Two notes on mechanistic philosophy

-A machine is a complex tool made to serve human beings. By “complex” I mean it has some measure of autonomy (in practice, this usually means that its power source is not an animal). Interestingly, Christians have a sort of mechanical philosophy of nature so far as they think that it is a complex structure made to serve human beings. This is afar closer likeness to a machine that what usually gets called mechanical philosophy, which is an entirely different and even opposed thing, since this second kind of mechanical philosophy is predicated on the notion that nature isn’t made for any purpose at all.

One might object to this (in a way reminiscent of Heidegger) that the Christian mechanism and mechanist mechanism both end at the same result: nature is used for human beings. This overlooks the difference that the Christian is not committed to believing that nature has no intrinsic purpose of its own in addition to being for human beings, and one can only make sense of a law written within things (on their hearts, that is) if there is in fact such an interior purpose written on things. To take an obvious example, human beings are natural beings, and the Christian is not allowed to use another human being as though he had no purpose of his own. Similar considerations apply the human body. To take another clear example, nature cannot be made into idols, or into other beings whose very use would be evil. This is why man is told in Genesis not to use the earth, but to keep it.

– Mechanist philosophy says that nature is like a machine by its nature and operation – the latter because it works by the push and pull of forces; the former because the whole is not a being. If anything, only the elemental parts are beings. I couldn’t add anything to the critique of force as given here;  and the notion that only the elemental parts of things are beings is just plain silly. Among other things, the following sentence becomes true: “I am not a being”. One would be hard pressed to find a more refutable philosophy.

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