Descartes, Malebranche and Leibniz: conceptions of substance in arguments for the immateriality of the soul

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (5):836-857 (2016)
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ABSTRACTThe most prominent early modern argument against materialism is to be found in Descartes. Previously I had argued that this argument relies crucially on a robust conception of substance, according to which it has a single principal attribute of which all its other intrinsic qualities are modes. In the present paper I return to this claim. In Section 2, I address a question that is often raised about that conception of substance: its commitment to the idea that a substance has a single such principal attribute. Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra and Daniel Garber have argued that this claim relies on Descartes's identification of substance with attribute. But I argue that it relies on his view that a substance has a single, unitary nature. In Section 3, I examine the role of this conception of substance in arguments found in Malebranche and Leibniz and compare these arguments with Descartes's.



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Marleen Rozemond
University of Toronto, Mississauga

Citations of this work

Varieties of early modern materialism.Falk Wunderlich - 2016 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (5):797-813.
Nicolas Malebranche.Tad Schmaltz - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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