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- Leibniz’ account of substances’ lack of causal power seems strange in a modern setting where we’re accustomed to talking of the world as being a determined system of efficient causes. Similarly, the non-relation of substances seems to go against the modern view of causality as the interconnectedness of all things. However, in light of Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason, Leibniz’ desire to keep substances individuated and distinct from one another can be seen more clearly—namely, that in order for a soul to be free and thus morally responsible before God, it cannot be determined by antecedent causes. In this paper, I will argue that it is this moral necessity which motivates Leibniz’ thesis that substances have no interaction with one another. Instead, he relies on their synchronized unfolding in the infinite calculus in God’s mind as the basis on which the differences between substances are coordinated.
- • 83, Garber Ch. 2
- o Soul in the body (Leibniz)
- o Requisite for moral accountability (claim)
- • Efficient vs final causality
- • Mcdonnah readings
- • “Leibniz two realms revisited” mcdonnah, 2008
- • Kingdom of efficient causes vs kingdom of final causes
- • End of the discourse on metaphysics (two realms)
- • Reconciliation of mechanism and teleology
- • Spinoza vs Malebranche vs Leibniz on world, cause, and God and freedom (person/soul)
- • Is causal power in the world or is it in God?
- • Modes or substances?
- • Reformulate: substance—pre-established harmony
- • The fold
- The reconciliation of mechanism and teleology will require Leibniz to walk the tight-rope between Spinoza and Malebranche. Whereas Spinozism invests the world (co-extensive with God) with all causal power, Malebranche wants to separate the world from the causal power that is within a sovereign world-independent God. Spinozism then reduces individual persons to modes of the one substance, which Leibniz believes undermines freedom (which requires for him a distinction between God’s substance and my own, such that they may be related along the lines of moral accountability subject qua subject). Malebranche also recognizes this but, without causal power, human individuals become puppets of the one substance and, effectually, becomes an anemic Spinozist world wherein individuals are emptied of any causal power and are in a relation of entire dependence to the one substance. In this sense, at least Spinoza saves the freedom of the modes to act more-or-less freely, and to conceive of their modality in more-of-less adequate powers culminating in ever-increasing powers of self-determination as they understand their own positioning within the causal matrix of the world/God. Leibniz, on the other hand, will reformulate the question of substances in order to account for the coordinated constitution of causality as a relation of reflection between God’s substance and the way in which individual substances “enfold and unfold the entire universe from their own perspective” [paraphrase].
- *** (138-144) section helpful in expanding upon this.
- ***(159) “And simply to thrust this force back into a command of God’s, given once in the past, affecting things in no way nor leaving an effect after itself, is so far from making the matter more easily explicable that it is, rather to set aside the role of the philosopher altogether and cut the Gordian knot with a sword.”
- *** (165) “For quite the contrary, it is well known that, just as force is necessary for producing motion, so too, once an impetus is given, far from requiring a new force for continuing the motion, one needs a force to stop it. For conservation by a universal cause necessary to things is not at issue here—a conservation which, as we have already warned, if it removed the efficacy of things, would also remove their existence.”
- *** subsequent paragraph goes on to compare occasionalism to Spinoza
- *** “However, we must grant that intelligences or higher souls, which are also called spirits, are ruled by God, not only as machines, but also as subjects, and that intelligences are not subject to those radical changes to which other living things are subject” (253). One can practically here an echo of Hegel’s famous phrase, “Spirit realizes itself, not only as substance, but also as subject…”
- Leibniz states, “… I perceived that considering extended mass alone was not sufficient, and that it was necessary, in addition, to make use of the notion of force, which is very intelligible, despite the fact that it belongs in the domain of metaphysics” (139). This phrase contains many of the elements that Leibniz will have recourse to in reconciling mechanism and teleology. Firstly, the statement is that, in regard to the mechanical functioning of bodies, it is insufficient to draw upon extension alone, but to be faithful to our perception, requires the invocation of force. Furthermore, this force, despite being a metaphysical concept (according to Leibniz) is intelligible. Hence, the sufficient reason for bodies is not merely their nature as extended things, but also a property of force they maintain.
- These becomes a huge basis of his polemic against the Cartesians. In an oddly confusing sentence, Leibniz invokes all the relevant names in the philosophy of matter citing Aristotle, Gassendi, Democritis and Descartes—all to say that there must be “something passive in body over and above extension, namely, that by which body resists penetration” (250). Leibniz quickly marks out here, against the scholastics, that the laws of bodies can be explained mechanism but this does not explain the laws of motion itself and how it is that bodies are subject to them. However, Leibniz concern is not only with the nature of matter, but also of intelligences. He states, “However, we must grant that intelligences or higher souls, which are also called spirits, are ruled by God, not only as machines, but also as subjects, and that intelligences are not subject to those radical changes to which other living things are subject” (253). One can practically hear the echo of Hegel’s famous statement that Spirit must realize itself “not only as substance but also as subject” in its march towards self-reflexive freedom [paraphrase].
- So freedom and nature are knotted up together—both in their intelligibility within higher intelligences but, more surprisingly, even within so-called dead, inert matter itself—their intelligibility also requires accounting for their ability to resist penetration—a (passive) power that Leibniz will call their primary entelechy.
- But wouldn’t it be sufficient to say that there are two domains—namely one of mechanism and another of teleology? Mechanism corresponds to the material world, and their intelligibility requires a transcendent, teleological world which higher intelligences somehow have access to, perhaps through their convenient pineal gland?
- “But even though, with Aristotle and Descartes, and against Democritus and Gassendi, I admit no vacuum, and even though, against Aristotle, and with Democritus and Descartes, I consider all rarefaction or condensation to be only apparent, nevertheless, with Democritus and Aristotle, and against Descartes, I think that there is something passive in body over and above extension, namely, that by which body resists penetration.”
- w/ Aristotle and Descartes on vacuum
- not w/ Democritis and Gassendi on vacuum
- w/ Democritis and Descartes that all rarefication and condensation is apparent
- not w/ Aristotle that all rarefication and condensation is apparent
- w/ Democritis and Aristotle that there is something passive in body over and above extension, namely, that by which body resists penetration
- not w/ Descartes that there is something passive in body over and above extension, namely, that by which body resists penetration
- “But rather, over and above that which is deduced from extension and its variation or modifications alone, we must add and recognize in bodies certain notions or forms that are immaterial, so to speak, or independent of extension, which you can call powers [potentia], by means of which speed is adjusted to magnitude. These powers consist not in motion, indeed, ot in conatus or the beginning of motion, but in the cause or in that intrinsic reason for motion, which is the law required for continuing” (250).
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