A new view of nature

<- The concept of living structure

To say that every part of nature has its wholeness, is to say that we cannot look at nature correctly without seeing distinctions of degree of life — and hence of value — within nature itself.

The traditional scientific view has been that, in spite of this obvious difference between more complex and less complex space, still, as scientists we should be committed to a view where each of these structures — the empty space, the rock, the plant — are “equal” in value. A world-view based on the existence of wholeness comes out rather different. If the field of centers is a governing structure which underlies all physical reality, then there is a crucial objective sense in which there is less value in the empty space, somewhat more value in the rock, and still more value in the birch tree. In this objective sense, the relative degree of value, or relative degree of life, in different parts of matter, must then be a fundamental and objective feature of reality. Not all nature is equally beautiful. Not all of it is equally deep in its wholeness. Some of nature may be “better” than other parts of nature. If this is true, it must provoke thought about deep problems. We must acknowledge that some places in the world are more damaged, and have a less coherent, less limpid structure. When man interferes with nature, we very easily get places where the simple and deep beautiful structure is replaced by something stark and harsh.

Within the view of wholeness, and within the view that recognizes the existence of living structure, one of the most fundamental tenets of contemporary science — that value is not part of science and that all matter is, from a scientific point of view, equally value-free — can no longer be sustained. If different centers have more life and less life, more intense life, and less intense life, then material structures in which centers with more life occur — or where they occur more densely — are inherently more valuable. This would represent a change of viewpoint. In the new viewpoint, the harmony of nature is not something automatic, but something to be marveled at — something to be treasured, sustained, harvested, cultivated, and sought actively. […] Value, emerging as a deeper life in the wholeness of the world, turns out to be a fundamental aspect of nature itself.

Most human actions are governed by concepts and visions. These may be — but may easily not be — congruent with the wholeness which exists. Under the influence of concepts, it becomes harder and harder for us to remain in harmony with the emerging wholeness. Often our actions, intentionally of unintentionally, are at odds with our own wholeness, and at odds with the wholeness of the world. The gradual emergence of value is then drastically threatened. […] Life will increase, or it will degenerate, according to the degree in which the wholeness of the world is upheld, or damaged, by human beings and human processes.

#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/6 The fifteen properties in nature#

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