the Areopagite refers. Turning first to the Far East we see in the Chinese tradition. So we read in the sacred text of Taoism. If the East is learning by compulsion and necessity the Western techniques of domination over nature. That is why this Non-Being or Void is also the principle of Being. especially in Taoism and also in Neo-Confucianism. a devotion to nature and a comprehension of its metaphysical significance that is of the greatest importance. the Tao Te-C!Ung: 83 .Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature is the heart of the ph. or the wilderness of Godhead (die wiisste Gottheit) of Meister Eckhart. and through Being the principle of all things. it is from Oriental metaphysics that one must learn how to prevent this domination from becoming sheer self-annihilation. Shintoism has strongly fortified this attitude.ilosoph.ia perennis to which Leibnitz referred. together with a strong sense of symbolism and an awareness of the lucidity of the cosmos and its transp7irency before metaphysical realities. This same reverential attitude toward nature. especially in the Taoist and Zen traditions. In as much as the loss of metaphysical knowledge is responsible for the loss of harmony between man and nature and of the role of the sciences of nature in the total scheme of knowledge.

From this things could then be produced (receiving) what we call their proper character. ·\ 'In the Grand Beginning (of all things) there was riothing in all the vacancy of space.' 3 In this simple assertion is contained the principle of all metaphysics. and when that has been fully reached. and each had its peculiar manifestations. there was nothing that could be named.' 4 In as much as Heaven.'5 Heaven is thus a reflection of the Supreme Principle and the Earth the reflection of heaven. The Earth of Taoism is not profane nature that stands as gravity opposed to grace. It was in this state that there arose the first existence. again in its metaphysical significance. which we call the bodily shape. That shape was the body preserving in it the spirit. there were produced the distinguishing lines of each. (The two processes) continuing in operation. there is the same condition as at the beginning. That which had no bodily shape was divided.Man anJ Nature 'All things under Heaven are products of Being. and then without intermission there was what we call the process of conferring. it returns to its proper character. and the Tao comes into being by itself. things were produced. and in its characteristic Chinese usage. in a 84 .-the first existence. man must live in this world with a full awareness of the hierarchy. but still without bodily shape. the ways of earth by those of heaven. symbolized by the Void or Non-Being that is unbound and limitless. but Being itself is the product of Not-Being. Likewise Chuang-Tzu affirms the same principle somewhat more elaborately when he writes: . When the Nature has been cultivated. For as the Tao-Te Ching asserts: 'The ways of men are conditioned by those of earth. the ways of heaven by those of the Tao. As things were completed. in the metaphysical sense. in pointing to the hierarchic structure of reality and the dependence of all that is relative upon the Absolute and the Infinite. which we call its Nat_ure. comes from the Origin and Earth. but it is an image of a divine prototype whose contemplation leads upward toward that reality for which 'heaven' is the traditional expression. For this reason also the world can be known. from Heaven.

It is of cardinal importance that the Tao is both the Principle. is what is of man. When one has found the Mother. to the end of his days he shall suffer no harm. is everywhere present. It is in fact the order of nature 7 if we remember all that Taoism means by nature. the Tao which pervades all things and also transcends all things. The aim of the sage is to be in harmony with nature for through this harmony comes harmony with men and this harmony is itself the reflection of harmony with heaven. one can know the Child. For as Chuang-Tzu says. 9 Nature. That oxen and horses should have four feet is what is of Nature. the Principle that is also the order and harmony of all things. That a halter should be put on a horse's head. Tao. stands as opposed to the trivialities of human artefacts and the artificiality with which man surrounds himself. one must live in harmony with Heaven.. through its Cause and Principle.' 6 That science is safe and without harm which realizes the manifestation without losing sight of the Principle. but in a metaphysical sense. 'The Tao does not exhaust itself in what is greatest.. 'The World has a First Cause. so that to become natural means to abide fully by the Tao which is at once both transcendent and the principle of nature. in everything that is great or small. as the direct effect of the Tao and its laws. which may be regarded as the Mother of the World. nor is it ever absent from what is least. Knowing the Child and still keeping the Mother. 'what is of Nature is internal.' 10 That is why the aim of the spiritual man is to contemplate nature and become one with it. This is not intended in a pantheistic or naturalistic sense. to become 'natural'. or a string through an ox's nose.I Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature metaphysical and not empirical sense.' 8 To live in peace and harmony with nature or the Earth. 'Anyone who sees clearly the ss . Chuang Tzu writes. and therefore it is to be found complete and diffused in all things. What is of man is external . the way to attain the Principle and also the order of things. and in order to attain this end one must live according to the Tao and in conformity with it.

I venture to ask you what is the essential thing in it." he said. lust or other ulterior motives. and the light of the sun and moon would hasten to extinction. when he heard that Kwang Khang-Tze [a Taoist sage] was living on the summit of Khung-Thung . and went to see him. Sir.U Man should accept and follow the nature of things and not seek to disturb nature by artificial means. and his ordinances were in operation all through the kingdom. or. in other words.Man arul Nature excellence of all nature may be called God's Trunk or God's Stock. because he is in harmony with nature. are well acquainted with the perfect Tao. How shall I proceed to accomplish those objects?" Kwang Khang-Tze replied. According to your government of the world. There is no anthropomorphism connected with man's relation with nature. so as to secure the comfort of all living beings. "that you. There is in fact in Taoism an opposition to the application of the sciences of nature for the purely material welfare of man ~ seen in the well-known story recorded in the works of Chuang-Tzu: 'Hwan g-Ti had been on the throne for nineteen years. what you wish to have the direction ofis that substance as it was shattered and divided.' 11 To be happy with nature means precisely to accept its norms and its rhythms rather than to seek to dominate and overcome it. without self-interest and attachment. according to nature which acts freely and without greed. the herbs and trees would shed their leaves before they become yellow. I wish to take the subtlest influences of heaven and earth. and assist with them the (growth of the) five cereals for the (b~tter) nourishment of the people. Nature should not be judged according to human utility nor earthly man made the measure of all things. would descend in rain. the vapours of the clouds. "I have heard. Anyone who brings the world into accord is in harmony with his fellow men and happy with men. I also wish to direct the (operation of the) Yin and Yang. Your mind is that of a 86 . "What you wish to ask about is the original substance of all things. Whoever is in harmony with nature is happy with nature. 13 Perfect action is to act without acting. before they were collected.

forms and colours.-it is not fit that I should tell you the perfect Tao. 1 ~ and that the polarization of Heaven and Earth and the religious significance of nature persisted as long as the Chinese tradition remained strong. the Hsii.rise. Spiritual methods became closely allied to the inward contemplation of nature and intimacy with its rhythms and forms. It must.Metaphysical Prineiplu Pertaining to Nature flatterer with his plausible words. developed physics. which like post-Cop~rnican astronomy was based on an unlimited conception of space and time and was even used by proponents of the Copernican system in Europe against Ptolemaic astronomy. be remembered that most of the early alchemists. The Chinese even developed an astronomical system. But in China this 'open cosmos' was again~wedded to a metaphysical explanation and never allowed to destroy the harmony between man and nature that is so central to the Far Eastern traditions. from rock gardens and landscape paintings to flower arrangements. there is a particular emphasis upon the significance of nature in a cultic sense. the symbolism of directions. 16 Among a people with remarkable artistic sensitivity there developed the most intimate contact with nature. In Japan."' 14 It must be remembered that this same Chinese civilization in which such a contemplative view of nature was cultivated. and also Buddhism. all based on the knowledge of cosmic correspondences. like all branches of the Shamanic tradition. geologists and pharmacologists in China were Taoists. The metaphysical significance of nature as expounded in Taoism. mathematics. moreover.an yeh. likev. remained as a balance which preserved the hierarchy of knowledge and prevented nature from becoming profane. sacred geography. 87 . we find the Taoist and also Buddhist conceptions of nature coming from China integrated with the local Shinto religion in which again. while even contributing to the development of sciences of nature. and where there was even opposition to the application of the sciences of nature. astronomy and natural history and furthermore has been known throughout history for its technological prowess and genius.

whether one surrounds oneself with sacred art or the worst trash produced by the machine. which is its negative aspect. the traditions of the Far East in their metaphysics. especially as prevalent among modern pseudo-Vedantins. like all Oriental doctrines. only the Absolute itself is Real in the absolute sense. It is maya pure and simple. But maya is not only illusion. When we turn to the Hindu tradition. science and art have a cardinal message for the modern world in which the encounter of man and nature is almost always on the basis of war and rarely of the peace which is so avidly sought after and so rarely found. But this view is itself the worst possible delusion. the world being considered not as absolute reality but as a veil that hides the Supreme Self. Although the cosmos is a prison for the sage it is also possible to transcend this prison through a knowledge of its struct. For one living in maya the relative reality in which he finds himself is at least as real as his own empirical self. be an aid in his gaining deliverance. the Absolute Reality. What Hinduism asserts. is the need to gain deliverance from the cosmos which is maya. the Universe is unreal. but also the divine play or artP It veils the Supreme Self. our attention usually turns to the Vedantic doctrine of Atman and maya. In their special devotion to nature as a means of grace and spiritual sustenance. it matters little whether one lives in virgin nature or the ugliest urban environment. usually translated as illusion. A simplistic interpretation of such a view. and can moreover. would conclude that the world being maya.Jre and even with its aid. When we think about the Hindu tradition. some of which in fact influenced Western science through Islam. That is why Hinduism as 88 . From the point of view of Atman or Brahman. there also we find an elaborate metaphysical doctrine concerning nature along with the development of many sciences in the bosom of Hinduism. but also reveals and displays it.Man and Nature ·The avid quest after things Japanese in the West in recent years is in many cases the sign of a hidden nostalgia to find peace with nature again and to escape the ugliness of the ambiance created by modern technology.

To which objection the answer is given.Vaise~ika system above the six padiirthas stands ISvara. space. or ultimately these six categories. as words cannot accomplish anything besides the denoting of the vernal meanings'. attribute or quality.Sefilca. action.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining co Nature an integral tradition has developed elaborate cosmological and natural sciences and even spiritual techniques tied intimately to the use of the energy within nature. are connected to the total matrix both of Hinduism and in certain cases Buddhism and to the metaphysical principles dominating the whole tradition. as well as the properly religious and spiritual ones. for it must be remembered that in the Nyaya. ether. it is said. the Padarthadharmasangraha. individuality and inherence. 'A treatise that deals with the properties of things can never lead to the highest bliss. none is as analytical and attached to the corporeal world as the Vaise~ilca. who is the cause of the world. fire. mind and spirit. time.20 In fact at the beginning of one of the main treatises of this school. has as its end the deliverance of the soul from the atomistic world to which it is attracted by false knowledge. as in Buddhism. A system as analytic and as closely concerned with natural things as the Vai. the Personal Deity. 19 But in Hinduism. 18 Among the six darsluinas or intellectual schools of Hinduism. a knowledge that can only be attained through inner purity and with the help of dharma or grace. beginning with the five elements or hhutas from which bodies are formed. generality. mathematical and alchemical. It seems on the surface a system most akin to the atomistic and mechanistic physics that developed in the West in late Antiquity and again in the seventeenth century and which was usually anti-religious in its sentiment. there developed an atomism combined with a spiritual view of the Universe. physical. air. every science. This school is concerned with the physical world and holds a thoroughly atomistic view. Yet. is correct knowledge (tattvajiiafma). 'A knowledge of the true nature of the six categories- 89 . The Vaise~ika system is based on the knowledge of the six categories or padiirthas which are: substance. water. Substance itself is nine kinds: earth. Knowledge of the physical world.

Man. namely deliverance from all limitation. is the only royal road to the attainment of self-realization. as is clearly asserted at the beginning of the Saqz/chya Karikii. 23 The three kinds of pain. can only be overcome by an analytical knowledge of the three principles of this school. It seems as if Hinduism like so many other traditions had felt intuitively that the only safe way to penetrate the mysteries of nature and to cultivate physics. namely. generality. manifested matter that is in a state of flux (vyakti) and finally the Spirit that neither begets nor is begotten (Purufa).lchya. KaQiida. 'He [Kai)iida] had accomplished the knowledge of the principles (tattvas). the Sa. dispassion and lordliness. it has been said. Another of the darshanas. This is not anthropomorphism at all. quality. and that that would be easily accomplished by the disciples through the dharma (merit or worth) of renunciation. He thought within himself that the knowledge of the principles of the six padarthas (predicables). is to become saintly and to seek the saintly life. . in the universal sense of this term. which are the natural and intrinsic such as diseases. likewise begins with the problem of the threefold pain present in the soul and the means to remove this pain. by means of their resemblances and differences. the prime substance or nature (Prakriti). action. 21 Knowledge of the external world is ultimately knowledge of oneself and even an analytical cosmological and natural science is not divorced from man's entelechy in the highest sense.m Thus the knowledge of nature is inextricably bound to moral and spiritual laws and the purity of the seeker after this knowledge. Concerning the traditional founder of the Vaisefilca system. which contains one of the most elaborate cosmologies and natural philosophies in any tradition.. and Nature I substance. the natural and extrinsic such as any pain caused by an external source and finally divine or supernatural pain caused by spiritual factors. individuality and inherence-through their similarities and dissimilarities-is the means of accomplishing the highest bliss'. On the contrary it is the only form of knowledge through which man can escape the limitations of his own ego.

that is. Purufa.25 Furthermore. corporeal elements. nature itself aids in this separation and withdraws from the scene. there is the more detailed division into the tattvas. Also from Ahankara there come into being the eleven senses consisting of the five organs of sense. 26 Moreover. Siif{lkhya itself meaning etymologically discrimination. Through the action of the gWJas which are present at all levels of cosmic reality.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature The Saf{lkhya system seeks to remove the pain and misery of the soul through discriminative knowledge. Above this whole domain stands Puru~a and the object of all sciences of nature is precisely for the soul to disentangle itself from the sense perceptions with which by mistake it identifies itself through the action of manas and ahanlcara. 24 It begins with Prakriti. that which produces and is produced such as the intellect or Buddhi. From the subtle elements are produced the gross elements (mahabuta). For as we read in the Saf{lkhya91 . first the Buddhi or the intellect is generated and from BuJdhi the principle of Egoism or Ahankara. rajas and tamas. The Universe itself which comes into being from the bosom of Prakriti or Nature is formed in such a way as to enable man to contemplate it in the metaphysical sense and thereby also achieve from it its separation or catharsis. the whole cosmic domain is brought into being. There is first of all the four-fold division of things into the productive which is Prakriti. or goodness. that which is only produced such as the senses and the elements and finally that which neither produces nor is produced. passion and obscurity or the upward. the five organs of action and the receptive and discriminative faculty (manas). the Universal Spirit which stands above and distinct from Prakriti and all its products. namely satwa. expansive and downward tendencies. once the spirit gains knowledge of nature. There are twenty-five tattvas or principles whose knowledge forms the basis of the Saf{lkhya system. the maternal prime substance of the Universe or nature in its vastest sense from which through the action of the three cosmic tendencies or gu!}as. From Ahanlcara there proceeds in turn the five subtle elements (tanmatra) which are the principles of the gross.

completely integrated within the structure of the tradition.trines closely resembling those of the Western Hermeticists who also died in the maternal principle in order to be reborn in the spirit and sought the 'glorious body' as the Tantric Yogis sought the 'body of diamond' (vajraya. so does nature (Prakriti) cease (to produce) when she has made herself manifest to the soul. the Yogi finds his deliverance.19 The Universe is the 'body of the Lord' 30 and by dying and burying himself in its bosom.18 In fact. ceases to dance. and through the use of this very power. The death and resurrection of the Yogi is very much like the salve et coagula of medieval Christian alchemists and in fact Tantrism became connected to alchemy in India and presents do<. Indian civilization also developed a great many sciences which were .Man and Nature Karilca: 'As a dancer having exhibited herself on the stage.). the Yogi seeks to pass beyond nature and the ocean of cosmic manifestation. Because of its close parallel with the Christian alchemical tradition it is a most effective means of recollecting ideas and doctrines which in the West have been long lost and forgotten. This theme of relying upon nature in the task of spiritual realization is carried to its full conclusion ih t~e practices connected with Tantra Yoga. as if riding upon the waves of the sea. in the arms of nature as the Divine Mother.m Thus in the Samlchya system as in the V aise#lca the knowledge of nature leads to the catharsis of the soul and its deliverance.dhana. the spinal column itself being called the Meru of the human body. Nature itself is an aid in this process of realization and assists that spirit which is armed with discriminative knowledge. the body and flesh of man and the living cosmos are the most fundamental elements. consisting of the six sciences of phonetics (silcsa. In Tantrism the Salcti or feminine principle becomes the incarnation of all force and power in the Universe. 92 . In Tantrism there is an elaborate correspondence between man and the cosmos. Moreover.na). in the Tantric way or sa. The Vedangas. Tantrism in its connection with alchemy presents a most profound symbolic interpretation of nature closely associated with a spiritual way.

. as in many other domains. Again these sciences are considered as an application of the principles contained in the Vedas to particular domains. Furthermore . the ummah wasa.• J . in both a geographical and metaphysical sense. In this.. military science (Dhanur-veda). No science was ever cultivated outside the intellectual world of the tradition nor was nature ever profaned and made the subject of a purely secular study. metrics (chandas) and astronomy (jyoti~a) came into being at the end of the Brahrpana period as inspired sciences (smrti) as commentaries and complements of the divinely revealed Vedas (Iruti)Y Vedanga itself means literally 'limb of Veda' and implies that these sciences are an extension of the main body of the tradition contained in the Vedas. etymology (nirulcta). music (Gandharva-veda) and physics and mechanics (Sthapatya-veda). 32 Even elements taken from Babylonian. For this reason the intellectual structure of Islam and its cosmological doctrines and sciences of nature can be of the greates! aid in 34 awakening certain dormant possibilities within Christianity.tah to which the Quran refers.. or the number zero first used in Indian arithmetic and the metaphysical doctrine of the void (shunya).. Islam is the 'middle people'.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature ritual (lcalpa). Greek or Iranian sources were integrated into this traditional structure. algebra (bija-ganita) and geometry (relcha-ganita) which influenced Muslim and Western science so greatly were closely tied to the metaphysical principles ofHinduism and also Buddhism as we see in the relation between the indefinite of algebra and the metaphysical Infinite. the sciences of arithmetic (vyalca-ganita). 33 There was thus at every level an intricate and inextricable bond between the sciences and the metaphysical principles of the tradition. 93 i r.za). When we turn to Islam we find a religious tradition more akin to Christianity in its theological formulations yet possessing in its heart a gnosis or sapientia similar to the metaphysical doctrines of other Oriental traditions. Below these sciences stands Upaveda (secondary Veda) consisting of medicine (Ayur-veda). grammar (vyalcarat.

is to be found in the Quran itself. there has been throughout Islamic history an intimate connection between gnosis.the most part on the side of the gnostic and mystical element of the tradition while logic and rationalistic thought usually remained aloof from the actual observation of nature. As such it is both the source of the revelation which is the basis of religion and that macrocosmic revelation which is the 94 .Man arul Nature One finds in Islam art elaborate hierarchy of knowledge integrated by the principle of unity (a!. and there are gnostic and metaphysical ones alJ derived in their principles from the source of the revelation which is the Quran. namely a wedding of rationalism and empiricism which however was now totally divorced from the one experiment that was central for the men of old. There are juridical. and also between the sciences of nature and religion. social and theological sciences. elaborate philosophical. On each level of knowledge nature is seen in a particular light.tawbid) which runs as an axis through every mode of knowledge and also of being. and the study of nature as we also find it in Chinese Taoism. or the metaphysical dimension of the tradition. the Divine Book which is the Logos or the Word of God. namely experiment with oneself through a spiritual discipline. So many of the Muslim scientists like Avicenna. For the jurists and theologians (mutakallimiin) it is the background for human action. For the philosopher and scientist it is a domain to be analyzed and understood. Qutb al-Din Shirazi and Baha' al-Din 'Amili were either practising Sufis or were intellectually attached to the illuminationist-gnostic schools. 35 Moreover. On the metaphysical and gnostic level it is the object of contemplation and the mirror reflecting suprasensible realities. In Islam as in China observation of nature and even experimentation stood for. 36 In Islam the inseparable link between man and nature. There never occurred the alignment found in seventeenth-century science. Then there have developed within Islamic civilization. natural and mathematical sciences which became integrated into the Islamic view and were totally Muslimized.

however. 39 95 . Islam has preserved an integral view of the Universe and sees in the arteries of the cosmic and natural order the flow of divine grace or barakah. Man seeks the transcendent and the supernatural. Left only with the external meaning oT the Holy Scripture later Christian theologians could find no other refuge than a fundamentalism whose pathetic flight before nineteenth century science is still fresh in the memory. The search for the roots of knowledge in the esoteric meaning of a sacred text is also found in Philo and certain medieval Christian authors such as Hugo of St Victor and Joachim of Flora. that comes to an end in the West with the obliteration of metaphysical doctrines leaving the sacred text opaque and unable to answer the questions posed by the natural sciences. but not against the background of a profane nature that is opposed to grace and the supernatural. in penetrating from the outward (tahir) to the inward (barin) meaning of the Quran. a process which is the very opposite of the higher criticism of today. Yet the intimate knowledge of nature depends upon the knowledge of the inner meaning of the sacred rext or hermeneutic interpretation (ta'wil). 37 Revelation to men is inseparable from the cosmic revelation which is also a book of God.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature Universe. not as an independent domain of reality but as a mirror reflecting a higher reality. By refusing to separate man and nature completely. From the bosom of nature man seeks to transcend nature and nature herself can be an aid in this process provided man can learn to contemplate it. 3 B The key to the inner meaning of things lies in ta'wil. a vast panorama of symbols which speak to man and have meaning for him. It is both the recorded Quran (al-Qur'an al-tadwini) and the 'Quran of creation' (al-Qur'an al-takwini) which contains the "ideas" or archetypes of all things. That is why the term used to signify the verses of the Quran or riyah also means events occurring within the souls of men and phenomena in the world of nature. Outside the mainstream of Christian orthodoxy it is found after the Renaissance in such writers as Swedenborg. It is precisely this tradition.

It explains why. he can surpass his state before the fall to become the Universal Man. the inner state of man is reflected in the external order. Because of the intimate connection between man and nature. Therefore. By being taught the names of all things he gains domination over them. but by virtue of finding himself as the central being in a Universe which he can know completely.Man and Nature The purpose of man's appearance in this world is. In fact man is the channel of grace for nature. to become the Universal Man (al-insan al-kamil). if he takes advantage of the opportunity life has afforded him. nature would become deprived of the light that illuminates it and the air which keeps it alive. but he is given this power only because he is the vicegerent (khalifah) of God on earth and the instrument of His Will. when man's inner being has turned to darkness and chaos. Men who live only on the surface of their being can study nature as something to be manipulated 96 . the Primordial Man (al-insan al-qadim). The purpose and aim of creation is in fact for God to come 'to know' Himself through His perfect instrument of knowledge that is the Universal Man. nature is also turned from harmony and beauty to disequilibrium and disorder. Man is given the right to dominate over nature only by virtue of his theomorphic make-up. H Man sees in nature what he is himself and penetrates into the inner meaning of nature only on the condition of being able to delve into the inner depths of his own being and to cease to lie merely on the periphery of his being. with the help of the cosmos he can leave it with more than he had before his fall. after his fall he lost this_ state. not as a rebel against heaven. through his active participation in the spiritual world he casts light into the world of nature. 41 Were there to be no more contemplatives and saints. Man therefore occupies a particular position in this world. according to Islam. the mirror reflecting all the Divine Names and Qualities. 40 Before his fall man was in the Edenic state. He is at the axis and centre of the cosmic milieu at once the master and custodian of nature. in order to gain total knowledge of things. He is the mouth through which nature breathes and lives.

the reviver of Peripatetic philosophy. The most basic reason is that neither in Islam. -Neither the 'Oriental bureaucratism' ofNeedhamH nor any other social and economic explanation suffices to explain why the scientific revolution as seen in the West did not develop elsewhere. because of this very conception of man and nature.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature and dominated. His student Quth al-Din Shirazi could be the first person to explain correctly the cause of the rainbow and write the most celebrated commentary upon the Theosophy ofthe Orient ofLight (Hikmat al-ishra9) of Suhrawardi. In Islam. The examples could be multiplied but these suffice to demonstrate the principle of the hierarchy of knowledge and the presence of a metaphysical dimension within Islam which satisfied the intellectual needs of men so that they never sought the satisfaction of their thirst for causality outside the religion as was to happen in the West during the Renaissance. A man like A vicenna could be a physician and Peripatetic philosopher and yet expound his 'Oriental philosophy' which sought knowledge through illuminationY A Na~ir al-Din Tusi could be the leading mathematician and astronomer of his day. In fact it might be said that the main reason why modern science never arose in China or Islam is precisely because of the presence of metaphysical doctrine and a traditional religious structure which refused to make a profane thing of nature. nature has never been considered as profane nor have the sciences of nature considered as natura naturata ever been studied without the remembrance of natura naturans. the author of the best known work on Shi'ite theology and an outstanding treatise on Sufism. The presence of metaphysical doctrine and the hierarchy of knowledge enabled Islam to develop many sciences which exerted the greatest influence on Western science without these sciences disrupting the Islamic intellectual edifice. nor India nor the Far East was the substance and stuff of nature so depleted of a sacramental and spiritual character. as a transparent reality and come to know and understand it in the real sense. But only he who has turned toward the inward dimension of his being can see nature as a symbol. nor was the 'intellectual 97 .

nature was sacred and there was a definite disdain of the artificialities of sedentary life. saw in virgin nature. His desperate struggle against the white man was not only for a living space but also for a sanctuary.Man and Nature dimension of these traditions so enfeebled as to enable a purely secular science of nature and a secular philosophy to develop outside the matrix of the traditional intellectual orthodoxyY Islam. The Indians. in birds and buffalos. as for other nomads. did not develop an articulated metaphysics. especially of the Plains. 46 The Indian. and the fact that modern science did not develop in its bosom is not the sign of decadence as some have claimed but of the refusal of Islam to consider any form of knowledge as purely secular and divorced from what it considers as the ultimate goal of human existence. who is something of a primordial monotheist. and diametrically opposed to. one feels so strongly that the Indian was one who really walked gently upon the earth. but nevertheless they possess the profoundest metaphysical doctrines expressed in the most concrete and primordial symbols. that of the modern world that after living for thousands of years in nature. he left it in such a condition that today that very segment of nature must be turned into a national park in order to prevent it from becoming spoiled. With the strong symbolist spirit with which he was endowed he saw everywhere images of celestial realities. streams and the sky. the heritage of the American Indian contains a most precious message for the modem world. which resembles Christianity in so many ways. \Vhen one sees the tracks of the Indian high in the Rocky Mountains. Virgin nature was for the Indian the cathedral in which he lived and worshipped. 98 'I :Iii . if for no other reason. His civilization was so different from. trees. in forests. For him. For this. direct symbols of the spiritual world. is a perfect example of this truth. tracks which he crossed for millenia without disturbing the ambiance about him. il 1111 II I I II Iii I Before passing to the Christian tradition it is impossible not to mention briefly the case of the American Indians whose view concerning nature is a most precious message for the modern world.

if we review the history of Christianity in the light of Oriental metaphysical and cosmological principles. as well as the cosmological doctrines of the Oriental traditions (which could also be referred to as cosmologia perennis). the early Church as a reaction to paganism gradually became withdrawn and totally distinct from '. As for the New Testament the death and resurrection of Christ is accompanied by a wither.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature If a day were to come when Christianity. such as in the vision of Hosea in which God entered into covenant with beasts and plants in order to secure peace. They could aid in restoring a spiritual vision of nature that would be able to provide the background for the sciences.. . however. should also try to understand them and enter into an intellectual dialogue with them 47 then Oriental metaphysics. irrespective of their usefulness or relation to manY Likewise.dered to preserve all animals whether they were clean or unclean. It is in the light of these doctrines that we turn to a few representatives of this tradition in the history of Christianity. the world about it. we shall discover a tradition of the study of nature which can act as the background for a new theological appraisal of the Christian vision of nature. St Paul also believed that all creation shares in the redemption. virgin nature or wilderness is conceived as a place of trial and punishment as well as refuge and contemplation or as the reflection of paradise.~ 8 could act as a cause and occasion for recollection of elements forgotten in the Christian tradition. In the \Vest. some of which have been mentioned above. In the Old Testament there are certain references to the participation of nature in the religious view of life. This vision and tradition of the contemplative view of nature was to survive later in Judaism in both the Kabbalistic and Hassidim schools. that is. or when Noah was or. which is also in its essence the philosophia perennis. ing and rejuvenation of nature pointing to the cosmic character of Christ. Also. Even the terms paradise and wilderness in their positive sense became connected solely with the Church 99 . rather than trying to convert the followers of Oriental religions.

new ethnic groups entered the fold of Christianity who. particularly important since they applied the Logos doctrine not only to man and his -religion but also to the whole of nature and all creatures. Max.Man anJ Nature and later with the monastery and the university as distinct institutions. Some of the best nature poetry in the West is a product of their spiritual quest. in the City of God considers nature as fallen and not yet redeemed. however. Johannes Scotus Erigena. Among Anglo-Saxons and Celts there was a strong awareness of the harmony between man and nature. St Augustine. Among the early fathers also the Greek fathers like Origen. 51 In the Eastern Church. who wrote IOO . far from being infected with the paganism of the Mediterranean world possessed a keen insight into the spiritual value of nature. the contemplative view of nature was emphasized and made much more central. however.imus the Confessor and Gregory of Nyssa who were so influential in the formation of Orthodox theology developed a theology of nature. Nature was considered as a support for the spiritual life and the belief was held that all nature shares in salvation (apolcatastasis panton) and the Universe is renovated and reconstructed by Christ in his second coming. The ninth-century Irish scholar. Origen and lrenaeus are. 50 Gradually in the Western Church the selective character of salvation became more emphasized.53 With the spread of Christianity into northern Europe. lrenaeus. and virgin nature and wilderness became interpreted as a domain of warfare and combat rather than of peace and contemplation. 5* The Celtic monks sought after the theoria or vision of the cosmos as a divine theophany and went on pilgrimages in the hope of discovering harmony with God's creation. 55 It remained for a northerner. did not for the most part show great interest in nature to the extent that the most famous among them. to gi"Ve the first complete metaphysical formulation of nature in the Latin Middle Ages. Their followers likewise showed much sympathy for a spiritual vision of nature. Even the geographic expansion of the Renaissance and the conquest of the New World were accomplished with this motif in mind. 51 The Latin fathers.

in which he sought to reveal its inner meaning. creation and th~ return of creation to God. is best known for his De divisione naturae dealing with God. His destiny is inextricably tied to both the spiritual and natural worlds. but Erigena was fully aware of the Transcendent Origin of the Universe. omy. 57 Erigena.d sense (dianoia). reason (logos) a. yet as an animal. who do not understand a metaphysical and cosmological doctrine of nature. In the corporeal world as · well as through all realms of creation the Trinity is present. In the light of this spiritual conception of nature.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature commentaries on the Bible. held a conception of matter according to which matter rather than being an opaque quantity is a combination of incorporeal qualities. following Gregory of Nyssa. Man stands in fact between the spiritual and material creations and partakes of the nature of both. which in certain ways resembles the scheme of Tycho IOI . so that from one side the spiritual world is reflected in him and from the other the animal world. as well as on Dionysus the Areopagite. Even in his astron. for him all things in the Universe come from God and are created through Christ.56 The first opening phrase of the Scriptures 'In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth' in fact means for Erigena the creation of all the primordial causes in Christ. And so man also has a triune nature comprised of the intellect (nous). Yet.58 while form is all that gives existence to corporeal bodies and relates this domain to higher planes of existence. the essentia of the Father as the source of existence. the sapientia of the Son as the source of wisdom and the vita of the Spirit as the life of all things in the Universe.59 Man is created in the image of God. In him the whole creation is contained in an essential rather than in a material or substantial sense. Erigena possessed a strong symbolic vision of things. Some theologians and philosophers. That is why the apolcatastasis or the final restoration means the passage of spiritualized nature to God and the restoration of all things including animals and trees. are apt to accuse any doctrine of this kind of being pantheistic.

so doth a fire burn but by my blast. the visionary whose exposition of the structure of the cosmos is combined with remarkable miniatures going back to Saint Hildegard herself. wherefore I am girt about with wisdom as with wings. Mine is the blast of the thundered word by which all things were made.61 Another eminent example of the Christian contemplative vision of nature is Saint Hildegard of Bingen. it is I. I found those columns that support the whole earth . I am that living and fiery essence of the divine substance that flows in the beauty of the fields. and the interrelation between levels in the hierarchy of existence. I shine in the water. and when the waters flow like living things. All these live because I am in them and am of their life..63 expressed in symbolic colours and forms which could be conveyed only through the medium of traditional art. yet do I allot it.Man anJ Nature Brahe. In her vision she is addressed by the Spirit in· these remarkable words: 'I am that supreme and fiery force that sends forth all the sparks of life. I permeate all things that they may 102. as the universal efficient cause in the cycle of the world. . I breathe in the verdure.• I am the force that lies hid in the winds. This interrelation very much resembles the universal metaphysical doctrines of the Orient. I burn in the sun and the moon and the stars. Mine is that mysterious force of the invisible wind:' I sustain the breath of all living. similar to that of Hugo of Saint Victor in which nature is totally in the domain of the Spirit manifesting itself in all products of nature. Saint Hildegard had a vision of the Universe. and as a man may move because he breathes. from me they take their source. We observe a Christian cosmography and cosmology expounded through the means of the sacred art of Christianity.60 He also expounds a doctrine of the states of being. 62 In her works the wedding of science and art so characteristic of the Middle Ages can be clearly seen. I am wisdom. and in the flowers. Death hath no part in me. he gives a more eminent place to the Sun because of the symbolic nature of the Sun as the source of all existence and vitality.

It is unfortunate that his example was not followed. and conceived of mathematics itself in a symbolic sense. what came to be known later as science was cultivated by rationalist and nominalist theologians rather than 'illuminationists' and esoterists like Bacon. This is a return to conditions before the fall with its ensuing disruption of harmony between man and nature. perhaps the Renaissance and seventeenth-century development of science wholly outside the fold of Christianity would never have come"". If Erigena expounded a metaphysical doctrine of nature and Saint Hildegard a vision of a Christian cosmos expressed in terms of Christian iconography and symbolism. Had he had successors. His among the birds and beasts whom he addressed was a concrete example of the Christian belief that through holiness man can gain a relationship with nature. could only point to an inevitable divorce between science and religion. He has often been called a forerunner of modern science and along with Robert Grosseteste the founder of the experimental method. He cultivated the mathematical and natural sciences within the fold of Christian intellectuality. 68 In the Canticle of the Sun and in many other sermons St Francis displays a disinterested contemplative view of nature IOJ .about.' 64 Here is a vision of nature still sacred and spiritual before it became profane. Roger Bacon was.66 He possessed a vision of the hierarchy of knowledge much like that of the Muslim Avicenna whom he so greatly admired. He experimented. as well as a mystic. 65 What is usually forgotten is that Roger Bacon was also an illuminationist and Pythagorean who tried to cultivate the sciences of nature in the matrix of supernatural knowledge. not only with nature but also with the Holy Spirit within himself. I am life. We also find in the figure of St Francis of Assisi a most startling reminder of the possibility of a reverential attitude to:wards nature within the aura of the Christian saintly life. a scientist and experimentor.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature not die. and the schism in Western civilization between science and religion would have been preventedP The fact that after Roger Bacon.

scientific. The cosmos is a Christian one. In the writings of these alchemists one finds. With men like Nicola Flame) who was a saintly and devout Christian and Basil Valentine. Alchemy is neither a premature chemistry nor a psychology in the modern sense. One must actually traverse the cosmos.I' I Mtm tmtf Nature outside all human utility. to states that are veritably transhuman and belong to the 'Greater Mysteries. such as fire which he addressed when he was being cauterized. Likewise. A synthesis whose highest meaning is revealed only to those who can unravel the anagogical meaning hidden within the Divin. most significantly a vast doctrine of nature infused with the Christian spirit. he illustrates the inner relation and intimacy that the saint gains with nature by virtue of his becoming identified with the Spirit that breathes within it. in Dante we see an eminent example of the integration of all knowledge. This remains true independently of the symbolism used to express it. although both of these are to be found in alchemical writings. In his conversation with animals and even the elements. the seven liberal arts correspond to so many levels of existence which the soul must realize.' 69 The Divine Comedy contains in this cathedral of Christian intellectuality metaphysical and cosmological doctrines of lasting value not because of the symbolism of the Aristotelian astronomy which it employs. the attachment of alchemical doctrines to Christianity could no longer be denied. philosophical and theological into the total structure of Christianity. or the levels of existence. and the flight from the summit of the mount of Purgatory symbolizes the departure of the soul from the pinnacle of human perfection or the 'Lesser Mysteries'. to realize that the force that pervades all things is the 'love that moves the sun and the stars'. who integrated the Hermetic-alchemical doctrines of Alexandrian origin as later developed by Muslims into the perspective of Christianity. but because of the delineation of the structure of reality both externally and within the souls of men. 70 Alchemy is a symbolic science of natural 104 . Contemporary with Dante and following him during the next few centuries are the Christian alchemists.e Comedy.

and the alchemist is the guardian of nature considered as a theophany and reflection of spiritual realities. colours and processes that man encounters throughout his life in the corporeal world. continued the alchemical tradition of the study of nature. one of the last Christian gnostics. He spoke of the inner forces of nature. 72 He invited men to seek to regain a vision of this pure and primordial nature. the Yestigio Dei. a re-discovery of the alchemical view of nature. the alchemist and theosopher. must again be brought to life within Christianity if the encounter of man and nature is not to result in complete disaster. could reinstate the spiritual and symbolic character of the forms. After him. The long tradition of the spiritual vision of nature. Men like John Ray and other Christian natural historians still went into the fields searching for the vestiges of God. nature is sacred. it nevertheless continued until the nineteenth century. Although after the Middle Ages the Christian tradition of the study of nature based on a metaphysical doctrine is more difficult to observe. and of primordial nature in its pristine purity. For alchemy. Theologians and philosophers have been for the most part responsible. without in any way denying the chemical sciences which deal with substances from another point of view. Jacob Bohme. In Germany. with the metaphysical doctrines upon which it is based. 71 A purely profane chemistry could come into being only when the substances of alchemy became completely emptied of their sacred quality. Goethe in his Farhenlehre was to continue the interest in symbolism of colours and harmony within nature. still present here and now but which men cannot see because of turmoil and darkness within their souls that make them absent from it. or at least IOS .Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature forms based on the correspondence between different planes of reality and making use of mineral and metal symbolism to expound a spiritual science of the soul. But by now even this battle was no longer fought from the camp of official Christianity. while the followers of Naturphilosophie fought a losing battle against the mechanistic conception of nature. For this very reason.

1950. Paris. In the present situation. has become a precarious matter. Paris. Guenon . vol. New York. 1956. La Pensee chinoise. J.Man and Nature have contributed during the past few centuries to making nature profane. The Sayings of Lao T:{u. Cambrid ge. 'A metaphysical doctrine is the incarnation in the mind of a universal truth. and M. 11. Only the revival of a spiritual conception of nature that is based on intellectual and metaphysical doctrines can hope to neutralize the havoc brought about by the applications of modern science and integrate this science itself into a more universal perspective. They are thus responsible also for reinstating a more wholesome and integral attitude toward nature. London. Granet. human existence on this earth. 2. Needham . Giles. so. I.' See F. 5· J. Too many modern religious thinkers and theologians have put aside the question of nature and considered man's salvation with a total disregard for the t:est of God's creation. p. Schuon. Paris. 22. 1951. p.e Texts ofTaoism (trans. pp.iNz. Because of this callous disregard for the rights of nature and other living things. Tlr. NOTE S TO CHAP TER III 1. On Oriental metaphysics see R. 1956. thus setting the stage for its becoming profaned through the industrial revolution and the unending applications of modern sciences. La Metaplr. Science and Civiliration in Clr. II. La Voie metaphys iiJue. Legge). 3· L. 315-16. A philosophical system is a rational attempt to resolve certain question s which we put to ourselves. vol. 1962. 1934· 4· Tlr. it is high time for those who are really concerned with the state of man to turn to this long tradition of the study of nature within Christianity and to seek to restore the metaphysical doctrines of Christianity with the help of Oriental metaphysics. p. Needham interprets this saying as proof of belief in scientific naturalis m Io6 . Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts.ysigue orientale. not to mention man's ultimate salvation. however.e Sacred Books ofChina. Concern ing Chinese metaphysical doctrine s in general see Matgioi.

The Sacred Books of China. kings. 1953. J. Manchuria and Korea.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature and even makes a comparison with Lucretius.1red.' Ibid. 1952. Third Century B. Part I. 361. 8. The clear understanding of the virtue of Heaven and Earth is what is called "The Great Root". in their plain simplicity. A History of Chinese Philosophy (trans.' Schuon.. Tenth Century A.C. and the same applies to Japan. op. 342. New York. they are hono1. Ware). The Texts of Taoism. I. Quoted in Fung Yu-Lan. The Sacred Books ofChin. Characteristic of all these doctrines is a complementary opposition of Heaven and Earth. with its Confucian and Taoist branches. IO'J . See Needham. p. Europe. op.' 'The Pattern of Nature-Mysticism and Empiricism in the Philosophy of Science. p. Light on the Ancient Worlds.D. cit.. 6. E. is attached to the same traditional family. p. and since in their beginnings magic. 88. The Sayings of Chuang Chou (trans.:z. Shamanism properly so-called is met with not only in Siberia. 332· 10. Princeton.Roman 'naturalism' and 'naturism' of other traditions in which the substance of nature has not become profane but acts as a means of conveying grace. and a cult of Nature . Bodde). London. 36 ff. 'In Asia. But there is a world of difference between the Hellenistic . This point has been emphasized in several works by Needham: 'Embodied therefore in the common present-day name for a Taoisf temple [kuan] is the ancient significance of the observation of Nature. Essays in Honor of Charles Singer (ed. 7· Needham. pp. and Seventeenth Century A. Part I. p. Medicine and History. no one in the world can strive with them (for the palm of) excellence. pp. 12. 297-8. pp. in Science. vol. cit. China. D. 23. Arabia. 224. p. The pre-Buddhist Chinese tradition. 11.D. The Texts of Taoism.-they are those who are in harmony with men.. Ashworth Underwood). we cannot be surprised that it is among the Taoists that we have to look for most of the roots of Chinese scientific thought. hut also in Tibet (in the form of Bi:in-po) and in Mongolia. p. where Shamanism has given rise to the specifically Japanese Shinto tradition. 16. and "The Great Origin".. and so they produce all equable arrangements in the world.. ·~ 13· Ibid. Doing nothing.they who have it are in harmony with Heaven. divination and science were inseparable. 9· Chuang-Tzu referring to the sages writes: '(Such men) by their stillness become sages. 1963. TJ. p.• . P· 51· 14. The Sayings of Lao T{u. 49 f. 15. and by their movement.

I. translated mdya. )65. New York (n. 2. London. Man and His Becoming. independently of the categories. 15. it is not so. 6. Shayegan. body senses. Calcutta.G. Nicholson). Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines (trans. Guenon. The Sacred Books ofthe Hindus (ed. R. as there could be no knowledge of the said similarity etc. when once the true knowledge of the six padarthas. Zimmer. p. Cambridge.IIIII III Man and Nature il 17. i 19. feelings and knowledge. See also the lucid expositions ofM. Pallis). M.' S. Coomaraswamy. Saf!llclzya System. vol. and of the other logical categories of inference is attained. Seal (Vrajendranatha-$ila). We have made some use for this analysis of Sa~pkhya of the Persian work of D. VI. Allahabad. 'From the injurious effect of the threefold kinds of pain (arises) a desire to know the means of removing it (pain). I I 'The bondage of the world is due to false knowledge which comists in thinking as my own self that which is not myself. IJ· The same text asserts: 'Here also the declaration that the knowledge of similarity etc. is the means of highest beatitude implies that such beatitude is brought about by a true knowledge of the categories themselves. Dasgupta. 1923. London. p. N. namely. Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus. of the proofs.astapada (trans. fasle knowledge is destroyed. 1922. Press). K. 1945. Nandalal Sinha). p. Of the immense number of works on Hinduism in the European languages very few have understood the proper Hindu point of view and expressed the view of the tradition itself. 1915. If. and the many works of A. 1916. Guenon. this (desire) should seem to be superfluous. Eliade and H. F.d. The Language of the Self. Allahabad. Basu). the objects of knowledge. p. D. As far as the metaphysical doctrines of Hinduism and the structure of this tradition is concerned see R. vol. 1957. from the visible (means of removing it). Jha). Keith. Concerning the Siilpkhya system see A. 18. B. A. London. The Vaiie~ika Sutras of Ka~Jdda (trans. M. Davies). A History of Indian Philosophy. according to the Vedanta (trans. for these are neither absolutely complete nor abiding. Coomaraswamy especially Hinduism and Buddhism. There are of course exceptions as those in the seventeenth century who spoke of the atomism of Moses and related the atomistic view to the Hebrew prophet himself. B. 23. 20. K. by J. R. Calcutta. Paddrthadharmasa"'gralza ofPrac.' p. manas. Schuon. 1945. Io8 . which is now in press (Tehran Univ.' The Sankhya Karika of lswar Krishna (trans.). This in fact is the way that incomparable scholar of Hinduism and of Oriental metaphysics and art in general. and as Nyaya says. 22. 21. 1949 and B.

104. Pagel m h~s 'Religious Motives in the Medical Biology of the Seventeenth Century · Bull. vol. 1. 34· Concerning cosmological doctrines in Islam seeS. 3. 109 . and through that (union) the universe is formed.. G. H. 1958. 104. chapter V. Nasr. Madras. Immortality and Freedom. 67. in Connection with the Metaphysics of Space'. Nasr. op... History ofMedicine. 1935.Jre unselfishness of Nature's motives is established. pp. Even in the Renaissance many of the observers and experimenters far from being rationalistic were steeped in the Kabbalistic. 3· Jl· See Cultural Heritage ofIndia. vol. School of Oriental Studies. II. Thus the pi. 164-1 (chapter on the Vetlangas by V. benefit the Spirit without any good in return to herself. pp. 487--97. K. Rosicrucia~. 33· On the relation between zero and the centre of the cosmic wheel as well · as the void see A. 1958.' Dasgupta. An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. 'Kha and Other Words Denoting "Zero". As for the Islamic sciences themselves see S. JO. Jl. Concerning the Upavedas see Guenon. so does Nature endowed with the three Attributes. Nasr. 'The Meaning of nature in Various Intellectual Perspectives in Islam' and Chapter XIII 'Contemplation and Nature in the Perspective of Sufism'. 15. Introduction to Tantra Sastra. and to become entirely separated from it. 1934. p. Jha). pp. Introduction to the Study of the . Science and Civili{ation in Islam. no. 16. /hid. 1956. Apte). Bull. H.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature 14. p.' The Sanlclzya Karika. Bombay. p. The commentary Tattva-Kaumudi moreover adds. Yoga. vol. Islamic Scudies. 34-5· 19. Calcutta. through purely unselfish motives. See Sir J. 97-Il8. Hindu Doctrines. PP· 11 3-31. 36. 165. 35· SeeS. p. that the union of both is made. 18. The Wor!J As Power. Chapter VIII. I. as of the halt and the blind. p. Coomaraswamy. Beirut. 'as a qualified servant accomplishes the good of his unqualified master. VII. New York. 1896. 1957. Madras. 1966. ~r other mystical schools of the period as shown so clearly by W. p. This four-fold division has a startling resemblance to the De divisione naturae of Erigena. See Sir J. Woodruffe. 'It is that the soul may be able to contemplate Nature. Eliade.' Tattva-KaumudiofVach aspati Mi§ra(trans. 34· 17. SeeM. no. H.. cit. Woodruffe. M. 'The way of eradicating the root of sorrow is thus the practical enquiry of the Samkhya philosophy. without any benefit to himself. pp.

J. H. 39· 'Nor is there anythin g which is more than a shadow. it also in a sense depends on that state. and H. 1966.omme universe ! (trans. See H. 1953.• . 38. the worlds below it would at once vanish altogether. Nasr and 0.' Abu Bakr Siraj Ed-Din . 265-312. until it be manifest unto them that it is the Truth'. 44· See J. 40. G. 32. London . Indeed. see Nasr. Trask). An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine (trans. Zurich. Thus the foremost and truest fact about any form is that it is a symbol . pp. pp. vol. and S. 'Science and Society in East and West'. IJ-JO. 4. XXVI. The Book ofCertainty. 'We shall show them our portent s upon the horizons and within themselves. Corbin. Histoire de Ia philosophie islamique. M. Chapte r I. Eranos Jahrhuch.' The Book of Certainty. 'In considering what the religions teach. W. At·icenna and the Visionary Recital (trans. 10. P· so. Corbin. H. 1964. so that when contemplating something in order to be reminded of its higher realities the traveller is considering that thing in its universal aspect which alone explains its existence. An Introduc tion to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. 53) (Pickthal! translation). 1958. Matheson). Nasr. On this capital doctrin e see al-Jili. in addition to his article already cited. 174-97· 45· By orthodo xy we do not mean simply following the exoteric and literal 110 . 177 ff. Ideals and Realities of Islam. New York. . Yahya). 1959. . London . 1961. Paris. Lahore. since man himself is the pontiff of the outer world. D. p. Corbin (with the collaboration of S.II I Man and Nature no. 43· See H. 41.. Burckh ardt). H. p. vol. De l'h. since each world in creation is no more than a tissue of shadows entirely dependent on the archetypes in the world above. Thus me corrupt ion of man must necessarily affect the whole. (XLI. Three Muslim Sages. A traditional Muslim would see in the bleakness and ugliness of modern industrial society and the ambiance it creates an outwar d reflectio n of the darkness within the souls nf men who have created this order and who live in it.' Ibid. 37· In fact'lhe Quran asserts. 1952. See also S. 'The state of the outer world does not merely corresp ond to the general state of men's souls. 'L'interiorisation du sens en hermeneutique soufie iranienn e'. 91 ff. II. An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines. p. pp. pp. Needham. 33· 42. As for the case of Taoism see Needha m. Burckhardt. Science and Civilqation in China. chapter II. no. Nasr. and T. it is essential to remember that the outside world is as a reflection of the soul of man . if a world did not cast down shadows from above. Centaurus. Lyon. 1964. T. pp..

writes in his Hexaemeron: 'A single blade of grass is enough to occupy your whole mind as you contemplate the skill that produced it'. 49· Williams. cit. vol. Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Tnoug!&t. no. Concerning this perennial cosmology see T. 55· 'The pilgrimage of the Irish monk was therefore not merely the restless search of an unsatisfied romantic heart. x. Kairos. will in due course be applied provisionally to · the Church. in the sense of the Garden of the Great King of the universe. pp.. Schuon. Brown. Wilderness and so.Metaphysical Principles Pertaining to Nature interpretation of a religion but to possess the right doctrine (ortlws-Joxia) on both the exoteric and esoteric levels.' /hid. As far as the Islamic world is concerned. and lectures on nature as the handiwork of God. then to the school growing out of the Church and monastery. and of men. with a few rare exceptions. Schuon. Norman. Science and Religion. an Origenist. 1_ 14• 46. 18-p. But there is enough agreement on principles and on the metaphysical significance of nature to warrant the use of the term 'cosmologia perennis'. it was a profound and existential tribute to the realities perceived in the very structure of the world. some of the Celtic monks arrived at th~ purity of that theoria physike which sees God not in the essences or logoz III . 1959. in Light on t!&e Ancient World. where this saying is quoted.. Burckhardt. 1953. in Language of Tlr. op.. pp. This development has been fully traced in Williams. namely. Madras. VI. pp. then more exclusively to the disciplined monastery alone. there has been no intellectual contact with Christianity since the Middle Ages. Natural Religion and Christian Tlr. also F. 72-8. 48. 51. pp.e Self. and of their being: a sense of ontological and spiritual dialogue between man and creation in which spiritual and bodily realities interweave and interlace themselves like manuscript illuminations in the Book of Kells · • • Better perhaps than the Greeks. 53· For the attitude of St Augustine and the early Church as well as later Christianity toward nature see Raven. see F. . Basil ofNeo-Caesarea. 52. Paradise. Paradise and Wilderness. 47. p.eology !. the medieval university. 2. 1964. Concerning the metaphysical teachings of the Indians see J. 6. 46 ff. 54· Williams. 'Orthodoxy and Intellectuality'. Cosmologia Puenn. and at length in the New World to the theological seminary as the seedbed of missionaries and ministers. See Raven. p. 47. 'The Shamanism of North American Indians'.is. T!&e Sacred Pipe. This is not to say of course that there are no differences in the role and meaning of nature in the various traditions cited. 'The corresponding term to paradise. introduction p.

vol. and that all are reunited and reconciled in man. Early Medieval Philosophy. 61. 1C}65. So a point is incorporeal. 59· 'As man is the middle point between the extremes of spiritual and corporeal. Burckhardt. as parts.Man and Nature of things. p. is created in man. B. Von Wesen Heiliger Kunst in den Welt Religionen. where some comparisons are made. p. a unique union of soul and body. but one. as one. 1940 and their Cosmology in the 'Annotations in Marcianum'. 1 939· 64.. Erigena followed the view of Clement of Alexandria who asserted. 1925. 2C>Srl4. 'From Pilgrimage to Crusade'.' !hid. 51· Ibid. 6J. therefore. 62. von Erhardt . 'The Son is neither absolutely one. it is natural to suppose that every creature. p. but a space understood by the intellect.. I. p. Cambridge.. and He is the circle of all powers collected and united into one'.Siebold and R. Merton. Johannes Scotus Erigena. and solidity is the perfection of matter. JJ· At the end of her life St Hildegard wrote. 94· 56. contains the beautiful miniatures. 'The Scientific Views and Visions of Saint Hildegard'. The scientific works of St Hildegard are contained in Scivias and Liher divinorum operum simplicis nominis whose Luccan ms. is really a combination of incorporeal qualities. Singer. Studies in the History and Method of Science. nor yet many. von Erhardt. Philosophical Quarterly. and form is incorporeal. Concerning his astronomy see E. 32. for from Him are all things. Paris. Baltimore. 'The space of a point is not a space perceived by the senses. but in a hierophanic cosmos: hence the marvellous vernacular nature poetry of the 6th and 7th century Celtic hermits. 'And now that I am over seventy years old my spirit according to the will of God soars upward in II~ . The Astronomy of Johannes Scotus Erigena. as all things. pp. See G. 1917. Tomorrow. p. p. Matter. IV. and the beginning of lines. a surface is incorporeal and the beginning of solidity. vol. a line is incorporeal and the beginning of surfaces. a Swdy in Mediaeval Philosophy. Baltrusaitis. 40. 46. C. Spring.' T. 6o. 58. Stromata. more from the philosophical than the properly metaphysical point of view. For Christian cosmography in its relation to art see J. 26. 1951 and 'The Christian non-dualism of Scotus Erigena'. 1954. See T. Oxford. 58.' !hid. Cosmographie chrltienne dans !'art du moyen-dge. It is form which constitutes and contains all material bodies. 1955. Burch. There is a close link between cosmology and sacred art in that both select from the multitude of forms certain elements that reflect a particular religious and ethnic genius. from one extreme to the other. Baltimore. Bett. 6J5·9 quoted in H. New York. 1940. visible and invisible.

70· Whatever service the works of C.the vision of God. Raven. New York. G.e Crucible. 68. so that I have never suffered any terror when they left me. Eliade. 87. p. philosophy and science'. 71.' Williams. La Ph. Bacon had been followed. 1956. 817. p. Crombie. see also M. Wilderness and Paradise. De Alckemie. 69· See R. see A. Science and Religion. E. Referring to Roger Bacon A. Sinn und Welthild where examples of Christian alchemists are given. Koyre. Picanet writes that if the path of R.' European Ci!Jilqation. 'there would have been no room for a Renaissance wholly separated from Catholicism. L' Esott!risme de Dante. Wmter. for all these I see not with the outward eye or ear. 1918. Jung may have rendered to make ·. His serious theory is that all certain knowledge is experimental. Paris. III. p. my eyes being open.Metap~ysica/ Principles Pertaining to Nature vision to the highest heaven and to the farthest stretch of the air and spreads itself among different peoples to regions exceeding far from me here. 1955· 66. Taylor writes. See Burckhardt.e Origins of Experimental Science. 1964- 6s. p. nor do I create t}!em from the cogitations of my heart ••• but withiri my spirit. Paris. nor for an open struggle and total rupture between theology. 71. and the section devoted to Bohme in Hermes. vol. they are inadequate in that they limit alchemy to a ' psychology that is devoid of a transcendent and spiritual origin for the symbols that appear to the human psyche. See A. ' experiment made on external nature. Oxford.ilosopkie de Jac~h Boeh. F. the source of the knowledge of heavenly things which culminates in . 'There is at bottom no difference between natural and supernatural knowledge. Robert Grosseteste and th. The Forge and tlr. and thence I can behold the changing clouds and the mutations of all created things.. London. but experiment is of two kinds. J. ' ·' .' !hid. 41. alchemy better known. ff7. 1935. Guenon. it is significant that both the saints and the hagiographer felt that only through the recovery of pristine holiness could man help undo the ferocity brought into the world by man's primordial disobedience in the first Paradise.me. n. the source of certainty in natural science.d. 55· 65. 'Whatever the actual episodes may have been. Quoted by C. Concerning Bohme. and experimental acquaintance with the work of the Holy Spirit within the soul.

of literature. where everything is criticized and questioned. could regain its independence and become at once a judge and critic of the methods and hypotheses of science. not to dictate to them. the creation of the means to criticize science and its applications creatively and fruitfully. Philosophy. and the meaning that its discoveries possess beyond those borders. of politics. of philosophy and even of religion there are no critics of science. In the light of this restoration. theology could expand so as to embrace also a theology of nature. the metaphysical doctrines themselves could act as the immutable centre around which all intellectual effort rotates and whose applications to different domains determines the path to be followed in each. 114 . The first result of the application of the principles in question would be the creation of standards by which to judge the results and implications of different sciences. It is indeed curious that in the modern world. where there are critics of art. It would be. then one could hope for the rejuvenation of both theology and philosophy. 1 Even if occasional critics are found they are expelled from the respected academic and scholarly community and do not occupy at all the same status as the art or literary critic. Further. in short. but to point out the boundary within which each science functions. rather than being a footnote to the fruits of experimental science. and the birth of a criterion to judge and regulate the sciences.Chapter 4 Certain Applications to the Contemporary Situation If there were to be a re-discovery of metaphysics and the reestablishment of a metaphysical tradition in the West tied to the appropriate spiritual methods and within the fold of•Christianity.

But this objection is false not only in that it neglects the objective norms and principles of religion. both for those involved in the sciences. reality in Western philosophy became reduced to mind and matter.···"'f'"'"'~·u·vu which from the metaphysical point of view is ill posed ·to start with.Applications to tire Contemporary Situation Some might say that whereas art and literature. and through the later generation of philosophers such as Malebranche. Nineteenth-century inventors of the steam engine used a physical theory which today is considered as scientifically false. us . therefore. for the most part. is no reason for accepting the infallibility of th~ scientific theories involved. The success of applied science. or even politics and religion. The philosophy of science has in certain cases tried to point to the lack of logical consistency in some scientific definitions and methods. 2 In fact most of the inventors up to very recent ·times have been. The restoration of a complete metaphysical doctrine could also serve the all important function of delineating once again the level and stages of realiry. even today a physical or chemical theory can change while its application continues untouched. The long debate between idealists and realists is no more than the attempt to answer a . But having surrendered itself to the fruits of the-experimental and analytical methods. and most of all for those who are the recipients of the popularized versions of scientific theories. art and other nonscientific domains. Spinoza and even Leibnitz this impoverishment of reality became an accepted fact and serves as the background of science and especially mathematical physics to this day. ignorant of the science of their . and of presenting the anatomy of being in · its multiple grades and states. but also completely misinterprets the theoretical structure of science and its practical applications in technology and engineering. day and have applied theories that have proved to be false. With Descartes. science is validated by its positive applications which no one can deny or criticize. Moreover. it cannot itself be an independent judge of modern science. are a matter of personal choice and taste. There should be an intelligent and conscious criticism of science and its implications.

due to a difference of his own make up as well as the constitution of the ambiance around him. to mention the most fundamental divisions.d Nature In this background of the reduction of reality to two totally distinct and separate substances. and the human microcosm has itself lost its tripartite structure of spirit (spiritus). One could say that modern man has not experienced the psychic substance within nature to the same extent as men of other ages. The multitude of phenomena connected with this order are left for occultists to deal and play with. 116 . to the extent that he has had experiences of this kind. A re-discovery of the anatomy of being which places each mode of existence. or their effect on society any less felt.Man. they are relegated to a category whose negation by official scientific circles does not in any way make them any less real. The exponential rise in societies and publications associated with spiritism and the like. the corporeal. an. all that belongs to the psychic and spiritual domains has been banished from nature. However. Such are for example the phenomena connected with the subtle or psychic substance which has a cosmic as well as a human component. the psychic and the spiritual in its place. Their very exclusion from the domain of reality accepted by science has both impoverished the present conception of the total science of things. By being banished from the official scientific world-view they have not by any means been made to disappear from man's life and society. nature has perforce become reduced to quantity. and led to the cultivation of dangerous practices by all kinds of occultist organizations that only increase from day to day. the delineation of the grades of reality could again elucidate and clarify the traditional sciences such as alchemy. soul (anima) and body (corpus) to become a mind mysteriously connected to a body with which it has no common measure. Likewise. can also serve to clarify certain phenomena which modern science is forced to reject but in which society as a whole displays great interest. amidst the supposedly most scientific age of human history should at least be a source of reflection. Likewise.

whose true significance lies in their symbolic meaning and the correspondence and concordance between different stages of reality. We have already alluded to the lack · a comprehensive philosophy of nature today. · ·• This does not mean the imposition of a restriction from above a particular science or a change of the method of. the correspondences based on them. With a total disregard for ··the symbolic meaning of these sciences-whos e real sense has long been forgotten-this enormous interest only fosters superstition in the true sense of the word and adds to the confusion of thought. all kinds of philoconclusions are made concerning physical or astro117 ..~e background for a philosophy of nature into which the modern could be integrated. etc. Again. Today. and in such a citadel of rationalism as France there are more works published on the occult sciences every year than on · many branches of modern science.. from induction to deduction. their rejection by the official scientific view has not caused them to disappear by any means.. There are an astounding number of works published on them every year. Only a metaphysical knowledge of the grades of reality.IV such a philosophy. and secondly could help in the creation of a ""''v::o~1uuy of nature which would outline the anatomy of and the different sciences that could be associated with it.. The loss of this metaphysical knowledge has made these sciences appear as superstitions.. No amount of attack by scientists can help to overcome or stop it.en1ces in their proper perspective and neutralize the harm that is •1>r1DU!lht about through a misunderstanding of their teachings: 3 This function of metaphysics is closely related to its role as .. astrology. and the need for preClSie. the ~.. the fruit of experimentation empiricism. let us say. could again place these . of a total vision of nature which would place the findings any particular science such as physics or chemistry within a scheme of knowledge and relate the discoveries of each to knowledge as a whole..'"'.~. contrary to both reason and experience. It means rather. A re-vitalized intellectual tradition on a real metaphysical knowledge could firstly free philofrom total slavery to the senses.Applications tO t~ Contemporary Situation ·....

These limitations veil the spiritual message of nature for him so that he derives no benefit from it. With a real philosophy of nature there would be an independent matrix within which the implications of different sciences could be tested and tried and their meaning made known without the aberrations which so often accompany philosophical interpretations of scientific theories today. physics became the source of philosophy and there developed a physicism very much similar to the earlier mathematicism of Descartes. Nature must be seen as an affirmation and aid in the spiritual life and even a means of grace rather than the obscure and opaque reality it has come to be considered. While in the state of rebellion against Heaven man carries with him his own limitations even when he turns to nature. With Kant. It is in this way that the modern urbanized citizen in search of virgin nature takes with him those very elements that destroy nature and thereby he destroys the very thing he is searching for. Metaphysical doctrine could also aid in the r~-discovery of virgin nature by removing the strangulating hold tnat rationalism has placed upon man's vision of nature. this idolatry of created things against which Christianity has fought. Nor is the re-discovery of virgin nature a return to paganism from a theological point of view. often with total neglect for the limitations and assumptions originally made by the scientists. There is a need to rediscover virgin nature as a source of truth and beauty in the most strict intellectual sense and not merely in the sentimental one. There is a profound difference between the paganism of the Mediterranean world. and the 'naturism' of the northern European people for whom nature possessed a symbolic and spiritual significance.Man and Nature nomical theories and discoveries. 5 The re-discovery of virgin nature does not mean a flight of individualistic and Promethean man toward nature. 4 It must once again become a means of recollection of Paradise and the state of felicity which man naturally seeks. The rediscovery of virgin nature with the aid of traditional principles would mean a reunification of the symbolic meaning of natural 118 .

6 It would mean the restoration of man to his home in the cosmos. at least to a certain extent. being independent of science. As for the modern sciences of nature. Man simply cannot continue to conquer and dominate nature endlessly without expecting a reaction on the part of nature to re-establish th~ equilibrium destroyed by man.n both their data and the interpretation of these data. Few realize that by the very fact that nature is finite its boundaries cannot be pushed back indefinitely. developme~t of a spiritual sympathy (sym-patlaia} for nature whtch has nothmg to do with either ancient paganism · and idolatry or the modern individualistic revolt. At the same time metaphysics. and a philosophy of nature based upon it could provide both criticism and evaluation of scientific discoveries and hypotheses.' Such an attitude could also aid in cultivating a sense of love for nature which is the very antithesis of the prevalent attitude of modern man as the conqueror and enemy of nature. 8 Nature is altogether richer than the knowledge which p~yst~ arrives at through its quantitative methods which are selectt:e 1. could examine its presuppositions and act as its indepen• • dent critic and judge. 9 Phystcs ls a science of nature limited by the very selections it makes ~f external reality very much like the ichthyologist with a parucu~ size of net whose example Eddington has made well known. ameliorate this existing attitude and the danger inherent in it and provide a remedy for the acute illness from which the modern world suffers.Applications to the Contemporary Situation forms and the. 119 . a metaphysical•·science rooted in the intellect. revelation. The two would be complementary in as much as the modern sciences deal with detailed knowledge and metaphysics with the ultimate knowledge of things. A spiritual sense of nature could. The bitter fruit of the purely antagonistic attitude toward nature is so evident today that few can afford to overlook any means that might provide a solution to it. The suffering is brought about by the excessive application of technology and the waging of · war both of which are united in their enmity and aggression against nature.

It is not true to say that the sun is only incandescent gas.that their validity holds only within the conditions of those experiments. It is also as true to say that the sun is the symbol of the intelligible principle in the Universe and this element is as much an aspect of its ontological reality as the physical features discovered by modern astronomy. It is only one possible science of nature among others. legitimate within its own assumptions and limitations. but it is not the only valid science of the natural world. least of all the material one. the immediate appearance of nature with the solid earth below. 12 Physics gives us some knowledge of the physical world but not all the knowledge that is needed. especially as far as the integral relation of man and nature is concerned. 13 The very qualities.Mrm and Nature Likewise. chemistry and physics or a mountain the subject of geology. That is why the application of a science which neglects these elements causes disequilibrium and brings about disorder and ugliness. Seen in the perspective of the total science of nature. For this reason there is no single science of nature but different pictures and visions of the world each valid to the extent that it can depict a certain aspect of cosmic reality. 14 In the same way that a living tissue can be made the object of study of biology. the very fact that its conclusions are based on experiments implies. geophysics and geomorphology. especially in a world where other sciences of nature do not exist and where there is no wisdom or sapientia which could place the quantitative sciences in their proper position in the total scheme of knowledge. the uo . so does each phenomenon lend itself to study from different points of view and on different planes of existence. like the other sciences of nature is a particular science of things. although this is an aspect ofits reality. are the aspects most closely tied to the ontological root of things. 11 Physics then. Due to the lack of this total science it is also forgotten that phenomena participate on several cosmic levels and their reality is not exhausted by a single level of existence. forms and harmonies which physics leaves aside from its quantitative point of view. very far from being accidental or negligible.

the Aristotelian and the medieval cosmologies based on the appearance of things as well as the Newtonian and relativistic views of the world are all. It is concerned : only with their quantitative dimension.matical logic as if this were the only form of logic. does not in the reast in1Validate the symbolic significance of other pictures of ~he world.· As a criticism of philosophies and general conclusions based on · physics. and so many generalizations within ~.App/icatwns to tne Contemporary Situation · blue sky above and the sun moving regularly across the firmament.and astrophysics direct contact with /- -~ ~ -~ •~ -~ -~ -~~ . Mathematically speaking. from a certain point of view. lrith the imaginative faculty. true.Cartesian philosophy bestowed upon mathematical physics. and ~. not with the qualitative ' which connects each being ontologically to its source. In the ~~rnains of both micro. as long as t' any conceptual scheme in physics is capable of explaining tphenomena co~erently._·aspect of objective reality. Yet it must always be remembered . ( . That is ( why each picture of the world as it becomes mathematically more ~-exact also becomes symbolically less direct and farther removed ~from the metaphysical knowledge which the immediate appearranee of nature conveys through its symbolism. that the success of any particular theory in explaining phenomena "mathematically.:physics itself. But there is no reason whatsoever ' to limit all the intellectual faculties to mathematical logic and ~. IS yet. and medieval · cosmology and physics only a rough. no matter how exact. are based on this unconscious mathematicism which ~. qualitative estimate.which has become accentuated in contemporary science. But the ' mathematical aspect of things is not everything. the Newtonian physics a special case of it. the theory of relativity is more general and exact.. . it pos~sses s.Vhich are based either on the direct appearances of thmgs or on { cosmological doctrines reflecting metaphysical principles.. one could point to the exclusivity accorded to mathe~. So much of modem philosophy ~that relies on physics.0\terlook the demands of the rest.ome symbolic :ignifi~nce 1that transcends tts factual mearung by Its very correlation wtth an . What is f1Dathematically satisfactory is considered to be true even if it ~: violates the principles of intelligence and the logic connected :.

Man and Nature II II objective reality has been removed.:l reality. in the theory of relativity one speaks of the absolute speed of light and the dependence of the time-space structure upon it. Likewise. However satisfactory the Lorenz transformations and generalizations of Einstein concerning the theory of relativity may be mathematically. but physically one cannot accept a total void as exhibiting characteristics. but for a total science of nature. what traditional cosmology calls the ether.l . with all the significance that Planck's constant has. the notion of simultaneity and other aspects of this theory as being exclusive and as exhausting the nature of physical reality as such. the discontinuity exhibited in matter at the sub-atomic level. Il. does not invalidate a substratum of continuity which so many other natural phenomena. The conception of matter based solely on mathematical criteria leads. especially light. The debate in this domain today. The Euclidian space from which we begin continues to possess its validity an. these questions are of great significance. A void is nothing and what does not exist cannot exhibit anythingY Likewise. one often speaks of fields of force or waves which possess energy and have specific characteristics but which move in a vacuum. leaving only an abstract mathematical model as the means of analysing the structure of matter. which also exhibits a discontinuous aspect by virtue of its being indistinct. to certain conclusions which philosophically and metaphysically seem incongruent and in certain cases contradictory. For example. if one glances at the principles involved. The ambivalent nature of light points if anything to a continuous underlying substance. demand. and especially generalizations of the world view of physics. Now. it is not possible to accept the conceptions of time and space. A purely mathematical physics may be able to afford the privilege of remaining unconcerned about such matters. not only as an approximation or special case of non-Euclidian geometries. is not very much different from that of the followers of hylomorphism and atomism in the Middle Ages and in Antiquity. even in the domain of modern physics. mathematically such a model may be a convenient one upon which to base calculations.

the theory of relativity and • particle physics deal. many unproven. we are not concerned. with an aspect of the physical world. but would add that the picture derived from them is not that of the whole of physical reality but only its most quantitative and material aspect.explosion of thermonuclear devices in fact point to the same conclusion. Further. as biology and psychology where even more than in physics wild conjectures are often paraded as scientifically proven facts . when this quantita· · rive analysis of matter is carried to its limit it leads to disorder and dissolution bordering upon what the medieval philosophers called materia prima. thts would be carried out not only in physics but in all sciences such . It would stand as a standard with respect to which modern science would be com. they would point out the fact that quantum mechanics. contradictions within the sciences themselves. A total and complete science of things would he able to judge these hypotheses and their implications.·. Moreover. The disorder and dissolution accompanying the . In all these cases meta· physics and an independent philosophy of nature would not invalidate physical theories but show exactly what they mean. Metaphysics would distinguish carefully between factS"assembled diligently by scientists and hypotheses. conceptions of time and space based on our tmmedtate apprehension of them are valid not ~nly approximately but e~actly_ and completely. which are used to integrate these facts into some meaningful pattern. although errors in the Jungian interpretation of traditional sciences and symbols definitely need to be 123 . Moreover. attained by pursumg a parttcular tram of thought based on certain presumptions upon the nature of physical reality. They would point out the reality of those elements of the physical world which the highly abstract and mathematical models of modern physics have left aside. without doubt. .Applications to tire Contemporary Situation but independently of them: In th~ same way. pared and judgedP It would criticize the vulgarizations of science and the popular philosophies based upon them as well as ~e ·. With psychology and some of its misdeeds and shortcomings . It is the abstra~t ttme-s~ace stru~ture that ts thetr extension.

A species could not evolve into another because each species is an independent reality qualitatively different from another. from the metaphysical point of view. from the m~taphysical point of view the effect can U4 . the reality of a species is not exhausted by its purely material manifestations. however. Most of all. Rarely in fact has a theory connected with a particular science had such wide acceptance. unless there were already a reserve of energy in the mover. Moreover. metaphysics and also logic cannot accept the possibility of the greater coming into being from the lesser. We have become accustomed to speaking about the evolution of the galaxies as well as of this or that tribe or society. unless it is already there one way or another.Man and Nature pointed out! 8 In the domain of biology. began as a general tendency that entered into the domain of biology. As far as the species are concerned they are. As is true of the domain of quality in general each quality is an independent reality even if materially produced by others as exemplified in the case of colours where a colour produced by the mixture of two other colours is itself a new and independent quality. perhaps because the theory of evolution itself. one can hardly avoid mentioning the theory of evolution which has become fashionable in this century and has dominated nearly every branch of knowledge from astronomy to history itself. just as one could not physically lift an object against a gravitational field. ultimately so many 'ideas' in the Divine Mind which at a particular cosmic moment have become imprinted in the corporeal world and retain their reality on other planes of existence-whatever their careers and histories in the corporeal domain. Consciousness or the spirit could not evolve from matter unless it were already present anteriorly to matter. For this very reason it soon gained acceptance more as a dogma than as a useful scientific hypothesis. instead of being a scientific theory that became popularized. From the metaphysical point of view. Like other things the species is an 'idea' whose imprint in material form does not confine and exhaust its essential reality which remains independent of matter.

Co. .s to tlu Contemporary Situtztion ·. Lemoine Dewar Grant-Watson and rnany f ' ' The arguments presented by such men are all ~ a ieie:ntific nature rather than being theological or metaphystcal.10 most books written on the subject facts are marshalled in a way as to present evolution as an established fact. Deism which cut off the hands of the Creator from His creation and the reduction. and there is no logical or philosophical reason whatsoever to refuse the possibility of continuous creation or a series of creations as all traditional doctrines have held. because evolution has come to gain a status · biological and geological circles very different from what one in any other science. Onlywithsuch. The understanding of metaphysics could at least make clear the often forgotten fact that the plausibility of the theory of evolution is based on several non-scientific factors belonging to the general philosophical climate of eighteenth-century and nineteenthcentury Europe such as belief in progress.nt~~ml)Orarv scientists like Bounoure. and the most to accept for a world which had completely lost sight of the : multiple levels of being and had reduced nature to a purely corporeal world totally cut off from any other order of existence. Bertrand-Semet. Rarely the views of respected scientists who have opposed<-evolubeen presented. never be divorced from its cause.of reality to the two levels of mind and matter. It was only the nineteenth century naturalists and biologists like ·. In the light of this background. 19 and usually refuse to submit it to a methodological and scientific scrutiny or it to be questioned like any other scientific hypothesis.s .beliefs · could the theory of evolution appear as 'rational'. but also s~me ~. Collins. Agassiz who opposed Darwinian evolution. But opposition to the theory of evolution continues on scien• tific lines and in fact has increased in the past few years.o~ers the palaeontological evidence upon which evolunor u: their arguments in fact contradicts evolution11 and that t u. biologists and geologists have · come to uphold the theory of evolution. is first of all the assertion made by Lemoine and . The world can never be totally separated from its Creator.App/U:ation.

to say the leastY The family trees of biology first drawn by Haeckel. and the difficulty remains that contrary to evolutionary theory each new species makes its entrance upon the stage of life very suddenly and over an extended region. But neither of these theories stands scientific criticism. is rarely emphasized in general presentations of evolution which is made to appear as most logical and scientific. 26 The few cases where the actual process of transformation has been described by biologists have shown themselves to be combined with obstacles which make them appear as miraculous. These and many other arguments are presented by a minority of biologists and geologists whose voice the present mental climate does not allow to be fully heard. 30 u6 . 24 Nor does the established fact that in the geologic record there is a gradation of fauna prove evolution of one form into another. 25 The great types of zoology have been shown by some scientists to be independent of each other and without a specific position on the palaeontological record. the opposition of the evolutionary hypothesis to the law of entropy.U The geologic record shows sudden explosions of new species which some evolutionists have sought to explain through the theory of 'quanta of evolution' (tachygenesis). Taken as a dogma. In the whole question of evolutionary theory and its implications a clear distinction is not made between objective and subjective elements.Man an. or the 'systematic suppression of origins' proposed by Teilhard de Chardin. few bother to mention that in the world in which we live there is no evolution observed at all. and the implications it has in the light of the belief held by other sciences of the gradual running down of the whole corporeal universe. 29 Nor have the experiments made to provide a laboratory case of the transformation of one species into another been successful. Most important of all. are shown to contain overt contradictions and to be based more on fantasy than on scientific evidence.d Nature argument is circular. 28 Likewise. since each fauna arises suddenly with all its essential characteristics. evolution is presented without considering biological cases which cannot be explained by it. and now popular mainstays ofbooks on biology.

is a . Furthermore. a practice which is very widespread to the extent that even contradictory philosophical views appeal to evolution as their 'scientific• justification.7 ---- . Pseudo-philosophies become even more dangerous when they begin to incorporate religious elements and present themselves as a synthesis of science and religion. as in other sciences.philo. A re-discovery of metaphysics would be particularly pertinent in this case because it would remove this philosophical obstacle and allow biological and geological facts to be discussed and debated. without reliance upon evolution as a dogma which cannot be challenged. there are species that have survived from the first geologic age without evolving at all. by presenting man as the inevitable victor of a . which in reality are no more than hypotheses supported by a particular philosophical attitude. it is not to open a biological debate but to distinguish between scientific facts and the philosophical assumptions that underlie them.32 This is particularly important as far as man's encounter with nature is concerned because pseudo-philosophies of this kind can do the greatest damage to the harmony between man and nature. If we were to make a truly scientific statement about the world of life about us we would have to say in fact that nature presents to us species that are constant and unchanging but who occasionally die and disappear. long struggle who therefore has the right to conquer and dominate all things or by destroying the spiritual signifi~!'lce of .ll If we have repeated these scientific criticisms of evolution here. nature which depends precisely on the fact that it reflects an abiding and permanent reality beyond itself. and stands at the very antipodes and is the anuthe~ts of the spiritual vision of nature we have discussed in our earher . The case of T eilhard de Chardin. or of religion based on scientific facts.Applications to the Contemporary Situation What is more. cltapters. What is desperately needed in biology. sophy of nature which again cannot be abstracted from btology 11. is a perfect example of pseudo-metaphysics tied to the the~ry ~f evolution. the most recent adventure of this kind. as in physics. it would prevent the abuse of evolutionary theory in other fields.

an environment whose movement is cyclic rather than evolutionary and which u.34 And in biology. grow. There has been as yet no philosophy of biology which does justice to the subject of this science even less than that found in the case of physics. change. The so-called progressive evolution of mankind. is completely opposed to the immediate and contemporary life of the natural environment in which man lives. Metaphysical doctrines can also assist in the elimination of false implications in biological theories. even more than in the sciences dealing with quantity. wither and die and regenerate themselves except for the unfortunate species that modern man who believes himself to belong to the process of evolution has made extinct. 33 In other questions of biology difficulties are also encountered because the philosophical assumptions are those of a world seen through the eyes of physics. especially those of the theory of evolution. far from being the inevitable consequence of cosmic and natural processes. men are asked to evolve and change simply because evolution is in the nature of things and is inevitable.S . Such vision can only find its justification within that ultimate science of reality that is metaphysics. nor has his natural environment changed in any way. Throughout the world today particularly in the Orient where there are still societies that remain faithful to their religious principles and the social structure based upon them. A more objective assessment of the findings of biology would insist that as long as man has been living on earth he has not evolved at all. The debate between teleology and mechanism reflects so clearly an inert view of nature drawn from physics forced upon the sciences of life. and decay of human societies is an inevitable truth the one factor that has not evolved throughout this process is nature itself. In fact it could be asserted that although the rise.Man and Nature itself and even less from physics. The same plants and animals are still born. there is a need for a vision of reality in which qualities and forms of life have an ontological rather than an accidental status. For this reason many outstanding biologists have rebelled against the mechanistic thesis and asserted the importance of teleology in all life processes.

of cosmic correspondences and of the science of symbolism can reveal again the meaning of such sciences as alchemy or astrology. Only man's vision of it has altered. astronomy or mathematics itself36 could be continued along the lines mentioned briefly as providing both an overall matrix and a criterion for judging between hypotheses and facts and between scientific discoveries and their so-called philosophical implications. The examples cited concerning physics and biology suffice. in this brief exposition to indicate the principle we have in mind. namely bringing to light the true significance of the traditional sciences of nature which. geology.ture and all the forms of life flourishing in its bosom. In this domain metaphysics can also render another service of great value. however. a process which the sciences cannot carry out themselves by"'Virtue of the self-imposed restriction of dealing only with facts and generalizations or mental constructions based upon them and not with the symbolic significance of facts or phenomena. Otherwise the structUre of reality has not changed. socially and economically do not conform to the life in that domain of reality that surrounds him but which he has not made.9 . have lost their meaning.Applications to the Contemporary Situation through cyclic change reproduces the same permanent forms. because of the loss of metaphysical knowledge. 11. 33 Perhaps one of the reasons why modern man who believes in progress and evolution has come to a severe crisis in his encounter with nature is that his evolutionary beliefs with all that these beliefs imply religiously. In each case metaphysical knowledge does not grow but of an experimental science but stands as a universal science which provides the general background for each science and which brings to light the universal and symbolic significance of the discoveries of each science. There is no validity in the assertion that modern man can no longer see God in the sun and the sky except if one means by this that man has dosed his eyes to this aspect of things. politically. namely virgin na. The application of metaphysical principles to other sciences such as chemistry. Only a re-discovery of the doctrine of the multiple states of being.

This century has been witness to the rediscovery of the significance of myth and symbol. by virtue of this immutable centre. science or even art. and the traditional cosmological sciences that are their extension. remain unchanged and unaffected. Such a revitalization of the traditional sciences. again made meaningful through metaphysical knowledge. the structure of reality taught by metaphysical doctrines. not the indefinite and the relative.37 but this event has as yet had little effect upon theology. this form of science can remain wholesome only when cultivated in the matrix of a science that is centred on the Absolute and the Infinite and can thus. All extensions of modern scientific knowledge are horizontal in the domain of corporeal and material existence. requires a re-discovery of the true meaning of symbolism and the education of modern man to understand the language of symbolism in the same way that he is taught to master the languages of logic or mathematics. and thus do not in the least affect other planes of existence.Man and Nature No matter how deeply one pierces into the depths of cosmic space or the heart of the atom. could play a vital role as the link between the modern sciences and purely metaphysical doctrines themselves. Knowledge that is concerned solely with the material world is dealing truly with the indefinite. however. In this task revitalized cosmological sciences. locate and define the periphery and the relative with which the modern sciences are concerned. Man's intelligence is made so that he can come to know with certainty the Infinite and the Absolute. this extended knowledge of material things is itself in need of the synthetic cosmological knowledge provided by the traditional sciences of the cosmos. as a bridge between the modern scientific knowledge of nature and gnosis that deals with realities beyond all cosmic manifestation. Modern man too rarely understands the meaning of symbols and due to his lack of discriminative knowledge is apt to mistake forms and signs of diabolical origin with symbols whose source 130 . Moreover. with what the Hindus call the cosmic labyrinth or maya and the Buddhists samsara. even if it be galactic matter. Although legitimate as all other knowledge. or at least its quantitative aspect.

a symbol of the transcendent aspect of God who. mind. in fact all that is objective reality is sacred and symbolic of a reality that lies beyond it. Rather. bestowing all qualities. Yet one must already be possessed the knowledge of symbolism and the principles it involves in to discern in every situation the symbolic meq.ning inherent in it. colours and shapes. in the essential meaning of the term we have in .Applications to tlze Conremporary Sicuacion is transcendental and luminous. of the <n . It can be said that even the void and nihilism felt by modern man is a symbol.. In fact to understand fully the meaning of symbolism. au"'"" .. is concerned with the process of sacralization of the cosmos.• uL•uuoc meaning of forms. 39 Only the Origin or the One is completely real and totally Itself and not the symbol of something other than Itself. It is thus a way of tnaking all things sacred. The profane itself symbolizes a religious reality in the same way that 'Satan is the ape of God'. rounds us. Symbolism. For this very reason it requires meta. after . Much of the poetry and painting that is so-called symbolic and the Jungian search for the origin of symbols in a collective unconscious that is like the rubbish-heap of a particular culture or ethnic group bear witness to this fact. also takes all qualities back unto Himself. 40 It needs an education in the deepest meaning of the word. Everything is a symbol of a state of being that transcends it. is a way to see God everywhere. it means a revelation of the knowledge of another aspect of things which even more real and more closely tied to their existential root the sensible qualities and the quantitative aspect with which IJI . a re-orientation of man so that he becomes of the transparent nature of the world that surrounds him the transcendent dimension that is present in every cosmic To instruct men to understand symbols in this manner does not mean a negation of the factual aspect of things. discrimination and a conformity to Pure Being which is the source of all symbols. It is through the symbol that man is able to find meaning in the cosmic environment that surrounds him. 38 It is the symbol that reveals objective reality as sacred. of all that sur.

or of the mountain as the symbol of the cosmos. this science can also aid in increasing the understanding of those particular symbols which Christianity like every other religion has sanctified.Man anJ Nature modem science is concerned. It concerns the application of modern science whether it be in technology or in war. Moreover. or the sun as the symbol of the intelligible. To teach the significance of the tree as the symbol of the multiple states of being. In this domain unending debates continue and as so often happens these days a situation is created where no clear cut answer is found. precisely because the ground has not been prepared properly. principle of the Universe does not in any way detract from the discoveries of botany. A true symbol is no more man-made than the properties of the bark or the granite. not as poetic fantasy but as a science tied to the ontological root of things. Yet another application of metaphysical pri~ciples concerns not so much the domain of knowledge but that of action. that the science of symbols can play a vital role in restoring man to his home in the Universe. geology or astronomy. It is only in this light. this symbolic knowledge must be presented. as a science of natural forms that complements modem scientific knowledge. symbols the forgetting of which has forced many an intelligent soul to search for answers to pressing questions outside the teachings of the Church. In fact the anxiety of most of those who· have at last become interested in the question of the relation of man and nature springs up usually not from theoretical considerations but from observing the unbelievable horrors of war which the applications of modem science have made possible. But if nature is to be possessed of meaning again. Some believe there are things worth fighting for and even dying for and others for whom the terrestrial life of man is the ultimate end therefore do not believe it is worth jeopardizing I}~ . and if the encounter of man and nature is ·to avoid the disasters and calamities that threaten it today. The symbolic nature of the tree or the mountain is as closely a part of its being as the bark of the tree or the granite rocks of the mountain.

Applications to the Contemporary Situation this existence for any reason whatsoever even if the price be the loss of the dignity which makes man human rather than animal. so does the illimitable and unrestricted application of modern science in the West in the form of technology depend on the fact that Christianity is a religion without a Sacred Law or as Muslims would say without a Shari'ah. which at the moment of the weakening of faith led to the divorce between science and religion. Further. 41 This fact may not be evident for a Christian who sees his religion as the norm with which he compares other religions. They can most of all dispel the illusion about the existence of that purely economic being whose indefinite material progress is supposed to be the goal of every social and political organization. In the same way that the rise of a purely material and quantitative science of nature in the West is due to deep rooted causes and certain limitations in the theological formulations of Latin Christianity. social and economic nature metaphysical principles can also cast some light not by providing a painless solution to a particular predicament where one must accept the reaction of an action committed but by revealing the principia! causes that have brought about a particular situation. In all these questions of a political. They can help to correct some of the errors of other sciences concerned with man and society which still copy blindly the methods of seventeenth-century physics and study man without knowing what he really is. They can also set bounds upon the application of technology and in fact upon this unrelenting drive to satisfy man's animal desires and even to create new needs and desires when possible. Both of these religions have a Sacred Law.. the 133 . . namely Judaism and Islam.. when the immediate question of this alternative concerning war is not being considered the focus of attention is usually turned to the peaceful extension of technology which is supposed to obliterate all misery on earth but which usually brings with it greater problems than those it succeeds in solving. but it becomes obvious if a comparison is made with the other monotheistic religions issuing from the 'Abrahamic tree'..

is a result of a situation in which there is no direct religious instruction as to what man's rights and obligations are toward both nature and God.Man ant! Nature Talmudic and the Quranic. In fact in both cases the will of God is seen as manifested in concrete laws which theoretically govern all aspects of human life and are the blueprint of the perfect human society. came as a spiritual way without a Sacred Law. The development of economics as an independent discipline. Men continued to accept the virtue of charity. makes of charity the supreme virtue. even if it is only charity towards man considered as an animal. but once the unity of Christendom was destroyed they began to interpret in different ways exactly what was meant by being charitable. It is a paradox of modern Western history that every politico-economic system. Christianity. Christ brought a way that was not of this world and a set of exalted spiritual teachings which can be followed fully only by a society of saints. even those that are most secular and anti-Christian. whose subject is man considered solely as a being with material needs. social and economic life is governed by the divine iniunctions contained in the Sacred Law. Man's political. As it became the religion of a civilization it incorporated Roman and even common law into its structure and whil:e the unity of medieval Christendom lasted the law was given a divine sanction as we see in the theological discussions of St Thomas on natural and divine law. which are inseparable from the revelation of each religion. But the fact remained that the laws that governed the political. social and economic life of men did not enjoy the same direct authority of revelation as the teachings of Christ which concern general spiritual principles such as the necessity to be charitable. It is of course true that Christian theology has influenced social and economic attitudes throughout the ages.1'he 134 . The lack of a Sacred Law in Christianity not only made social upheavals easier but also facilitated the disruption of nature through its unrestricted and unlimited exploitation. on the other hand in conformity with its esoteric character. Even in Marxism th~ supreme virtue is charity which in this case has become a parody of the charity of the saints.

It is only the complete ignorance of what man's relation to nature means that could allow such views to be entertained. What is forgotten is that in both the state of war and peace man is waging an incessant war upon nature. in human society and towards nature. or the glorification of work among New England Puritans is only too well known. Today nature has to be saved from man in both peace and war. The very fact that there was not within Christianity a detailed instruction about social structure and economic practices led. In the old days man had to be saved from nature.Applit:ation.i\Vithin the souls of men. and a revitalization of a theology and philosophy of nature could set a limit upon the application of science and technology.s to tiN Contemporary Situation debate about faith and good works. The official state of war is no more than an occasional outburst of an activity that goes on all the time. 42 Many labour under the illusion that only war is evil and that if only it could be averted man could go on peacefully to create paradise on earth. It has also led to the creation of a modem civilization which has spread to other continents and has brought about political and military situations in which the choice has often had to be made between annihilation and the sacrifice of those values which give dignity to human life. through economic practices and applications of technology to an amassment of wealth which knows no bounds and limits. The net result does not differ in the two cases because in both instances man is waging war against nature. It is no more than a chimerical dream to expect to have peace based upon a state of intense war toward nature and disequilibrium with the cosmic environment. with a weakening of Christianity in the West. But the development of this peaceful accord depends in turn upon the re- 135 .. Perhaps the answer to the burning question of how to avoid war and also of how to preserve human dignity in face of the threat of total war. lies in coming to peace with nature. the only difference is the matter of time. Whethe r one pollutes water resources in a ' single bombing or does so over a twenty-year period is essentially the same. A re-discovery of metaphysical knowledge. But theological views are not the same as revealed law.

rather. Ollivier . Paris. th Ma n an d Na tur e I. and the question of wheth er t&e proposals of thi kind ever have the ch s ance of being carried ou t in a world which does not seem to want to change its course until events force it to do so is itself a matte r to consider. a harmonious relati on can be created for all those who are able to understand and grasp this metaphysic knowledge which lea al ds to a love and res pect for nature. Source and Origin of all things. Physique rrwderru et 1962. Th e att empt to think of thi major problem and s to prpv~e an answ er is nevertheless its wo rth while. Whether any suggestions of a spiritual and intellec tual nature will be he ard by a world which has turned its ears to the sound and fury of its ow n making an d become deaf to all other voices remain s to be seen. ria liti . W ith the help of metaphysical principl es and a re-awaken ing of interest in the tradition within Ch ristianity that has ha d a spiritual vision nature a love of natur of e based on the scien ce of its symbolic an ontological reality ca d n be developed and indeed must be developedY In this wa y. N O TE S TO CH APTER IV . ha s been to make this analysis concerning the causes of the crisis in the encounter of man and nature and to propose means where by this crisis can be ameliorated. H He who is at peace with Go d is also at peace with His creation. In the end what we can say with all certa inty is that there is no peace possible am ong men unless there is peace and harmon with nature.discovery of the spiri tual significance of na ture. one wh ich however importa we cannot treat here. Po pa s de critiques scient urquoi n'y aurait-il ifiques ?' M. for to se elf ek to discover the tru th in any matter is the most constructive of all acts. 58. O f course the feasibili ty of applying the pr ogramme proposed in these chapters. bo th wi nature and with man. p. And in y or de r to have peac e and harmony with nature one must be in harmony and equil ibrium with Heaven and ultimately with the . nt Ou r task. 'II y a des critiques littiraires et des critiques d'art.

siwho will have the fina l word. Gueno conn.' Schuon.its conclusions. PP· 41. on tke 5• 'Na tur e inviolate is at once a vestige of the Earthly Paradise and a figuration of the Heave prenly Paradise•. g. pp.Applications to tlu Con. 9· J· As far as the true me aning of the occult sci ences and spiritism are cerned see R. also his Sym fondameruaux de !a scie boles nce sacrie. P· II7 · 137 . 54-5. Schuon. having had to react against a wholly "pa gan " spirit the Biblical sense) has (in at the same time caused to dis ap pe ar.bu t not eve ry We ste rne r-i s affecte by a kind of innate con d tempt for nature. wi tho ut assuming a me taphysical principle. by this very fac t. z. who kno se to ws neither agitation no r falsehood. hav the ing also. jus t as one function of log to lay bare these pre ic is suppositions. be or even an enemy to conquer. she is an ope childn book containing an inexhaustible teaching and beauty. On e ty of of the functions of me taphysics is to examin gro un ds for the presup e the positions of science. 1966. L' Erreur spirite. Modern techno logy is the res ult -ve ry indirect no do ub t-o f a perspective which. Metaphys does no t deal with the ics detailed behaviour of nature.3. Winter. Tom 'Th e orrow.. Th e Promethean st brutal sense of the W est ern er. p. a philosophic ''fl at" naturalism.. it is bethey that make him cov etous and impious. The Power and ics.as always happens in such cas esva lue s which did not des erve the reproach of pag ism. clo virgin Nature. amongst the No "naturism" of spiritual rdics.. Par is. metaphys ics and science are com plementary. 1961.' F. op.' Lim its of Science. • • . 7· See W.' Schuon . where he spe aks of the need to reu interior and exterior. But this doe s not exhaust metaphys Caldin. 8-9. 143· 6. Th ey are necessary to a synthetic both view of the world. for him nature is a pro p. qua divine in her totality. 192. 'Christianity. Paris. rendered it profane. XC I Sprin n'. On g. It is in the of truth midst of his own artifice s tha t man most easily comes corrupted. Bu t the relation is one-sid science cannot begin ed. it sup and pressed at the same time. 8. Ibid. Scholarship and the Restitution of Ma Da eda lus . And it is Nature. 'Re ligion. to nite 'the restore man to his hom e in the cosmos'.r ty to enjoyed or exploited. science does no wi th the ultimate int t deal erpretation of natural knowledge. .. hav ing banished from nature and the genies.tt mporary SitlU:ltion. 'In a sense. Symbolist Ou tlo ok '. 4· 'W ild Nature is at one with holy poverty and also with spiritual likeness. cit. ended by allowing it to be "pr ofa ned " in the mo word. p. J. he had the of remaining contempla hope tive like Nature hersel f. among the Mediterr aneans. p. A Pki losopkical Stu dy. and. character. wh metaphysics does no t ereas presuppose any scientific principle for the validi . 191h. Ligftt Ancient Worlds. Having to oppose an. 84.

II. and why it has any laws. See also Mascall. 16--17 I 2. not only would it have to leave unexplained the basic assumptions of physics. Certainly it gives us some understanding of the order of nature's workings. Moreover. how and why it exists at all. I). and so the knowledge of the natural world that could be gained by the use of all our faculties that can bring us in relation with it gready exceeds and transcends that which can be acquired by the use of the scientific method. cit. They are valid within the context of dre experiment and the experimenter. 'Physical science then. 'But we have seen that science concerns itself with only a part of w~t we can perceive. V.' Sherwood Taylor. chap. but it would be absurdly limited in scope. op.' Yarnold. in its widest sense. Tlze Philosophy of Physical Science. but not a full understanding. Eddington cites d1e story of the ichthyologist who uses a particular size net to catch fish from the sea and then arrives at the conclusion that all fish in the sea are of that particular size. is not to be apprehended through science alone ••• Besides the minute investigations of science and the unification of them that theoretical 1)8 . to the exclusion of everything else which is of interest. II. Science is a construction. it entirely neglects me relation of nature to man and to the first cause. then. 84. and Smethurst.. Accordingly the knowledge of nature provided by its theoretical interpretations is very limited. and has concerned itself with these. Tlze Fourfold Vision. p. From natural science we cannot learn what material nature is for. Christian TlzeokJgy and Natural Science. somewhat as an artist selects. We must set up the ideal of a sapientia natura/is. and these alone. be based on physics alone. a wisdom concerning nature to which our present scientia or knowledge is a valid contribution.. then. PP· 47-8.' Caldin. IO. it is not an untouched vision of nature. pp.' Yarnold.. 16. it is a portrait made by an observer with a particular point of view and a definite limitation on his vision. it omits considerations of qualities. of fonns. op. He selects the data. The beauty of nature. P· 2. but these limitations do not carry consequences outside physics. of ag~nts and causality. p. is not an adequate description of nature. 'The fact that experiment is made imposes a strict limitation on the general conclusions. Tlze Spiritual Crisis of the Scientific Age. See Eddington.Man arul Nature 9· 'Physics is restricted by its own method. A philosophy cannot. 'What must be immediately apparent is that physical science has abstracted certain measurable quantities from an altogether richer reality.8. and cannot be expected to yield a full account of experience: it cannot deal with the fundamentals of rational thought and action. cit. made by synthesizing selected data. chap. Motkrn Science and Christian Belief.

Physique moderne et realite. . Science and Common Sense. une demarche de Ia raison individuelle. 'Jung breached certain strictly m<fterialistic frameworks of modern science.' Ibid. p. 1957. See Lord Northboume. 14. comme Ia science moderne. Science et rialite.Applications to t!te Contemporary Situation science effects. etc'est bien en e. 16. 17. si elle existe. 'Pictures of the Universe'. to say the least-one would have liked to rejoice over it-because the influences that infiltrate through this breach come from the inferior psychism and not from the Spirit.. could carry a wider and in some sort more spiritual meaning.• We need a wisdom that transcends science if we are to have a full view of nature. on nou. p. pp. for a biological criticism of evolution and some of its defenders. 1964. 'The least phenomenon participates in several continuities or cosmic dimensions. Brunner. 2. where he writes. 1965. Tomorrow. 'La science parfaite. 55· 19. 130-1.' Thompson. Tomorrow. at the level of physiological instinct: it is important to bear this in mind since the term "collective unconscious". because they regard it as a supreme integrative principle. Ollivier. One of the great French biologists writes. liee aux donnees limities de l' experimentation et du calcul. a !'etre et a Ia fin absolue des choses. the "collective unconscious" is stiuated "below". 1964. cit. Diterminisme et finalitl douhle kJi de Ia vie. but this fact is of no use to anyone. 308.0.or rather in point of fact his usurping. which alone is true and alone able to save us. we need to understand the relation of nature to man and God . . ' Burckhardt. 8-9).ffet so us Ia forme d'Utle vericl revelie que chacUII de nous a re. p. 'Bref.9. 'Cosmology and Modern Science'.7. Paris. in itself. incommensurable in relation to each other •. PP· 267-78. 139 .' L.r demande ici Uti acte de foi.' Burckhardt. 2.the term "archetype" . 15. ' . . This is probably the reason why the severe methodological criticism employed in other departments of biology has not yet been brought to bear against evolutionary speculation. sa propriite est d'etre tout entiere suspendue d: Ia connaissance du Principe de l'univers. I 8. 1954. Science alone will not give us the conceptions we need for a full knowledge of nature . 'Cosmology and Modern Science'. Tomorrow. for J. On this and other contradictions in modem physical theories see M. Winter. 22. especially his utilizing.... Bounoure. Paris.. On the 'perfect'· science and its comparison with modern science see F. Autumn.' Caldin. Relative a !'origine. n'est pas. Paris.u jadis Ia notion d' evolution. as certain assimilations made by J ung seem to suggest.. p. for many of whom it is an object of genuinely religious devotion. 1964. 'The concept of organic Evolution is very highly prized by biologists. op..ung.' (pp. See also the same author's Recherche d'Utle doctrine de Ia vie. Autumn.

Tennessee(!) and is not easy to find even in libraries that have all his earlier works. 'We no longer ask questions about evolution. Diterminisme et jinalitl.' Quoted by Dewar in Transformisc Illusion.' :.For a criticism of these theories which seek to provide an answer for the explosion of new forms see Bounoure. pp. no one any longer believes in it. cit. 'La nuzjeure partie des types fountlamentaux tlu regne animal se presentent nous sans aucun lieu tu1 point de vue palioncologit.. because it is the conventional language. less perfected. p. op.6. Bounoure. Paris. 'Qu'il y ait eu. But his last work. but which they maintain for their people. 'De Ia vient que l'ivolucionisme repose tout entier sur·une vaste petition de principe: les faits palionrologiques sonc uti!Uis pour prouver Nvolucion et. Dewar called the Transformist IUusion. and one speaks. i2.fue. cit. Lemoine. Ia fois. a French geologist. p. Evolution is a kind of dogma. avec tous ses caraccdres essentiels. une certaine gratlation des formes. mais ne prouve nuUemenr un rapport de descendence entre les difforents groupes. C'est un magnififue exempfe de circulus vitiosus. a pp. au conrraire. de novo. as the editor of a volume of the French encyclopaedia on Living Organisms after reviewing articles by different contributors on the palaeontological proofs of evolution writes.' C. au cours des ages. The Transformisc Illusion. done chacun. 57-B· :1. 1957.u. despite appearances. admitted and almost obligatory in the scientific world. which has assembled a vast amount of palaeontological and biological evidence against evolution. 1907. op. in which the priests no longer believe. less evolved in the sense of more perfected. 8cr1. 262.4. 'Some Trans- a formations Postulated by the Doctrine of Evolution. A case in point is the work by D.' 140 . :1. Only too often the works of such authors have been deliberately neglected or suppressed.' Bounoure.7. :1. 76. 'It follows from this account that the theory of evolution is impossible. 65 ff. pp. of evolution to denote linkage-or more evolved. without attaching any importance to it. Deperet. In reality. We only accept and follow it. See Dewar. Murfreesboro. 23. Chapter XVII. trouvent leurpplication dans cette theorie inventie pour eux. had to be published in Murfreesboro. :1. cela est certain.5.. surgic brusquement.Mtu1 and Nature We recall once in a class of stratigraphy when we asked the professor a question which seemed to criticize the postulate of evolution he answered c:urtly. The Transformist Illusion. The author who was an evolutionist in his youth wrote many monographs which exist in the libraries of comparative zoology and biology everywhere. There is hardly any other field of science where such obscurantist practices are prevalent. Les Transformations tlu montk animal.

30. Enigmas ofNatural Hmory. Living and Knowing. 'Quoi qu'il en soit. 4or. acade~tc figures as H. Paris. moines et princes de grand' clergie. 38.Applicatwn. 34· On the problems concerned with the philosophy of biology see E. I955. F. I946. Guenon. Bounoure. I! existe aujourd' hui un scientisme cUrical done !'ardent empressement est manifeste pour !'evolution: chq_ celle-ci se reconcilient les passiones de !' atheisme et les croyants de stricte obedience. pp.' pp. London. Eliade are especially significant m this dom~. cit. p. but that he "opens out~ t~ a world which. 33· Such an outstanding biologist as D' Arcy Thomson is an example.s to the Contemporary Situation 28. 1931. especially the Hindu doctrines of cosmic cycles. !e spiritualisme de Le Roy et de Leconte de Noiiy.) and TheM etj···. Le Probleme de !'evolution. 78. parts two and three . op. I964. M. l'orthodoxie religieuse des precres. A. il n' est point de bio-philosophie qui ne recoure d cette fille complaisance: elle sert le materialisme de Haeckel et de Lyssenko. op. L. of Physical Life. Coomara: wamy.. c' est le succes des personnes faciles. cit. le pantheisme de Teilhard de Char din.s pame. 37· The writings of traditional authors like R. cit.s sous fes yeux et done nous faiSon. more precisely it reveals the continuity between the structures of human existence and c~smic structures. p. 5tr.' Bounoure. where such cases are st~died. I941. op. 36. Determmzsme et finalite. 'The religious symbol translates a human situation into cosmologtcal tenns and vice versa. F. Tomlin. London. 29.s aucun signe d' evolution. a branch of mathematics elucidated can be found in R. thanks to a symbol. The ys~~ seeks in these works to study the 'wisdom of nature' by turning to 8~ · cases where this 'wisdom' is most directly manifested. 32.Watson such as Nature AbounJin6. K. 35· This assertion is not meant in any way to be opposed to the gradual solidification and coagulation of the cosmic ambiance asserted by traditional doctrines. on s'iteindre. W. que nous avon. Schuon and T. 'Elles [especes] n'ont devant elles qu'une alternative: ou se mainten..' Caullery. p. 3I. viva~t. proves "familiar". See the various studies of E. e cosmological values of symbols enable him to leave behind the su JecUVlty 141 . 5 I. London (n. Burckhardt as well as such well-k~own. cel:e-ci para~t :xclue du monde.. . Les Prznczpes du calcul injinitesmial. le lyrisme eperdu de Saint-Seine. As far as mathematics is concerned an example of ~w metaphysical principles can be applied and the metaphysical significance _of. Guenon. nous ne constaton.d.I. 84-5.ir inchanges. Caullery. On the other ~:m ? . This means that man does not feel himself "isolated" in the cosmos. dans le monde actuel. 'Le succes de !a theorie evolucioniste.. !' anti-hasard de Cuenot. London. Zimmer and M. Bounoure. G~nt. Paris.

Eliade and J. we assent to the qualities to the extent that we ourselves are "qualitative". pp. symhols are always religious because they point to something real or to a structure of the worltl. Kitagawa (ed. 42. 98--9. in these days. Brown. they are. 103. 41. The History of Religions. 1959. 1. cit. Tomorrow. for the cosmic qualities are ordered both in relation to Being and according to a hierarchy which is more real than the individual. ..' M. 'Methodological Remarks on the Study of Religious Symbolism'. the powerful. or rather they determine them to the extent that we are ourselves conformable to Being.' Eliade. G.' 'For the primitive. Chicago. the real-that is. 30:1. 40. forms. the living-is equivalent to the sacred. then. Symbolism. London. On the special character of Christianity as a spiritual way without a law in comparison to Judaism and Islam see F. 39· 'Religious symbols are capable of revealing a modality of the real or a structure of the World that is not evident on the level of immediate experience. E..' F. VI and VII.. whether it resides in nature or whether it is affirmed in sacred art. Once this role is ignored or misused he is in danger of being shown ultimately by nature who in reality is the conqueror and who the conquered. 1964.M= arul Nature of a situation and to recognize the objectivity of his personal experiences. Schuon. we are not dealing here with subjective appreciations. independent of our tastes. as it is not here a question of a "naturism" that might well be de141.. p. 43· 'This dethronement of nature.). 'The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian'. spatial directions . the meaningful. Gnosis Divine Wist/om (trans. It could also be said that in the past man had to protect himself from the forces of nature. p. 'Because of the true man's totality and centrality he has the almost divine function of guardianship over the world of nature. . op. For on the archaic ·levels of culture. in M. Eliade.. Some may object that theWest has always known--especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries-returns to virgin nature. but this is besides the point. p. 110.Essays in Metlwtlology. . on condition that this vision is spontaneous thanks to an intimate knowledge of the principles from which the science of symbols proceeds••. H. 1959. Chaps. The Transcendent Unity of&ligions (trans. Autumn. P.948. Schuon. E. also corresponds to a manner of "seeing God everywhere". and other properties or state of things. London. Townsend). whereas today it is nature which must be protected from man. 'The science of symbols-not simply a knowledge of traditional symbolsproceeds from the qualitative significances of substances.' J. Palmer). the timeless message of nature constitutes a viaticum of the first importance. or this scission between men and the earth-a reflection of the scission between man and Heaven-has borne such bitter fruits that it should not be difficult to show how.

I.-they who have it are in harmony with Heaven.-they are those who are in harmony with men. p. and "The Great Origin". vel. the divine substance which is inherent in it. pp. J. on the contrary. It is not a question of rojecting a supersaturated and disillusioned individualism into a desac~ted nature-this would be a piece of wordliness like any other-but.Applications to the Contemporary Situation $Cribed as romantic and "deist" or even atheist.' The Sacred Books of China.' F. 143 . of finding again in nature. 44· 'The clear understanding of the virtue of Heaven and Earth is what is called "The Great Root". on the basis of a traditional outlook. 'The Symbolist Outlook'. The Texts of Taoism (trans. 331. and to see nothing apart from His mysterious presence. Legge). to "see God everywhere". 55-<i. in other words. and so they produce all equable arrangement in the world. Schuon.

.

. 69 Agassiz. 98 angelology. 62. 139 Buddhi. 67 Apte. 6l. us. 77-8o. 103 ifyc&h. 139-41 Brahe. 41 Bultmann. 95 Ayur-veda. M. no. 126-9. 31. l l I atomism of Moses. B. 124. s6. lS. 6l Anger. 104 Alexandrian.. 77 Antiquity. N. 133 Absolute. 95 Barth. 89. 76. 53 astrology. 88 Augustinian. 43 Brown.. 6o. 70. 61. 21. 65 Bohme. 100. IO). 48 American Indians. us Agrippa. 113 Bahii' al-Din 'Amili. 73. V. 95 Bavink. M.. 46 Aristotle. 52 Berdyaev. E. 101 Biblical. 42. 84 Benedetti. IIo--n. 8l Aristotelian. 110 Adam. 76. 93 America. 112 Burckhardt. 104. so Adamson. 87. 124. Isaac. 88.. 104 batin. 61. 65. 62 alchemy. l6. 105. 89 Bible. 104 algebra. 31 Brunner. J.. I l9 Alexandria. 83. l6. T. Il9 astronomy. 40. 67.. 49 Adler.. 31 Barthian. 91 Alberrus Magnus.. 94 Baillie. 93 Bacon. 61. JO. 62 Avicenna. 139· 141 Buridan. 66. 76. Ill apokatastasis. D. 1oo Aniane. lS.. Roger. M.. 105. 49 Adriano di Corneto. H. II6. J. 76 Bede.. J. 40. 93 von Baader. 76. Tycho.. 54. 111 Basil Valentine. 101 Apollo. 45 Anglo-Saxon. 111 Born. I Jl astrophysics. 61 Arber. Io4.. 93 Arvan. 37. 107 Book of Kells. Sl Burrows. 101.. 89. 87. 142 Bronowski.. 6o. 102 Brahman. 61 arithmetic.. 56 barakah.INDEX Abelard. 48 Berthelot. K .. 123. M. 47 Basil of Neo-Caesarea. 111. J. no. M. 121 Arisrotelianism. 89. 45 botany... 73 Babylonian. Sl. 76 Baptism. 51 Berrrand-Semet. P. R. 1Jl Bounoure. 81' 64. ns Bett. 9 3 biology. 6o. Ill hhutas. 54.. 113 Bon-Po. 61 Arisrotelianization. G.. Io9 Arabic. 129. F. 65 Ahankara. 4l 145 . 55. B. 57 bija-ganita. 82 Averroes. lS. 6 5. A. I08 Arman. 140 Bodde. 97. E. 88 Briihmana period. 93 Buddhist. 91 Buddhism. 117. 69 Burtt. 63 Abrahamic. 40 American. 104. 71. 107. A... 93 Bridgman. 19. 73. 94.. 107 Bodin. IJO Abu Bakr Siraj Ed-Din.. M. 130 Burch. 59 Being. 29. lS. T. P. L. 56. 37. L..

42. 74. 78. 141. 117. 124 Dominicans. 75. 114. 53. 78. 59. 78 Duhem.. 104. P. 67 Copernican system. 58-64. Jonathan. 92. 122 Creator. 104-6. 51 Earth. 107 Coomaraswamy. 76 corpus. 125. 112. E. 62. M.77. 87 Copernicus. 78 Corbin. 44. 37. 39. 78 Deism.. J. 116 cosmologia perenni. 33. A. 93 Chartres. Johannes Scotus. 84. 98--100. F. 53. 100 Celts.. 73. 76 epicyclic system. 38. 54.. 69 evolution. 111. R. 6~o. 112 Essays (of Montaigne). 99. G. 125 Collingwood. J. 141 Copernican Revolution. 69. 109 Davies. 48.. 87. 115. A. 76 Discorsi (of Galileo). 100. 5!. 83.. 112 Erigena. 97 Chinese. 49 Conant. 120. 19. 6s. 108. 69 von Erhardt. 6o. 25 Epistk to tlu Romans. 96 Edwards. 121. 95.Man and Nature Caldin. 102-5. 93 dianoia. 70 Campanella. 119. 74. 94. 112 City of God. 82. 101.. 107 Church Fathers. E. 54. 122 146 . G. 6o Dionysius the Areopagite. 28. 43 Confucian. 71 'Encyclopedists'. 94.. 47. 141 Dante. 74. 75 Epicurean. 57-Go. 104 Danto. 104 Descartes. 43. 8J. 83 Eckhart. F. 93. 37-9. 29. 59 Chase. 24 Catholicism. 107 Christ. 82. 48 Chaudhury. 84--6. 73 Crombie. K. U2 Eliade. 1:14--<J. 47--<J. 23. 48 Einstein. 67. 121 Cassirer.Tzu. 71 England. 90 Darwinian. A. 19. 100 chain of being. M. 1)4 Christianity. so. 44 Carnap.. 22.s. E. 125 Dasgupta. 66. 43 D'Arcy Thomson. 82. 109. S. 142 Empiricists. IJ8 Edenic state.. 108. 42. 71. 83. 62. 113 Cuenot. D. J. 63.. 109. 76. 51. 111 cosmology. 43... 79. 82. 67 De diYisione naturae. 49. 141 darshiinas. 69.. 101 Di Samillana. I o 1 Debus. 108. 82. too Collins. 84. 99-101. 87 East. L. C. R. 83 Eddington. 64. 82. 90 Dhanur-veda. 78. 125.. 140 dharma. 54 Dionysian. 69. 82. 101 dih. 39-41.. R.. 110 Comford. tp--6. 108 De revo!utionihus orhium coelesrium. 6o. 26. 41... 89. H. 64. 76. 55. 99. 71 English. Oliver. 102. 69 Discours (of Descartes). !OJ Cartesian. 118 Dewar. 66-8. ss-6•. 66. 142 Chuang. 129 China. 37. 70.. 105. B. 137-9 C3mbridge Platonists. !OJ. JJ. 87. 23. 45 chemistry. 109. 141 Celtic monks. 112 von Erhardt-Siebold.. 34 Erasmus. 125 Clement of Alexandria. 73 chandas. 77. 118. A. A. 55. 40. 27. so. 113 Caullery. 104 Divine Mind. 53. 37 Clark. Meister. A. 69 Canticle of the Sun. IIJ. )2. 47.. 39. 139. 71. v-s. 73. 69 Divine Comedy.. 22. 63.. P. 125 Deperct. so. 140 Euclidian.. 134 Christian. 134 Christendom.

Index

Europe, 49, 7I, 87, roo, ll.l. European 64, 70, 77, 79, 1I 8 Excursion (of Wordsworth), 7:J.
Farhenlehre, 105

Grunebaum, A., :z7
f!unas, 91

Guenon, R., 42, so, 78, ro6, ro8, IO<J, IIJ, IJ7, 141 Haeckel, E., 126, 141 Hassidim, 99 Heaven, 84, 87, 118, 142, I4J Hebrew, 57, 108 Hegel, 7J Heidegger, 82 Heim, K., 47 Heisenberg, W., 45 Hellenist, 76 Hellenistic, 107 Hendel, C., 44 Hermetic, 57, 59, 6o, 104 Hermetical, 65 Hermeticism, 54, 59, 71 Hermeticists, 92 ljilr.mat al-ishriJ.q, 97 Hindu, 29, 54, 88, ro8, IJO, 141 Hinduism, 48, 88-90, 98, 1o8 Historia natura/is, 58 Holy Scripture, 9 5 Holy Spirit, IOJ, IIJ Hosea, 99 Hsiianyeh, 87 Hugo ofSt Victor, 95, 102 Hume, 71 Hwang- Ti, 86 Ibn R ushd (see A verroes) Ibn Sina (see Avicenna) llluminationist, 1OJ India, 92, 97 Indian, 66, 92, 9J Infinite, 84, 9J, 1OJ
al-insiJ.n al-kamil, 96 al-insan al-qadim, 96 intellectus, 20

Far East, 8J, 88, 97 Far Eastern, 87 Faust, 45
Fedeli d'amore, 59

Flame!, N., 104' Fludd, R., 65 Frank, Ph., :z4, 43 France, Il7 Franciscans, 6o, 64, 78 French, I40 French Revolution, 7:z, 79 Fung Yu-Lan, 107 Galileo, :z5, 5z, 65, 69 Ghandharva-veda, 93 Gehrard Groot, 69 geology, no, u9, 1Jl. geometry, 9J, 122 geomorphology, no geophysics, I :zo German, 71, 75, 76 Germany, 71, 105 Giles, L., Io6 Gillispie, Ch., 43 Gilson, E., 69, 78, 79 gnosis, J6, J7, 55. 56, 68, 77. 8!, 8:z, 93. 94 gnostic, r6r gnosticism, 77 God, :zo, JI, J4, 39-41, 44, 48, 49, 55, 68, 76, 86, 94~, 99, Ior, III, 113, u9, 1JI, 1J4, IJ6, 14:z, 143 Godhead, 8J Goethe, :z7, 45, ros Graeco-Hellenistic, 55, 57 Graeco-Roman, 56 Graham, Dom A., 40 Granet, M., 1o6 Grant-Watson, E. L., us, 141 Greater Mysteries, 104 Greek, zs, 42, sJ-s, 57, s8, 66, 8:z, 9J Greek Fathers, 100 Gregory, the Great, 59 Gregory of Nazianz.en, 8:z Gregory of Nyssa, 8:z, 100, 101 Grossteste, R., 52, 6:z, IOJ

Irenaeus, 82, roo Iranian, 9J Isadore (of Seville), 59 Islam, 19, JJ, 55-8, 6r, 77, 88, 93-s, IJJ, 142 Islamic, 52, 59, 6o, 62, 66, 94, 97, 111 ISvara, 89 James, William, 26 Japan, 8J, 87 Japanese, 88 Jeans, J ., 28, 44

147

lvfan and Nature
Jesus Chri,t, 48 Jha, M. G., ws, 109 al-Jili, 'A., 110 Joachim of Flora, 91 Judaism, 99, IJ3, 142 Jun!!:, C. G., 113, 139 Jungian, 1:13, 13 1 jyotisa, 93 KabbaJiqic, 1\5, 67, 70, 99, 109 Kalpa, 93 Kanada, 90 Kant, 27, 44, 71, 79, 118 Kantian, 27 Keats, 73 Keith, A. B., to8 Kepler, 65, 169 Keyser, H., 77 kltalifah, 9 6 Kitagawa, J., 142 Klibansky, R., 78 Korea, 107 Koren, H. J., 49 Koyre, A., 42, 79, 11 1 Krutch, Joseph Wood, 39 Kwang Khang-Tze, 86 Latin, 61, 75, 82, 133 Latin Averroists, 61 Latin fathers, 100 Latins, 25 Lecomte de Noi.iy, 141 Legge, J., to6, 143 Leibni tz, 70, 8 J, 1 15 Lemoine, I 25, 140 LeRoy, I41 Lesser Mysteries, 104 Levi, A. W., 43 Levy, E., 77 Leutber, 76 Lobachevski, N. I., 74 fogoi, I I I Logos, li, 45, 94, Ioo, IOI Lorenz, H. A., 12.2 Lovejoy, A., 79 Lucretius, 107 Lyssenko, T. D., I4I Mach, E., 26, 43, 44 , 5 I MacMurray, J., 76 mal.ahuta, 91 Maier, Michael, 65 MalehranJhe, n5
manus, 91

Manchuria, I07 Maritain, J., 25, 36, 49 Marxism, I 34 Mascall, E. C., 42, 47, 138 Mason, S. F., 76 materia prima, 2 3, 59, 12 3 Matgioi, 1o6 mathematics, 25, 46, 52, 54, 61, 65, 69, 8I, I29, 130 Matheson, D. M., 40, 4I, 79, 110 Maximus the Confessor, IOO maya, 29, 88, 108, 130 medicine, 93 Mediterranean \Vorld, too, I IS Merton, T., 1 u Meru, 92 metaphysics, 23, 29, 35, 38, 45, 54, 57, 62, 63, 66, 68, 75, 8I, 82, 88, 99, w6, 108, 117, 119, 123-5, 12.7-9, 137> 141 Meyerhoff, H., 46 Meyerson, E., 26 Middle Ages, 25, 37, 58, 59, 63-5, 69, 82, IOO, 102, 105, III, 12.2 al-mi 'raj, 19 mysticism, 37 Mongolia, 107 Montaigne, 69 More, Henry, 69, 70 Morgenau, H., 27, 44 Morgenbesser, S., 43 Morris, William, 40 mount of Purgatory, 104 Mu~ammad, 19 Mumford, L., 39 mundus imaginalis, 70 music, 93 Muslim, 25, 61, 93, 94, 104, 133 mutakallimun, 94 Nasr, S. H., 77, 78, 109, I 10 natura naturans, 97 natura naturata, 97 Naturphilosophie, 71, 105 natural philosophy, 36, 37 Needham, J., 97, to6, IO'J, no Nee-Confucianism, 83 Neo-Kantian, 27 Neoplatonic, 54 Neopythagorean, 54 Neo-Thomism, 35

148

ltukx
Neo-Thomistic, 49 New England, 135 New Testament, 99 Newton, 25, 44, 69, 70 Newtonian, 27, 70, 12.1 New World, 100 Nicholson; R. A., ro8 Nicolas of Autrecourt, 63 Nicolas of Cusa, 67, 78 nirukta, 93 Noah, 99 nomos, 54 Non-Being, 83 non-Euclidian geometry, 12.2 Northbourne, Lord, 41, 42, 47, 139 Northrop, F. S. C., 27, 44 Not-Being, 84
nous,
101

Petrarch, 69 Philo, 95
philosophia perennis, 83, 99

Novalis, 72 number theory, 22 Nyaya, ro8 Nyaya-Vaise•ika, 89 Occident, 61, 62, 82 Ockham, 52, 63 Old Testament, 99 Ollivier, M., 136, 139 Olympian, 53, 54 Oman, J., 47 Ong, W. J., 137 Oppenheimer, R., 26, 29, 41 Order of Ihe Temple, 61, 63 Oresme, 52, 63 Orient, 82., 102, n8 Oriental, 29, 39, 8::r., 83, 88, 93, 97, 99, ro6, ro8 Oriental bureaucratism, 97 Oriental philosophy, 62 Origen, 82, roo Originist, 111 Orphic-Dionysian, 54 Orthodox, 82, roo
PaJiirthadharmasangraha, 89 padiirthas, 89, 90

physics, 22, 24-6, 29, 36, 40, 46, so, 54, 6J, 69, 70, 74, 89, 93, II7-2.3, 12.7--9, I J J, IJ8 phusis, 53 Picanet, F., 113 Planck's constant, I22 Platonic, 22, 25, 59, 6o Pliny, 58 Plotin us, 82 pMuma, II6 Poincare, H., ::r.6, 43, 44 Polanyi, M., 45 Ponsoye, P., 77 Post-Copernican astronomy, 87 Pra<;astapada, 1o8 Prakriti, 90-2. Pre-Socratic, 52., 54 Primordial Man, 96 principle of indeterminacy, 29 Probst-Biraben, H., 77 Promethean, 68, 118, 137 Prometheanism, 78 Protestant, 31, 48 Pseudo-Aristotelian, 76 pseudo-Vedantiris, 88 Ptolemaic astronomy, 87 Ptolemaic-Aristotelian, 66, 67 Ptolemy, 25 Pure Being, 13 I Puritans, 135 Puru~a, 90, 9 I Pythagorean, n, 2.5, 59, 6o, 77, 103 Pyihagorean-Platonic, 54, 82
quadrivium, 77

quanta of evolution (tachygenesis), 12.6 quantum mechanics, 28, 12.3 Quran, 93, 94, no
al-Qur' an al-tadwini, 95 al-Qur' an al-takwini, 95 Quranic, I 34 rajas, 91
ratio,
20

Pagel, W., 78, 109 Pallis, M., 4o, 79, ro8 Palmer, G. E. H., 142 Paracelsian, 78 Paracelsus, 65 Pepin, 77 Peripatetic, 25, 6r, 63, 97

Raven, C. E., 47--9, 75, 78, I 1 I, 113 Ray, John, 69, 105 Reformation, 78 rekha-ganita, 93 relativity, 28

149

40--2. 98 Roman. 135 Theophrastus. I 33 Sherwood Taylor. N. 6o. 6o Schrodinger.. 85. I. I07 Sltari'alt. 108 Seville. 84. 77 Singer. 91 sapientia. 46 Schelling. 77. 107 iiJ:~a. 55.48 Tennessee. 85. 82. 95.. I 4 I S_t Thomas. 87. 92 Sambursky.. 41.. I4I-3 scientia. 29. 4 I. 7G. 57. 76.id. 48 Straker. I I 5 spiritus.. V. 140 Teutons. 47. H. 107 tattYas. 89 al-taw l). I03. E. 84 Taoism. 40. 109 Sa. I 34 Salai. 93 Smith. 141 T eilhardism. 54. 94 ta'wil. 114. 9I: 1o8. 72 Rosenberg. 5 I. 1 1~ Sinha. 24 Renaissance. 6o St Fran cis of Assisi... 79 Telesio. 53. 54 theology. 134 tamas. 75. 76. III.. 134 Romantic poets. 55 St Bonaventure. 34. E. 91 tanmatra. 49 Smethurst. 74 Rocky Mountains. 52. 55. 97 sltunya. 111 . I 3 I . 0. 93 Tannery. 107 Shintoism. G. 73 School of Chartres. 47. 95 Talmudic.. 103. 90. 81. 110 Taoist. P. 138 Shi'ite. 79 geography. E. 87 Sacred Law. P.. 4I. 91 Scheler.Man and Nature Reichenbach. 134. I 20 Sarton. 49 Societv of the Rosy Cross. 83. I 34 siidltano. 100 tlteorie pltysil:e. 92 St Augustine. I37. W. 59 Shamanic.iJ:Itya Kiirika. 97 Suhrawardi. 92 Tao. 4I Seal. 1 16 Sruti. 94. 87. 93 Stltiipatya-veda. 69 Temple. 87 Shamanism.. 46 Schuon. B. G. 79 Rosicrucian. A. C. 87. 100. 5 I Satan. 76 • Sar:nkhya. Qu!b ai-Din. 76 theoria. 92 salve et coagula.. 97 Shinto. 78. 47. 83 Shirazi. 31 Scientific Revolution. 76 Stoicism. 6o. 46 Sufi. Io8 Sirtler.. 1. 91 tattvajilaana. so. 64-70.. 79 Ruskin. 54. 83.. A. 82. 45. 93 Stoic. 51 Tantra Yoga. 4c. 86. 76--9. 66. 72. 76. 101. 4 3. 75 scieruia sacra. 94. 76 Stout. 48.94 Sufism. 127. 138 Sf!ltrtl. 77. 126. Io6--8. 71. 35. 30. 92 von Simpson. F.ratwa. 6o.. F. 97. 102. IJO ~acred Siberia.. 6o--3. 100. M.. 99 Saint-Seine. 92 Tantrism. I o J St Hildegard of Bingen. 62. 70. 87 Tan Te-Citing.. E. 95 Taylor. 54. E. 64 Spinoza. 113 Teilhard de Chardin. 61. G. 93. John. 76 Thales. I I 3 Riemann. F. 90--2 samsiira. 32-7. S. 83. I 12 St Paul. N... 97 Swedenborg.. I09 Rou"eau. F. 97. 90.

:1. 73 World Soul. 44. 86 Yamold. 24. 92 Voltaire. 41.. 71. 97 Tymieneiecka. 83 Zimmer. 61 \Villiams. 49 Veda.. 109 Word. D. A. 114. 78. H. 1:1. 49 Thompson. 92. 33. L.. too. 73 Yahya.. J. A.. 48 \Vest. 141 zoology. 55-8. 93 Vediinga. 49 von Weizacker. 134 Vachaspati Misra. 96 UpaYeda. G. 95. 93 Yy<ikara(la. 108.. 43 Yijrayiina. 88 yestigia Dei. 68. J. 54. 110 Yang. 133. 139 Thorndike... 137 White. 49. 30.3. 51 Tibet. W . 9:1. B. 141 Townsend. A. 93 Wall. 77 Tiisi. Van Melsen. 92. G..48-50.6. 88. 99. Na~ir al-Din. 92 {ahir. 105 Vienna circle. 28. 46 ummah wasatah. 62. 62.. 67 Universal Man. R. 97. 107 Tillich. D. 89.Index theosophy. 49 Weinberg. 79 yyaka-ganita. F. F. B. p . 82. A. 43 Whitehead. 37. 109 Vaihinger. 45. J. F.. 142 Trinity. 135 Western. 138 Yates. 20. 40. 63. 97 Thomism. 140 . 83.. S. 113 W oglom. 0.. 90 Westerner.. 39. too. 44 William of Auvergne.. 48 Wordsworth.... E. 95 Zen.. 49 Whittaker. ttS. )6. 91. 46... 92. 89. F. 101 triYium.. 90. 47 White. 46.. F. C. 93 Universal Intellect. 78 Yin. 37 Theosophy of the Orient of Light. 59 Tomlin. 27 Vai~e~ika. E. 7l. P. M. E. 44 Weisheipl. 3I Timaeus. N. G. 93 Vedantic. 93 >yakti. C. I I I . 43 Vienna school. 44 Woodbridge. W. so \Voodruffe. 86 Yogi.

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