Alice Sowaal, Texas Tech University
"Descartes's Reply to Gassendi: We Can Know All of God, All at Once, and
Still Have More to Learn"
Descartes makes many claims about God and our idea of God, some of which
are the following: God is simple, has necessary existence, and is the most
infinite and perfect being; our idea of God is simple, innate, and the most
clear and distinct of all our ideas. In reply to Gassendi's objections to
The Meditations, Descartes makes one claim about our idea of God that,
on the face of it, is paradoxical. He says that we can be clear and distinct
about God (and therefore have perfect knowledge of him) by apprehending all
of God all at once, even though we still have more to learn more about him
(AT VII 371, CSM II 256). In this paper I recount Descartes and Gassendi's
discussion, explain what is paradoxical about Descartes's claim, and offer
an interpretation of Cartesian attributes and clear and distinct perceptions
that resolves the paradox. The upshot of my interpretation is the following:
(1) because of Descartes's commitments to simplicity, every idea of God captures
all of God and does so all at once; (2) a clear and distinct perception does
not have to be augmented to become more distinct, it can become more distinct
by becoming more stable.
This interpretation is sensitive to
Descartes's commitment in his mature Principles account to two forms
of simplicity: simplicity in the order of reality, which entails that there
is no distinction in reality between God and his attributes; simplicity in
the order of knowledge, which entails that there is no distinction in reality
between our idea of God and our idea of his attributes. I explain how this
view stands in contrast with Descartes's account in Rules, according
to which there is simplicity in the order of reality, but not in the order
of knowledge (AT X 418, CSM I 44). Further, I throw my interpretation of
Descartes's mature account into relief by contrasting it with Paul Hoffman's
interpretation. In brief, according to Hoffman, Descartes does not hold either
form of simplicity: God and his attributes are distinct but inseparable in
reality; our idea of God and our idea of his attributes are distinct and
separable ideas. [See Hoffman, "Descartes's Theory of Distinction," forthcoming,
7-8. I also outline the significant differences between my account and Gewirth's
view, as stated in "Clearness and Distinctness in Descartes" from Descartes
, ed. John Cottingham (Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 79-100), and Lennon's
view, as stated in "Pandora; or, Essence and Reference: Gassendi's Nominalist
Objection and Descartes' Realist Reply" from Descartes and His Contemporaries:
Meditations, Objections, and Replies, ed. Roger Ariew and Marjorie Grene
(U of Chicago Press, 1995, pp. 159-181).]
In analyzing Descartes's commitment
to simplicity, I give an interpretation of Cartesian attributes. I use passages
from Principles (AT VIIIA 26-30, CSM I 211-215) and Descartes's letters
(AT III 475, CSMK 202; AT IV 349, CSMK 280) to argue that attributes are
ways of regarding a substance, that is, that they are attributions
we can make to a substance. This account allows me to explain how
we diversify our idea of God and his attributes. In coming to form a clear
and distinct perception of God we take different paths, each of which leads
us to the same idea. We may call the idea by different names (e.g., the idea
of the omnipotence of God, the idea of the omniscience of God), but we use
these different names only because our paths originate with different attributions,
not because we have apprehended different ideas.
This account of the diversification
of attributes affords the following explanation of how our idea of God can
become more clear and distinct without being augmented: the more attributions
we can make of God, there are fewer skeptical concerns that will shake our
clear and distinct perception of God. For instance, once we can carefully
attribute omniscience, omnibenevolence, and omnipotence to God, concerns
about theodicies will not cause us to doubt God's knowledge, goodness, or
power. Instead, we will be able to retain or easily recover our clear and
distinct perception despite such distractions. In short, we will have attained
a more stable clear and distinct perception of God.
Larry Nolan, California State University, Long Beach
"Descartes and Suarez on the Distinction Between Essence and Existence"
It is easy to see how the traditional medieval distinction between essence
and existence could be exploited by a defender of the ontological argument
to show that existence pertains uniquely to the essence of God. As this distinction
was understood by Aquinas and others, the essence of a created being is distinct
in reality from its existence, but God just is his existence. In his version
of the ontological argument, Descartes explicitly deploys the distinction
between essence and existence and, at times, seems to conceive it in the
traditional manner. For example, in the Fifth Replies he writes that "the
existence of a triangle should not be compared with the existence of God,
since the relation between existence and essence is manifestly quite different
in the case of God from what it is in the case of the triangle. God is his
own existence, but this is not true of the triangle" (AT 7:383; CSM 2:263).
But Descartes' account of this distinction, and his use of it in the ontological
argument, is not as straightforward as it might appear, for there are some
central passages in which he insists that existence is contained in the clear
and distinct idea or nature of every single thing, whether infinite or finite
(see e.g. Axiom X, Second Replies, AT 7:166; CSM 2:117).
Although this insight is sometimes
credited to Hume and Kant, Descartes was one of the first philosophers to
recognize that one "cannot conceive of anything except as existing" (ibid.).
But in advancing this thesis, Descartes seems to invite trouble for the ontological
argument. According to the rule for truth established in the Fourth Meditation,
whatever is contained in the clear and distinct idea of something is true
of that thing. Thus, since existence is included in the clear and distinct
ideas of various finite things, it would seem to follow that such things
exist--indeed, that they exist necessarily. One of the main objections to
the ontological argument is that if such reasoning were sound, then one could
proliferate ontological arguments for beings whose existence is only contingent.
In the passage cited above, Descartes appears to encourage this objection,
at least with respect to beings whose concepts can be clearly and distinctly
The key to solving this problem is
a proper understanding of how Descartes distinguishes essence and existence.
I argue that like his scholastic predecessor, Francisco Suarez, Descartes
maintains that there is merely a distinction of reason between essence and
existence in all things. This entails that in reality the essence and existence
of a particular substance are numerically identical. While reinforcing the
problem above, this result also suggests the proper solution to it: although
existence is contained in the clear and distinct idea of every single thing,
there are different grades of existence. Thus, while God's essence is merely
rationally distinct from his independent existence, the essences of finite
things are rationally distinct from their dependent existence. Because of
this difference, actual existence follows uniquely from the concept of a
supremely perfect being. In developing this solution, I draw on Suarez's
account of the distinction between essence and existence and show how Descartes'
own treatment borrows heavily from it. Suarez's account also helps explain
what Descartes means by saying that the distinction between essence and existence
has a "foundation in reality" and reveals why he sometimes describes it as
a "formal" distinction in the sense associated with Duns Scotus. Descartes
consistently maintains that essence and existence are distinct merely ratione
but he makes a fascinating attempt to accommodate more traditional views
such as those of Aquinas and Scotus.
Scott Ragland, Saint Louis University
"Descartes on Divine Providence and Human Freedom"
Like most seventeenth-century Catholics, Descartes believed in particular
providence: the idea that every detail of history unfolds according to an
exact divine plan preordained before creation. This sort of providence might
seem to eliminate human free choice, but Descartes thought the two could
be reconciled. This paper aims to clarify Descartes' strategy for holding
together providence and freedom.
I begin by explaining why a God with
particular providence must know counterfactual conditionals (CFC's) about
what agents would do in various possible circumstances (e.g., "if Adam were
tempted in Eden, he would eat the fruit"). I then explain two rival late
scholastic theories about how God knows CFC's.
On the view prevalent among Dominicans,
God causes or "premoves" creatures to cause their effects. Divine premotion
on the will is both necessary and sufficient for the will to make a particular
choice. Therefore, God makes CFC's about creatures true by freely deciding
how he would premove their wills. Dominicans reconciled providence with freedom
either by (1) adopting a compatibilist account of freedom, so that the divine
determinism in premotion is no threat, or by (2) arguing that God as transcendent
creator can (through premotion) render our choices certain without thereby
Against the Dominicans, the Jesuits
claimed that God does not freely determine which CFC's are true of creatures
(Jesuits rejected premotion because they thought it ruled out freedom). In
their view God knows CFC's in the same way that he knows necessary truths
of logic or mathematics: prior to making any free choice. God uses this "middle
knowledge" to orchestrate our choices without causally influencing our wills
(e.g., if God wants me to do A, he simply creates me in circumstances under
which he can foresee I would do A). For the Dominicans, God's knowledge of
CFC's was part of the problem of providence and freedom, but for the Jesuits,
it was the key to a solution.
My treatment of Descartes begins with
Principles I.41, where Descartes appeals to mystery to reconcile freedom
and providence. But I mainly focus on his correspondence with Elisabeth,
especially the letter of January 1646 about the king and the dueling knights.
There, Descartes tries to reconcile freedom and providence by appealing to
the fact that "before he sent us into the world . . . [God] knew that our
free will would determine us to such or such an action" in such and such
circumstances (CSMK 282).
On basis of this text, I argue that
Descartes endorsed the Jesuit strategy, and thus was a sort of theological
indeterminist. I consider three objections, which say: (1) my main text does
not in fact endorse the Jesuit position, (2) the Jesuit view is inconsistent
with other of Descartes' remarks (which suggest that Descartes followed one
of the two Dominican reconciliation strategies sketched above), and (3) the
Jesuit view is inconsistent with Descartes' view of divine simplicity. This
last objection is the most interesting and deserves further comment here.
According to Descartes, there is nothing
that God knows as true prior to the free decree of his will to make it true.
If God freely creates the eternal truths, he must also freely determine the
truth value of CFC's. How then can he employ the Jesuit reconciliation strategy?
He can, I argue, because though he agrees with the Dominicans that God determines
the CFC's, he does not agree with them about how God does this. For the Dominicans,
God fixes CFC's by deciding how to premove creatures, but for Descartes,
God simply makes CFC's true, without doing anything causally to creatures
themselves. This still seems to eliminate freedom, since God controls both
the conditions into which we are created, and the CFC's about how we would
choose in those conditions. However, it would be characteristic for Descartes
not to be worried by this problem, for he often denies that apparent implications
of God's creation of truths (as when he insists that eternal truths are necessary
despite being contingently created by God). The mystery of providence and
freedom, then, turns out to be the very same mystery that
haunts Descartes' system in so many ways: that of God's power over truth.
Firmin R. DeBrabander, Emory University
"Psychotherapy and Moral Perfection according to Spinoza and the Stoics"
Stoicism purports to deliver a state of moral perfection, an unassailable
and invulnerable form of tranquillity. It is delivered by means of the therapy
of the passions, which involves intellectual apprehension of the nature of
God and the providential ordering of the universe. The confidence in cosmic
providence that follows from this vision is the central ingredient of Stoic
tranquillity. Spinoza mimics the Stoic foundation of moral perfectionism.
First of all, Spinoza's Deus sive Natura is highly reminiscent of
Stoic pantheism – some scholars contend the latter is its most recognizable
forebear. Spinoza also defends the notion of a determined universe, and yet,
he strays from the Stoic formula in denying that cosmic determinism is teleological
in character. As a result, as Spinoza has it, tranquillity must be delivered
in a manner different from the Stoic account. This leads to an analysis of
the respective characters of Stoic and Spinozistic therapy.
The psychotherapy central to Spinoza's
ethics is perhaps his most Stoic trademark. And yet, the mechanism internal
to Spinozistic therapy distinguishes it from Stoic therapy. Simply put, knowledge
of itself does not defeat the passions, by transforming them from irrational
into rational judgments, according to the Stoic account. Rather, it is a
curious mark of Spinozistic therapy that knowledge itself bears emotive force,
whence comes its therapeutic power. Furthermore, Spinozistic therapy is a
matter of combating passions, that is, pitting stronger emotions (which knowledge
delivers) against weaker ones. As a consequence of this formula, the soul
cannot be rendered wholly rational and self-transparent, a la Stoics. The
passions cannot be extirpated, according to Spinoza, ensuring a very different
character of the sage as a result.
The Stoics celebrate the self-sufficiency
of the sage. So indomitable is his happiness that he is happy even "on the
rack." The Stoic sage requires nothing from his environment or neighbors.
Furthermore, Stoic doctrine holds that there are no degrees of virtue, meaning
that one remains vicious until his soul is rendered utterly rational. As
Spinoza has it, however, such a state of perfection is a vain – and counterproductive
– hope. The best therapy can do is diminish the degree to which I am passive,
and augment the degree to which I am "active," i.e. the degree to which my
mind is populated by adequate ideas. Such a state of affairs agrees with
the central insight of Spinozistic wisdom, that I am part of nature. To be
part of nature, according to Spinoza, is to be constantly threatened – and
eventually overwhelmed – by forces far more powerful than me.
Therapy is a means of expressing human
power, allowing me to occupy a place in the interplay of powers that comprises
nature. In this respect, therapy is virtuous, since Spinoza defines virtue
as power. But as an expression of human power, Spinozistic therapy is predicated
upon physical flourishing, as is the controversial ‘eternity of mind' he
presents in Ethics V, further ensuring the vulnerability of the philosopher.
In contrast, the Stoics maintain that virtue consists exclusively in rational
selection, which allows them to count it a veritable conquest of Fortune.
This latter notion is repugnant to the insight of Spinoza's Ethics
; in fact, it is the flaw fatal to any prospective therapy. Therefore, while
Spinoza's Ethics emulates the foundation of Stoic perfectionism, its
endpoint consists precisely in the transcendence of that illusion.
André Gombay and Jon Miller, University of Toronto
"Nothing but the Truth: Spinoza's E4P72S"
In the scholium to proposition 72 of Part IV of the Ethics, Spinoza
asserts that a free man will tell the truth even if death is to follow. How
are 17th century readers most likely to have understood this stark pronoucement?
and what would they make of the terse argument Spinoza offers in its defense?
These are the two questions we wish to ask.
The answer to the first is obvious:
Spinoza's contemporaries would see the scholium as bearing first and foremost
on the question of religious dissimulation. Is it morally permissible to
continue practicing in secret a faith that one had officially abjured? and
more tricky, is it permissible to lie about this, if questioned? and trickier
still, is it permissible to lie if one has been ordained in that faith -
as a rabbi or priest or minister? These were not mere matters of academic
debate in Western Europe of the 17th century.
Relevant to that debate are deep questions
about self-sacrifice - how does it differ from suicide? how is it compatible
with the striving to persist in one's being, which is a characteristic of
all creatures according to Spinoza? And questions also about deception -
what is wrong with lying anyway?
Which brings us to our second main
query: just what is Spinoza's argument for sincerity? Here is the text, in
full: "If reason should recommend that [we lie], it would recommend it to
all men. And so reason would recommend without qualification that men make
agreements, join forces, and have common rights only by deception i.e.,
that really, they have no common rights. This is absurd."
What does it all mean? How is the matter
of making agreements relevant? Where do common rights come in? What type
of argument is this?
Spinoza, we shall seek to show, belongs
to a lineage of theorists who regard sincerity as a precondition of "serious"
discourse. The lineage is a long one an early member was Grotius; a contemporary
one would be John Searle. Whether the view also commits one to insisting
on absolute sincerity, is another matter.
Mark Kulstad, Rice University
"The One and the Many, Universal Harmony, and the Threat of Monism in the
Philosophy of Leibniz"
More than many realize, Leibniz had the perennial problem of the one and
the many, in a variety of its forms, constantly in view in his philosophizing.
Once this point is developed and explained, with many of the forms being
canvassed, attention is turned specifically to the problem of the one and
the many in relation to Leibniz's doctrine of Universal Harmony, the harmony
of all things. To put this in the terms of the key Leibnizian definitions
of his general and important concept of harmony, this amounts to the unity
in multiplicity of all things, or their identity compensated by diversity
. In terms of the problem of the one and the many, it amounts to the oneness
of the many--indeed, infinitely many--things that exist.
One of the fascinating things about
the young Leibniz in this regard is that he not infrequently addressed the
problem of the one and the many, in connection with his doctrine of the Universal
Harmony, that is, explicitly in terms of God. It is fairly well known that
he sometimes said simply that God is the harmony of all things. ("God or
universal mind is none other than the harmony of things." [A vi I 499]; or
"the Universal Harmony, that is, GOD." [A ii 1 162]) But I am thinking now
of a less-known line of texts, primarily from about 1671 to 1677 (including
his years in Paris, the years of the discovery and development of the calculus).
In these texts Leibniz brought together the concepts of God, the infinite,
one, and All. He distinguished several senses of infinity, saying that the
highest sense is infinity as all or omnia. (One is reminded of Bennett's
discussion of this sense of infinity at an important point in his A Study
of Spinoza's "Ethics".) Leibniz says that this highest sense of infinite
is the sense to be applied to the infinite God, who is of course one, but
who also, in accordance with the sense of infinity, is all. In short, God
is one and all: "The third [degree] of infinity is all [omnia], and
this is itself the highest degree, and this infinity is present in God, for
He, who is one thing, is all things." (A vi III 385; the final phrase is,
"is enim est unus omnia"; another possible translation would be, "for
He is the One-All.")
After surveying and discussing some
of the other texts related to the one just given, I turn to the question
of what such mystifying statements could mean. I claim to have found the
answer in a surprising text of 1676 (A vi III 573; DSR 92-95), one that has
recently been the focus of a flurry of scholarly discussion, most notably
involving Robert Adams and Christia Mercer. My new perspective on this text
is that it offers the solution to the question just raised, not only in providing
a fairly rigorous explication of the philosophical sense of these texts,
but also in adding a demonstration of the key thesis.
But the solution brings with it a problem,
the problem of the threat of monism in the philosophy of the young Leibniz.
The final suggestion of my paper is that there is a way to deal with this
threat while holding to the philosophical light offered by my new reading
of the texts stating that God is one and all. This path offers also a possible
accommodation or reconciliation, in the spirit of Leibniz, in connection
with the flurry of (occasionally heated) discussion surrounding the surprising
text of 1676 and the issue of monism.
Justin E. Smith, Miami University, Ohio
Christian Platonism and the Metaphysics of Body in Leibniz
It is the aim of this paper both to offer a general outline of Leibniz's
relation to the mystical tradition extending back through Nicholas of Cusa
to the neoplatonists, as well as to go some way towards showing how greater
attention to this aspect of Leibniz's thought may help us to resolve some
persisting questions about Leibniz's metaphysical commitments. In particular,
it is my view that Leibniz's mature views concerning the metaphysical status
of body can only be fully understood by examining their connection with a
common pre-modern, theologically motivated picture of bodies, which, though
positing an ontological dependence on souls, nonetheless was something quite
different from the skeptically motivated idealism of the early modern period.
I maintain that the tendency to characterize Leibniz as an "idealist" has
been the result of an ignorance, though likely not willful, of Leibniz's
rootedness in a pre-Cartesian world of concerns. Descartes was intent on
making a radical break with the past; Leibniz was not. If Leibniz thrived
some decades after Descartes first made new categories of philosophical classification
"idealist," "dualist," etc.--appropriate, this does not mean that these will
inevitably be the categories most useful in our effort to understand the
later philosopher. In fact, as I will argue, Leibniz's theory of body amounts,
for the most part, to the repetition of a common theme of Renaissance mysticism,
in turn the revival of a neoplatonic conception, which, in the most general
terms, may be said to hold that (i) matter is unreal, (ii) creatures perceive
themselves as embodied only as a consequence of the inferiority of their
mental or spiritual capacities to those of God, and (iii) it is precisely
through this inferiority that the distinction may be made between Creator
Tom Holden, Syracuse University
"Pierre Bayle on Actual Parts"
This paper examines Pierre Bayle's arguments for the doctrine of actual parts,
the early modern counterpart to the popular "doctrine of arbitrary undetached
parts" familiar from current metaphysics.
There is a major struggle in seventeenth
century natural philosophy between two rival theories of the internal structure
of matter and the ontological status of its parts. The one theory is overwhelmingly
popular with the partisans of the new science. The other is the classical
doctrine of Aristotle, St. Thomas and the schools. (Interestingly, new variants
of the scholastic theory are also sponsored by one or two of the new philosophers—such
as Digby and Hobbes—who stand opposed to the mainstream of the new science
on this question.)
The first of our rival theories is
the doctrine of actual parts, according to which the parts of bodies
are so many distinct existents. These concrete parts are all already embedded
in the architecture of the whole: division merely separates them,
it does not create them. The whole body is thus an aggregate of these
independently existing parts, and its structure is best described with count
terms: it is a composite of so many distinct parts, so many independent
beings. (Any given part may of course be dependent on the parts composing
it—but it will be independent of the whole, and independent of those
parts that it does not (partially or wholly) overlap.)
The second of our rival theories is
the doctrine of potential parts, according to which the parts of bodies
are merely possible or potential existents until they are generated
by division. They represent ways in which the whole could be broken down,
but do not exist other than as modes or properties of the whole until a positive
act of division actualizes them as so many independent entities. Here the
whole is a metaphysically simple (non-composite) structure best described
with mass terms: prior to division, it is not so many distinct things, but
rather just so much metaphysically undifferentiated material.
In this paper I introduce the two rival
theories, and identify the great philosophers on either side of this dispute.
I then look in detail at Pierre Bayle's case for actual parts and his attack
on the received Aristotelian potential parts system, drawing from his discussions
in the 1675-77 Systême Abrégé de Philosophie and
1697 Dictionnaire Historique et Critique. (Bayle is by no means the
grandest of the new philosophers to endorse the actual parts account, but
it is he who goes furthest in self-consciously and explicitly presenting
arguments for doctrine, rather than simply treating it as a more-or-less
obvious first principle.)
Bayle has four rapid arguments for
actual parts: these can all be assessed in the space of a short presentation.
(1) Divisibility (conceptually) presupposes the prior existence of logically
distinct parts. (2) Diverse parts occupy distinct places; but whatever occupies
a distinct place is a distinct thing. (3) The parts post-division are clearly
so many distinct beings; but the parts post-division are surely the self-same
entities they were prior to division; thus the pre-division parts must already
be so many distinct beings. (4) Diverse parts can support contradictory properties;
they must thus be conceptualized as so many distinct substances. I find these
arguments wanting. (1) and (2) are transparently question-begging; (3) and
(4) are superficially more respectable, but can also be shown to fall short.
I conclude that Bayle's case for actual
parts is a failure. I close with a suggestion: the historical success of
the actual parts doctrine in displacing the potential parts theory as the
orthodox account in natural philosophy may have been a de facto usurpation
rather than a de jure assumption of the throne.
Bruce Merrill, Cambridge NY
"The Unity of Locke's Philosophy"
The classic case for the dis-unity of Locke's philosophy, advanced by Peter
Laslett, follows upon the discrepancy between the epistemic modesty advocated
by the Essay Concerning Human Understanding and the confidence in
one crucial instance of human understanding, our knowledge of the law of
nature, which grounds the argument of the Second Treatise. Against
this, various Locke scholars have argued for an essential congruence between
his two most famous epistemological and practical texts.
In contrast to both Laslett and his
opponents, I contend that Locke's philosophy is unified--but this unity is
best revealed by turning from the Second Treatise, as well as from
his hesitant efforts at specifying the content of our basic moral principles,
and attending to the conception of morality found within his notion of a
proper moral education, as expounded in Some Thoughts Concerning Education
While the specific content of our moral
principles remains undeveloped in the Thoughts, what is clear and
developed herein is where morality begins, and the nature of the ideal human
congress with which our moral education concludes. Morality begins with the
problem of our inescapable partiality, the original "self-love" of the infant,
against which both tutor and parents must apply an initial external discipline,
which should engender an internal capacity for the child's own "self-denial."
If the self-denial and consequent self-rule promoted by early education are
successful, moral education concludes with the ideal horizontal relation
between adult offspring and parents, characterized by reciprocal love and
"esteem." Similarly, outside of the family the social problem of human partiality
begins with our original "love of dominion" over others. But after climbing
the requisite ladder from external discipline to self-discipline, the properly
educated child can enter into the ideal mode of adult human intercourse:
Congruently, Locke's epistemology begins
with the problem of the partiality of human understanding: the admonition
that we do not enjoy the direct and definitive intuition conferred by innate
ideas. The limitation is then enforced by the case that we also do not enjoy
direct access to microscopic corpuscular essences, and a definitive empirical
"science of bodies." Rather, the empirical evidence necessary for understanding
the bodies that surround us is merely "probable," macroscopic-- and public.
But it is nonetheless substantial; Locke is a mitigated skeptic, not a wholesale
skeptic concerning human understanding. Our cognitive circumstance then brings
us to an appreciation of our social circumstance, since human understanding
is substantial enough to sustain human communication, yet also partial and
problematic enough to enjoin human communication, in so far as the reciprocal
conversations and arguments concerning the bodies that surround us can deliver
us, to a degree, from our partialities, limitations, and subjectivities.
Hence Locke's epistemology, like the
notion of moral education developed in his Thoughts on Education,
begins with the inescapable problem our partiality, and points us to the
desideratum of overcoming of our partiality--to a degree--in virtue of our
social situation. This simple arc from the problem of original human partiality,
cognitive and practical, to the ideal of achieved human sociality, cognitive
and practical, forms the underlying core of Locke's unified philosophy.
I will conclude with two brief comments
concerning the relation of the argument in the Second Treatise to
this arc, and the nature of Locke's liberalism.
Marc A. Hight, Hampden-Sydney College
"Defending Berkeleian Archetypes"
It has long been thought that Berkeley cannot consistently hold a theory
of divine archetypes. Not only does their introduction herald difficulties
for his system, it is claimed that divine archetypes cannot even surmount
the obstacles they are invoked to overcome. Divine archetypes allegedly create
skeptical problems (by introducing a new intermediary between minds and ultimate
reality) and leave the sensible world discontinuous, fragmented, and unstable.
In this paper I demonstrate that this view is mistaken.
I argue first on both textual and philosophical
grounds that Berkeley has a non-standard ontology of ideas. Ideas are 'in'
minds insofar as they are dependent on minds, but this does not entail that
ideas therefore inhere in or are modes of minds. Instead, Berkeley holds
that ideas are substance-like in that they are external to minds (by which
I mean are in a two-place relation with the mind as the other relatum). So
ideas are mind-dependent but external entities. I express this by saying
that for Berkeley ideas are "quasi-substances" (because they share some but
not all of the features of genuine substances).
Second, I argue that Berkeley has a
substantive philosophical point when he assets that judgments of numerical
identity bear no philosophical weight when applied to the ideas of finite
minds. When asked whether two humans have the same idea Berkeley replies
that there is no substantive issue here.
Some (Bennett in particular) have argued
that this is just a muddle, but I disagree. On my reading Berkeley is making
the reasonable claim that however one interprets sameness, what we experience
does not change. The only point where numerical identity must apply is when
it comes to God's archetypes and our ideas. The ideas that we perceive are
numerically identical to the God's archetypes.
In light of these two (generally neglected)
points, a more plausible theory of divine archetypes emerges. God's archetypal
ideas are dependent but external entities (external to the substance of God).
Although our ideas are numerically identical to God's, nothing turns on whether
the ideas of finite minds are numerically identical to one another or merely
qualitatively the same.
In the final part of the paper I show
how Berkeley has the resources to overcome the standard criticisms leveled
against his account and consider objections to my interpretation, including
difficulties involving privacy, the continuity of ideas, the Mosiac account
of creation, and others. I conclude that Berkeley has a theory of divine
archetypes that is consistent and more plausible than most have suspected.
Dorothy Coleman, Northern Illinois University
"Baconian Probability and Hume's Theory of Testimony"
Hume notoriously argued that no testimony is sufficient to justify belief
in the occurrence of a miracle, defined as a violation of a law of nature,
"unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more
miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish" (E, 116). His
argument for this thesis relies on the premise that in determining the credibility
of testimony to any extraordinary event—whether miraculous or merely anomalous—"the
evidence, resulting from testimony, admits of a diminution, greater or less,
in proportion as the fact is more or less unusual" (E, 113). Ironically,
both advocates and critics of Hume's "diminution principle" (a convenient
label used by John Earman, Hume's Abject Failure, 49) have invoked
a Bayesian model of conditional probabilities in evaluating his theory of
testimony. While this fashionable approach is consistent with Hume's focus
on epistemic probability, or probability relative to evidence, I prefer to
side-step this debate because both sides of it assume without argument that
all epistemic gradations of probability should be evaluated using a Pascalian
model of probability, that is, probability based on the mathematical calculus
of chance, of which Bayesianism is one form. I will defend Hume on his own
terms by showing that criticisms based on the calculus of chances are irrelevant
for assessing his account of testimony because the model of probability on
which he bases it is Baconian rather than Pascalian. The foremost advocate
of Baconian probability, L. J. Cohen, has credited Hume for being the first
to explicitly recognize "that there is an important kind of probability which
does not fit into the framework afforded by the calculus of chance," a recognition
he finds evident in Hume's distinction between "probabilities arising from
analogy and probabilities arising from chance or cause." The purpose of this
paper is to interpret Hume's account of testimony in light of this insight
and to discuss its implications for assessing his argument against the believability