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Metaphysics Part II: Modern

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Michele Merritt

on 19 September 2018

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Transcript of Metaphysics Part II: Modern

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
Metaphysics Part II: The Moderns
Enter Rene' Descartes
* Teleology vs. Mechanism
* Appearance vs. Reality
* The Importance of Math
* Radical Doubt
Cartesian Substance(s)
From Principles LIII and LIV
A substance is that which can be conceived independently and its existence depends on no other substance
Essentially Different
Essence of Mind =?

Essence of Body = ?
If I can Clearly and Distinctly conceive of M apart from B, Then they are really distinct substances
I can conceive of M apart from B
Thus, M and B are distinct substances
The Cogito:
I can doubt everything, even my own existence
But doubting is a form of thinking
And thinking implies some THING exists that is doing that thinking
Therefore, I exist
Problems with Substance Dualism:

Think back to Plato's dual-natured world...

If a substance is independent how can it
DEPEND on another substance
And how can two substances interact??
Descartes vs. Locke
Who has the more agreeable view? Why?
No problem of Interaction!
How are there different minds/bodies/persons if there is only one substance?
Principle of Sufficient Reason
Pre-Established Harmony
So...How many Substances???
The Nexus Problem
From Aristotle to the 'Modern' Era
So, Descartes is a SUBSTANCE PLURALIST, specifically, a DUALIST (Mind = one substance and Physical Stuff = another substance that both make up reality)

Major problem with substance dualism: describing how two completely distinct substances interact
Metaphysics of God
Defining God:
Problems with the Proofs?
A Pragmatic Approach...
All-Knowing (Omniscient)
All-Powerful (Omnipotent)
Loving (Omnibenevolent)
The Problem of Evil
and Free Will
The Teleological Proof (Argument From Design)
Two Proofs
The Ontological Proof
St. Anselm (1033-1109)
And Later Descartes

The very concept of God implies God's existence
I have in mind a being greater than which none can be thought.

This being has every sort of perfection.

Existence is a perfection.

Thus, this being (God) exists.
The Universe exhibits a harmony and order
This harmony and order could not have been created ex nihilo (out of nothing)
Ex nihilo nihil fit (out of nothing, nothing comes)
The order of the universe implies a designer (God)
Leibniz: God created the best of all possible worlds
Ontological Problems:
Just because I can conceive of something, even in its most perfect form, does that entail it exists? (E.g. a Gremlin - the greenest of all the conceivable green beings)
The 'harmony' of the cosmos?

Is the universe really 'perfect' or the 'best of all possible worlds'?
Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, etc: Plenty of reason to believe the universe could have been formed from natural processes
More specifically: An Interactionist Dualist. Mind and body are completely independent substances, but they interact
What about Free Will?
Think of our working definitions of 'minds' so far:
Descartes: that part of us that affirms, denies, wills, imagines, etc.
Spinoza: Mind is just a part of the universe and the universe just is God
Leibniz: Mind is one of the multitude of substances, none of which interact, but are all conceived by God.
In other words, the picture of mind so far is very DETERMINISTIC
What's Freedom, Anyways?
And why do we care if we have it?
Hard Determinism
Soft Determinism (Compatibilism)
Libertarian Free Will
* ContraCausal Freedom
Smullyan's Worry: How can the physical CAUSE anything mental and vice versa?
Full transcript