Australian Left Review

Article Title

Ecology and Freedom


Graham Woods


The view of nature that men of the Middle Ages held was of a system of substances which were wilful and alive: ‘Earth, water, air and fire have natures which are at bottom human nature, and were recognized by those who made this picture as parts of human nature. What drives them is a kind of will, a mindless will perhaps, but still an obstinate animal will.’ Second, the Middle Ages view of nature also included a conception of it as an irrefrangible, pre-ordained system that men could not influence. Apples fell down because that was their nature; what caused apples to fall down was a question that had no meaning for people of the Middle Ages: let alone the idea that they themselves might interfere with that causal process.



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