Causation in Early Modern Philosophy: Cartesianism, Occasionalism, and Preestablished Harmony

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Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Volume 37 , Issue 4 October Pages Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Bardout, Jean-Christophe. Pessin, Andrew.

Causation in Early Modern Philosophy Cartesianism, Occasionalism, and Preestablished Harmony

Garber, Daniel. Clarke, Desmond New York: Routledge, , Scott, David. Cambridge: Un. Steven Nadler. Anstey, Peter. Hatfield, Gary C. Clatterbaugh, Kenneth. Clarke, Desmond M. Watson, Richard. Nadler, ed. Lennon, M. Cover and M. Kulstad, eds. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, Indianapolis: Hackett.

Balz, Albert. Gueroult, M.

Connolly Patrick J. Jordan, Jason. Daniel, Stephen H. New York: Peter Lang, , Kail, Peter. Mander, William J. The Philosophy of John Norris. Oxford: Oxford University Press, McDonough, Jeffrey. Roberts, J. Sleigh, Robert. Jan Cover and Mark Kulstad ed. McKim, Robert. McCracken, Charles.

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Pitcher, George. Contemporary Discussions on Occasionalism Walter J.


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Plantinga, Alvin. Edited by Michael Bergman and Jeffrey E. Lim, Daniel. Schultz, Walter J. Miller, Timothy. Tymieniecka, and N. Dordrecht: Springer, Paterson, Sarah. Patterson, Sarah Old and New. Leibniz believed that occasionalism was in danger of reducing into the view of Spinoza—a doctrine inconsistent with traditional theology, and in any event, according to Leibniz, one at odds with the common sense view that creatures are genuine individuals: I have many other arguments to present and several of them serve to show that according to the view which completely robs created things of all power and action, God would be the only substance, and created things would be only accidents or modifications of God.

GP IV, [WF ] Because occasionalism makes God the principle of activity in created substances, it makes God the very nature of created substances.

Occasionalism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

This doctrine contains three main ingredients: 1 No state of a created substance has as a real cause some state of another created substance that is, a denial of intersubstantial causality. He writes in the New System: Besides all the advantages that recommend this hypothesis [that is, preestablished harmony], we can say that it is something more than a hypothesis, since it hardly seems possible to explain things in any other intelligible way, … Our ordinary ways of speaking may also be easily preserved.

Consider the following from the Monadology: The soul follows its own laws and the body likewise follows its own; and they agree by virtue of the preestablished harmony among all substances, because they are all representations of one self-same universe. In claiming, therefore, that substances are governed by laws of final causes, Leibniz has in mind that appetitions lead a substance to strive for certain future perceptual states: [S]ince the nature of a simple substance consists of perception and appetite, it is clear that there is in each soul a series of appetites and perceptions, through which it is lead from the end to the means, from the perception of one object to the perception of another.

C 14 [MP ] It is a matter of some controversy whether Leibniz held that appetitive states of a substance are intrasubstantial productive causes of change that is, efficient causes of change , and there are texts that can be brought to bear on both sides of the issue.

In some passages, Leibniz separates the world into what appear to be functionally autonomous causal realms: Souls act according to the laws of final causes through appetition, ends, and means. GP VI, [AG ] But in other texts, Leibniz seems clearly to suggest that final causes are a species of efficient cause, and hence are productive causes of change. Consider the following: [T]he present state of body is born from the preceding state through the laws of efficient causes; the present state of the soul is born from its preceding state through the laws of final causes.

Dut, II, 2, ; my emphasis Thus, in this text, Leibniz suggests that final causes themselves produce future perceptions by way of efficient causation. But whether or not Leibniz believed that both types of causes operated at multiple ontological levels, he did nonetheless believe that the harmony of efficient and final causes explained the ordinary conscious activity of substances, including that sort of activity often cited as involving free will: [T]he laws that connect the thoughts of the soul in the order of final causes and in accordance with the evolution of perceptions must produce pictures that meet and harmonize with the impressions of bodies on our organs; and likewise the laws of movements in the body, which follow one another in the order of efficient causes, meet and so harmonize with the thoughts of the soul that the body is induced to act at the time when the soul wills it.

GP VI, [T 62] Although it might appear to some that such a view is inconsistent with freedom of the will, Leibniz did not think so, for he repeatedly maintained that human souls, though governed by preestablished laws of final causes, act with freedom of the will e. Consider the following from his Notes on Stahl : [T]hat motion is not improperly called voluntary, which is connected with a known distinct appetite, where we notice the means at the hands of our soul, being adapted to the end itself; although in other [non-voluntary] movement also, appetites proceed to their own ends through means, albeit they are not noticed by us.

Dut II, 2, ; my emphasis Here Leibniz claimed that final causes operate at the level of the unconscious: a mental state can function as a final cause without our being aware of it. Divine Conservation and Concurrence Although Leibniz maintained against the occasionalists and Spinoza that created substances were genuine sources of their own activity, and that it is not true that God alone is the source of all natural activity, he did nonetheless believe in a doctrine of divine conservation and concurrence.

GP VI, [T ] In general, the idea seems to be this: creatures are real causes of the imperfections in actions, while God is responsible for the perfection contained in the action. Adams, ; Lee, ; Sleigh, 5. References and Further Reading a. Primary Sources References to works of Leibniz are cited by abbreviation according to the key below. AG Philosophical Essays. Edited and translated by Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber. Indianapolis: Hackett, Dut Opera Omnia. Edited by L.

Causation in Early Modern Philosophy. Cartesianism, Occasionalism, and Preestablished Harmony

Geneva: Fratres De Tournes, Cited by volume, and page. Edited by C. Berlin: Weidman, Cited by volume and page. L Philosophical Papers and Letters.

Modern Philosophy Review part 2

Edited by Leroy Loemker, 2nd ed. Dordrecht: Reidel, Translated and edited by H. Manchester: Manchester UP, MP Philosophical Writings. Translated and edited by Mary Morris and G. London: Dent, Translated and edited by Peter Remnant and Jonathon Bennett. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, The original French text is in A VI, 6. T Theodicy. Edited by Austin Farrer and translated by E. New Haven: Yale UP, Cited by section number as in GP VI. Translated and edited by R. Woolhouse and Richard Francks. Oxford: Oxford UP, Secondary Sources Adams, Robert. Leibniz: Determinist, Theist, Idealist.

Oxford: Oxford UP. The book consults a wealth of primary sources. Gregory Brown, Carlin, Laurence. This paper argues that for Leibniz, final causes are species of efficient cause, and are therefore just as productive as efficient causes. This paper argues that Leibniz was a causal determinist by focusing on his treatment of causation in relation to his concept of conatus, or his concept of force in his physics.

Cover, Jan and Mark Kulstad, eds. Central Themes in Early Modern Philosophy. This is an anthology that contains a number of articles of causation in early modern philosophy, including an article on the relationship between Leibniz and occasionalism. Davidson, Jack.

This paper argues that Leibniz was a causal determinist on the grounds that his model of human volition imitates the model of divine agency. Garber, Daniel. Jolley, Nicholas. The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. It is written by leading scholars, and could very well be the first place to look for someone new to Leibniz. Kulstad, Mark. Heinkemp, W. Lenzen, and M. Schneider, eds. Lee, Sukjae. Murray, Michael.

This article argues that Leibniz was not a causal determinist, contrary to what others have argued. Murray, Michael.. Nadler, Steven, ed. Causation in Early Modern Philosophy. This collection of papers is the classic source for papers on causation in early modern philosophy.


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