Article ID: CBB117763212

Descartes, Malebranche and Leibniz: Conceptions of Substance in Arguments for the Immateriality of the Soul (2016)


The 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.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Jolley, Nicholas; (2013)
Causality and Mind: Essays on Early Modern Philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB001553076/)

Thesis Christopher P. Noble; (2016)
The Soul as Spiritual Automaton in Leibniz's Synthetic Natural Philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB700001563/)

Article Falk Wunderlich; (2016)
Materialism in Late Enlightenment Germany: A Neglected Tradition Reconsidered (/isis/citation/CBB824246743/)

Article Paola Rumore; (2016)
Mechanism and Materialism in Early Modern German Philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB613435200/)

Article Duncan, Stewart; (2010)
Leibniz on Hobbes's Materialism (/isis/citation/CBB001021652/)

Article Richard Mark Fincham; (2015)
Reconciling Leibnizian Monadology and Kantian Criticism (/isis/citation/CBB087483741/)

Book Seigel, Jerrold E.; (2005)
The Idea of the Self: Thought and Experience in Western Europe since the Seventeenth Century (/isis/citation/CBB000930043/)

Book Nicolas Malebranche; Mairan, Jean Jacques Dortous de; Cristina Santinelli; (2023)
Lettere (1713-1714) (/isis/citation/CBB934074201/)

Article Ablondi, Fred; (2007)
Knowing Our Nature: A Note on Régis' Response to Malebranche (/isis/citation/CBB000760671/)

Article Federico Boccaccini; Anna Marmodoro; (2017)
Powers, Abilities and Skills in Early Modern Philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB647362818/)

Chapter Garber, Daniel; (2007)
Mécanisme et morale: la mort du corps et l'éternité de l'esprit chez Spinoza (/isis/citation/CBB001022505/)

Article Ablondi, Fred; (1999)
Malebranche and Knowledge of the Soul (/isis/citation/CBB000111462/)

Chapter Ariew, Roger; (2009)
Descartes and Leibniz on the Principle of Individuation (/isis/citation/CBB001021827/)

Book Nolan, Lawrence; (2011)
Primary and Secondary Qualities: The Historical and Ongoing Debate (/isis/citation/CBB001035171/)

Book Janiak, Andrew; (2008)
Newton as Philosopher (/isis/citation/CBB000850371/)

Book Jolley, Nicholas; (1990)
The light of the soul: Theories of ideas in Leibniz, Malebranche, and Descartes (/isis/citation/CBB000061466/)

Book Nachtomy, Ohad; Smith, Justin E. H.; (2014)
The Life Sciences in Early Modern Philosophy (/isis/citation/CBB001551476/)

Article Martina, John N.; (2011)
Existential Import in Cartesian Semantics (/isis/citation/CBB001210987/)

Article Lolordo, Antonia; (2005)
Descartes and Malebranche on Thought, Sensation, and the Nature of the Mind (/isis/citation/CBB000670339/)

Authors & Contributors
Ablondi, Fred
Cristina Santinelli
Jolley, S. Nicholas
LoLordo, Antonia
Janiak, Andrew
Seigel, Jerrold E.
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
Journal of the History of Philosophy
History of European Ideas
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Logic
Oxford University Press
Cambridge University Press
Clarendon Press
Villanova University
Edizioni ETS
Soul (philosophy)
Natural philosophy
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Descartes, René
Malebranche, Nicolas de
Spinoza, Baruch
Locke, John
Hume, David
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
Early modern
20th century
19th century
Great Britain

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment