second installment Aristotle for Everybody

by Andrea Elizabeth

Is it art or nature? Aristotle says art unless it occurs in nature by itself. A fire started by lightning is natural, a fire purposely, not accidentally, started in a fireplace is art. The author says Robinson Crusoe pitted man against nature, but Aristotle was more interested in man with nature. I wonder if this was due to there being less technology in Aristotle’s day.

To me the lines are more blurred. Some houses are natural, which Aristotle denies, such as caves and beaver dens. And even man-made houses use natural materials, so art is more about organizing and controlling nature than making something unnatural. Then what is the difference between a city, a farm, and an uninhabited natural area? I would say the amount of human organization. The science behind skyscrapers utilizes a more atomic understanding of nature than that behind farming, but atomic processes, albeit not understood, are still occurring in cultivation. This is evident in the author’s discussion of green vs. red tomatoes. A natural process, but what if a man shines an ultraviolet light on tomatoes without the sun? Art, right? But it’s the same chemical process. Metallurgy and gunpowder concocting are natural processes. Glass made when lightning hits sand is an example of how new substances can occur in nature. Volcanoes also make new things. So acts of God can be similar to acts of man. The Calvinists would say that acts of man = acts of God. I am not sure, but since God made chemical properties, did he also mean for all the combinations to be discovered? Possibly, but man’s free-will purposefulness is the balancing component. What is unnatural then? That which is bad. Lightning hitting a dry forest can be considered bad, as can lava flows, but forestry is now understanding that fires can be beneficial. And Hawaii is a beautiful place. Historically man has respected where “dangerous” processes occur and avoided them. Recently man says he can control nature with dams and earthquake proof structures in the midst of them. It is pretty amazing how relatively few casualties occur in America with these acts of God.

I suppose with the population as it is high tech resource management is necessary. But I think a necessary evil because it is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo depressing. This is why good stories have a non-tech setting, such as Harry Potter and Revenant, which I still haven’t seen. And Star Wars is cool because of the force and Luke ditching computer guidance.