Ideas of Nature: Emerging Concepts of Nature and Law in the Scientific Revolution


ACLS Fellowship Program


Environmental Science, Policy, and Management


This work examines the history of the idea of nature as an active force with respect to the history of science of the seventeenth century. What was the relationship between nature as actor/actress (active and potentially uncontrollable) and nature as law (rational, predictable, hence potentially controllable) in this period? This study focuses on the meaning of “nature naturing” (natura naturans)—nature as creative force—and “nature natured” (natura naturata)—nature as created world—as historically understood and articulated. Looking at the history of these two historical concepts offers a new approach to the history of the (so-named) Scientific Revolution.