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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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What Mechanism Isn't

What Mechanism Isn't

Chapter:
(p.35) 4 What Mechanism Isn't
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/9780199570430.003.0005

There are two ways to understand early modern mechanism: first, as the view that what happens in the natural world is a result of the mechanical properties of bodies (call this “course‐of‐nature mechanism”), and second, as the view that the only properties bodies have are mechanical properties (“ontological mechanism”). In the work of Descartes and Malebranche, the two kinds of mechanism are starkly opposed: it is because they accept ontological mechanism (and so must reject scholastic powers) that these figures cannot endorse course‐of‐nature mechanism.

Keywords:   ontological mechanism, course‐of‐nature mechanism, Descartes, Malebranche

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