About the Book:
Philosophers, poets, mystics and artists have at all times throughout history, communicated valuable insights into the nature of nature.
His work is a comprehensive study of the diverse dimensions of Nature that emerged in different cultures. It builds between the natural sciences and the humanities and stimulates reflection on issues considered important by many previous generations and which ought to be though anew in our own times.
This book opens windows into the understanding of Nature in non-Western cultures that have ling traditions exploring Nature independent of modern Western sciences.
About the Author:
He is University distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Manitoba, Canada. He holds a Baccalaureate in theology and Comparative Religion a Dphil summa cum laude in Philosophy and a PhD in Ancient Indian History and Culture from Bombay University. Her served as Professor in the University of Manitoba Department of Religion and then as its head for many years, as well as founded and directed the Asian Studies Centre at he same University. He has also had several interludes as visiting Professor in India.
He received the Rh-Award for outstanding Contribution to the humanities, the Graduate Students Association Awards for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, and was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
NATURALISTS invite us to explore and enjoy nature, the great outdoors. Environmentalists warn us that nature, the basis of our physical existence, is threatened by human use and abuse. Ethicists debate whether humans should emancipate themselves from nature, which is seen as restricting our freedom. Scientists surprise us almost every day with new discoveries of hitherto unknown aspects of nature. Pressed for a clear definition of 'nature' all admit that the issue is complex: all our understanding of nature is historically and culturally conditioned. 'Nature' is not just a given fact also a conceptual construct made up of many cultural components and embedded in particular histories. The natural sciences do not simply deliver truth about nature but are also culturally and historically conditioned efforts to appropriate nature for all kinds of human purposes.
There are many dimensions of 'nature' that have been overlooked and neglected by the modern natural sciences. Philosophers, poets, mystics, artists in many different cultures and at all times have communicated insights into the nature of nature that are relevant and important. Nature embraces not only what the modern natural sciences are concerned with but also what the humanities have been dealing with or ages. The Nature of Nature intends to present a comprehensive study of various understandings and diverse dimensions of nature that have emerged in different cultures at all periods in human history. It aims at building bridges between the natural and the human sciences, and to many generations before us and that we ought to think through anew for our own times. It also wants to open windows into the understanding of nature in non-Western cultures that have long traditions in exploring nature independent from modern Western sciences.
I dedicate this book to Dr. Robert D. ('Robin') Connor, Professor Emeritus of Physics, who, as Dean of Sciences at the University of Manitoba, gave decisive encouragement to the development of courses on Science and Religion, and with whom I explored the topics dealt with here over many years in team-taught graduate seminars. I owe much to him in my understanding of many issues dealt with here and also in the final preparation of the manuscript, which he carefully read and corrected.
Some chapters of this book have appeared previously in The Theosophist (Adyar): I wish to express my gratitude to the Editorial Board for accepting the book-manuscript for publication. I also thank the dedicated staff of the Theosophical Publishing House and, in particular, the Editorial Office, for the expert care with which they produced this book.
MOST colleges and universities in the English speaking world have separate Faculties of Arts and Science. The 'Arts comprising the so-called 'Humanities' and usually also the newer 'Social Sciences', the 'Science' dealing with the 'Natural Sciences'. While in the popular mind only what is 'scientific; is considered 'true', some of the greatest scientists are cautioning not to overrate the results of scientific research and not to underestimate insights gained by methods other than those of the natural sciences. The natural sciences developed in a specific cultural context and are only a part of a larger culture that needs to be preserved and developed for the sake of a truly human life.
The introductory chapters of this book address that concern and attempt to examine the interrelationship of the sciences, philosophies and religions of the world in their common endeavour to explore nature, which is to be understood as more than the sum total of material objects that are the subject matter of the sciences. They invite also to broaden the understanding of rationality, which is often reduced to the methodology of the sciences, and to 're-invent' nature, to reconnect the exploration of nature with the philosophical and religious traditions of humankind which have been largely banished from contemporary intellectual discourse.
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