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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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2 Plan of the Book

2 Plan of the Book

Chapter:
(p.16) 2 Plan of the Book
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Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy
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Walter Ott (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570430.003.0003

This short chapter sets out the chapters within the parts that follow. Part I sketches the Cartesian predicament. Having broken with the scholastics on key issues in ontology, Descartes faces a central tension. On one hand, he is clearly optimistic about the ability of mechanism to provide perspicuous explanations of body–body causation. On the other, he gives God such a primary role in the natural world that his activity seems to eclipse that of bodies. Much of the history of Cartesianism is the working out of these competing impulses. Part I then turns to an investigation of the concept of vis (force, power) in Descartes's work. Part II looks to the dialectic of occasionalism. It begins by exploring Malebranche's suite of arguments for occasionalism, some of which, as shall be seen in the book, have their origin in Descartes's own position. The book then turns to the case of Pierre-Sylvain Régis, who fights a rearguard action by at once revising and preserving some central Aristotelian notions within the general context of Cartesianism. Part III examines the Régis style of response to the Cartesian predicament as it appears in early modern empiricism. Part IV looks to Hume.

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