Abstract/Details

The rise of Cartesian occasionalism


2010 2010

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Abstract (summary)

This study offers a new account of the development of Cartesian Occasionalism. The doctrine of Occasionalism – most famously advocated by Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715) – states that God alone is the cause of every event, and created substances are merely “occasional causes.” In the years following René Descartes’ death in 1650, several of his followers -- including Arnold Geulincx (1624-1669), Gerauld de Cordemoy (1626-1684) and Louis de la Forge (1632-1666) – argued for some version of this thesis. My study builds on recent scholarship about these first Cartesian Occasionalists, the motives that led them and Malebranche to adopt Occasionalism, and the connections between Occasionalism and the views of Descartes. I analyze the doctrine of Occasionalism, and examine its relationship to Descartes’ philosophy. I argue that Descartes’ views in physics and metaphysics are consistent with the claim that corporeal substances have intrinsic causal powers, and reply to arguments by Gary Hatfield, Janet Broughton and Daniel Garber that purport to show otherwise. I examine how Occasionalism relates to several proposed problems with Descartes’ claim that the human mind (an immaterial substance) causally interacts with the human body (a material substance), and argue that Occasionalism is not the “natural” solution to these problems. I conclude by canvassing the arguments of the earliest Cartesian Occasionalists. I argue Cartesian Occasionalism was neither an ad hoc solution to the mindbody problem, nor a logical consequence of Descartes’ own views, but rather an attempt to extend and better systematize Cartesian philosophy.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Philosophy
Classification
0422: Philosophy
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Cartesianism; Descartes, Rene; Malebranche; Occasionalism
Title
The rise of Cartesian occasionalism
Author
Platt, Andrew Russell
Number of pages
284
Publication year
2010
Degree date
2010
School code
0118
Source
DAI-A 71/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9781124320267
Advisor
O'Neill, Eileen
Committee member
Baker, Lynne; Chappell, Vere; Maddox, Donald
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Department
Philosophy
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3427565
ProQuest document ID
815282483
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/815282483
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