Current and Upcoming Events
[2010] April 29- April 30: UWO Descartes Days

Past Events
[2009]November 24 - December 8: Material Falsity
[2009]November 11 - November 14: Tad Schmalt's visit
[2009]September15 - November 10: Descarte on Causation

April 29- April 30, 2010

UWO Descarte Days

Paul Hoffman's presentation: "Descartes on Action"
[Abstract] Descartes's primary historical contribution to the theory of action would appear to be that he expanded the range of action by freeing the concept of efficient causation from that of final causation. If to act entails being an efficient cause, and if efficient causes are or at least can be independent of final causes, then acting is independent of final causation. Yet at the same time Descartes is widely thought to hold views that limit the range of action considerably. Many contemporary commentators attribute to him the view that bodies are entirely passive and incapable of acting; and Jaegwon Kim has argued that immaterial substances are incapable of causing effects outside of themselves. If these views are correct, there is not much action in the Cartesian universe and indeed there is no causal interaction between substances. In this essay I will explore a few broad themes concerning Descartes's theory of action. First, I will examine the relation of efficient causation to final causation. In so doing I will try to defend further the view held by me and others that Descartes does think bodies act. Second, I will offer a defense of Descartes's account of mental causation against Kim's deployment of the pairing problem.


  • April 29-30
    Workshop [Descartes' Philosopy of Mind]