Leibniz on Concurrence, Spontaneity, and Authorship

Modern Schoolman 88 (3/4):267-297 (2011)

Julia Jorati
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Leibniz holds that creatures require divine concurrence for all their actions, and that this concurrence is 'special,' that is, directed at the particular qualities of each action. This gives rise to two potential problems. The first is the problem of explaining why special concurrence does not make God a co-author of creaturely actions. Second, divine concurrence may seem incompatible with the central Leibnizian doctrine that substances must act spontaneously, or independently of other substances. Concurrence, in other words, may appear to jeopardize creaturely substancehood. I argue that Leibniz can solve both of these problems by invoking final and formal causation. The creature is the sole author of its actions because it alone contributes the formal and final cause to these actions. Similarly, because it contributes the formal and final cause, the creature possesses what I call explanatory spontaneity. Leibniz, I contend, considers this type of spontaneity sufficient for substancehood
Keywords Leibniz  concurrence  final causation  formal causation
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DOI 10.5840/schoolman2011883/416
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Du Châtelet on Freedom, Self-Motion, and Moral Necessity.Julia Jorati - 2019 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (2):255-280.

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