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Anne Conway PHIL3210.docx

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University of Guelph
PHIL 3210
Patricia Sheridan

Anne Conway-Vitalism vs. Mechanism st Conway and Materialism – October 1  Conway’s assessment of Descartes and Hobbes  Mechanical Philosophy  Hobbes on spirit and body Anne Conway’s anti- materialism  Vitalism o Everything is alive o All matter has a ‘vital’ component  Interconnectedness of all things in the world  Main targets; Descartes, Hobbes and the materialist philosophers Vitalism  :in its simplest form, vitalism holds that living entities contain some fluid, or a distinctive… amond living things.” Conway on Descartes  “touching on the Cartesian… of our philosophy.” (66)  “it is anit-Christian…. Or mechanical motion.”(67) Conway on Hobbes  “Hobbes affirms God… between them.”(67)  “by matter and body,…understood it.”(69)  “were plainly ignorant… call body and matter” (70) Conway’s Anti- Materialist Manifesto  “But if it be demanded… of all those perfections.”(70) Mechanical Philosophy  Occam’s Razor  Boyle o The corpuscular account of nature  Hobbes’s anti-spirtualism Occam’s Razor  Eliminate unnecessary factors in any theory  The simplest theory is always the best theory  Defining principle of modern science  “Corporeal things can’t be explained on the basis of fewer than two principles, and no principles can be more basic than matter and motion.” (12) Corpuscularianism  All things in world constructed of matter and motion  Rules of motion = the laws of nature  “The phenomena of the world… to mechanical laws.” Advantages of Mechanism: Clearness of Mechanical Principles  “With the corpuscular…purely from them.” (2) Simplicity of Mechanical Explanation  Matter and Motion  “For matter alone…that bump into it.”(3) Comprehensiveness  matter in motion accounts for; motion, figure, size, poture, rest, order, and texture of large parts of matter, and all of its minute components  “the mechanical states…as a rock or a mountain has.”(4) Hobbes: Spirit is an idea created by the mind  For hobbes and others, an idea that could not be gained by sensory experience could not be a meaningful concept Absurd Concepts  “whenever an affirmation is false…. Is a mere sound.” (hobbes Leviathan, Book I, p 15. (More quotes from this book refer to slides) Henry More, Vitalism, and the Framework for Conway’s System  Henry More o More’s conection to Conway o Critique of materialism  Nullibists o Plastic power of the Soul More’s main philosophical Concerns  Main concern to show, on scieticfic grounds, that spirits make up a part of the antural world o That spirit and matter do interact o Rejects both : Nullibists (deny spirit) and Holemnarians (world- soul throughout physical world) rd Conways Mystical Metaphysics – October 3 Descartes’s Illogic  If it is a substance it must have place o Argued that Descartes needs to account for some level of extension in spirit o We’ll find this argument in Conway  “the operation of the soul and the …..there where the operation is.” (189) More’s Main philosophical concerns  Main concern to show, on scientific grounds, that spirits make up a part of the natural world o That spirits and matter do interact  Rejects both: Nullibists (deny spirit) and Holemnarians (world-soul throughout physical world)  “those other therefore because they so boldly affirm… Nome or Title of Nullibists.” (185) More’s Dualism  Matter is inert, but it moves with the intervention of the spirit of nature o Spirit that takes up space; is extended  Descartes to More (appealing to Ockham’s principle)  “I will say here once and for all… us from the road to truth.” Vital Forces  ‘plastic power’ or ‘spirit of nature’ o posited as a means of bolstering mechanical physics o filling a gap in the mechanical explanation  living force in matter o self generating and self organizing o it is a divine harmonizing principle o moves matter, but does not think or perceive  a luminous orb of light he says, “does very much resemble the nature of Sprit, which is diffused and extended, and yet indivisible.” Conway’s mysrical influences  Ibn-gabirol (11 c) o The Fountain of Life o Important figure in revival of Jewish mysticism in 16 and 17 c th  Isaac Luria (1543-72) Lurianic Cabbala (Christianized Kabbala)  Knorr van Rosenroth’s Kabbala Denudata (1677)  Francis Mercury von Helmont: assisted in collecting together the mostly Hebrew texts made available for the first time in the Latin Kabbala denudate in 1677 and 1684, to which he contributed writings which include his Cabbalistical Dialogue, a classic defence of Kabbalistic metaphysics o Followed the Lurianic Kabbalah in adopting the doctrine of the evolution of human souls through twelve lives, linked to belief in the eventual progress of every soul to eternal happiness Van Helmont  Chemist, physician  Collaborator of famed Christian cabbalist Christian Knorr von Rosenroth  Pantheism and reincarnation account angered More  Conway’s text very influenced by this brand of kabbalah Kabbalistic teachings of Rosenroth  Souls imprisoned in matter  Seek to return to the heavenly realm from which they had fallen through purification  This process of purification was long and arduous o Each soul was required to undergo repeated transmigrations or reincarnations  Preexistence: souls were pure but fell into darker state Van Helmont  Matter is “congealed” spirit 1. that the creator first brings into being a spiritual Nature 2. And that either arbitrarily (when he please;) or continually, as he continually understands, generates, etc. 3. That some of these spirits, for some certain cause or reason, are slipt down from the state of knowing 4. That these Monades or single beings become dull, cling or come together after various manners 5. That this coalition or clinging together, so long as it remains such, is called matter 6. That, out of this matter, all things material do consist, which yet shall in time return again to a more loosened and free state  Hence the Creator may also be said to be the efficient cause of all things materiated or made material, although not immediately Matter not a real thing  It is a privation, a lack of activity or knowledge  “matter, as much, is not… such again formally.”  Souls are everywhere, everything is alive Conway’s species ontology  What exists?  Three distinct species: that is with “substance or essence distinct from one anther” (50)  God, Christ, and creatures  Creatures are all essentially the same o Differences modal not essential  Cows, horses, humans all essentially the same species,
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