A1 Journal article (refereed)
Extending the limits of nature : political animals, artefacts, and social institutions (2020)

Toivanen, J. (2020). Extending the limits of nature : political animals, artefacts, and social institutions. Philosophical Readings, 12(1), 35-44. https://virgo.unive.it/ojs2/index.php/phr/article/view/140

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Toivanen, Juhana

Journal or series: Philosophical Readings

eISSN: 2036-4989

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 12

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 35-44

Publisher: Università Ca’ Foscari

Publication country: Italy

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: https://virgo.unive.it/ojs2/index.php/phr/article/view/140

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/69012

Publication is parallel published: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3740678


This essay discusses how medieval authors from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries dealt with a philosophical problem that social institutions pose for the Aristotelian dichotomy between natural and artificial entities. It is argued that marriage, political community, and language provided a particular challenge for the conception that things which are designed by human beings are artefacts. Medieval philosophers based their arguments for the naturalness of social institutions on the anthropological view that human beings are political animals by nature, but this strategy required rethinking the borderline between nature and art. The limits of nature were extended, as social institutions were considered to be natural even though they are in many ways similar to artificial products.

Keywords: Medieval philosophy; Aristotelianism; view of people; human being; nature; social institutions; political institutions; marriage; languages

Free keywords: political animal; political community; marriage; language; artefact; Aristotle; Thomas Aquinas; Nicholas of Vaudémont; medieval commentaries on Aristotle.

Fields of science:

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 0

Last updated on 2023-03-10 at 13:06