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date: 21 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter examines the emergence of philosophy of nature in early nineteenth-century German thought and its elaboration by Schelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. The chapter identifies two central elements of philosophy of nature. In metaphysics, philosophers of nature oppose mechanism and emphasize that nature is not reducible to matter in motion: rather, nature exhibits self-organization, dynamism, creativity, vitality, or is an organism. In epistemology, philosophers of nature think that because nature is self-organizing, vital, or holistic, it must be understood using methods proper to philosophy—such as a priori reasoning or intuition—as well as those of empirical science. The chapter then traces the subsequent decline of philosophy of nature through the middle to late nineteenth century, when it was superseded by more narrowly scientific approaches to nature and by the rise of naturalism, empiricism, and materialism.

Keywords: a priori reason, Hegel, Humboldt, mechanism, nature, organism, Schelling, Schopenhauer, science, self-organization

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