Spiritual Presence and Dimensional Space beyond the Cosmos

Intellectual History Review 22 (1):41-68 (2012)
This paper examines connections between concepts of space and extension on the one hand and immaterial spirits on the other, specifically the immanentist concept of spirits as present in rerum natura. Those holding an immanentist concept, such as Thomas Aquinas, typically understood spirits non-dimensionally as present by essence and power; and that concept was historically linked to holenmerism, the doctrine that the spirit is whole in every part. Yet as Aristotelian ideas about extension were challenged and an actual, infinite, dimensional space readmitted, a dimensionalist concept of spirit became possible—that asserted by the mature Henry More, as he repudiated holenmerism. Despite More’s intentions, his dimensionalist concept opens the door to materialism, for supposing that spirits have parts outside parts implies that those parts could in principle be mapped onto the parts of divisible bodies. The specter of materialism broadens our interest in More’s unconventional ideas, for the question of whether other early modern thinkers, including Isaac Newton, followed More becomes a question of whether they too unwittingly helped usher in materialism. This paper shows that More’s attack upon holenmerism fails. He illegitimately injects his dimensionalist concept of spirit into the doctrine, failing to recognize it as a consequence of the non-dimensionalist concept of spirit, which in itself secures indivisibility. The interpretive consequence for Newton is that there is no prima facie reason to suppose that the charitable interpretation takes him to deny holenmerism.
Keywords Divisibility  Henry More  Holenmerism  Nullibism  Space   Spirit  Thomas Aquinas  Void
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/17496977.2011.636929
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive
External links

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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
By Ye Divine Arm: God and Substance in De Gravitatione.Hylarie Kochiras - 2012 - Religious Studies 2012 (September):1-30.
Fortunio Liceti on Mind, Light, and Immaterial Extension.Andreas Blank - 2013 - Perspectives on Science 21 (3):358-378.
Henry More on Spirits, Light, and Immaterial Extension.Andreas Blank - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (5):857 - 878.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

342 ( #8,139 of 2,163,616 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

11 ( #30,994 of 2,163,616 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums