Leibniz and Suarez on God's Role in Natural Causation

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2006

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, like Leibniz, some beliefs (about God’s omnipotence and the reliance of all creation on God) complicate questions about causation so that distinguishing between natural events and miraculous events seems difficult, if not impossible.

Leibniz claimed to have solved the problem of distinguishing between natural and miraculous events, but he provided only the barest outline of a solution. I have discovered a striking similarity between the phrasing and metaphors used by Leibniz, and those of Francisco Suarez (1548-1617). I suggest that our understanding of Leibniz can be enhanced by drawing the historical and philosophical connections between Leibniz and his Suarez.

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