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Descartes on Causation$
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Tad M. Schmaltz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327946

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327946.001.0001

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Two Causal Axioms

Two Causal Axioms

Chapter:
(p.49) 2 Two Causal Axioms
Source:
Descartes on Causation
Author(s):

Tad M. Schmaltz (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327946.003.0003

This chapter considers two basic causal axioms in Descartes, namely, the “containment axiom” that the total and efficient cause must contain its effect “formally or eminently,” and the “conservation axiom” that the act of conserving an object in existence does not differ in kind from the act of creating it in the first place. It is shown that Descartes borrowed these axioms from the scholastics, and particularly from Suárez, though he adapted the axioms to fit his radically anti-scholastic ontology. It is also argued both that though these axioms allow for the causal efficacy of created beings, Descartes's endorsement of them does not suffice to indicate whether he is an occasionalist, concurrentist, or mere conservationist.

Keywords:   Descartes, causal axioms, causal containment, conservation, creation, scholasticism, Suárez

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