Aristotle's Powers and Responsibility for Nature
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This book brings ancient and modern concepts together to re-assess how to understand the natural world and human obligations to it. It traces the idea of an indwelling, or immanent, motive force within individual organisms back through contemporary thinkers to Spinoza, Hobbes, Descartes, Aquinas, Cicero and, ultimately, to Aristotle. It then asks where value comes from and whether value resides in wholes, such as organisms, or in collections or kinds, such as species or in communities and ecosystems before concluding that value resides originally in each living organism because each is an end-in-itself. Value in such things as communities and ecosystems supervenes on this individual value. To understand that a unique value exists in each living thing, we need to address the question of what it means to be alive. This book provides an answer based in biological phenomenology and the related concept of bio-semiosis. In doing so it identifies three forms of value that hu-mans need to take into account when determining their actions: semiotic niche value; onto-logical niche value (a value correlated with the complexity of an organism); and ecological niche value. If each of these forms of value is taken into account, humans can make better-informed judgements as to how they should treat living things, but, ultimately humans need to acknowledge they have a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of each organism simply because each is living and has unique value.
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