Constant Creation, Occasionalism, and the Principles of Natural Philosophy in the Young Leibniz

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2008

Project Description/Abstract

Some problems of causation in contemporary philosophy have foundations in the work of 17th Century philosophers, such as G.W. Leibniz (1646-1716). He asked questions about causation we still ask today: can we formulate, in general terms, the conditions under which one event causes another? For the Christian faithful, such as Leibniz, one doctrine in particular, the constant reliance of all creation on God (constant creation), complicates causation issues. For one, it raises the question about what the conditions for natural explanation might be, when God’s influence is a constant influence of the existence of the created world. For another, it raises the question of whether there are any natural events that meet conditions for natural explanation. I show that Leibniz carefully considered these questions in his very early years and arrived at answers that would inform his later views on related issues, such as the nature of created substance.

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