Human Nature: The Adventure of a Lifetime
bʘʘk (on pp. 73 and 93 for those keeping score at home):
"The mind, even more so than the physical world and bodily organisms, possesses its own dimensions, its structure and internal hierarchy of causalities and values -- immaterial though they may be" (emphasis mine, because that is a bold statement: the mind has more structure than the physical world? Well, it's true, otherwise we couldn't apprehend all the structure in this mythterious world of boundless intelligibility.).
The other passage is this: "Existing reality is therefore composed of nature and adventure. This is why it has a direction in time and by its duration constitutes an (irreversible) history -- these two elements are demanded by history, for a world of pure natures would not stir in time; there is no history for Platonic archetypes; nor would a world of pure adventure have any direction; there is no history for thermodynamic equilibrium."
These two statements bear upon ultimate reality, the former on the substance of human beings, the latter on the form of history. But the two cannot be separated, since history is what happens to humans; in a way, it is the substance of our lives. Therefore, an individual life is also comprised of nature and adventure. Your life is an adventure in nature, or nature having an adventure. Bon voyage! And véridique, while you're at it.
In this context, the word "nature" has nothing to do with vulgar naturalism. Rather, it is a term of art referring to the "nature of things," i.e., their essential nature (which is what the Founders intend when they refer in the first sentence of the Declaration to the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God"; they are referring to natural law, not to physics or biology).
A common caricature of conservatives is that we are all for nature (i.e., transcendent order), but not so big on adventure. Conversely, contemporary liberals are all about adventure, but reject any essential, God-given order.
But the True Path, as suggested by Maritain and reaffirmed by Petey just this morning, again involves nature and adventure. Except that the former word, because of contemporary accretions, no longer captures and conveys the intended meaning.
Nor, for that matter, does the phrase Chance & Necessity, in Monod's formulation; or Order Out of Chaos, in Prigogine's; or Adventures of Ideas, in Whitehead's; or Design for Evolution, in Jantsch's; or Science, Order, & Creativity, in Bohm's; or Psychoanalysis, Chaos, and Complexity: The Evolving Mind as a Dissipative Structure, in oldBøb's; etc.
There was a time that I believed those works did the job, but again, I was so much older then. Only now that I am far younger is this blog even possible, in the sense that its operation involves grabbing the wheel of the cosmic bus and plunging forward on an adventure in nature -- into the nature of things. If this latter did not exist -- if there were no road, or worse yet, a road to nowhere -- then our path would be just a big nul de slack.
Or, to be perfectly accurate, the plunge into chaos would at first feel like an adventure. That part is true, because I remember it. But the absence of order would get old very quickly. Then we'd be flailing around for some kind of order to replace the one we denied.
Now you understand how the chaologists of the left inevitably veer into tyranny, with an "unnatural nature" of their own invention imposed upon us. The anarchic Summer of Love quickly devolves to the coercive and bullying Climate of Hate (that part of manmade climate change is true).
In other worlds, only by denying our real nature, our essence, can leftists proceed with their grim project. Once one denies human nature, then one can do anything with impunity: redefine marriage, jettison liberty, appropriate private property, break (or coerce) contracts, steal from future generations (or just kill them), whatever.
Back to this world. Maritain discusses the question of how the cosmic laws can be necessary, while the events are contingent.
Well, just because there is a Law, this doesn't imply any mechanistic/deterministic framework. For example, there are strict rules in baseball, but every game is different. I've been a baseball fan since I was nine years old, and I still see things I've never seen before.
One reason science is inadequate to disclose reality is that it deals in the necessary, not the contingent. A wholly contingent reality would not be susceptible to scientific description.
Interestingly, this bears on the human adventure, in that science obviously applies to human beings. And yet, every human is unique, an unrepeatable individual. How does that work?
Again, our nature is on an adventure. And the nature of human nature is diversity within form, so no one is having the same adventure, even though there's only one nature and one world.
This post shall be called Human Nature: The Adventure of a Lifetime. But I guess it could equally be called Human Adventure: The Nature of a Lifetime. Or Human Lifetime: The Nature of an Adventure.