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THEOLOGY AND MODERN

II.-CHRISTIAN
SCIENCE OF NATURE (I.).'
BY M. B. FOSTER.
I.
Paganismand Rationalismin GreekPhilosophy.
Every science of nature must depend upon presuppositions
about nature which cannot be establishedby the methodsof
the scienceitself. Thus it is the methodQfthe inductivenatural
sciences,describedby Mill, to proceed fromexperienceof particular natural phenomena to a conclusion about all natural
phenomenaof the same kind. The proceduredependsupon the
presuppositionthat natureis " uniform" in Mill's sense of the
ofnatureisincapableofbeingestablished
word; buttheuniformity
by the methodsof inductivescience. It was the method,again,
of physics,on Descartes' conceptionof it, to proceedby demonstration, like the mathematician,from self-evidentpremises.
But the possibilityof thus extendingthe methodof mathematics
to the science of nature depends upon a presuppositionabout
naturewhichcannotitselfbe demonstrated,
namelythat nature
is a homogeneousmaterial substance, determinedthroughout
by subjectionto universaland necessarylaws.
To assertthe truthof what naturalsciencepresupposesis not
scienceofnaturebut philosophyofnature. I use thistermsolely
forthe sake of brevityin terminology,
and withoutany implication of the possibilityof developinga systematicmetaphysics
of nature. It may be, forall I wishto assume to the contrary,
that the philosophyof natureis exhaustedin the two assertions
thatnatureis subjectto universallaws and thatit is uniform
in the
sense requiredby inductivenaturalscience. It will be sufficient
for my purpose if it is grantedthat these two assertionsare
not establishedby the processes'of natural science, but that
the procedureof natural science is dependentupon them.
11 ventureto presupposein the readeracquaintancewith a previous
articleentitled" The ChristiandoctrineofCreationand theRise ofModern
NaturalScience", publishedin MIND, October,1934.

440

M. B. FOSTER:

Philosophyof natureis dependentin its turnupon theology.


This dependence,though less generallyrecognsed, is not less
obviousthantheother. Theologyis of coursea doctrineof God;
but therecan be no doctrineof God whichdoes not at the same
time contain or imply a doctrineof the world. Accordingto
the dogma of ChristiantheologyGod is creator of the world;
accordingto Brahmintheologyhe produced the world by an
act of generation; in Plato's Timaeus God is representednot
the world,as a potterdoes not create
as creatingbut as informing
but informshis clay; accordingto the philosophicaltheology
ofAristotleGod lives apart fromthe world,directinghis activity
it only
not upon it but exclusivelyupon himself,and influencing
in so faras it is drawntowardshimby desire; accordingto Greek
Olympianmythologythe gods are not apart fromthe worldat
all but are in it and of the same naturewithit 1; forPantheism
God is identicalwith the world. It is clear that each of these
theologiesdiffersfromthe othersnot merely.in proclaiminga
conception
conceptionof God but in implyinga different
different
of the world. A worldwhichis the product of divine creation
is one thing,a worldwhichis the productof divineinformation
is another,and a worldbegottenby God is anotherworldstill.
WhetherGod is in the worldor out ofit, makesa greatdifference
not onlyto the conceptionof God but to the conceptionof the
the world.
The truthof this contentionis not affectedby the factthat it
is possiblefora man to professeitherAtheismor Agnosticism.
If Atheismis the denialthatthereis any beingotherthannature,
it is itselfa theologyin the sense in whichI have used the term,2
and it involvesthe most importantconsequencesforthe conception of natureitself,since it impliesthatnatureis self-contained
cause of everynatural
and self-explanatory,
so that the sufficient
happeningis discoverablewithinthe natural world itself. Agnosticismis not a theology,but a refusalto embarkupon one.
An agnosticin the sense in whichT.' H. Huxley declaredhimself
agnostic,is one who adopts a philosophyof naturebut declines
to commithimselfto the enquiry,what theologyhis philosophy
of natureimpliesor whetherit impliesone. But his refusalto
investigateit is ofcourseno evidenceagainstthe contentionthat
the implicationis real and is discoverable. A natural scientist
is agnosticin a preciselyanalogoussensewho confineshimselfto
1 J,S o,uoOev yey aan Ocol Gv7rTor' avGpw&ro&.Hesiod, quoted by Hume,
NaturalHi8toryofReligion.
2 It is difficult
to see,indeed,howsuchan Atheismis to be distinguished
fromPantheism.

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

441

provingsulchlaws of natureas can be establishedby the methods


of his science,and refrainsfromasking eitherwhat philosophy
of nature is presupposedby the use of these methodsor even
whetherany philosophyof nature is presupposedat all. His
attitudeis no argumenteitheragainst the existenceof the presuppositionsor againstthe possibilityof revealingthem.
The objectofthisarticleis to exhibitsomeimplicationsbetween
Christiantheologyand the philosophyof nature which is presupposedby modernnaturalscience". Both Christiantheology
and modernscience of nature,of course,include much that is
derivedfromGreece. The veryconceptionofnatureas theproper
object of science,the notionthat God can be made the object
the very idea of science itself,are all G;reek
of understanding,
not all derived
in theirorigin. Christiantheologyis nevertheless
fromGreek sources. It takes its rise also fromthe Christian
revelationof the Old and New Testaments,and the amalgamation of Greektheologywith the revealed dogma of Christianity
to expoundthe latterin termsof the
throughcenturiesof effort
formerand to modifythe formerinto consistencywiththe latter,
produced by slow degreesa Christiantheology,which differed
fromthe Greek in the degree in which it had assimilatedunGreek elements from the body of revealed doctrine. This
assimilationwas not of coursea mereextensionof Greektheology
so as to embracean additionalset of articlesside by side with
what it had contained before. Greek theologyand Christian
faithwere,primdfacieat least,and in the eyesoftheirexponents,
but mutuallyincompatible. The
not mutuallycomplementary
influencewhichtheyexertedupon one anotherwas one imparted
by antagonism,and Greek theology was transformedrather
than augmentedin the Christiantheologywhichemergedfrom
the conflict.
Nor is modernscience identical with that Greek science, of
is to be foundin thelogic
whosemethodsthe classicalformulation
of Aristotle. It differsfromit in method,not in the extentof
in
whatit has achievedby the same method. But the difference
methodis itselfa subtleone. It has neithersubstituteda quite
other methodnor added a freshset of methodsto be used in
addition to the Aristotelian. (This latter is the errorof those
who supposed, like Mill, that in order to give an account of
I I mean by modernnaturalsciencethe body of naturalsciencewhich
arosein westemEuropeaftertheMiddleAges. It has ofcoursedeveloped
since, but I shall exclude considerationof its most recent
continuously
developments.

442

M. B. FOSTER:

the methodsof modernscience it was sufficient


to enlargethe
Aristotelianlogic by the inclusionof an additional treatise of
InductiveLogic.) It is notindeednecessaryeitherto assertthat
there are no methods recognisedby Aristotlewhich modern
sciencehas simplydiscardedor to deny that any methodshave
been introducedin modernscience which are quite withouta
counterpart
in Greek. But to a largeextenttheprocessby which
the former
was developedout ofthelatterhas been one not either
of displacementor accretionbut of transformation.
The methodsofmodernscience,preciselyin so faras theydiffer
fromthose of Greek science,must presupposea philosophyof
nature correspondingly
different.But a differentphilosophy
of nature in its-turn presupposesa differenttheology. The
transformation
of theologyby the introduction
of elementsfrom
the Christianrevelationinvolved as a necessary-consequence
a corresponding
modification
in the philpsophyof nature. The
object ofthisarticleis to showthat the modification
ofthe philosophy of nature necessitatedby the peculiaritiesof Christian
theologyis preciselythat presupposedby the peculiaritiesof
modernnaturalscience.
There were two elementsin Greek-theologywith which the
revealed doctrinesof Christianitywere incompatible,the first
the elementof Paganism, the secondthe elementof Rationalism.
In the progressiveeliminationof the former,Christiantheology
was only carryingout with a stricterconsequencea task which
Greek philosophyhad already begun but had nowhere consistentlyaccomplished; its oppositionto the latter,on the other
hand,was due to the introduction
fromsourcesin Jewishrevelation of a principlealien to anythingin Greek philosophy. I
shall deal with each in order,showingthe consequencesof its
eliminationupon the philosophyof nature and hence upon the
methodsof naturalscience.
I. Paganism I shall defineas the failureto distinguishGod
fromnature. It is not essentialthat it should be polytheistic.
The pantheistdoctrineof the Anima Mundi is itselfa sophisticated formof paganism,and the contradictionof paganism is
containednot in the mere assertionthat God is one, but in the
assertion that God is spirit; that he has a being separate
fromthe world,and operates on it by the spiritual activities
of will and reason. Thus, the Olympianreligionof Greecewas
pagan in its deificationof natural powersand natural objects,
and in its assumptionthat the Gods could be perceivedby the
senses,and it is a fact too well knownto requirerepetitionthat
the firstenergiesof Christianpolemicwere directedagainst this

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

443

idolatrousconceptionof God in the ancient religions. But it


is importantto point out that the conclusionabout God which
the Christianapologistswere primarilyconcernedto establish,
necessarilyimplieda conclusionabout nature,in whichtheywere
and of whichindeed they may well
themselvesless interested,1
have been unconscious. They wereconcernedto establisha conto be
ceptionof God as a beingwhollyimmaterial,and therefore
identifiedneitherwith nature as a whole nor with any natural
object. But the denial that God is naturalnecessarilyinvolves
the denial that natureis divine,and the conceptionof a nature
not divine entails a modificationof pagan views of nature no
less profoundthan the modificationof pagan views of deity
demandedby the conceptionofa spiritualGod.
We are not, however,directlyconcernedwith the paganism
of the popular religionsof Greece,but'with the pagan elements
in the great Greek philosophies; and of these I shall discuss
firstsome doctrinesof Plato's Timtaeus.
It might seem that at least the doctrine of the Timaeus,
of nature,
accordingto whichGod is the Demiurgeor Artificer
has been c'ompletelyfreedfrompagan elements. An artificer
1 Cf.Lactantius: "Whetherthesun is largerthantheearthor whether
it measuresonly a singlefootin breadth,whetherthe moonshineswith
its ownorwitha borrowed
light; to knowthesethingsbringsno advantage
and to be ignorantof themno hurt. Your own welfareis at stake,the
salvationofyoursouls." Arnobius: "I ask, therefore,
whatis the object
of science? The causesofnaturalthings. Whatblessedness
can I thenhope
to obtain by inquiringinto the originof the Nile or into the theoriesof
thephysicistsconcerning
thesky? " St. Augustine: " We oughtfurther
to be not inquisitiveand greedyof knowledge. Manywho troublethemselves not to ask what God is, yet hold it for somethinggreat if they
enquirewith great pains into this wholemass of matterwhichis called
'the world' ". I take these quotations from Feuerbach,Das Wesen
de8 Christentums.
(They are given,togetherwith referencesand other
expressionsof the same sentiment,underthe heading " Erlauterungen,
Bemerkungen,
Belegstellen,"in the Reclam edition,p. 417.) Feuerbach
of his thesis that thereis an irreconcilable
cites themin confirmation
oppositionbetweenChristianity
and scienceof nature,and that the renaissanceof naturalsciencein the modernworldcan in consequencebe
accountedforonlyas a covertreversion
to paganism. This thesisignores
thefactthatboththeimportance
and theachievements
ofmodernnatural
sciencedependupon the peculiaritiesby whichit is differentiated
from
any science of nature developedin pagan antiquity. It is no doubt
true,as it was certainlyto be expected,that the Christianconceptionof
natureas notdivine shouldhave had theeffect
at firstofdivertingmen's
mindsfromthe studyof it; but thatin no way affectsthe truthof the
contentionthat, whentheydid returnto the studyof it, theirmethods
weredictatedby this veryconception. That natureshouldbe the " corporis moles,"whichSt. Augustinecalls it, is preciselywhat qualifiesit
to be treatedby themethodsofmodernphysics.

444

M. B. FOSTER:

is of a naturewhollydifferent
fromthat of the object whichhe
produces,and hence the assertionthat God stands to naturein
to artefactimpliesthat the beingof God
the relationof artificer
is not akin to that of any naturalobject. Christiantheologians
indeed were not slow to recognisethe affinitiesbetween this
Platonic theoryand the doctrineof God revealed in the Old
Testament, and they accordinglyappropriatedmuch of the
teachingof the Timaeus into the theologyof the Creation.
But in Plato himselfthe doctrineof the Demiurgeis inextricably confusedwith another doctrineaccordingto which God
is conceivedto be relatedto the worldnot as artificer
to artefact,
but as fatherto son.' This doctrineis incompatiblealike with
the doctrineof the Demiurge with which Plato identifiedit,
and withthe teachingof the Christianrevelation. A fatheris
necessarilyof the same natureas his son,and hence thisdoctrine
preciselyreversesthe implicationsof the former. It implies
that the beingof God is akin to that of the naturalworldwhich
he has produced,2and is thus essentiallypagan in the sense in
whichI have definedtheterm. The residualelementofpaganism
in Plato's philosophyis exhibitedpreciselyin his failureto dis1 he followingreferences
to the Timaeus8may sufficeto prove this.
OTOV

#(eV

oV

7Tpoaxpc)W,xEoS

ava7aK2)7

av

L
7rp'S TO KaTL
oXvopyoSs

rapajetyaTt,
OVTrv

arTOEaEcL

OV' KaAo'v
7TpoaXpCw/xvosg,

Tav'ar EoV fA7v

TrlV S Eav Ka'


Tav

(28 a-b).

Svvayttva&oD
ov 8' av Es Y7eovo'sT,

Jes, TO&Ovrcp TWL

KaAov
arepya'q7at,
i7p-rcp 7rapaSeiy,AaT&

The words o S7qLLovpyOST

7rapa8ely/LaTL

implythat the visibleworld is artificial,yEVVyrTi(with which compare

y&yvo'uevaKal yevv27Ta,(ibid. c)), that it is the product of generation. The

latterimplicationis containedalso in the phrase 'f07rTo&TVKaI vare'pa"


(ibid.c).
the wordsof -TeKTaWOvoeVOSo
(28c),
following,
In the two pagesimmediately

O S2)jLovpyo's, SeSq7toLp7)rat (29a), WVeIeKTaWveTo(30b), imply that the kosmos


is a product of Tr'vq ; but the designation of it as ;41ov 4pbvXov evovv e

(30b),with which the passage concludes,reversesthe implication,by


whichcan belongonly to a productof
endowingit with characteristics
generation. The implicationof these.wordsis thenagain reversedwithin
thelimitsofthesame sentence,by theassertionthat this g4ov cameinto
beingstaT2)V TOV OoVo 7rpo'vo&av.

Within the section 30c-34bthe phrases KaTa To 7rapaSeLpya SEStovpyq7LEPOsT


Kal
a,.r.o'v (32b), ETekI-7VaTO
opaTOv
ovpavov
(31a), avve's)aEv KaL avveaT-7)aaTo
ETopevEaaTo (33b), (K TE'XV1Syeyovev(33d), implythat the worldis
(33Gb),
made by art; the phrase CZov Ev cOpaTo'v (34b; cf. 41a; o ToSe TO 7rav

containsthe incompatibleimplicationthat it is producedby


generation.
are confusedwithina singlesentence
The twoincompatibleconceptions
7raTrpTE (pywv.
in 41a: Sij4uovpy6s
2 The kosmos mustbe itselfdivine,if God producedit by generation.
yewvjaas)

For this implication, cf. Timaeu8, 34a-b (&a


avTov IEyevv4aaTo).

7radrTa8)

ra&ra

ev'Salpova

MYov

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

445

1 and of paternity.
tinguishthe two relationsof manufacture
If he had understoodwhat was implied in the attributionof
the formerto God he would have realised that it excluded the
latter.
Plato's cosmology,
WhentheChristiantheologiansincorporated
they expurgatedthis residue of paganism. They did indeed
continueto attributeto God, as Plato had done,thetwo activities
of technicalproductionand ofgeneration,but theydistinguished,
as Plato could not, a separate relationforthe exerciseof each.
In the doctrineof the TrinityGod was conceived as Father
and not as Maker,in the doctrineof Creationas Maker and not
as Father. The two operations which Plato had conceived
uponthesameobjectare nowconceived
as terminating
confusedly
distinctlyto terminateeach upon its proper object.2 God as
Father generatesthe divine Son, God as Maker produces the
naturalworld,God sharesthesamenaturewithwhathe generates,
but not the same naturewithwhathe makes; ,henceit was not
not until
until afterthese two doctrineshad been distinguished,
the explicit contrastof God's relation to the world with this
relationto the Son had evacuatedeverynotionof paternityfrom
the conceptionof the former,that it was,possible to conceive
fromthat of the worldwhichhe
God's natureas whollydifferent
produced,and thus to eliminatethe last relic of paganismfrom
the conceptionof the Deity.3
When once the distinctionhad been made betweenthe two
conceptionsof divine workmanshipand divine generation,it
1 I shallusethisterm
theGreekVEXv,
forwantof a betterto translate
its acquiredassociation
with
witha requestthatthereaderwilldiscount
theterm'artifice',
havepreferred
I should
industry.
themethods
ofmodern
and 'artificial',
connection
with'artificer'
forthesakeofitsetymological
stillmoreirrelevant.'Art'
by associations
if it werenot disqualified
in modern
usageto the
becauseit has beenconfined
also is unsuitable
inimportant
from
respects
art,whichdiffers
of ' fine' orcreative
practice

the operationdenotedby

EXv1q.

Creatasaneinquam,id estfacta,nongenita. Quodenimde simplici


estet hocestquodilludde quo genitum
simplex
bonogenitum
est,rariter
Civ.Dei,XI., x.
est; quaeduoPatremet Filiumdicimus."Augustine,
is usedoftherelation
oftheTrinity
doctrine
language
3 In theChristian
similar
tothatusedbyPlatooftherelation
oftheFathertotheSonclosely
doctrinethe Son is
of the Fatherto the world. Thus in Christian
" only-begotten
", whereasPlato speaks of 4ts oJE /Lovoyevi7s ovpavo's.
againSt. John'swordsaboutthe Son withPlato'saboutth-e
Compare
so hathhe
kosmos:Johnv. 26: "As theFatherhathlifein himself,
"; Plato,Tim. 20.6: " Thus
givento the Son to havelifein himself
to probablereasonthatthisworld,a
we mustsay according
therefore
has in truthcomeintobeing
livingbeingwithsouland understanding,
ofGod".
theprovidence
through
2

446

M. B. FOSTER:

could not again be obliterated.' It has become,togetherwith


itsimplications,
partoftheintellectualinheritance
oftheeducated,
and we ourselvesare less apt to confusethesetwo activitiesthan
to ignorethe affinities
betweenthemwhichmade the confusion
possible. There is neverthelessmuch in commonbetweenthe
idea of manufacture(T'rxv-)and that of generation. Both acts
or organisationof a given matter,
terminatein the information
an end achievedin the one case whenthe productis completed,
is full-grown.To the completion
in the otherwhenthe off-spring
ofbothalikeit is essentialnotonlythatthematterto be informed,
but also that the formto be embodied should have a being
independentofthe act, and antecedentto it, so thatthe act itself
the informationof a pre-existent
may be termedindifferently
of a pre-existentform. The parent,
matterand the embodiment
achievesby his act embodiment
fora formwhich
likethe artificer,
existedpreviouslyin his own possession,the formbeing,in the
the designwithoutwhichhe could not have
case of the artificer
setto work,in thecase oftheparenttheprincipleoflife2by which
his own membersare organised,and which he can impart to
anotheronlybecause he possesses it himself. In each case the
formimpartedbecomes at once the essence and the species of
the product. Its presenceis what both makes the individual
product to be the thingthat it is (a man, an ape or a lion;
a jug, a cup or a bottle),and constitutesits identitywith other
individualsof the same kind.
betweenthetwo activitiesbeginsto appear when
The difference
we enquire into the mannerin which in each case the agent
possesses the form before the act. The artificerpossesses it
by conceivingit as the object of his reason,but the parentby
and parent may
being himselfan embodimentof it. Artificer
both be said to have realisedthe formbeforethe act, but each
senseofthe word,the formerin the senseof having,
in a different
but the latteronlyin the sense of beinga realisationof it. The
operationof consciousreason is a preconditionof the former,
but not of the latter activity,which is thereforecommon,as
the formeris not,withman to the irrationalanimals.
In its doctrineof the relationof God to the world Christian
the
theologymade a greatadvance over Plato in distinguishing
1NeverthelessHegel confusedthem once more. I have attempted
fortheHegelianphiloto showtheimportanceofthisconfusion
elsewhere
sophyofnature. " The oppositionbetweenHegel and the Philosophyof
des drittenHegelkongresses
", publishedin Verhandlungen
Empiricism
(Ttibingenand Haarlem,1934).
21vx71.

CHRISTIAN. THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

447

two conceptionsof paternityand manufacture,in retainingI


the latter and in excludingthe former. It eliminatedby this
exclusion the pagan elementswhich adhered to the Platonic
conceptionof God.
We have now to considerthe modificationinvolved in the
ofthe doctrineof God.
theoryofnatureby thisreformation
We may begin by pointingout that the distinctionwhichwe
have drawn betweenthe two activitiesof parent and artificer'
is reflectedin a distinctionbetweenthe productsof each. Offspringand artefactare alike embodimentsof form,but the form
is presentin each in a different
way. In the formerit is present
as spontaneous,active power,the cause not only of motionand
ofgrowthto thebodyin whichit is,but ofexistencealso,insomuch
to preserveit in its being
as it exhibitsitselfin a positiveeffort
and to resistits disintegration.It is characteristicof the artefact that it is dependentthroughoutupon the artificerforthat
springofactivitywhichthelivingcreaturecan supplyfromwithin
itself. Thus the process in which an artefacttakes shape is a
developmentanalogous to the growthof an animal, but the
motivepoweroftheformer
processmustbe suppliedfrommoment
to momentfromwithoutby the activityof the artificer,
and the
processstopswhenhe ceases to be active;* whereasthe growthof
a livingthingis as thoughthe powerof the craftsmanhad been
included withinhis product. This difference
betweenthe products is clearly derived fromthe difference
already remarked
betweenthe two activitiesofproduction: namelythattheparent
does, but the artificerdoes not, imparthis own natureto what
he produces.
The movement,again, of an animal is spontaneous,in the
sense that it is determinedfromwithinitself. This does not
mean, of course,that the movementof an animal may not be
caused at all by an impulsecommunicatedfromwithout. The
strokeofa whipmay cause a horseto go faster. But the external
stimulus is very far from determiningcompletelyeither the
natureor the quantityof the motionwhichfollows. The movement of the horse is not equivalentto the forceof the impact
whichhe has received,and the natureof the movementis determinedby the natureofthe animalstruck. A deerwouldrespond
to the same blow in a different
way froma horse,and a tigerin
fromeither. But an artefacthas no source of
a way different
movementwithinitself; it is capable onlyofthat preciseamount
'It did not of courseretainit unmodified,
but the discussionof its
modifications
belongsto the lattersectionof this article.

448

M. B. FOSTER:

ofmovementwhichis communicated
to it byimpactfromwithout.
Nor does its own form,or specificessence(that whichconstitutes
it the kind of artefactit is, rake, fork or shovel) contribute
anythingto the determination
even of the directionof its movement. This is determinedby the nature and directionof the
impact on the one hand, on the other by the mass, size and
spatial configuration,
or particularshape, of the object.
It may be worth while to dwell longer on the distinction
impliedin thislast assertion,that its shape is, but its formis not,
a cause determining
the movementof an artefact. Form in an
artefactis whatthe craftsmanadds to his materialsin the process
of making. It is presentin the finishedpot, differentiating
it by
its presencefromthe lumpof clay withwhichthe potterstarted,
and constituting
it by its presencesomethingmorethan a lump
of clay, namelya pot. It is true that the potterin the process
of formationhas also to alter the shapepof the lump, but the
alterationof the shape is not the same as the addition of the
form. The formeris the resultofmanipulation,but the latterof
intelligence. A man lackingin intelligence,
an idiot,can manipulate a lumpof clay intovariousshapes; whathe cannotdo is to
add to it theformwhichwill make it morethana lump of clay.
But this form,whichconstitutesthe essenceof the potter'sproduct, and differentiates
it fromthe productof the idiot's fingers,
is entirelyirrelevantif we wishto predictthe directionin which
the artefactwill be moved by a given impact. That is determined,not by that in the pot which distinguishesit fromthe
idiot's product,but by that whichit has in commonwith the
idiot'sproduct,namely'byits natureas a lumpof clay. Whereas
if we could suppose the potterto have transmittedto the clay
a share of the lifeupon whichhis own activitydepends,so that
the pot became not an artefactbut an animal, the formwhich
it so acquired would be a real cause determining
its movement.
The reactionof an animal to a given impact dependsupon the
specificnaturewhichmakes it the kind of animal it is, and not
upon the spatial configuration
ofits body,consideredas a portion
of matter. Or,to put the same obvioustruthin different
words,
a givenimpactwillnot have the same effectupon a livinganimal
and upon the dead body of the same animal,althoughits shape
is not alteredby death.
There is one morepoint to be noted beforewe finishwiththis
distinction. Form in the artefactis the source of no conatus
of self-preservation.An artificialobject may, no doubt, like
any other material object whatever,offerresistanceto disintegration;it requiresthe expenditureof someforce,and there-

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

449

forethe overcomingof someresistance,even to breakan earthen


pot. But it offersthis resistancenot in virtueof its nature as
a pot, but in virtueofits natureas an individualpiece of matter;
the purposelessproductof the idiot's fingerswill offeras much
to
resistance,or more. Moreover,it is resistantindifferently
as would,and to such as would not, incapacisuch modifications
the functionsof a pot. For any power
tate it fromperforming
forcesit is
to preserveits nature as a pot against disintegrating
dependentupon the continuanceof that intelligentoperation
of the craftsmanby which it was originallyproduced. The
it against threatcraftsman'scare is needed both to strengthen
*enedinjuryand to repairit when it is damaged,patchinghere
and amputatingthere,suffering
any alterationof shape, so that
he but preservethe formwhich constitutesthe fitnessof the
object for the end whichit was made to serve. But a living
once it is grown,is not dependentupon its parentin
offspring,
this way. It has been endowedwitha shareof its parent'sown
nature,and thus possesseswithinitselfthat power of preservation and repairforwhichthe artefactis dependentfrommoment
to momentupon its maker. To possess this power of selfpreservationis the same thing as to be alive; the power of
self-repairis exhibitedin every recoveryof an organismfrom
disease, or, more spectacularly,in the power whichsome living
thingspossesseitherof replacinga lost organ,or of devolvingits
functionsupon another.
The whole of the distinctionwhich I have endeavouredto
elaboratemay be summedup best by sayingthat formis present
in an artificialproductas an embodiedconcept,but in a product
of generationas an embodied' soul '. 1
This distinctionwill have indicated in general outline the
peculiarityof the philosophyof natureinvolvedby each of the
two conceptionsof God which we distinguishedearlier. If
God is the-parent of nature,nature must exhibithis nature;
it must possess withinitselfthe springof that same productive
powerby whichhe at firstproducedit. But ifGod is the artificer of nature,naturemust lack all participationin the power
by whichit was itselfproduced. The extirpationof the former
conceptionof God under the influenceof Christiandoctrine
couldnot butbe followedbytherejectionoftheformer
philosophy
of natureand its replacementby the latter. But the formeris
the Aristotelianphilosophyof nature,the latteris the philosophy
of naturepresupposedby modernphysicalscience.
I I use theword'soul' in invertedcommasto translatethe Greek
bvX7
and the Latin ' anima'.

30

450

M. B. FOSTER:

The distinctionwhich I have employedabove to definethe


nature of a product of-generationby contrastwith that of a
productof manufactureis identicalwiththat employedby Arisa naturalfroman artificial
totle whenhe wishesto differentiate
object. But the characteristicswhich Aristotleheld to differentiate a natural froman artificialobject are preciselythose
which the foundersof modern natural science rejected from
their conceptionof nature. Thus, for example, we found it
to be a distinctionbetween the products of generationand
manufacturerespectively,that is to say between animal and
artefact,that the formof the one is, but the otheris not, an
efficient
cause ofmovement. For thisreason,in orderto predict
how an iguana willmoveifstruckby a givenforce,it is necessary
to know somethingof the nature of iguanas. But in orderto
predicthow a thimblewouldmove if struckby a similarimpact,
it is not necessaryevento knowwhata thixnble
is; it is sufficient
to acertainthe dimensions,figureand mass of the portionof
matter of which this particularspecimenis composed. It is
the principleof Aristotle'sphilosophyof nature that natural
objects are to be classed in this respectwiththe animal and not
withthe artefact. Consequentlythe motionproperto a natural
object willbe determinedby thekindof object it is, and a knowledge of its specificnature will make possible the predictionof
its movement. We have only to know the nature of firein
orderto understandwhythe naturalmovementoffireis upwards,
and the natureof earthin orderto see that it mustmove downwards; an understandingof the nature of the celestial will
explain why the celestial spheres exhibit a circular motion.
This principlewas thus the groundof that search for specific
naturesor essencesor substantialformswhich'wascharacteristicbothof the Aristotelianand of the Scholasticsciencesof nature.
But thefundamental
principleofthemodernscienceofmechanics,
that the laws of motionare the same for all materialobjects,
involvesthe denial that the motionof an object can be affected
by the kind of object it is. This scienceagain is possible only
upon the assumptionthat the quantityof motionof a natural
object is preciselycommensuratewith the forcecommunicated
to it. That is to say, its possibilitypresupposesthat natural
objects are in these respectsto be classed withthe artefactand
not with the animal.
I do not of coursewish to suggestthat the modernphilosophy
ofnaturediffers
fromthe Aristotelianonlyby denyingto natural
objects the possessionof a characteristicwhich Aristotlehad
attributedto them. It was formednot merelyby substraction

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

451

fromthe Aristotelianconception,but by addition to it. The


very notionthat mattershould be intelligibleexcept in so far
as it was informed,or that motioncould exhibita reasonnot
derivedfromany reference
to an end,would have beennovel to
Aristotle,who assumed to be unintelligible
whateverin natural
objects was not determinedby theirformand whateverin their
motionwas not referableto an end. I am concernedto point
out onlythat it was an indispensableconditionofthe foundation
ofthe modernscienceof mechanicsthat it shouldbeginwiththe
denial to naturalobjects of those characteristics
by whichAristotle had asserted them to be differentiated
fromproductsof
art.
The denial of these characteristicsto objects in nature is a
necessaryconsequenceof the denial that natureis producedby
God in an act ofgeneration. It is clear,therefore,
that Christianity, by eliminatingthis pagan doctrinefromtheology,supplied
the conditionof the developmentof modernnatural science.
This will appear a hard sayingto those whose mindsare preoccupied by the conflict,characteristicespeciallyof the period
fromthe age of Berkeleyto the end of the nineteenthcentury,
betweenChristianorthodoxyand a materialisticand mechanistic
Naturalism. They call this the conflictbetween " religion"
and " science", and implythat a doctrineof God and a theory
of naturemust always exhibita mutual antagonismof precisely
this kind. But this is to ignorethe factthat a mechanisticand
materialisticnatural science belongs only to modern times.
" The naturalismof our days," says Prof.Webb, " is quite without the featurewhich was most conspicuousin the naturalism
of the age preceding,namelythe beliefin the determinationof
all eventsby such influencesof the heavenlybodies as the astrologerendeavouredto investigate. This beliefis to us so strange
and is apt to seem so fantasticand superstitious,that it is
not withoutan effortthat we realise that it was the very soul
of mediaevalnaturalism" (Studies in the Historyof Natural
Theology,p. 320). Astrologywas not the only fieldof Mediaeval superstition,
althoughit was a veryimportantone,and the
beliefto whichProf.Webb refersis part and parcel of a general
philosophyofnature,accordingto whichnaturalobjectsinfluience
one another by attractionand repulsionin virtue of mutual
and antipathies,or amities and repugnances.
affinities
This conceptionof nature will easily be recognisedas one
incompatiblewiththat whichmodernnaturalsciencesupposes;
it was indeed the losingpartyin the veryconflictout of which,
historically,modernnatural science was born. If we enquire

452

M. B. FOSTER:

more narrowlyinto the crucial point at issue betweenthe two


conceptionsof nature (we may termthem for the momentthe
Modern and the Medieval respectively)it will appear to be
somethingas follows. The moderntheorydoes not dependupon
thedenialthatone naturalobjectcan exertcompulsionon another
or communicate
actionto it. Whatit does denyis thattheaction
communicatedcan be determinedby anythingbut the particular nature(that is, corporealconstitutionand spatial position)
of the objects in question,or the forcedepend upon anything
but matter. What had been obnoxiousin the Mediaevaldoctrine of affinities
and antipathieshad been that it supposed a
natural object capable of exertingand suffering
influencein
virtueof thekind of thingit is; in virtue,that is to say, of its
1
specificnatureand not of its particularconstitution.
But this is the same thingas to supposenaturalobjects to be
'ensouled '. In so far as a being is ensotled, it is capable of
beingmovedby love or hate,thatis to say by the specificnature,
not merelyby the materialconstitution
and spatial juxtaposition
of its object. Thus the Mediaevaldoctrineconflictedwith the
Modernby attributingto natural objects a capacity of moving
and being moved in a mannerpossibleonly to ensouledbeings.
of this may serveto removethe last remnant
The recognition
of apparent paradox from the conclusionwhich I maintain.
On the one hand, the rise of modernnatural science depended
upon the rejectionof the conceptionof natureas ensouled; on
the otherhand, this conceptionof nature is incompatiblewith
the doctrinethat natureis createdor made, so that a consistent
applicationof the latter doctrinecould not but involve the rejection of the former.
It will be well at this point both to anticipatean objection
and to add a qualification.
" It has been shown", an objector might urge, " that the
eliminationof paganismfromtheologyinvolvesthe elimination
' fromphilosophy
ofwhatwe may call forshort' Aristotelianism
ofnature. It mustfollowthat thereis a connectionofreciprocal
1 Typicalillustrations
oftheview of naturewhichI am herecallingthe
"Mediseval" are to be foundin the Timuaes; cf. 57c: StcraTlKcEvue'vya?p
-rOOyeVovS EKcanOv Ta 7rA74O7
KaTa
Tolrov 'Stov&Sarlv Tr1 SEXOL' 7)9 K'w1aV,
Sra avo/uowov,.eva
eKaaroTE tavroZs,aAAo&sae d,uo&ov4eva, eTapeTa
Saa 7ov acTalcov
J1&o&oj
orc'ov.
ofearth,or
Again,in 63d-e,thetendency
IrpOS7#VCKEVWV otSadv

earthenbodies,to fall to the groundis explainedby thenaturalimpulse


of like to cleave to like (rov

avycvos

avr'exeaOa&).

The impulse requires

forceto frustrate
it, and this is the reasonwhyforceis needed to lifta
-weighty
body.

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

453

implicationbetweenan Aristoteliantheoryofnatureand a pagan


doctrineofGod; and sucha connectionhas indeedbeenexhibited
betweenAristotle'sphilosophyof nature on the one hand, and
Plato's doctrineof the divine Father of nature on the other.
But surelyif it is true that Aristotle'sphilosophyof nature
implies a pagan theology,Aristotlehimselfmust have held a
pagan theology? And yet he did not. Aristotle'sconception
of God, as subjectof an activityofthoughtofwhichhe is himself
the object, is one fromwhicheveryelementof paganismseems
to have been eliminated. Of the particularpagan doctrinethat
God is the Father of nature,thereis no trace at all in Aristotle;
causation
he deniesto God all activityofefficient
on the contrary,
in the productionof the worldand allows him to operateupon
nature only as final cause of movementand growth. Either,
showthat Aristotle's(not Plato's) theologywas pagan,
therefore,
in spite of these appearancesto the contrary,or surrenderthe
contentionthat the Aristotelianphilosophyofnaturepresupposes
a pagan theology."
The firsthorn of this dilemmais, of course,that whichmust
be grasped,and I thinkthe objectionmay be answeredby the
followingconsiderations.
The doctrinethat God is the Fatherofthe worldis pagan, not
simplybecause it attributesto God the exerciseof a power of
causality in the productionof the world,but because
efficient
implicationthat God is ofthe same nature
it containsthe further
with that which he produces. The doctrinethat God is the
artificerof the world,adopted in Christiantheology,attributes
causationto God equally withthe former
the powerof efficient
doctrine,but it avoids the pagan implication,because an artificer
does not share his nature with what he makes. Now, if it is,
true that Aristotle'sconceptionof God is almost entirelyfree
frompagan elements,it is still not true that he has achieved a
conceptionof God's productionof the worldwhichis freefrom
pagan elements. He has, in otherwords,avoided the paganism
inherentin the doctrinethat God generatesthe world,not by
substitutinga truer conception of God's efficientcausality,
causality at all.
but by denyingto God any power of efficient
But thisdenial involvesa paganismwhichturnsout to be hardly
distinguishablefromthat implied in the doctrinethat God is
the Fatherof the world. It impliesthat thenaturalworldis not
dependentforits productionupon the powerof a cause beyond
itself; but thismeansthatit mustcontainwithinitselfthe power,
causality to God implies
of producingitself. To deny efficient
the ascriptionto nature of the same productivepower which

454

M. B. FOSTER.

constitutesthe divine causality forthose doctrinesin which it


is affirmed.The paganismofthe doctrinethat God is the Father
of natureconsistedsimplyin the implicationthat God in producing nature impartedto it his own productivepower. How
much more justly then is that doctrine to be termed pagan
whichholds natureto be endowedwith this same power in its
own right,and withoutthe need to deriveit froma divineprogenitor. This is simplyto conceivenatureas being,in respectof
fromGod. Thus
the exercise of this power, indistinguishable
the implicationsof Aristoteliantheologydifferfromthose of the
doctrinethat God is the parent of nature only in this respect,
that whereasthe latter impliesthat nature is the son of God,
the formerimpliesthat natureis God.
This is not, of course,to say that thereis nothingnot pagan
in Aristotle'stheology. It is a truecontention
thattheconception
is veryfarremovedfrompaganism.
of God as voqsat' vo-qalcogS
But the limitationof God's powerover natureto that of a final
cause involves the readmissionof the pagan element. The
denial to God of the power of acting upon nature by efficient
causalityimpliesthatnatureis divinein respectof the possession
of that productivepower which an artificer-God
possesses but
does not impart,a parent-Godboth possessesand imparts. The
implicationis the same as that by whichAtheisminvolvesPantheism,the denial of God the deificationof nature. Thus the
pagan elementin Aristotle'stheologyshows itselfnot indeed
in any positivedoctrineof the productionof the worldby God,
but still more significantly
by the absence of such a doctrine.
It is a naiverpaganismwhichholds that the worlddid not need
to be producedby God, than that whichholds it to have been
generatedby God.
The qualificationis important. The pagan theologyof the

Timaeus implies,as we have seen,that formis presentin nature

as embodied 'soul', the theologyof the artificerthat formis


presentin natureas embodiedconcept. I shall termthe former
the 'animist', the latterthe 'rationalist' philosophyof nature.
I have spokenhithertoof the Aristotelianphilosophyof nature
as thoughit werewholly' animist'. If it had been no morethan
this, it would have been paradoxical that it should have lent
itselfso readilyto be builtby the greatScholasticsintothe structure of a Christianphilosophy; for although the ejection of
pagan elementswas slow,and immeasurablyslowerin the philosophyof naturethan in the sphere of theology,still it would
be surprisingif the Mediaeval philosophershad accepted a

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

455

philosophyof nature containingno elementwhichdid not presuppose a purelypagan theology.


It must, I think,be recognisedthat there is a confusionof
animism and rationalismin Aristotle'sphilosophyof nature
preciselyanalogous to the confusionof the two conceptions
of God in thetheologyofthe Timaeus.
forus to recognisethis,mainlybecause we cannot
It is difficult
ourselvesrecapturethe state of mindforwhichsuch a confusion
was stillpossible. We cannotdivestourselvesof the intellectual
inheritancewhichwe have derivedfromthe labours of the cenbetweentheGreekeraand ourown; and,because
turiesintervening
our possessionof certaintruthsis so securethat we take themfor
granted,we cannot conceivethat theywerenot equally obvious
to men precludedfromthe sources of our own enlightenment.
I think,be a waste of time if I prefacethe
It will not,therefore,
is presentin Aristotle'sphilattemptto showthat this,confusion
osophyof natureby a fewremarksintendedto make it the more
readilyconceivablethat it should have been presentthere.
to confusethe acts ofgenerWe ourselvesshouldfindit difficult
but the collocationof the terms' Demiation and manufacture,
urge' and ' Father' in theTimaeusis evidencethat Plato confuses
them. Nor does this confusionshowitselfalone in the Timaeus
among Plato's works. I referwith the diffidencedue to inknowledgeto Plato's 'Eros '-doctrineof philosophical
sufficient
knowledge,but it seems impossibleto avoid the conclusionthat
it is based upon the same confusion. There is a difference
betweenAristotle'sand Plato's conceptionof the philosopher's
in theirconceptionsof the
activityanalogous to the difference
activityof God. For Aristotlethe activityof the philosopher
but forPlato the theoreticalact,
is exhaustedin contemplation,
whichis the unionofthe philosopherwiththe Idea of the Good,
is incompleteunlessit issues in production1.
But thisunionand thisproductionare capable ofbeingundersenses. Accordingto the formerof
stood in two quite different
is unitedto theidea by an act oftheoretical
them,thephilosopher
understanding; he conceives it intellectually,and the act of
productionensueswhenhe givesa material embodimentto what
the philosopher's
he has thus conceived. On this interpretation
activity is a Techne and the philosophera Demiurge. The
embodimentin matterof an idea previouslyconceivedby the
of art (Techne)in the Greeksenseofthe
intellectis the definition
word,and a Demiurgeis one who practisesit. The account of
1 This characterof knowledge
for Plato, of being essentially" tataus.
l6send", is stressedby Stenzel" Plato derErzieher", p. 217, et passim.

456

M. B. FOSTER:

the philosopher'sactivitygivenin the Republicis mostnaturally


understoodin this sense. The philosopherascends from the
' cave ' of the sensibleworldto the intellectualapprehensionof
the supersensibleidea; productionensues when he returnsto
to the cave and realisesthe idea in the institutionsof the city
whichhe rulesand in the souls of the citizenswhomhe educates.
Plato's own insistencethroughoutthe Republicthat rulingis a
Techneforbidsus to take thisdoctrinein any othersense.
But the union and the productionmay be understoodin a
different
way. The philosophermay be held to be unitedto the
Idea of the Good (or the Beautiful)in an act not of intellection
of
but of love; he will then be the begetter,not the artificer,
the productof the union. This is undoubtedlythe sense which
predominatesin the account of philosophicknowledgein the
Symposium.'L

It may,no dQubt,be objectedthat thesetwo theoriesof philosophic knowledgeare not confusedby Plato,"but considered
sucessivelyas alternatives,of which the earlier,that of the
Symposium,was simply rejected in favour of the later. If
this objectionis raised,I have not sufficient
masteryof Platonic
scholarshipto refuteit; and ifthe objectoris preparedto uphold
it with all its implications,if he is preparedto maintainthat
Plato thoughtwhen he wrotethe Symposium,that the supreme
act ofthephilosophiclifewas devoidofany elementofintellection,
and whenhe wrotethe Republicthatit was devoidofany element
of love,-I shall confessthat so far as he is concernedthis illustrationwill have failed of the object forwhichit was inserted.
I am not of course denyingthat Plato's thoughtmoved in the
intervalbetweenthe Symposiumand the Republic
away fromthe
eroticand towardsthe rationalistconceptionof the philosophic
act. I should maintainratherthat it is thisveryadvance which
to be adopted,as theSymposiumneverwas,
qualifiedtheRepublic
intothe greattraditionof Christianthought. But I do not think
that Plato distinguishedthe two conceptionsas mutuallyexclusive alternatives.2
LFor the presencein Plato of the erotic conceptionof philosophic
activity,cf. Temple," Plato's Visionof the Ideas ", in MIND, 1908; and
Stenzel,op. cit.
This conceptionmustnot,however,be stressedto the exclusionof the
other. To supposethat Plato conceivedthe 'supremephilosophicexperienceas eroticandnotintellectual
wouldbe a worseerrorthantheconverse,
and morecustomary,
one ofignoringtheeroticelemententirely.
2 1 may perhapsavail myselfof the licenceof a footnoteto carrythis
a littlefurther
digression
thanitsimmediaterelevanceto themainargument
of the text would warrant. The productiveactivitywhichsupervenes

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

457

An investigationof Plato's own theoryof ideas, to take a


second example,seems to reveal the same confusionof animism
with rationalismwhich,as I shall maintain,is presentin the
Aristotelianphilosophyof nature. On the one hand the 'idea'
is indubitablyfor Plato the object of intellectualapprehension
and, as such,an intellectualconcept. We are apt to read Plato
exclusivelyin this sense,but we can only do so by ignoringone
whole side of his phliosophy. Plato undoubtedlythoughtof
the 'ideas ' not only as conceptsbut as 'souls '. I referto the
evidence on this point presentedby CornfordI; adding only
the followingargument. We are informedthat Plato came to
deny ideas of artefacts. But this would have been impossible
if he had meant by an idea no more than a concept. There
is nothingin the world (except the drawingof a geometrical
figure)whichpresentsa clearerexample of the embodimentof
a conceptthan an object artificially
made to servea given end.
What the formof the artefactlacks is the power of initiating
movementand growth; it is, in otherwords,a conceptand not
a 'soul'. If lack of this power is sufficient
to invalidate its
titleto be called an idea, the possessionof thispowermusthave
constitutedfor Plato part of the meaningof the term 'idea'.
What we have now to show is that the Aristotelian'eidos'
inheritedthe dualityof meaningthus exhibitedin the Platonic
' idea '.
upon the theoreticalact of the philosopher
is identified
by Plato withthe
activityof educating,and his doctrineof philosophicaleducationexhibits
a confusionof erotic and rationalistprinciplespreciselycorresponding
to the ambiguityof his conceptionof the theoreticalact. Accordingto
the former,the methodof philosophicaleducationis eroticcommunion
betweenteacherand pupil,accordingto the latterit is logicalexposition
The institutionof universitiespresupposesthe adoption of the latter.
was boundto rejectthe formerby the same necessitywhich
Christianity
compelledit to rejectthe paganismof Plato's theology. It adoptedthe
latter,and the developmentof a; universitysystemis one of the great
achievements
of the ChristianMiddleAges.
The greatnessof the RepublicamongPlatonicdialoguesconsistsin the
factthatin it he has so nearlyfreedhimself
fromtheimplications
ofpaganism. The theoryof philosophicaleducation presupposedin Book VII.
is almost purelyrationalist. It is not an accident that the Republic
inauguratedthe foundationof the firstuniversity.
1FromReligionto Philomophy,
pp. 246, 249 ff. I thinkProf. Cornford
has falleninto errorin the extremity
of his oppositionto the moreusual
view. It is no truerto say that Plato held ideas to be simplysouls,than
to say thathe heldthemto be simplyconcepts,and if one of theseerrors
is to be committed,the latteris immeasurablypreferable. It does at
least concentrateattentionupon that elementin Plato's thoughtwhich
alone was of importanceforthe subsequentdevelopment
of science.

458

M. B. FOSTER:

The Aristoteliandefinition
of the naturalby contrastwiththe
artificialimpliesthat formis presentas 'soul' in naturalobjects.
These are not merelyinformedbut animatedby the indwelling
that the formof the
' eidos '. It is in virtueof this difference
naturalobject possessesthe power,whichthe formofthe artefact
lacks,ofsubduingmatterto its ownnature; a powerwhichis exercised,forexample,in everyassimilationoffoodby an organism.
A formendowedwiththis poweris morethan merelya formin
thesensein whichwe shouldmostnaturallyunderstandtheword;
it is a cause, originativeof activityand productiveof effects.
It is onlybecause it is endowedwiththis originativeand productive powerthat Aristotlecan hold that knowledgeof the formal
of the operations
cause is the principalkey to the understanding
of nature. Thus,ifthe readerwill tolerateone moreillustration,
livingcreaturesexposed to a gale of wind do not remainmerely
passive to its force. On the contrary,each reacts against it
accordingto its kind,and the natureof each is exhibitedin the
active endeavourto subdue the elementto the end of its own
betterpreservation,whetherby flight,or by such a disposition
of the body as will minimisethe surfaceexposed,or by turning
to account the forceof the wind itself,as soaringbirds do to
is successenablethemto ascend. Preciselyin so faras thiseffort
ful, a knowledgeof the nature of each will enable the observer
bothto understandand to predictits behaviour. Thereis always
to sucha cataclysmic
the possibilitythatthe gale may strengthen
violence that these effortsare quite vain, and the animals are
sweptbeforeit likedead bodies. If and whenthisshouldhappen,
natureitselfwould have been subdued to blind necessity; and
wouldcease at thepointat which
the possibilityofunderstanding
the powerof naturefailed.
This power of dominating environmentis characteristic,
accordingto Aristotle,of the naturalas such, and is therefore
shared with living organisms,though in a less degree,by inanimatenaturalobjects. Earthand firehave each itsownnature,
whichexhibitsitselfin thetendencyto movein a certaindirection,
downwardsin the case of the former,upwardsin that of the
latter. This naturewillassertitself,like that oflivingcreatures,
against contraryinfluences; a slightwind will not drive flame
downwardsnor earth upwards; only with these the point is
reached sooner at which nature succumbsto necessity,and at
whichthereforea knowledgeof the natureceases to enable the
observerto predictthe event.
But artefactspossess no 'natures 1 in this sense of the word
1v I

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

459

at all. Pieces of crockerydo not react to pressureof wind each


accordingto its kind,and no understanding
of what constitutes
the difference
betweena teapotand a jug willenableus to predict
the different
movementwhichwill be impartedto each by the
impact of an externalforce. They are fromthe firstin that
conditionto whichnatural objects are reducedonly when their
nature has been overborneby extremenecessity; and for the
same reason forwhicha scienceof natural objects ceases to be
possibleat thatpoint,a scienceofartificialobjects is not possible
at all. It does not follow,I need hardlyadd, thatevenaccording
to Aristotlethere is no reason in the fall of a teapot, and no
possibilityof predictingthe mannerof its fall. But this possikility depends upon the fact that the teapot, although itself
artificial,
is made of a naturalmaterial,namelyearth. The fact
that it is earth,not the fact that it is a teapot, makes it fall in
the way it does, and ar4understandingof the natureof earth,
not of the nature of teapots, enables its -fallto be predicted,
in so faras it is predictable.
So much,then,forwhat I have called the 'animist' element
of Aristotle'sphilosophyof nature. How indispensablethis elementis to hisphilosophymaybe gaugedfromthefactjust proved,
that science,as Aristotleconceivedit, can be applied to natureat
all onlyin so faras formis presentin naturein a mannerdifferent
fromthat in whichit is presentin artificialobjects.
We mustturnnowto considerthe no lessindispensable'rationalist ' element.
The formor essence of an artefact is intelligible. Indeed,
as I have remarked,if we desiredto explain what is meant by
sayingthat an essenceis intelligible,
we could appeal to no more
luminousillustrationthan the example eitherof a geometrical
representation
or of an artificialobject. Thus the drawnfigure
of-atriangleis a materialthing,the object ofsensuousexperience,
whichmay be multipliedan indefinitenumberof timeswithout
giving birthto the understandingof what a triangleis (-orri
of the natureofa triangle,
iv EtIvat). To attainan understanding
which is the same thing as to comprehendits definition,the
studentmustachievea ' conversionofthe soul ' fromthe sensible
to the intelligible. This understanding
is not, like the cognitive
activitywhich Aristotlecalled 4,mrTEpka,
a productof the summationof particularexperiences,but is the exerciseof a faculty
distinctfromsense,whichmay be awakenedin one man by few
experiences,or even by a single one, but which in another
the greatest number and variety of observationsmay never

460

M. B. FOSTER:

awaken at all. Nor is the object of it, like Locke's ' abstract
generalideas', a. compoundof sensiblequalities commonto all
the objectsof a seriesofparticularexperiences. On thecontrary,
its object is devoid of sensiblequalities; it is so farfromhaving
beentheobjectofall theexperienceswhichprecededitsdiscovery,
thatit is incapableofhavingbeen the object ofany one of them.
A trianglecan be the object of experienceonlyin so far as it is
visible or tangible; but-the trianglewhich the geometrician
cannotpossiblybe
knowswhenhe has understoodits definition,
either. A triangleis a figureenclosed by three straightlines,
and a line has lengthbut no breadth. How can that whichhas
no breadthbe eitherseen or touched?
This is not to say, of course,that the intelligibleessence is
notpresentin thesensibleexamples. That they,witha greateror
less degreeof perfection,embodyit, is indeed what constitutes
theirnature,its presencein them is what determinesthem to
possess the sensiblequalities whichthey do possess, and alone
makes possiblethat recognitionthat these particularsare of the
same kind, whichmust precede the attemptto understandthe
essence. It has, finally,no actual existenceapart fromsensible
embodiment; but it is intelligibleapart fromany sensibleembodiment,is indeed intelligibleonly when it is conceived in
completedistinctionfromit, and the act in whichit is known
as thus distinct,although it presupposesprevious experience,
containsitselfno elementof sense. I ask the readerto bear in
mind that in the paragraphswhichfollowI shall use the term
" intelligible" strictlyin this sense. That is intelligiblewhich
is capable of being so distinguishedfromthe sensible that it
can become an object of knowledgeby itself. A criterionof
of an object in this sense is its capacity of
the intelligibility
being defined.'
The essencesof artificialobjects are intelligiblein this sense.
An untutoredsavage turnedloose amonga collectionofartefacts,
warehouse,will be in the same condition
let us say in a furniture
with respectto the objects which he sees and touches as the
novice who is faced with a varietyof drawingsof geometrical
figuresof which he does not understandthe definition. No
empirical classificationof the articles according to senwible
resembla'nces,nor tabulation of sensible qualities common to
all membersofsuch a class,willsufficehim forthe attainmentof
an understandingof what each article is. This understanding
1 I am of courseusing the term" definition
" also in its strictsense}
The enumerationof the sensible qualities which togetherconstitutea
" nominalessence", is not definition.

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

461

is neverthelessattainable by the man who is well-informed,


and not merelyendowed,like the savage,withacutenessofsenseperception. Every artefact is essentiallythe embodimentof
an idea, whichis the purposeit was made to serve; and as this
who made
in theconceptionoftheartificer
idea was distinguished,
it, as end,fromthe conditionsof materialembodimentwhichare
but the means to its realisation,so the observerof the product,
ifhe adds the workofhis reasonto that of his senses,can discern
the intelligibleidea embodiedin it fromany or all of the sensible
is possible
qualitiesoftheembodiment. That suchdiscrimination
is provedbythefactthatartificial
objectsare capable ofdefinition.
Definitionis the starting-pointof that scientificprocedure
of which the canons are prescribedin the Aristotelianlogic.
Grantedthat an object can be defined,it will followthat it is a
suitable subject for the application of all the other methods
it
recognisedin this logic; its propertiescan be demonstrated,
can be ' divided' a priori,into its species and subsumedunder
genus (this subsumptionis indeed actuallyincluded
its proximum
n the definition);and the combinationof the two propositions,
in the formerof whicha propertyis demonstratedof a genus,
and in the lattera speciessubsumedunderit a priori,will form
a demonstrativesyllogismnot invalidated by petitioprincipii.
It is onlywhenwe workwithtermsthat are not definable,when
consequentlypropertiesare not demonstrableand whenempircal
musttake the place of 'division', that the syllogism
classification
is restrictedto a conclusionwhich has been assumed already
in the premises.
of theiressences,whichmakes
In virtueof the intelligibility
them capable of definition,artefactsare perfectlyadapted to
thl4methods of Aristotelianscience.' What disqualifiesthem
by comparisonwithnaturalobjects is not that theirformis not
intelligible,but that it is not efficacious.It has the intelligiof qv%a's. But if natural
but lacks the efficacy
bilityof Ao'yos-,
are to be objects of such a science,then the
objects -themselves
formsof these,while difleringfromthose of artefactsin virtue
must share with them the characterof being
of their efficacy,
intelligible; and we findin consequencethat Aristotleis no less
(indeed,is farmore)concernedto establishthe identityofnatural
objects with artefactsin the latterrespectthan theirdiflerence
fromthemin the former.
The doctrinethat the essences of natural objects are intelligible,in the sense in whichthose of artefactsare, constitutes
' No one whohas had to inventexamplesfora class in ' Formal Logic '
will requireto be convincedof this.

462

M. B. FOSTER:

what I have named the 'rationalist' element in Aristotle's


philosophyof nature.
The possibilityofan Aristotelian
scienceofnaturethusdepends
upon the two-foldprinciplethat the formof a natural object
is at once superiorin respectof efficacy
and notinferior
in respect
of intelligibility
to that of an artefact. But this principlerests
upon a confusion; and a more accurate-discriminationof the
natural fromthe artificialwould have revealed that formin
nature must possess efficacy,not, as Aristotlehad supposed,
in additionto intelligibility,
but at the cost of it.
of an artefactdependsupon the mannerof
The intelligibility
its production. It is a conditionof the artificer's
activity('rE'xvq)
that beforehe begins to work his materialhe shall-have consciouslyconceivedthe formwhichhe will embodyin it-and conit as end fromthe aneansof its execution.
sciouslydistinguished
Thus the genuine artificer(one who has passed the period of
in whichhisactionsare dictatedforhimbyanother)
apprenticeship
is able to 'render reason' (Ao'yov Soi3vat) when he is asked:
Whathe is doingormaking. He answersthisquestionnotmerely
by assigninga name to his product: he could do this (thoughit
would be a meaninglessname) if the operationsof his fingers
were, like those of the idiot of a previousillustration,guided
by no reason: but by declaringthatwhichwillentitlehis product
to the possessionofits name,viz.,the end whichit is beingmade
to serve. The 'logos ' whichhe rendersin wordsin answerto
this questionis the end whichhe has proposedto his reasonand
the formwhichhe will add to his material; he can renderit in
words only in so far as he has consciouslyconceived end in
distinctionfrommeans and formin distinctionfrommatter.
But the same 'logos' is also the essence of the artefactmade
by him; the answerto the questionaddressedto the artificer
at the time of manufacture: " What are you making? " is
clearly identical with the answer to the enquiry evoked by
experienceof the object in a subsequentobserver: "What is
this thing? " The latter enquiryis satisfiedno morethan the
formerby a name,but onlyby a definition;and the possibilityof
an answerto the latter enquirydependsupon the same condition as the possibilityof an answerto the former. The reasonof
the observer distinguishesin the product the same 'logos'
whichthe reasonof the makerdistinguishedin the production;
in the formeronly because it was disand it is distinguishable
tinguishedin the latter.
A naturalobject comesinto beingnot by manufacture
but by

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

463

generation. The latter methodof production,while it confers


by whichit was produced,
upon its producta shareofthe efficacy
that it is governed
essentialto the former,
lacks the characteristic
by consciousapprehensionofits end. It is truethat generation,
like manufacture,consists in the communicationof a form,
and that the formcan be communicatedonlyin so faras it has
been previouslypossessedby the authorof the act; but he does
not possess it in the way of makingit object of his conscious
reason. He possessesit as ' phusis' or nature (it is his nature),
but not as 'logos'. This is shownby the fact that he cannot
' render' it as 'logos': his failureto do this shows that it is
not distinguishedby his reason as formfromthe matterof its
embodiment. This diflerencein the manner of production
in the nature of the products;
is the groundof the difference
that cannot be distinguishedby the reason of the observeras
the essence of the productwhichwas not distinguishedby the
authoras the end of the production.
Thisconsequencewouldnotfollowiftheconsciousapprehension
production;
to the artificer's
of the end wereonlyepiphenomenal
if, that is to say, he mightproducewithoutit and awake only
afterwardsto the preciseknowledgeof what he had produced.
But to supposethis wouldbe to slurthe distinctionbetweenthis
method of productionand the other,because if this were so,
of the formby reasonwouldnot be an inconsciousapprehension
dispensableconditionofitsrealisation. Whereasinfactinartificial
is an indispensable
productionconsciousreasonableapprehension
condition. Lack of it, which would make the artificerunable
to 'render reason' in words,would make him equally unable
to producein work. Withoutit, he mightno doubt stillfumble
shape from
with his materials,and leave them in a different
them
that in whichhe foundthem,but be could not transform
into an object whichtheywerenot before. His clay would still
be a piece of clay, not an oil-flaskor a jug. Neitherwould he
be an artificernor his productan artefact. In this dependence
upon a precedentoperationof reason,the processof manufacture
whichall naturalprocesses,suchas generation
has a characteristic
is, mustlack.
Generationthus differsfrom artificialproductionnot only
in possessinga characteristicwhich the latter lacks (namely
that the author imparts his own productivepower), but in
lackinganotherwhichthe latterpossesses. A clear insightinto
the distinctionbetweenthese two processesof productionwould
have facilitatedthe recognitionthat the productof the former
differsfromthe artificialproduct not only by superiority(in

464

M. B. FOSTER:

virtueof the efficacy


of its form)but by defect,in that its form
lacks the intelligibility
which that of an artefactpossesses.
Failure of this latter recognitionis, as I have tried to show,
the root of the confusionupon.whichAristotle'sphilosophyof
natureis based. He distinguishes
the naturalfromthe artificial
product,whenhe says that theformofthe-latterlacks an efficacy
whichthe formerpossesses; but he neverrecognisesthe truthof
the conversepropositionthat the formerlacks an intelligibility
whichthe artificialobject possesses. If he had done so, he must
have recognisedthat the verycharacteristic
whichuponhistheory
natural,fromartificialobjects, makes the former
differentiates
incapable both of definitionand of treatmentby the scientific
methodswhichdependupon it.
to distinguishthe two products,
As Aristotlefails sufficiently
so he fails also to distinguishsufficiently
the two processesof
production. I will concludeby an illusttationof both failures.
Aristotledeclares:' that a natural object is like a physician
is the cause of his own health' Medicine,
who by self-treatment
as Aristotleconceived it, is an art of which the practitioner
standsto hispatientsin therelationofan artificer
to his materials.
He knows the formwhich when it is realised in their bodies
constitutestheirhealth,and he operateson theirbodies in the
light of his knowledge. When he operates on his own body,
it is still in the lightof his knowledge,and this operationlacks
of being directedby reason which
nothingof the characteristic,
the formeroperationspossessed,but withoutsurrendering
this,
has acquired a furthercharacteristicin addition,namely that
it is not directeduponanotherbody,as uponan externalmaterial,
but by the artificerupon himself. Consequently,the product
of the operation(the healthyphysician)will possess both the
characteristic
ofthe artefact,that its formis intelligible,
and this
furtherone in addition,that it containswithinitselfthe power
by which it was realised. Aristotle'suse of this illustration
to exptain 'his conceptionof 'the natural' clearly betrays his
assumptionthat natural productionsand products differfrom
but not by any counterbalancing
artificialby superiority
defect.
The self-cured
physicianis indeed,ifwe acceptAristotle'saccount
of the curativeprocess,more than an artificialproduct,but he
is also, accordingto the same account,muchmorethan a natural
one. To regardhim as the type of the naturalis to ignorethe
fact that the naturallyhealthybody owes its healthto a parent
and not to an artificer,
and that as no reason,but onlynature,
l Phy.s.,
II., 8,
T0rTrc yap EO&KEV X

Se' SiAov,o'Tav
199b,30. (McLA&oTa
iVtS).

T&S LaTpeVl

a hY

'a,nov

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCE OF NATURE.

465

went to its production,thereis no presumptionthat an essence


will be discernibleby reasonin the product.
The confusioninherentin Aristotle'sphilosophyof nature is
thusradicallythesameas thatofPlato's theologyin the Timaeus;
and as ChristianTheology, discriminatingthe two doctrines
attitudetowards
whichPlato had confused,adopted a different
each,rejectingthepagan but assimilatingthe other,so a Christian
philosophyof nature was bound to reject the ' animism' of
Aristotle,but could adopt his 'rationalism'. Thus the Logic,
whichpresupposesthe ' rationalist' philosophyofnature,assumes
an importancein Mediaevalphilosophyout of all proportionto
.its prominencein Aristotlehimself. The possibilityof applying
the canons of this logic to the methodsof a science of nature
depends upon the presuppositionthat natural objects share the
nature of artefacts. Aristotlehimselfhad no guaranteeof the
and was able to assume it onlyon
truthof this presupposition,
accuiatelyenoughthe conofa failureto distinguish
the strength
cepts of the artificialand the natural. But Christiantheology
guaranteedthetruthofthispresupposition;naturalobjectsmust
works
becausetheyare artefacts,
possessthecharacterofartefacts,
of Christian
of the divineartificer. The firstgreatcontribution
theologyto the developmentof modernnaturalsciencewas the
whichit suppliedto the scientificelementin Arisreinforcement
totle himself; in particularit supplied a justificationfor the
faith,whichforAristotlehad been an ungroundedassumption,
that thereis a reason in naturediscoverableby the exerciseof
reasonin man.
The '.rationalist' elementof Aristotle'sphilosophyof nature
was inconsistentwith the 'animism' whichhe maintainedside
by side with it. This latter elementwas utterlyincompatible
withChristiandoctrine,and had to be quite eliminatedfromany
theoryof nature which should be consistentwith a Christian
theology. The oppositionbetweenChristianityand 'animism'
in thefieldofphilosophicaltheorywas thesameas that discovered
betweenChristianfaithand pagan superstitionin everysphere
of life, and the Christianprinciplewas no more immediately
victoriousin thenarrowerthenin the widerfield. The Scholastic
philosophiesstill harbouredanimisttheoriesof nature, as the
MediaevalChurch still tolerated pagan beliefs and practices;
and as the ProtestantReformationin religionwas directedprimarilyto the eliminationof these relics of paganismfromthe
of philosophy,whichgave
Church,so the analogousreformation
birthto the modernphilosophyof nature,was directedin the
31

466

FOSTER:

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND MODERN SCIENCB.

firstplace to the eradicationof the ' animism' of the Scholastic


philosophiesof nature. This is the oppositionwhichwas illustratedearlierin this article,whenit was shownhow the modern
philosophyof natureimplies,and the modernscienceof nature
presupposes,that naturalobjects are to be conceivedas artificial
and not as ' ensouled' or animate.
But the modernphilosophyof natureis not simplyAristotle
ofthelatterwas a,necessary,
minushisanimism. The elimination
conditionof its development. We
but not in itselfa sufficient
have compared the struggleto eliminate it from philosophy
with the struggleof the Churchto eradicate superstitionfrom
the beliefsof ordinarymen, but we may remindourselvesthat
ofChristian
was not the onlydangerto the integrity
superstition
faith. It had to be defendedfromthe other side also against
the invasionof 'natural reason', and rationalism,althoughan
couldbecomean enemyno lessdangerous
allyagainstsuperstition,
itself.
than superstition
In the sphereof theology,again, of the two doctrinespresent
and that of the divine
in the Timaeus,that ofthe divineartificer
begetterof nature,we have seen that Christianitycould adopt
whileit was boundto rejectthe latter. But it could
the former,
and indeedtransforming
not adopt the formerwithoutmodifying
it. It could appropriatethe conceptionof a Demiurgeto elucidate the doctrineof divine activity implicitin the Christian
revelation,but it could not identifythe activityof the Christian
God with that of Plato's Demiurge. Such an identification
inconsistentwiththe ascripwould have been,to go no further,
tion of omnipotenceto God, since a Demiurge is necessarily
limitedby his dependenceboth upon a given matterand upon
a proposedend.
The modernphilosophyof naturedependslikewisenot merely
upon the adoptionof Aristotle'srationalism,but upon its transformation. I shall attempt in the succeedingsection of this
and to exhibit
articleto sketchtheprocessofthistransformation,
of theotransformation
its dependenceupon the corresponding
logical doctrine.

(To be concluded.)