Descartes’s View of the Will Has generally been found problematic and unsatisfactory, especially by those who have read it, or elements of it, in libertarian terms. Attempts to repair the theory, even by sympathetic interpreters, seem only to have aggravated the view’s putative shortcomings—again, especially among those who have read it, or part of it, in libertarian terms—which suggests that the libertarian reading itself might be unsatisfactory. The aim of this paper is to show that the linchpin text on which (...) libertarian readings have been based provides no basis for such readings. The text is the so-called letter to the Jesuit Denis Mesland of 9 February 1645. Among seminal authors—those most .. (shrink)
The Quietist affair at the end of the seventeenth century has much to teach us about theories of the will in the period. Although Bossuet and Fénelon are the names most famously associated with the debate over the Quietist conception of pure love, Malebranche and his erstwhile disciple Lamy were the ones who debated the deep philosophical issues involved. This paper sets the historical context of the debate, discusses the positions as well as the arguments for and against them, and (...) opens up investigation of important material that is all but ignored in the English literature and only incompletely addressed in the French. (shrink)
Berkeley subscribed to the principle of heterogeneity, that what we see is qualitatively and numerically different from what we touch. He says of this principle that it is “the main part and pillar of [his] theory.” The argument I present here is that the theory to which Berkeley refers is not just his theory of vision, but what that theory was the preparation for, which is nothing less than his idealism. The argument turns on the passivity of perception, which is (...) what is at stake in the principle of heterogeneity. The author targeted by Berkeley's theory is Descartes, who explicitly denies heterogeneity. (shrink)
MalebrancheÃs doctrine of the will can be illuminated by consideration of the views both of Aquinas and early modern would-be Thomists. Three Malebranchian themes are considered here: his conception of the will as an inclination toward general and indeterminate good, his intellectualism (the view that that the locus of morality lies ultimately with the intellect), and his attempt to avoid the extreme views of Jansenism and Quietism, both condemned in the period as theologically unacceptable. Two little-known Thomists in particular are (...) examined: Antonin MassouliÅ½, whose work helps to explain why Malebranche rejected Quietism and the libertarian view of the will typical of it, and Laurent-Franï¿½ois Boursier, whom Malebranche criticized for failing to provide a conception of the will and its freedom that avoids Jansenism. (shrink)
Did Bayle write the Avis aux réfugiés? Although the long debate over this question might not be over, we are convinced that strong probability supports Gianluca Mori's position that Bayle was indeed its sole author. We are also convinced, however, that the significance that Mori assigns to Bayle's authorship gets it exactly the wrong way around, for while Mori is right that the Avis is not only consistent but also representative of the views espoused by Bayle in his subsequent work (...) (indeed, as we see it, throughout all his work), those views are not, as Mori claims, intended to be subversive of Christianity, indeed, of all religion, but supportive of it. (shrink)
People -- Who was Huet? -- The censura : why and when? -- The birth of skepticism -- Malebranche's surprising silence -- The downfall of cartesianism -- Kinds -- Huet a cartesian? -- Descartes and skepticism : the standard interpretation -- Descartes and skepticism : the texts -- Thoughts -- The cogito : an inference? -- The transparency of mind -- The cogito as pragmatic tautology -- Doubts -- The reality of doubt -- The generation of doubt -- The response (...) to doubt -- Rules -- The criterion of truth -- The trump argument -- Circles -- The simple circularity of the meditations -- The inner circle(s) -- Gods -- Gassendist influences -- The objections of objections -- The rejection of intentionality -- Virtues -- Descartes's voice -- Betting the family farm -- The propagation of light -- The heart-beat -- The moving earth -- Faith and reason -- Descartes as methodological academic skeptic. (shrink)
: Given Descartes's conception of extension, space and body, there are deep problems about how there can be any real motion. The argument here is that in fact Descartes takes motion to be only phenomenal. The paper sets out the problems generated by taking motion to be real, the solution to them found in the Cartesian texts, and an explanation of those texts in which Descartes appears on the contrary to regard motion as real.
This paper examines the function of Hume’s use of a peculiar example from A Treatise of Human Nature. The example in question is that of a burning piece of coal that is whirled around at a sufficient speed to present to a viewer an image of a circle of fire. The example is a common one; and Hume himself points to Locke as his source in this case. Hume’s reference appears accurate since both Locke and Hume seem to marshal the (...) example in order to bolster a case for an upper and lower temporal threshold for perception. But several philosophical problems inherent in Hume’s appeal to the example make the case for Locke as Hume’s sole or even primary source difficult to sustain. The paper sketches a history of uses of the example from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century. An argument is presented that Pierre Bayle’s use of the example is most in accord with Hume’s, and that for this and other reasons, Bayle is his likeliest source. Further, making sense in this way of Hume’s use of the burning coal example illuminates Hume’s interesting contributions to the notions of time, identity, and individuation. (shrink)
What ultimately exists for Locke is the solid. Reading this ontology in light of the atomist tradition elucidates and relates a number of important issues in the Essay: the analysis of space and related concepts, the distinction between simple and complex ideas, the distinction between primary and secondary qualitie the analysis of power and causation.