Spiritual Presence and Dimensional Space beyond the Cosmos

Intellectual History Review 22 (1):41-68 (2012)
Abstract
This paper examines connections between concepts of space and extension on the one hand and immaterial spirits on the other, specifically the immanentist concept of spirits as present in rerum natura. Those holding an immanentist concept, such as Thomas Aquinas, typically understood spirits non-dimensionally as present by essence and power; and that concept was historically linked to holenmerism, the doctrine that the spirit is whole in every part. Yet as Aristotelian ideas about extension were challenged and an actual, infinite, dimensional space readmitted, a dimensionalist concept of spirit became possible—that asserted by the mature Henry More, as he repudiated holenmerism. Despite More’s intentions, his dimensionalist concept opens the door to materialism, for supposing that spirits have parts outside parts implies that those parts could in principle be mapped onto the parts of divisible bodies. The specter of materialism broadens our interest in More’s unconventional ideas, for the question of whether other early modern thinkers, including Isaac Newton, followed More becomes a question of whether they too unwittingly helped usher in materialism. This paper shows that More’s attack upon holenmerism fails. He illegitimately injects his dimensionalist concept of spirit into the doctrine, failing to recognize it as a consequence of the non-dimensionalist concept of spirit, which in itself secures indivisibility. The interpretive consequence for Newton is that there is no prima facie reason to suppose that the charitable interpretation takes him to deny holenmerism.
Keywords Divisibility  Henry More  Holenmerism  Nullibism  Space   Spirit  Thomas Aquinas  Void
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Citations of this work BETA
Andreas Blank (2013). Henry More on Spirits, Light, and Immaterial Extension. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (5):857 - 878.
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Max Jammer (1969). Concepts of Space. Cambridge, Mass.,Harvard University Press.
Lisa Shabel (2003). Reflections on Kant's Concept (and Intuition) of Space. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34 (1):45-57.
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