Chapter

Nature on Trial

Helmut Puff

in The Moral Authority of Nature

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226136806
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226136820 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226136820.003.0010
Nature on Trial

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Nature is a mighty figure. At least this is how theologians, philosophers, and poets presented Her in the wake of Greek philosophy and its resonance in Christian theology of the Middle Ages. According to the twelfth-century theologian Alain de Lille, Nature acts as God's representative (Dei auctoris vicaria). After Bernard Silvestris (d. after 1159), Her rank is often assumed to be that of a goddess, God's divine helpmate, though other writers introduced Her personification more modestly as a lady or a queen. In all Her allegorical emanations, however, Nature's task is identical: to act as God's intermediary and defend the order enshrined in His creation. Her grip on the world is predicated on prohibitions and rules—rules that subject both animals and men to an immutable standard of behavior.

Keywords: Nature; Greek philosophy; Christian theology; Middle Ages; personification; standard of behavior

Chapter.  9536 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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