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Descartes on Causation,9780195327946
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Descartes on Causation



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Oxford University Press
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This is the edition with a publication date of 11/1/2007.

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  • Descartes on Causation
    Descartes on Causation


This book is a systematic study of Descartes' theory of causation and its relation to the medieval and early modern scholastic philosophy that provides its proper historical context. The argument presented here is that even though Descartes offered a dualistic ontology that differs radically from what we find in scholasticism, his views on causation were profoundly influenced by scholastic thought on this issue. This influence is evident not only in his affirmation in the Meditations of the abstract scholastic axioms that a cause must contain the reality of its effects and that conservation does not differ in reality from creation, but also in the details of the accounts of body-body interaction in his physics, of mind-body interaction in his psychology, and of the causation that he took to be involved in free human action. In contrast to those who have read Descartes as endorsing the "occasionalist" conclusion that God is the only real cause, a central thesis of this study is that he accepted what in the context of scholastic debates regarding causation is the antipode of occasionalism, namely, the view that creatures rather than God are the causal source of natural change. What emerges from the defense of this interpretation of Descartes is a new understanding of his contribution to modern thought on causation.

Table of Contents

Abbreviationsp. xi
Introductionp. 3
The Scholastic Contextp. 9
Medieval Rejections of Occasionalismp. 12
Suarez on Efficient Causes and Concursusp. 24
From Suarez to Descartesp. 44
Two Causal Axiomsp. 49
The Containment Axiomp. 51
The Conservation Axiomp. 71
From Axioms to Causationp. 84
Causation in Physicsp. 87
God as Universal and Primary Causep. 89
Laws as Particular and Secondary Causesp. 105
Descartes's Conservationist Physicsp. 125
Causation in Psychologyp. 129
Mind-Body Interaction and Unionp. 131
Body-to-Mind Actionp. 145
Mind-to-Body Actionp. 163
Causation and Freedomp. 178
Jesuit Freedom and Created Truthp. 180
Indifference and Human Freedomp. 192
Human Freedom and Divine Providencep. 208
Conclusionp. 217
Works Citedp. 221
Indexp. 231
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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