Margaret Cavendish was an English natural philosopher. Influenced by Hobbes and by ancient Stoicism, she held that the created, natural world is purely material; there are no incorporeal substances that causally affect the world in the course of nature. However, she parts company with Hobbes and sides with the Stoics in rejecting a participate theory of matter. Instead, she holds that matter is a continuum. She rejects the mechanical philosophy's account of the essence of matter as simply extension. For Cavendish, matter is also essentially living, sensing, and rational. She also rejects the mechanical philosophy's explanation of change solely in terms of transference of motion. Her own explanation of change relies upon a notion of "occasional cause." This paper argues that Cavendish's occasional causes are not to be confused with those of Malebranche; hers have some efficient causal powers. It traces the concept of an occasional cause from the ancient Stoics, through Galen, to Renaissance natural philosophers such as J. B. van Helmont, and ultimately to Cavendish and to Descartes. Thus, the aim of the paper is to explicate Cavendish's non-mechanical model of natural change and to show how the key concept in this model, that of "occasional cause," has a long philosophical pedigree. L'anglaise Margaret Cavendish pratique la philosophic naturelle. Sous l'influence de Hobbes et du stoïcisme ancien, elle a soutenu que le monde naturel créé est purement matériel ; dans le cours de la nature, il n'y a pas de substances incorporelles qui affectent causalement le monde. Elle se sépare néanmoins de Hobbes et rejoint les Stoïciens dans son rejet d'une théorie de la matière particulaire. Elle considère au contraire que la matière est un continuum. Elle rejette l'explication de l'essence de la matière comme simple extension, fournie par la philosophic mécaniste. Pour Cavendish, la matière est de plus essentiellement vivante, sentante et rationnelle. Elle rejette aussi l'explication mécaniste du changement en simples termes de transmission de mouvement. Sa propre explication du changement s'appuie sur la notion de cause occasionnelle. Cet article defend l'idée que les causes occasionnelles de Cavendish ne doivent pas être confondues avec celles de Malebranche ; les siennes ont des pouvoirs causaux efficients. Il permet done de suivre l'histoire du concept de cause occasionnelle des anciens Stoïciens, en passant ensuite par Galien jusqu'aux Philosophes de la nature de la Renaissance, comme J. B. van Helmont, et finalement jusqu'à Cavendish et Descartes. Le but de cet article est ainsi de rendre explicite le modèle que Cavendish donne du changement naturel et de montrer comment le concept clé de ce modèle, celui de cause occasionnelle, est le produit d'une longue filiation philosophique.
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DOI 10.2307/42773324
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