The pantheon of seventeenth-century European philosophy includes some remarkably heterodox deities, perhaps most famously Spinoza’s deus-sive-natura. As in ethics and natural philosophy, early modern philosophical theology drew inspiration from classical sources outside the mainstream of Christianized Aristotelianism, such as the highly immanentist, naturalistic theology of Greek and Roman Stoicism. While the Stoic background to Spinoza’s pantheist God has been more thoroughly explored, I maintain that Hobbes’s corporeal God is the true modern heir to the Stoic theology. The Stoic and Hobbesian (...) gods are necessitarian, entirely corporeal, and thoroughly intermixed with ordinary bodies, while also supremely intelligent, providential, and good. And both gods serve as the ultimate source of diversity and change in a material world divested of Aristotelian forms and causes. Unfortunately, scholars on both sides of the long debate about the sincerity of Hobbes’s theism have not taken very seriously his late articulation of a corporeal theology. One probable reason for this dismissive attitude is a lack of thorough investigation of the historical precedents for such an unusual godhead available to Hobbes. The first part of this article attempts to establish a close congruence between the Stoic and Hobbesian gods. The second part traces the likely sources for Hobbes’s Stoic theology in his intellectual context. (shrink)
Seventeenth-century authors frequently infer the attributes of time by analogy from already established features of space. The rationale for this can be traced back to Aristotle's analysis of time as ?the number of movement?, where movement requires a prior understanding of spatial magnitude. Although these authors are anti-Aristotelian, they were concerned, contra Aristotle, to establish the existence of ?empty space?, and a notion of absolute space which fit this idea. Although they had no independent rationale for the existence of absolute (...) time, it seemed to go with absolute space, and they drew on a long tradition of space-time parallelism in securing this. (shrink)
From form to mechanism Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9455-7 Authors Geoffrey Gorham, Department of Philosophy, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN 55105, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Beginning with Berkeley and Leibniz, philosophers have been puzzled by the close yet ambivalent association in Newton's ontology between God and absolute space and time. The 1962 publication of Newton's highly philosophical manuscript De Gravitatione has enriched our understanding of his subtle, sometimes cryptic, remarks on the divine underpinnings of space and time in better-known published works. But it has certainly not produced a scholarly consensus about Newton's exact position. In fact, three distinct lines of interpretation have emerged: (1) Independence (...) : space and time are not essentially related to God. (2) Causation : space and time are caused by God. (3) Assimilation : space and time are attributes of God. This paper defends the third interpretation against the first two by drawing out the under-appreciated influence of Descartes' metaphysics on Newton's ‘physico-theology’. (shrink)
The employment by seventeenth-century natural philosophers of stock theological notions like creation, immensity, and eternity in the articulation and justification of emerging physical programs disrupted a delicate but longstanding balance between transcendent and immanent conceptions of God. By playing a prominent (if not always leading) role in many of the major scientific developments of the period, God became more intimately involved with natural processes than at any time since antiquity. In this discussion, I am particularly concerned with the causal and (...) spatio-temporal relations between God and nature in the seventeenth century as recent scholarship has revealed how dramatically traditional conceptions of these relations were transformed by philosophers and scientists like Descartes, Malebranche, More, and Newton. (shrink)
God and time play crucial, intricately related roles in Descartes' project of grounding mathematical physics on metaphysical first principles. This naturally raises the perennial theological question of God's precise relation to time. I argue, against the strong current of recent commentary, that Descartes' God is fully temporal. This means that God's duration is successive, with parts ordered 'before and after', rather than permanent or 'all at once'. My argument will underscore the seamless connection between Descartes' theology and his physics, and (...) the degree to which he was prepared to depart from orthodoxy in the former in order to secure an a priori foundation for the latter. As Newton would later do, Descartes freed time from its traditional dependence on bodily motion and so removed an important barrier to making God temporal. Acting in time, God makes the physical world intelligible in a way He could not were He timeless. (shrink)
: This paper presents a detailed account of Descartes' derivation of his second law of nature—the law of rectilinear motion—from a priori metaphysical principles. Unlike the other laws the proof of the second depends essentially on a metaphysical assumption about the temporal immediacy of God's operation. Recent commentators (e.g., Des Chene and Garber) have not adequately explained the precise role of this assumption in the proof and Descartes' reasoning has continued to seem somewhat arbitrary as a result. My account better (...) reveals the dependence of the second law on fundamental principles about time and causality. (shrink)
: Descartes provides an original and puzzling argument for the traditional theological doctrine that the world is continuously created by God. His key premise is that the parts of the duration of anything are "completely independent" of one another. I argue that Descartes derives this temporal independence thesis simply from the principle that causes are necessarily simultaneous with their effects. I argue further that it follows from Descartes's version of the continuous creation doctrine that God is the instantaneous and total (...) cause of everything that happens, and that this is just what his physics demands. But although God is the total cause of everything, he is not the only cause, since Descartes considers it obvious that finite minds have the power to move bodies. In the face of this apparent paradox, several recent commentators have suggested that Descartes accepted the late scholastic view that God and finite causes somehow collaborate or concur in the production of numerically identical effects. But close examination reveals that the case for Cartesian concurrentism is weak. Fortunately, there is a simpler and more fruitful solution to the problem of reconciling divine and human action. I argue that that in Descartes's world certain motions, such as voluntary movements of our bodies, are causally overdetermined This account allows Descartes to avoid occasionalism without embracing an elaborate metaphysics of secondary causality. Finally, I argue that the overdeterminist interpretation sheds new light on two longstanding problems of Cartesian metaphysics. First, it resolves a serious difficulty with a standard reading of Descartes's conception of human freedom. Second, it offers a novel approach to the old problem of reconciling genuine human action with the principle of the conservation of total quantity of motion. (shrink)
In a series of influential articles, the anti-realist Arthur Fine has repeatedly charged that a certain very popular argument for scientific realism, that only realism can explain the instrumental success of science, begs the question. I argue that on no plausible reading ofthe fallacy does the realist argument beg the question. In fact, Fine is himself guilty of what DeMorgan called the "opponent fallacy.".
In line with the semantic conception of scientific theories, I develop an account of the intertheory relation of comparative structural similarity. I argue that this relation is useful in explaining the concept of verisimilitude and I support this contention with a concrete historical example. Finally, I defend this relation against the familiar charge that the concept of similarity is insufficiently objective.
If we view the aim of feminist science as truthlikeness, instead of either absolute or relative truth, then we can explain the sense in which the feminist sciences bring an objective advance in knowledge without implicating One True Theory. I argue that a certain non-linguistic theory of truthlikeness is especially well-suited to this purpose and complements the feminist epistemologies of Harding, Haraway, and Longino.