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Extra info for Studies in Byzantine Intellectual History (Variorum reprint; CS 88)
It means that the purpose or plan is not formulated by a personal agent. However, agents’ actions may promote the overall purpose and presumably must accord with it. Hegel can be used to illustrate. For Hegel, the overall purpose manifest in history is the self-realisation of Absolute Spirit. History is the process through which this takes place—a process in which persons have their part. Intentional action and consciousness are involved in the process, but the purpose that progressively manifests itself is not the result of Spirit self-consciously formulating and following a plan.
The situation is similar in theism where evolution and laws are not taken as God’s powers or plans themselves, but as the means by which those powers are instantiated and plans are achieved.
As “natural” does not imply that they, or the Unity, cannot also be interpreted metaphysically, or that they are not divine. For instance, the Tao has both metaphysical and naturalistic senses. e. a single entity that actually exists), “natural law” and a system of self-regulated principles. The Tao creates things and is responsible for and controls their development. It informs the entire phenomenal world. While the Tao is not a deity, it may be taken as divine. On this model, pantheists take Unity to be divine either because the ordering principles are so regarded or for independent reasons.