Philosophy 102: Philosophy of Nature

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Philosophy 102: Philosophy of Nature introduces students to act, potency, nature, being, and essence, culminating in the definition of motion.


This subject is often called the “general science of nature” because it investigates and establishes the general presuppositions of the three major sciences of biology, physics, and chemistry, which study material beings from particular vantages. In this course, students study ens mobile (mobile being), that is, material things insofar as they change, which is the most obvious truth about them. We differentiate between substantial and accidental change, reason to the ultimate principles that explain change, grasp the distinction between potency and act, relate nature, art, and chance to one another, compare absolute and hypothetical necessity, probe the four kinds of causes (formal, material, efficient, and final), and seek out the definition of motion.

Materials Used

  • Assorted pre-Socratic writers
  • Plato, Timaeus and Phaedo
  • Aristotle, Physics
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Physics and On the Principles of Nature

Typically Taught By