Prolegomena to an Occasionalist Metaphysics

Dissertation, University of Missouri - Columbia (2004)

Abstract
It is a fundamental doctrine of the Abrahamic religions, following from the belief in God as the creator, that He is the primary cause of all natural phenomena. Some, however, have gone further, to claim that God is the only cause. Consequently, there are no genuine created, or secondary, causes. The western tradition has coined the term 'occasionalism' for this doctrine, according to which all apparent instances of secondary causation are just that---instances of merely apparent, or occasional, causation. The idea being that, when a natural event is believed to have been caused by another, it is really only the case that it occurred on the occasion of the other. ;Taking, as its starting point, a particular version of the occasionalist doctrine articulated by the eleventh century Muslim theologian, Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, we will trace the implications of the occasionalist thesis as they bear on the most obviously and directly relevant area of the philosophy of nature---that of the metaphysics of causation. We will develop the beginnings of one possible positive account of causation and material nature compatible with occasionalism, and possibly capable of sustaining an argument for the doctrine independently from theological commitments. What is hoped for is an embryo of a philosophy of nature compatible with occasionalism that can at least be evaluated for plausibility and satisfaction, and serve as a model for future development and/or retooling
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