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Causation in Early Modern Philosophy: Cartesianism, by Steven M. Nadler

By Steven M. Nadler

Three normal debts of causation stand out in early sleek philosophy: Cartesian interactionism, occasionalism, and Leibniz's preestablished concord. The members to this quantity research those theories of their philosophical and ancient context. They deal with them either as a method for answering particular questions relating to causal kinfolk and of their relation to each other, particularly, evaluating occasionalism and the preestablished concord as responses to Descartes's metaphysics and physics and the Cartesian account of causation. Philosophers mentioned contain Descartes, Gassendi, Malebranche, Arnauld, Leibniz, Bayle, l. a. Forge, and different, much less recognized figures.

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Still, I do not in the end oppose the limited view that by about 1679 Leibniz denied interaction between mind and body. The comment on Spinoza is, to me, persuasive, and despite some qualms I think that Belaval's passage from the letter to Malebranche constitutes fairly strong evidence. But we do not have to leave it at that. Other texts, not adduced by the commentators discussed, are in the offing. ] but you would even wonder at the blindness of those who imagine that some motions and divisions of matter could destroy the indivisible substances which give all action and even all existence to matter, and which do not receive impressions exceptfrom God.

Note 1 of ML 40 indicates that what Robinet has in mind by Malebranche's "originality" is his occasionalism. 41 ML 40, n. 1 (emphasis added). Robinet is quoting from Gouhier, "Philosophie Chrétienne et Theologie", Revue Philosophique ( March-April 1938): 110. Richard Watson has kindly -104My guess is that not many will share my suspicion, based admittedly on an imperfect knowledge of the intellectual life of Paris in the mid- 1670s. The suspicion is that Leibniz, contra de Vleeschauwer, 42 was very little gripped by occasionalism in the Paris years.

Ibid. Ibid. -99of Leibniz's views on causation and the preestablished harmony. But de Vleeschauwer, in a detailed reexamination of the issue, does not come down on Zeller's side. Without entirely supporting Pfleiderer either, he claims it is quite likely that Leibniz knew Geulincx's work and seems to leave open, without insisting on, the possibility of some borrowing by Leibniz. In turning to a few of the details of de Vleeschauwer's position, we begin with what he says about Leibniz's Paris period.

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