Occasionalism: Causation Among the Cartesians

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Steven Nadler presents a collection of essays on the problem of causation in seventeenth-century philosophy. Occasionalism is the doctrine, held by a number of early modern Cartesian thinkers, that created substances are devoid of any true causal powers, and that God is the only real causal agent in the universe. All natural phenomena have God as their direct and immediate cause, with natural things and their states serving only as "occasions" for God to act. Rather than being merely an ad hoc, deus ex machina response to the mind-body problem bequeathed by Descartes to his followers, as it has often been portrayed in the past, occasionalism is in fact a full-blooded, complex and philosophically interesting account of causal relations. These essays examine the philosophical, scientific, theological and religious themes and arguments of occasionalism, as well as its roots in medieval views on God and causality.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198250081
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/7/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 999,743
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has taught since 1988. His books include Spinoza: A Life (winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award) and Rembrandt's Jews (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), and he has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the University of Amsterdam, and the Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales (Paris). He was the co-editor of Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy; and is currently the editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy.

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Table of Contents

1. Occasionalism and the Mind-Body Problem
2. Descartes and Occasional Causation
3. Occasionalism and General Will in Malebranche
4. Postscript to "Occasionalism and General Will in Malebranche"
5. Knowledge, Volitional Agency and Causation in Malebranche and Geulincx
6. Dualism and Occasionalism: Arnauld and the Development of Cartesian Metaphysics
7. The Occasionalism of Louis de la Forge
8. Louis de la Forge and the Development of Occasionalism: Continuous Creation and the Activity of the Soul
9. Cordemoy and Occasionalism
10. 'No Necessary Connection': The Medieval Roots of the Occasionalist Roots of Hume
11. Choosing a Theodicy: The Leibniz-Malebranche-Arnauld Connection

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