Peripatetic vs Mechanical Philosophy

The seventeenth century saw the emergence of Mechanical philosophy. Descart, Boyle, Hobbes, Gassendi and others rejected the Aristotelian idea of substantial form and final causes. Matter was no more understood as a correlate of form, but rather understood to be unobservable particles having mathematically quantifiable features (Table 1). Also, the particles had no qualities, essences, or natures of colour, sound, taste, odor, morality or any of our common sense feelings. Cause and effect relations were not described as a result of inherent powers nor any directedness toward ends or goals in things. Instead, cause and effect was merely regarded as regularities described by the “laws of nature”. Everyday things were regarded as conglomerates of particles and the laws of nature merely described the ways in which these particles behaved and there were no final causes. Change was merely the arrangement and rearrangement of particles  (Table 1).
Final causality was demoted (not immanent anymore) to the intellect of the creator and sustainer and the world was regarded as an artifact with an artificer that holds the artifacts in place. Later, Darwin proposed natural selection as an explanation of artifacts without an artificer. Other Aristotelian notions of natures, powers, essences as well as actuality and potentiality were rejected for a more mechanical view of nature.
Table 1: Peripatetic Philosophy vs Mechanical Philosophy.
In this blog I will explore Aristotelian-Scholastic (peripatetic) concepts and how they can be incorporated to describe modern discoveries about cellular and molecular biology and physiology.
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