Monday, June 10, 2013

The Natural Sciences

When St. Thomas points out that all the works of nature, meaning secondary causes, presuppose creation - he is making a very important point, and it is this: the scientist studies the processes of secondary causes, but not the Acts of Creation, that God did during the First Six Days of the World. During these first Six Days, God created the Substantial Forms of all His corporeal creatures. Only God can create, and what He created during the first Six Days were the bara-min, the created kinds of all things. The formal objects of the natural sciences are the processes, the functioning of these created substantial forms: plant kinds, animal kinds, man-kind. The form was given at creation. The nine categories of accidents, are what the natural scientist studies. These are quantity, (the science of mathematics), - (quality, sound, color, etc.) - agency and passivity (the science of motion, which is is the passing from potency to act) -- time which is the measurement of motion; for example, time is the measure of the motion from sunrise to sunset. Place - the locale and could be environment. Relation - relatedness can be taken as consanguinity, and this is how Aristotle understood it. But it can also refer to structural relations, as of the difficult atoms in a process such as photosynthesis. Habit is cloth and Posture is shape..e.g. geometry. 
The accidental properties of a Substantial Form are the formal objects of the natural sciences. It is for metaphysics and theology to study Substance. It is obvious how very far astray the natural sciences can go when the correct, metaphysical concept of Substance is lost. That is exactly what has happened today in all of the natural sciences. It is especially obvious that the science of physics has reduced itself to mathematics - that is quantity. 
Now, it is true that every corporeal or physical entity is a quantity - by the very nature of its being physical, that is, material, it is measurable and so - a quantity. The atom is a prime example. And since the atoms are the entities, whose interactions are the object of chemistry, there is much interchange in these two sciences. In fact, since the atoms constitute the material of ever physical being, physics and chemistry are the most basic of all the physical, natural sciences. But what is the substance in which the atoms inhere? 
That is the big question!
And only when this question is correctly answered, are the natural sciences able to fulfill their proper role of contemplating and describing the Creator's Work for His glory - and also, as a really lowly - in fact - the lowliest task of the natural sciences, to suggest some possible uses that discoveries of natural laws might be put. Hence, the useful arts.
I do not know enough of the history of technology, but it is common knowledge, I think, that the first of the useful arts arose with the discovery of certain metals and their properties. Technology rose first in making means of transportation, especially of ships. Look at the technology involved in the building of Noah's Ark, described in Genesis 6. Aristotle represents the highest degree of perfection in the natural sciences - without the aid of Divine Revelation. Based on his Organon:
Quantity - mathematics and all its branches, especially geometry.
Quality - the discovery of the electro-magnetic spectrum is the quantitative basis for all qualities of a merely physical nature, e.g. Newton's Optics. 
Agency and Disposed Passivity
All Secondary Causes, are Agents of Reproduction in the Life Sciences

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