One sense of “the struggle for existence” UPDATED

Natural things can struggle for existence in a way that artificial things cannot. If I carve a sculpture of a man out of a potato and plant it in the ground, what grows is not another sculpture, but another potato. Natural things have something within themselves that struggles to exist against any impediment that happens to be thrown in the way.

This struggle means different things for different natures. On the lowest level of nature, struggle means only preserving the nature by an interior principle, with no involvement or activity of a self. In all living things, however, there is some self- activity, at least in the execution of the action (what eats? That particular plant or animal… What heals itself? again, that particular plant or animal). Living things also have a self activity that they do, not in virtue of their particularity, but as members of a species: reproduction. In all of these activities, there is a source within that struggles against any obstacle put in the way. Nature, however, exists prior to the struggle, and could exist without it. Nature, in other words, only struggles per accidens.

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