Sarah Broadie's second Whitehead lecture may, I think, be encapsulated in two assertions:
(I) For Aristotle, divinity is manifested in the natural world solely in the perfect, physically necessary rotational movement of the heavenly spheres;But there seem to be many texts at odds with (I). Consider simply the passage from Cicero with which Broadie began her lecture, and which she took as exemplary of Aristotle's attitude: the evidences of divinity (opera deorum) mentioned there include many sublunary phenomena, such as land, sea, sky, clouds, and wind (terram et maria caelumque vidissent, nubium magnitudinem ventorumque vim cognovissent).
(II) yet on Aristotle's own principles, this movement is 'natural', and so it is unclear why he would need to appeal to anything outside of nature to account for it.
And then I think of the famous passage at the end of Parts of Animals, book I, where Aristotle says that the study of living things yields the same sort of marvelous insight, though in a different way, as the study of the heavens--and he even quotes Heraclitus to make the point, "gods are present there too."
I wonder too why Aristotle would use the word theion (godlike) for human nous unless he thought it somehow manifested divinity.
(Doesn't (I) seem plausible only if we leave animate things out of the picture, and put to the side Aristotle's willingness to view living things and their powers as organized in a teleological hierarchy?)
I'm doubtful about (II) also, for two reasons:
- Aristotle explains the movement of earth, air, fire, and water as the realization of a tendency to go to a place: but what would be the place toward which an eternal rotational movement is tending?
- To say that the terrestial elements have a natural movement is to say that they admit of being hindered in that movement: e.g. to say that earth tends to the center is to say that it can be hindered from going to the center, and that it resumes its movement to the center when the hindrance is removed. That's just what a natural tendency is. But presumably the celestial spheres could not be hindered.