Presentation - the insides of nature: causality and conceptions of nature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript


Philosophy of nature is the branch of philosophy which, out of the dialogue with the various sciences, reflects on our knowledge of nature (in its various meanings). Although its research object is that of the particular sciences, Philosophy of nature takes a philosophical-metaphysical perspective, having as a goal to arrive at a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and harmonic understanding of the different images of Nature – although, not always consistent – associated with the corresponding particular sciences. A comprehensive understanding of nature is fundamental for the self-understanding of the human being. And it is also crucial for the understanding of the relationship of human beings among themselves and with nature. Thus, a better understanding of these relationships will allow: an improved self-balance and personal fulfillment; the construction of more inclusive societies; an increased adoption of human and ecological styles of life; and a more sustainable interaction with our planet. The problem of causality within natural phenomena is, nowadays, one of the most significant challenges for the interdisciplinary dialogue between scientists, philosophers and theologians. Since the beginning of the 17th century, the approach to the study of causality has been mainly reductionist (bottom-up), placing it at the level of the elementary objects, constitutive of higher-level systems. Contemporary science, however, has disclosed some limitations to that traditional reductionist paradigm, drawing the attention of both philosophers and scientists to the problem of causality at higher levels of complexity, namely, at the level of chemistry, microbiology, epigenetics, evolutionary biology, physiology, neurosciences/cognitive sciences, psychology, social sciences, and computer and information sciences. This new paradigm of causality – called top-down causality – concerns not only each individual science but also the relationship between the various scientific branches. Top-down causality is complex, multifaceted, and related to the emergence of contextual complexity throughout the cosmic evolutionary process. It is also highly relevant for the study of the mind, ethics, and religious phenomena.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe insides of nature
Subtitle of host publicationcausality and conceptions of nature
EditorsÁlvaro Balsas, Bruno Nobre
Place of PublicationBraga
PublisherAletheia – Associação Científica e Cultural
ISBN (Print)9789726973195
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2020


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