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

Advertisements