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Causality and World Order

Causality and World Order

uṣurāt ilī kīnāti “The Enduring Designs of the Gods”

(p.164) Chapter Six Causality and World Order
Before Nature
Francesca Rochberg
University of Chicago Press

From ancient Mesopotamian antiquity down to the construction of the nomological conception of nature in the early modern period, the metaphor of law (or laws) as a way to describe order, harmony, norms, and regularities in the observed world runs continuously through the history of thought about nature and the gods, or God. This basic understanding is realized in two separate but related doctrines, one of so-called natural law and the other of the laws of nature, both, however, seen as emanating from the same principle of the universalism of nature itself. This chapter examines the ways omens and divinatory cuneiform texts also employ the legal metaphor for cosmic order but without recourse to the conception of nature.

Keywords:   laws of nature, omens, laws, causality, fate, conditionals, legal metaphor

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