Love and Its Place in Nature p.214

For Aristotle, every living organism is a composite of form and matter. Form is an active force in the organism for the development of structure. Form, that is, promotes the development of form in living things. Form thus exists at various levels of organization. In the embryo or youth, form exists as a potentiality or force for development. A mature adult’s form, by contrast, is a completed structure. It is an active mode of functioning which preserves that structure. Now, as the living organism acquires structure, it becomes more intelligible. It is in the healthy functioning adult that the inquiring scientist can discover the principles or organization of that species. Only then can he understand what the youthful striving to acquire form was a striving toward.

It is as though the developing organism is striving to be understood. Aristotle took this possibility seriously. As the scientist studies the principles of organization and functioning of a living organism, these principles impress themselves on the inquiring scientist’s mind. His mind comes to reflect the structure he has discovered in the organism. A mind that has understood the form and is actively thinking it has itself taken on the form it is thinking. And as he teaches others about this structure, he is expressing the form itself, now at the level of thought. Mind actively contemplating form is the form itself at its highest level of activity. Living creatures, in striving to grow and acquire form, are doing the best job they can to imitate God’s activity. In striving to imitate God, they are striving to be understood. Humans distinguish themselves from the rest of nature by the fact that they can participate in the divine activity of understanding.


Jonathan Lear – Love and Its Place in Nature p.214

Leading a Worthy Life p.319

By design, the objectified world is abstract, purely quantitative, homogeneous, and indifferent to the question of being or science. Objectified knowledge is ghostly: “things” are “known” only externally and relationally. Moreover, unlike the signifiers of ordinary speech that are its general nouns, the symbolic representations used to handle the objectified world bear absolutely no relation to the things represented: a wavelength or a mathematical equation neither resembles nor points to color.

No one gets very excited about the objectification of color, but we become suspicious when science tries to objectify the viewing of color or, worse, the viewer.  And now we see why. By its very principle, “objective knowledge” will not be – because it cannot be – true to lived experience; for lived experience is always qualitative, concrete, heterogeneous, and suffused with the attention, interest, and engaged concern of the living soul. Real sight and seeing can never be captured by wavelengths, absorption spectra of retinal cells, or electrical discharges in the objectified brain. Likewise also the inwardness of life, including awareness, appetite, emotion, and the genuine and interested relations between one living being and others, both friend and foe; or the engaged, forward-pointed, outward-moving tendencies of living beings; or the uniqueness of each individual life as lived in living time, from birth to death; or the concern of each animal (conscious or not) for its own health, wholeness, and well-being – none of these essential aspects of nature alive fall within the cramped and distorting boundaries of nature objectified.


Leon R. Kass – Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times p.319