By Donald A. Crosby
An eloquent case for relating to nature itself as religion-as the metaphysical final deserving spiritual dedication.
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Extra resources for A Religion of Nature
I turn next to the question raised in the beginning of this chapter about the status of nature. Is there really such a thing as nature? Is it an independent, in-itself reality existing in its own right, or is it only an imaginative construct of human beings? THE STATUS OF NATURE It may seem odd to ask whether there is such a thing as nature, but this is an important question about the metaphysical status of nature, that is, is it real, and if it is, what sort of reality can it be said to be? Closely connected to this metaphysical issue is the epistemological one of how or whether we can be said to know nature.
The distinction is unempirical because it purports to lay down a structure for all possible universes, past, present, and future, but the only universe we have to work with is the one we presently have, the one available, directly or indirectly, to experience. The best we can do is seek generic traits of this universe, that is, the most general features and interrelations of those features implicit in all that we experience. This observation implies that all of our notions must be “derivative” as long as we restrict our interpretations to the experienced or experienceable world.
I spoke above of the importance of the uniformity of nature for the execution of our choices, but we also should note that were there nothing but a uniformity of cause-effect relations, choice would be impossible. To choose is to select among a set of possible alternatives, any one of which can be made actual. Our choices are made within a causal context, but the causal context does not solely determine what the choice will turn out to be. The context is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for explaining the choice.