“Of things that exist, some exist by nature, some from other causes.”
Aristotle, Physics

Why is it that we tend to appreciate less and less that which we see often? Herein is surely one of the great banes and challenges of human life. We grow used to things.

There is no ready-to-hand solution to this problem. Perhaps it is part of the design that we simply must work at it. But work at it we can. And here again we discover that learning to see, really to see, is at the epicenter of human life. The choice is ours. What a drama!

Now, let’s ask a question: what is the first thing out there to discover? I know, this seems very strange. Perhaps an experiment will help. Picture a person parachuting into the world for the first time but already having the use of reason. Give the person a little time to get his bearings and observe things. What fundamental observations will he have of this world of ours?

There is no absolute answer to this strangely exciting question. Yet I offer this for starters: our person would notice the root distinction Aristotle makes in his Physics. Some things exist by nature, and some things don’t.

But wait, don’t tune out with a ‘ho, hum…’! We are already in the danger zone by using a word we are so used to that it barely functions as it could and should. Nature. Some things exist by nature.

In the name of all things good, we do well here to persevere. We will not immediately have an account of the precise meaning of ‘exist by nature.’ And we certainly might not grasp right away where such things have come from. That is alright. We can do now what is the prerequisite to pursuing these issues further.

We can wonder. And keep looking. And wonder some more. Some things exist by nature.

What are these things saying? So much! But we must not be in a hurry to demand to hear all at once. Our first apprehension of them is simply as existing. As given. As doing what they do. Insistently. Consistently. With an order so profound that it stuns; and then lulls to complacency. Unless we are vigilant.

Natural creatures and natural ‘communities’ are all around us. God grant us the wisdom to see and to hear. And perservere in wonder.

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I invite you to join me in a kind of mini-course on Nature: several Concepts Made Clear (CMC) videos, averaging 6 minutes each. Start with this one, CMC #13 then go on from there :


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