by Trish Neil

“Aristotle … took observation, most especially of biological organisms, very seriously; it was his mathematical-maniacal teacher, Plato, who dismissed sense-data… But Aristotle …. advocated a passive form of observation. Nature, working always with its own ends in view, the very ends which provide the explanation in terms of final causes, was not to be interfered with. Teleology trumped technology. The very windingness of the roads of Europe’s medieval cities testifies to the old system’s hands-off approach toward nature. These roads were laid out on paths the rain took as it rolled down inclines. To transpose our own pathways over nature’s choices was a violation of the fundamentaal assumption of the old system.” from”Seeing Further: the Story of Science and the Royal Society” edited by Bill Bryson Harper Press 2011.

Teleological thinking seems pretty woolly these days. But the respect for nature outlined here gives rise to townscapes that most people find appealing and positive places to be in.

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