Clarke, Collins and compounds

Can room be found in between the matter and void of a Newtonian universe for an immaterial and immortal soul? Can followers of Locke with his agnosticism about the nature of substances claim to know that some of them are immaterial? Samuel Clarke, well versed in Locke's thought and a defender both of Newtonian science and Christian orthodoxy, believed he could do both and attempted to prove his case by means of some hard-boiled reductionism. Anthony Collins, a deist whose only lapse from materialism concerned God himself, rejected Clarke's argument. In this paper I discuss their controversy' in order to bring out the state of debate about material systems and consciousness among people influenced by Locke and Newton in the early eighteenth century, and I also assess Clarke's reductionist premise, as he himself frequently invites "the impartial reader" to do
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DOI 10.1353/hph.2008.0087
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Robin Attfield (1993). Clarke, Independence and Necessity. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 1 (2):67 – 82.

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