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Vegetables are Food?

Here I quote the entire last page of the chapter of RMO entitled "The Created Order," a ethico-philosophical tour de force in which O'Donovan not only demolished my last remaining sympathies for nominalism, but also made me begin to wonder why any Christian would be a nominalist. This page (and indeed, the whole chapter) reads a lot like like a highly-condensed version of The Abolition of Man:

Abstraction from teleology creates a dangerous misunderstanding of the place of man in the universe. For it supposes that the observing mind encounters an inert creation--not, that is, a creation without movement, but a creation without a point to its movement. Thus the mind credits to its own conceptual creativity that teleological order which is, despite everything, necessary to life. All ordering becomes deliberative ordering, and scientific observation, failing as it does to report the given teleological order within nature, becomes the servant of techne. Of course, man continues to eat vegetables; but he no longer knows that he does so because vegetables are food, and comes to imagine that he has devised a use for them as food. And so he looks for other uses for them, which will seem to him to have as much validity as that one which was, if he could only have remembered it, given in nature. That vegetables exist as food for other animals than himself will not impress him--unless, of course, the continued existence of other animals too falls within his deliberative purposes for the world, in which case both vegetation and animal life will continue to hold their value as a feoff from himself. Thus arises the irony of our own days, in which the very protection of nature has to be argued in terms of man's 'interest' in preserving his 'environment'. Such a philosophy offers no stable protection against the exploitation of nature by man, since he can discern nothing in the relations of things to command his respect. And, of course, this unprincipled domination must extend itself to include his own psychosomatic nature, all that is not itself the devising mind, so that humanity itself dissolves in the polarization of the technological will and its raw material. Man's monarchy over nature can be healthy only if he recognizes it as something itself given in the nature of things, and therefore limited by the nature of things. For if it were true that he imposed his rule upon nature from without, then there would be no limit to it. It would have been from the beginning a crude struggle to stamp an inert and formless nature with the insignia of his will. Such has been the philosophy bred by a scientism liberated from the discipline of Christian metaphysics. It is not what the Psalmist meant by the dominion of man, which was a worshipping and respectful sovereignty, a glad responsibility for the natural order which he both discerned and loved.


Sheer brilliance. Beautiful. This is why true philosophy is never too far from theology.

Every cell in my body loves this quote.

September 22, 2009 at 1:18 AM  

This is really quite good.

September 22, 2009 at 10:07 AM  

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