Friday, August 26, 2011

Nature Naturing and the Will

Spinoza uses the Medieval distinction between natura naturans (nature naturing) and natura naturata (nature natured) but does very little with it.  Ralph Waldo Emerson is much bolder in his speculative deployment of this primal distinction.  Schopenhauer briefly refers to the distinction hinting that his notion of the Will might stand for nature naturing.  Finally, Justus Buchler states: "Nature as ordinality is natura naturans; it is the providing, the engendering condition.  Nature as "orders" is natura naturata; it is the provided, the ordinal manifestation, the World's complexes." Metaphysics of Natural Complexes, Second Edition, p.276.
  I define nature naturing as: "Nature perennially creating itself out of itself alone," where the stress is, on sheer potency and generative fecundity.  For nature in its naturing there can be no teleology, first principle or ground, ultimate substrate, ultimate simples, substance (defined as that which cannot be a predicate of anything else), stasis, architectural form, or order.
  These negations leave us very close to Schopenhauer's Will.  The Will, read cosmically, is without order or direction.  It is the original chaos, pure striving without a striving for, without a to which or a from which--just a will to life.  NB It is more accurate to speak of a will to life than of a will to live as the former captures the push and shove of the Will as it objectifies itself under the conditions of space, time and causality.
  For me, Schopenhauer's concept of the Will is the least worst analogue to the concept of nature naturing that we have and it can be deployed in a variety of contexts.


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  2. As you define the "cosmically read" will, it is purely entropic, chaotic, and also subject to the physical laws and/or conditions of space/time. I'm interested in the relationship between the will and consciousness (if the distinction can even be drawn) and their effects upon one another. Also, would any a-priori assumptions that may exist within consciousness-perhaps Kantian in nature-be considered correlated to the ways in which nature natures?

  3. These are hard questions that go to the heart of the matter. I don't see the Will as entropic as that concept applies to orders 'within' nature natured, or, some might say, nature natured is 'itself' entropic. Perhaps we should avoid the word "chaos" when speaking of the cosmic Will. Metaphorically there is the hint of the pre-formal womb (Plato's chora, which has become a very widely discussed concept these days, especially in psychoanalysis--e.g. Kristeva).
    Is Will "subject" to the rules and structures of space, time, and causality or, does the Will somehow 'decide' to impose these structures on itself? But how is that possible if the Will has no consciousness, at least in the various ways that we humans do, and hence cannot plan to pour its infinity into finite holders? I simply don't know the why or even the how of the Will's descent (or ascent) into the objectified orders of nature natured. On the other side, are Kantian a priori principles emergent from the pulsations of nature naturing as structural 'givens' for nature? Or, are they evolutionary forms of praxis that have solidified into unexamined habit? My own take on it is that Kant's categories work best in formal systems, while in the natural orders we have what could be called "pragmatic a prioris" (C.S. Lewis) that are conditioned by evolutionary habits.
    As to the Will, then, it is subject to nothing that obtains 'within' or as nature natured. Will in itself is known to us, I would argue, through two epistemic routes: 1) following Schopenhauer, my feeling for my body and its blunt materiality--almost a pre-consciousness, and 2) through those dream contents that emerge from the collective unconscious that has its roots in nature naturing.