Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk, Nazif Muhtaroglu: “Metaphysical Dimensions of Occasionalism: A Comparative Study between Islamic and Cartesian Traditions”

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Friday, November 15, 5-7pm

Bogazici University

TB 130 (Anderson Hall)


If you wonder what would be a decent metaphysical theory that came to be
known as an ad hoc response to a certain problem, I suggest you to look at
occasionalism. Occasionalism in the Western tradition is usually
associated with Nicolas Malebranche, a Cartesian philosopher and Christian
priest. Classical textbooks of a certain period in the 20th century
presented Malebranche’s occasionalism as an ad hoc solution to the
mind-body problem that was inherited from Descartes. Malebranche held that
God is the only causal agent, and both minds and bodies are causally inert
in equal terms. Thus, there is no need to explain how mind and body
causally interact because they do not interact at all. God constantly
maintains the perfect correlation between mental and physical states, as
He creates the proper bodily movements on the occasion of mental events
and vice versa. Although Malebranche applied occasionalism to the
so-called mind-body problem, he did not present occasionalism just out of
a motivation to solve this problem. The ad-hoc narrative has been severely
criticized by several scholars who exposed the wider dimensions and
arguments of Malebranche and presented the ideas of Islamic
occasionalists. Since then, occasionalism came to be known as an
independent theory of causality but its wider metaphysical dimensions have
not been revealed sufficiently. Furthermore, treating occasionalism just a
theory of causality leaves us with certain paradoxes usually associated
with occasionalism. Thus, I propose to respond to those paradoxes by
displaying the wider metaphysical dimensions of occasionalism on the basis
of a careful research on the ideas of Muslim occasionalists and

Written by markedwardsteen

November 12, 2013 at 10:31 am

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