An unnatural divide

Flattening the natural and artificial

Philosophers have divided the natural and the artificial since ancient Greece. But do we know what we mean by that distinction, and where do humans and their actions fit? Graham Harman sets about flattening this divide. 

The drawing of a sharp distinction between the natural and the artificial goes all the way back to Ancient Greek philosophy. In Aristotle’s Physics there is a famous distinction between natural and violent motion: celestial bodies naturally move in a circle around the earth, terrestrial bodies move downward towards the center of the earth, and violent motion is whatever departs from these expected processes due to the intervention of an outside cause.

And so things remained until modern natural scientists reduced the difference between celestial and terrestrial motion to a universal physics, one that also erased the distinction between natural and violent motion, given that all forces are now said to be of the same kind. Hence, the differenc

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