I'm not so sure that the law of nature concept emerged exactly as Loewe proposed, something controlling or governing the world, but perhaps for a short while to mean the very opposite. Taking the word "nature" to mean inborn character, then an object obeying the laws or dictates of its own nature, such a gas expanding to fill the space available to it, is in effect obeying no law at all or anything imposed externally. The phrase "obeying a law of nature" has the logic and semantics of "being your own boss" - so you actually have no boss, or "enjoying your own company", so you're happy alone without company. All these expressions are vivid because they are self contradictory, they are jocular oxymorons rather like "birthday suit", "Shank's pony", coined in an age which delighted in verbal pranks.

We can easily see this in grade school laws like the expansion of a gas, water seeks its own level, unsupported bodies fall to the ground, none of which are formulated as equations, but what about laws of motion such as Kepler's and Newton's, most of which are? I think these are interesting transitional stages. Newton's first law of motion, though not to my knowledge accompanied by an equation, is also often designated "The law of inertia" as if we're deciding to abandon the somewhat animistic idea of a body having an active nature at all. Now we're ready to use equations such as f = ma, and its nature has disappeared altogether. Now nature, like gravity (originally 'heaviness'), has ceased to be the property of an individual entity. Where next?

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