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Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy$
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Walter Ott

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570430.001.0001

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Malebranche and the Cognitive Model of Causation

Malebranche and the Cognitive Model of Causation

Chapter:
(p.81) 10 Malebranche and the Cognitive Model of Causation
Source:
Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy
Author(s):

Walter Ott (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570430.003.0011

Drawing on Descartes's “little souls” argument, Malebranche claims that attributing causal powers to bodies is in effect a category mistake. According to the cognitive model of causation Malebranche develops, only minds can have the kind of directedness causal powers require. This is not a rejection of the scholastic notion of power so much as a transformation of that notion in light of ontological mechanism. This chapter argues that many of Malebranche's most important arguments, including the famous “no necessary connection” argument, come into focus only when we have a firm grasp of Malebranche's intentionality requirement.

Keywords:   necessary connection, physical intentionality, little souls, Descartes, Malebranche

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