The spatial presence of spirits among the cartesians


Authors
Jasper Reid
King's College London
Abstract
: The Cartesians have often been read as if they denied spatial presence to incorporeal substances, reserving it for extended things alone. This article explores whether this common interpretation is accurate, examining the cases of both created minds and the divine substance of God Himself. Through scrutiny of the relevant texts of both Descartes himself and his followers, it demonstrates that, in the divine case, this common interpretation is incorrect, and that the Cartesians did believe that God’s own substance really was omnipresent in a literal sense. In the case of created minds, by contrast, the article suggests that the standard reading is probably correct after all, and that these substances were indeed excluded from the spatial world: but it also suggests that, in the hands of at least some of the Cartesians, this position caused certain philosophical tensions and potential inconsistencies within their systems
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DOI 10.1353/hph.2008.1833
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