Newtonian Idealism: Matter, Perception, and the Divine Will

Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (1):86-112 (2014)
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This paper investigates Isaac Newton's rather unique account of God's relation to matter. According to this account, corpuscles depend on a substantially omnipresent God endowing quantities of objective space with the qualities of shape, solidity, the unfaltering tendency to move in accord with certain laws, and—significantly—the power to interact with created minds. I argue that there are important similarities and differences between Newton's account of matter and Berkeley's idealism. And while the role played by the divine will might at first appear to be a species of occasionalism, I conclude that there are, for Newton, genuine causal relations between minds and bodies. Ultimately, to fully appreciate this account of the creation and persistence of matter, we must consider not only Newton's metaphysical writings, but also his sensorium theory of mind-body interaction, his heterodox theological commitments, and the influences of Descartes, More, and Locke



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Liam P. Dempsey
Kwantlen Polytechnic University

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John Locke, ‘Hobbist’: of sleeping souls and thinking matter.Liam P. Dempsey - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (4):454-476.

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