Chapter 2 – Explaining Nature
Chapter 2 Explaining Nature
The concept of nature and the concept of explanation are linked. This is evident in various ways. For instance, we assume that an explanation, in general, needs to be distinct from the way we wish the world to be: it should be founded on how things are in themselves, when left alone without human interference. To the extent that we arrive at such explanations, we assume that we have arrived at some view regarding the nature of the thing or event under consideration. To explore such links between the concept of nature and the concept of explanation is the main aim of this chapter. There is currently a vast amount of literature on explanation, and this chapter is not the place to present an overview of all of it. What is being proposed here is a particular line of inquiry that manifests the link between explanation and the nature of things. Aristotle was probably the first to distinguish clearly between investigating causes in nature and investigating the nature of explanation itself. His views on the logic of explanation have been the focus of considerable philosophical attention since then. One section of this chapter will in fact be dedicated to the basic logical patterns of explanation that are predominant in the process of uncovering the nature of things, especially within empirical inquiry. This treatment of explanation, however, does not constitute all there is to say about this topic. An alternative to Aristotle’s approach emerged with...
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