“Determinism/Spinozism in the Radical Enlightenment: the cases of Anthony Collins and Denis Diderot”
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
International Review of Eighteenth-Century Studies 1 (1):37-51 (2007)
In his Philosophical Inquiry concerning Human Liberty (1717), the English deist Anthony Collins proposed a complete determinist account of the human mind and action, partly inspired by his mentor Locke, but also by elements from Bayle, Leibniz and other Continental sources. It is a determinism which does not neglect the question of the specific status of the mind but rather seeks to provide a causal account of mental activity and volition in particular; it is a ‘volitional determinism’. Some decades later, Diderot articulates a very similar determinism, which seeks to recognize the existence of “causes proper to man” (as he says in the Réfutation d’Helvétius). The difference with Collins is that now biological factors are being taken into account. Obviously both the ‘volitional’ and the ‘biological’ forms of determinism are noteworthy inasmuch as they change our picture of the nature of determinism itself, but my interest here is to compare these two determinist arguments, both of which are broadly Spinozist in nature – and as such belong to what Jonathan Israel called in his recent book “the radical Enlightenment,” i.e. a kind of underground Enlightenment constituted by Spinozism – and to see how Collins’ specifically psychological vision and Diderot’s specifically biological vision correspond to their two separate national contexts: determinism in France in the mid-1750s was a much more medico-biological affair than English determinism, which appears to be on a ‘path’ leading to Mill and associationist psychology.
|Keywords||determinism action Collins Diderot|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Marij van Strien (2014). The Norton Dome and the Nineteenth Century Foundations of Determinism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):167-185.
Marij van Strien (2014). On the Origins and Foundations of Laplacian Determinism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 45 (1):24-31.
Boris Kožnjak (2015). Who Let the Demon Out? Laplace and Boscovich on Determinism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 51:42-52.
Similar books and articles
Ted Honderich (2002). How Free Are You? The Determinism Problem. In Robert H. Kane (ed.), Philosophical Quarterly. Oxford University Press 249.
Anthony Collins (1976). Determinism and Freewill: Anthony Collins' a Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty: With a Discussion of the Opinions of Hobbes, Locke, Pierre Bayle, William King and Leibniz. Nijhoff.
Carl Ginet (1990). On Action. Cambridge University Press.
Robert C. Bishop (2003). On Separating Predictability and Determinism. Erkenntnis 58 (2):169--88.
David Langdon (1981). Diderot and Determinism: Analysis of a Letter. Diderot Studies 20:175 - 183.
Jonathan I. Israel (2001). Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750. Oxford University Press.
Noa Latham (2004). Determinism, Randomness, and Value. Philosophical Topics 32 (1-2):153-167.
Steven Rose (1999). Biological Determinism Lives and Needs Refutation Despite Denials. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):912-918.
Charles T. Wolfe (2010). Locke’s Compatibilism: Suspension of Desire or Suspension of Determinism? In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O.’Rourke & Harry Silverstein (eds.), Action, Ethics and Responsibility. MIT Press
Added to index2009-08-07
Total downloads38 ( #71,355 of 1,700,364 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #128,702 of 1,700,364 )
How can I increase my downloads?