On Dennis Des Chene's Physiologia

Perspectives on Science 8 (2):119-143 (2000)

Stephen Menn
Humboldt-University, Berlin
Dennis Des Chene's Physiologia: Natural Philosophy in Late Aristotelian and Cartesian Thought reconstructs the discourse of late scholastic natural philosophy, and assesses Descartes' agreements and disagreements. In a critical discussion, I offer a different interpretation of late scholastic theories of final causality and of God's concursus with created efficient causes. Fonseca's and Suárez' conceptions of final causality in nature depend on their claim that a single action can be the action of two agents at once--in particular, of God and of a creature. I discuss both their theory of action and its implications for natural teleology. I then compare Descartes, emphasizing his demolition of the Aristotelian hierarchy of causes, with unmoved movers regulating the action of inferior moved movers. Aristotle argues that unmoved causes are needed to produce a stable world-order; he takes arts as his models of unmoved causes, and uses this model to support natural teleology. Descartes radically simplifies this system by denying all unmoved movers other than God, and denying anything analogous to an art in non-human nature. I explore the implications for Descartes' notion of concursus and his criticism of natural teleology, and discuss his resulting difficulties in explaining natural stability
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1162/106361400568046
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 45,434
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

The Greatest Stumbling Block: Descartes' Denial of Real Qualities.Stephen Menn - 1995 - In Roger Ariew & Marjorie Glicksman Grene (eds.), Descartes and His Contemporaries: Meditations, Objections, and Replies. University of Chicago Press. pp. 182--207.
A Treatise on God as First Principle.John Duns Scotus & Allan B. Wolter - 1967 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 23 (3):389-390.
Aristotelis Opera Com Averrois Commentariis.[author unknown] - 1963 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 19 (3):327-327.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

On Laws and Ends: A Response to Hattab and Menn.Dennis Des Chene - 2000 - Perspectives on Science 8 (2):144-163.
On Dennis Des Chene's.Stephen Philip Menn - 2000 - Perspectives on Science 8 (2).
Descartes Reinvented (Review).Dennis des Chene - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (3):498-499.
Life After Descartes: Regis on Generation.Dennis Des Chene - 2003 - Perspectives on Science 11 (4):410-420.
Cogito, Ergo Sum: The Life of Rene Descartes (Review).Dennis des Chene - 2005 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 43 (1):113-115.
Mechanisms of Life in the Seventeenth Century: Borelli, Perrault, Régis.Dennis Des Chene - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 36 (2):245-260.
Natural Philosophy. Suárez on Propinquity and the Efficient Cause.Dennis Des Chene - 2012 - In Benjamin Hill & Henrik Lagerlund (eds.), The Philosophy of Francisco Suárez. Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
42 ( #209,223 of 2,280,326 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
6 ( #187,189 of 2,280,326 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature