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This AWRC Special lecture will be delivered by Dr Alfred Schmid, Ancient Historian from the University of Bern, followed by wine reception and reserved dinner in Hall. Dr Schmid will be talking about The Invention of Nature in Ancient Greece: Implications and Contexts.
“Nature” seems to be a cultural construct but the case is complicated, because culture and nature are complementary concepts. They arise together in Greece under the labels of physisand nomos. That is why you have to actually “culturalize” culture to be able to understand nature as culture. My hypothesis is that physis was the complement of human autonomy as experienced in the Greek poleis. It designated the surrounding area of non-autonomy: the law-determinated counterpart of human freedom as of an “Eigenweltlichkeit”of man. The natural is the world as the perception of an autonomous subject, and as such must be reduced to its perceptibility. As the complement of a politically based autonomy, the nature-concept is an ingredient of every modernity. In the on-going fight against anti-modern revisions of the concept of nature (beginning with Plato and purporting a theological vision of nature shaped by providential design) a «modern» science has developed radically “immanentist” views of the world as “nature”, e.g.Darwin’s theory of a world creating itself by internal laws of competition. It seems not very probable that life can really be understood this way. But probably the nature concept was not created to understand, but to manage the world. And as a firewall against the feebleness of an autonomy based on politics that has put itself outside and against the world.