chapter  12
Nature and man
Pages 19

Georg Lukacs, in analysing the history of the concept of being-initself,1 reaches the conclusion that during antiquity an emotional relationship to being-in-itself was the exception, not the rule. All of Ionian natural philosophy, and even Aristotle himself, described and analysed the nature of things with cool objectivity. As that fact also demonstrates, a teleological conception of nature does not necessarily entail the immediacy of experience (it did not entail such a thing for Aristotle, nor for Hegel either). An ‘emphatic relationship to being-in-itself’ (Lukacs’s expression) characterizes Plato alone, for whom the ideas-in-themselves are the pure forms of the highest values (the Good, the True, the Beautiful) and for whom knowledge of being-in-itself is inseparable from experience of it. This emphatic relationship springs from the ideological character of Plato’s work, and only finds enhancement in ancient Neoplatonism, most notably in Plotinus. In Christianity, both in antiquity and during the Middle Ages, enthusiasm for being-in-itself was transformed into experience of God: the world could be the object of adoration only as a creation of God. Here, then, experience was not identical with knowledge, as in Plato, but rather its condition and, what is more, very often its surrogate. Unquestionably, the end result of this process, historically, is modern science, which had emerged by the seventeenth century thanks to a relatively consistent application of the principle of de-anthropomorphization.