Philosophy of Nature - 2nd semester


a) Place the Philosophy of Nature in the general context of philosophical knowledge;
b) Identify and precisely describe the main questions dealt with by the Philosophy of Nature;
c) Know directly some of the historically most important texts in the Philosophy of Nature sphere;
d) Study the concepts of \"nature\" and \"natural\" and place them in the context of the concepts to which they are related as either complements or opposites;
e) Study important Philosophy of Nature issues.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

António de Castro Caeiro


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





ARISTOTLE, Physics. With an English translation by P. Wickstead and Francis Cornford. 2 vols. Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 1957-1960. Aristote. Physique. Texte établi et trad. par Henri Charteron. 2 vols. Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1963-1969.

R. BOYLE, A Free Enquiry into de Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature, in The Works of Robert Boyle. Edited by Michael Hunter and Edward B. Davis, vol. 10. London, Pickering & Chatto, 2000.

G. W. LEIBNIZ, “Système nouveau de la nature et de la communication des substances aussi bien que de l’union qu’il y a entre l’ame et le corps”, in Die philosophishen Schriften. Hrsg. Von K. I. Gerhardt, vol. 4. Berlin, 1880. Reimpr. Hildesheim-New York, Georg Olms Verlag, l978.

B. A LUSTIG, B. A. BRODY, G. P. McKENNY (eds.), Altering Nature. Volume One: Concepts of ‘Nature’ and ‘The Natural’ in Biotechnology Debates, Dordrecht, Springer Netherlands, 2008.

VOLTAIRE, Questions sur l’Encyclopédie, par des amateurs (VII) in Les Oeuvres Philosophiques de Voltaire, vol. 42B, Oxford, Voltaire Fondation, 2012

Teaching method

The course will have a double explanatory and hands-on approach. There will be theoretical classes, designed to introduce and frame the ideas of several philosophers, as well as to formulate and expand the problems under review; and classes more focused on the analysis and discussion of the literature. Students will have access to the texts to be discussed and should prepare them before class.
In class teaching.

Evaluation method

Two written tests, one at the middle (30%) and the other at the end of the semester (60%). Oral participation in class (10%).

Subject matter

AThe adjective ‘natural’ qualifies multiple dimensions of human experience: we speak of natural beings, of natural processes, of natural laws, of natural phenomena, of natural aptitudes, of natural powers, etc. But what exactly do we mean by qualifying a reality, a process, etc. as ‘natural’? What do we say when we speak of ‘nature’ or ‘natural’?
From another perspective, qualifying certain realities as ‘natural’ presupposes or implies a negative delimitation of the ‘unnatural’: precisely because everything is not natural, something may (or may not) be pertinently qualified as such; So we speak of artefacts, of virtual worlds, of manipulation of nature, etc.
The course will focus on the concepts of ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ in the multiple ways of understanding these concepts and understanding the natural/unnatural pair.
Attention will be given to the texts of the classical authors of the History of Philosophy and to some contemporary discussions on the subject.


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