Religion & the Order of Nature

By Seyyed Hossein Nasr | Go to book overview

world of nature beyond the merely physical and utilitarian. To rediscover the body as the abode of the Spirit, worthy of Resurrection before the Lord, and intimate companion in the soul's journey in this world, sacred in itself and in the life which permeates it, is to rediscover at the same time the sacredness of nature. It is to reestablish our link with the plants and animals, with the streams, mountains, and the stars. It is to experience the presence of the Spirit in the physical dimension of our existence as well as in the world of nature to which we are linked both physically and spiritually, through our bodies as well as our souls and the Spirit which is reflected in both our bodies as the temples of God and the world of nature as the theater of theophanies and mirror of Divine Creativity.


NOTES
1.
In Islamic philosophy this immediate knowledge is called knowledge through presence (al-'ilm al-ḥuḍūrī) in contrast to the knowledge we gain indirectly through concepts, which is called acquired knowledge (al-'ilm al-ḥuṣīlī). This direct knowledge obviously has profound epistemological and philosophical implications that cannot be treated here. See Mehdi Ha'iri Yazdi, The Principles of Epistemology in Islamic Philosophy: Knowledge by Presence ( Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992).
2.
It is interesting to note here that according to Islamic eschatological teachings, on the Day of Judgment each organ of our body will bear witness before God, independent of our will, concerning our good and evil actions.
3.
This is the theological basis of the prohibition of suicide, which is considered a major sin in Islam. Not having created our bodies and given it life, we have no right to take life away from it.
4.
See especially de La Mettrie L'Homme machine, which wielded much influence in Europe during the eighteenth century.
5.
It needs to be mentioned that religion did not give up the body as rapidly as it gave up the cosmos to a science of matter and motion. Opposition to dissection, based on the idea of the sacredness of the human body, continued as did faith healing, prayer as a means of healing, and emphasis upon the role played by a healthy soul in the health of the body. One need only recall that Christian Science belongs to nineteenth-century New England and that even today religious views of the health and sickness of the body, either in opposition or complementary to mainstream medical views, are very much alive in both America and Europe. If anything, they are on the rise.
6.
See Barbara Duden, The Woman Beneath the Skin: A Doctor's Patients in Eighteenth-Century Germany, trans. Thomas Dunlap ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), which contains a detailed discussion of how the concept of the human body has changed in the West since the eighteenth century. The author is an associate of Ivan Illich, who has led the research during the past two decades on this central issue.
7.
Ibid., pp. 1-3.
8.
"It involved a degradation of the notion of the self extended into a unique and involuable corporeal volume, to one in which the self only loosely possessed a body." Karl Figlio , "The Historiography of Scientific Medicine: An Invitation to the Human Sciences," Comparative Studies in Society and History (Vol. 19, 1977), p. 277.
9.
"This [the new medical) gaze turned the body, and with it the patient who possessed it, into a new kind of discrete object." Duden, Woman Beneath the Skin, p. 4.

-262-

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Religion & the Order of Nature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Religion and Religions 9
  • Notes 25
  • 2 - The Order of Nature 29
  • Notes 66
  • 3 - Philosophy and the Misdeeds of Philosophy 80
  • Greek Philosophy 113
  • 4 - The Traditional Sciences, the Scientific Revolution, and Its Aftermath 126
  • Notes 153
  • 5 - The Tragic Consequences of Humanism in the West 163
  • Notes 185
  • 6 - The Rediscovery of Nature: Religion and the Environmental Crisis 191
  • Notes 223
  • 7 - The Wisdom of the Body 235
  • Notes 262
  • Religion and the Resacralization of Nature 270
  • Notes 289
  • Index 293
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