Today, we need collaboration, not lectures; we need to learn concepts, not singular facts; we need networking and socialization, not isolation; we need interactive learning, not to sit back and listen. We need new outcome objectives, not standardized tests.
The Cranach Digital Archive (cda) is an interdisciplinary collaborative research resource, providing access to art historical, technical and conservation information on paintings by Lucas Cranach (c.1472 - 1553) and his workshop. The repository presently provides information on more than 400 paintings including c.5000 images and documents from 19 partner institutions.
Applications are welcome from all candidates who have completed their doctoral studies within the last three years with outstanding results. Applicants must present an independent research project as part of their application. The project must be supported by a professor of LMU Munich. The fellows will become members of the Young Center of the Center for Advanced Studies and be able to make use of its services.
Endowment Research fellows will receive an attractive salary according to the German “Tarifvertrag der Länder (TV-L)” (typically TV-L grade E 14). Applicants may apply for an additional start-up funding up to the amount of € 25,000 as well as for material and travel expenses of up to € 10,000 per year. In the first two years after the completion of their research fellowship, the fellows may be granted up to € 5,000 for continuing cooperation with LMU Munich. The fellowships are tenable for two years.
L’Archivio di testi per la storia dello Spinozismo comprende corpora filosofici multilingue di vari autori, immagini, spogli lessicografici e altri materiali documentari. L’obiettivo è di fornire a studiosi e ricercatori nel campo della storia del pensiero filosofico moderno un agile strumento di lettura e di approfondimento della filosofia di Spinoza, delle sue fonti e della sua fortuna. In questo senso, l’Archivio si pone anche come una sorta di laboratorio sulla storia della filosofia e sulla terminologia filosofica, soggetto a continuo arricchimento.
The Philosophy Department at the University of Bamberg invites graduate students from all departments to apply for the International Summer School on “Metaphysics or Modernity?”. This event, which will take place from 6th to 17th of August 2012, in Bamberg, Germany, shall be an intensive think-tank for young academics who want to discuss the question whether metaphysical inquiry is still relevant in the 21st century.
Speakers: Richard King (University of Glasgow), Jorge Gracia (SUNY Buffalo), Barry Stroud (UC Berkeley), Saul Kripke (CUNY).
In 2012 the BSHP annual conference will focus on themes of the infinite and the eternal in Spinoza’s philosophy. We welcome proposals for papers in this area. Papers looking at Part V of Spinoza’s Ethics are especially welcome, as are papers that compare Spinoza with other philosophers – historical or contemporary – on these themes.
Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be sent to email@example.com by 27 January 2012. Please put BSHP in the subject-line.
DH is not the kind of trend humanists are used to, which starts with a specific methodological insight and promises to revive a discipline (or two) by generalizing that insight. It’s something more diffuse, and the diffuseness matters….. I suppose, if pressed, I would say “digital humanities” is the name of an opportunity. Technological change has made some of the embodiments of humanistic work — media, archives, institutions, perhaps curricula — a lot more plastic than they used to be. That could turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s neither of those just yet: the meaning of the opportunity is going to depend on what we make of it.” Read Full Post Here.
Here’s where I get troubled: digital humanities projects often say that they are innovating the way we investigate texts and cultures, though that innovation, as Ted notes, arises from a set of technological tools rather than an intellectual position. And when at their most excited, “digital humanists” can sometimes claim to be transforming humanistic study itself. Read Full Post Here.
I think there’s two basic genealogies to digital humanities/technology studies. Reductive? Sure. But helpful. The first traces back to Heidegger’s “Question Concerning Technology.”….The second traces back to McLuhan. Read Full Post Here.
Alex Reid, “I do think that that the core definition of DH is dissolving. The Fish piece, for good or bad, shows how an outsider to DH imagines it as this expansive business. I think this is commonplace. The folks at the DH conference may have a more narrow view, but elsewhere that it less and less the case. Those of us who have been doing computers and writing, digital rhetoric, technical communication, etc. need to decide whether we want to adopt the DH term and expand it to include us or insist that we are separate but equal.” Read Full Conversation Here.
None of this is to say that we can simply borrow tools or methods from scientists unchanged. The humanities have a lot to add — especially when it comes to the social and historical character of human behavior. I think there are fascinating advances taking place in data science right now. But when you take apart the analytic tools that computer scientists have designed, you often find that they’re based on specific mistaken assumptions about the social character of language. Read Full Post Here.
Abstract: In A treatise of algebra both historical and practical(London 1685), John Wallis wrote the ﬁrst survey of the state of mathematical learning in medieval England, and discussed with particular care the arrival and signiﬁcance of the Hindu–Arabic numeral system. This paper offers a detailed commentary on Wallis’s account in relation to the sources he used and the 17th-century Oxford context in which he wrote. The paper also supplements Wallis’s treatment where possible with some of the ﬁndings of modern scholarship. It therefore provides on the one hand an overview of the spread of mathematical learning into medieval England, and on the other an insight into late 17th-century historiography. Wallis pioneered several new historiographical methods and can perhaps be claimed as the ﬁrst modern historian of mathematics.
Ooh. Later than my usual period of interest, but I’m a sucker for history of mathematics. Thanks for posting.
In this postscript to my previous posts on early modern philosophical angelology (on Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, and the ‘fundamental angelological problem’) I want to provide some theological context for the question of whether angels have a body. Early modern theology is written from the point of view of the Christian believe. Nevertheless, it provides valuable insights for the historian of early modern philosophcial angelology.
In this post, we will see that, for Christians, the idea that angels may be corporeal is not in itself heretical. If conversely the immateriality of angels is a tenet of religious belief, theologians that do not want to hold on to an Aristotelian view of the world must accept that there are created entities that exist nowhere in the world.
1. Why the corporeality of angels is not heretical
As far as I can see, historians of philosophy are by and large unaware of the fact that a minority of early modern theologians affirmed the corporeality of angels - an insight that may help to put the ‘naturalising’ tendencies of early modern philosophical angelology into perspective: The immateriality of angels is no theological dogma. To defend their corporeality is no heresy.
Both Hobbes and Leibniz accept what I have called the ‘principle of locality’: Only those things are part of the world (Leibniz) or universe (Hobbes) that are (Hobbes) or stand in a relation to (Leibniz) a body. Both, Hobbes and - to a lesser extent - Leibniz, deny the immateriality of angels. Descartes defends it.
For readers of Hobbes and Leibniz, the belief that angels are corporeal was in itself neither an indication of atheism nor of heresy. So Curley seems to be in error, when he reads arguments for the corporeality of angels as implicit arguments for a corporeal Deity (see e. g. his 'I durst not write so boldly' [Word DOC]). It certainly is true that the overwhelming majority of early modern theologians accepted the immateriality of angels. But dissent did exist, so denial of angelic immateriality was not equivalent to denying the existence of immaterial substances alltogether.
The Reformed theologian Girolamo Zanchi (De operibus Dei intra spatium sex dierum, p. 62) agreed with Sisto that certainty in this question may very well be unachievable. Nevertheless the conflicting authorities are dutifully reported: Sisto mentions the Platonists, Aristotle, Origen, Tertullian, Augustine, Vives, Peter Lombard, Lactantius, Basile, Michael Psellus, Ficino, Caelius Rhodiginus, Bernard of Clairvaux, Gregory of Nazianzen, Theodoret, Bede, John Damascene, and Dionysius the Aeropagite. Without further argument (ingenue) he concludes that the corporeality of angels may be more probable. But any error in this respect will not lead to heresy, because we do not know for certain what the right answer may be.
Cajetan had a less sceptical attitude. In his commentary on Ephesians 2,2 (fol. 260r) e argued that evil spirits (daemones) do have bodies. And this can be shown by sound philosophical reasoning (crediderim […] id consonare verae philosophiae rationi).
His argument is based on the assumption that corporeal spirits fill a lacuna in the order of being: There are living things that have only vegetative functions, but no sensitive capabilities (namely plants). Others, like sponges, are stationary like plants, but they are endowed with sensitive faculties (De part. an. 681a ff). At least one substance in the world has intellective, but no locomotive powers (namely God). Hence it makes sense to presume that there should be things that can change their place without requiring sensitive faculties: demons.
It is remarkable that Cajetan bases his argument on purely natural premisses. This suggests that, although he limits his argument to evil spirits, it should be applicable to angels as well: It would be difficult to accept that only evil spirits contribute to the perfection of God’s creation. So even though it is certainly true that the overwhelming majority of early modern theologians accepted the immateriality of angels, there were dissenting voices in the debate even within theology - the most radical position being articulated by a very influential Catholic thinker arguing from a philosophical point of view which anticipates to some extent Leibniz’s later insights.
2. Why supernatural angels may be superfluous
Leibniz did know Senensis (A IV 465). And he did know that ecclesiastical authority in this matter was inconclusive (G II 319). Why then did he shy away from fully naturalising angels, as we have seen in the third blog post of this series?
One conceivable answer may lie in a letter by Des Bosses (G II 321) that quotes the Jesuit Martin de Esparza in order to suggest that there might be a way to make Leibniz’s angelology compatible with Jesuit teachings. Esparza’s Quaestio V deals with the question how to distinguish angels from each other. The details of this intricate problem are irrelevant here. Esparza states that angels on the lowest level of the angelic hierarchy stand in a relation to a determinate body, even though these angels are not the form of such a body (which distinguishes them from the hypostatic union between soul and body of a human being). Des Bosses quotes only selectively, and bravely states that the same should be true for the two higher-ranked groups of angels as well. This, however, is not what Esparza himself says:
Quia vero Angeli supremae, et mediae hirarchiae referuntur in ratione illuminantis ad Angelos tertiae hierarchiae, ad eum modum, quo dictum est, posteriores istos referri ad homines, et ad caetera corporalia in ratione directoris, ac motoris: concluditur, Angelos etiam supremae, et mediae hierarchiae posse similiter esse ediscernibiles invicem, atque logice indivuatos, […] (p. 109)
So in fact, the individuation of angels from the two highest ranks of the angelic hierarchy is based not on them standing in relation to a body, but rather on standing in a particular relation (‘illumination’) to angels which in turn stand in a relation to a determinate body. Hence, if Leibniz wishes to make his own angelology compatible with Jesuit doctrine, he must concede that it is supernaturally possible that there are angels which stand in a particular relation only to their prime matter, whereas their relation to bodies is mediated by other angels (leading to the difficulties mentioned in the third post of this series).
3. Why immaterial angels are nowhere
Even though Descartes’ angelology may have shown how immaterial angels can be efficient in space in spite of their immateriality, Descartes seems to avoid studiously any answer to the question where angels belong in the world: The fact that every region of space - i. e. the world at large - is susceptible to acts of angelic agency does not in itself give us any hint about the customary place of angels in the world. But the answer Descartes should have given is obvious: Since Cartesians must accept the ‘principle of locality’, they must acknowledge that angels as such (‘in themselves’) are in fact nowhere.
This consequence is discussed by the Dutch theologian Christoph Wittich in his Theologia pacifica (all quotes in the following can be found on p. 147).
For Wittich, angels can only be present in space, if they are bodies:
Substantialis praesentia angelorum non potest definiri spatio, nisi statuant angelorum substantiam esse corpoream; […]
The first argument brought forward for this thesis is an explicit formulation of the ‘principle of locality’:
[…] 1. quia locus sive spatium non differt a corpore, ergo posito corpore ponitur, negato corpore negatur: […]
The notions of space (or place) are coextensive with the concept of a body, so that everything present in space is a body and incorporeal entitities cannot be a part of space: The same had been said by Hobbes.
Even though this argument may suffice, Wittich brings forward a second one:
2. Angelorum tota natura consistit in cogitatione, unumquodque autem est praesens per id quod possidet, non autem per id quod non habet; cogitatione autem non potest esse praesens, nisi quando per cogitationem suam aliquid efficit.
Here we see why Wittich makes a claim about praesentia substantialis: Thought is the essence of an angel. When we ask, how an angel can be ‘substantially present’ in space, we want to know how thought can be spatially present. Thought can be present in space only insofar, as it has spatial effects. But all spatial effects are effects on bodies, because the principle of locality implies that body and space are identical.
So angelic thought can be present in space if and only if an angel acts on bodies (the reverse question, whether angelic minds can be present in space by being acted upon is not adressed by Wittich). In other words, anyone subscribing to the ‘principle of locality’ must accept that angels are only in a place, when they act on this place - a consequence Descartes apparently had chosen to ignore:
sunt ergo angeli in loco, quandocunque operantur in loco respectu istius operationis; sed quando non operantur, sed tantum cogitant intra se, opus non habent loco; […]
Angels are in a place, whenever they act in relation to a region of space. If they do not act in a region of space (i. e. if they are ‘just thinking’), angels are not in a place and hence no part of the world.
We have seen why early modern philosophical angelology can only be understood fully, if its theological counterpart has been taken into account: Whether a claim is heretical in a given confessional context, depends on this confessional context (Hobbes). What philosophers believe may depend on what theologians require them to believe (Leibniz). Theological writings may furnish insights into ‘rational theology’ that cannot be found in the philosophical texts themselves (Descartes).
New work undertaken in St Andrews has created new bibliographies of Latin books published in France (FB volumes 3 & 4) and of books published in the Low Countries (NB). The project team will also collect and analyse information on books published in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. Meanwhile, partners in University College, Dublin have created a bibliography of books published in the Iberian Peninsula (IB).
In 2011 this was brought together with information on books published in Italy, Germany and Britain to create a fully searchable resource covering all of Europe. This provides access to the full bibliographic information, locations of surviving copies and, where available, digital full text editions that can be accessed through the database. All told, this information will encompass approximately 355,000 editions and around 1.5 million surviving copies, located in over 5,000 libraries worldwide.
8:35 AM: I check the newly digitized works from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. A newly digitized manuscript, cgm 414, includes a “Schmähschrift auf Kaiser Friedrich III.,” which sounds interesting. I pull it up, then go teach my literature course.
10:25 AM: Practicas are ephemeral. Entire editions can easily get lost. I might just have a previously unknown incunbable edition in front of me. I start thinking about journals I can publish this discovery, and take a closer look at the text.
11:30 AM: […] the first line of text on the first leaf of the second gathering as recorded in GW looks familiar: […] It’s more than familiar. […] The publication plans get shelved in time for me to teach my 101 course.
Legal Issues in Mass Digitization: A Preliminary Analysis and Discussion Document http://ping.fm/vMVd9
From the introduction to the document:
The Copyright Office has published a Preliminary Analysis and Discussion Document that addresses the issues raised by the intersection between copyright law and the mass digitization of books. The purpose of the Analysis is to facilitate further discussions among the affected parties and the public – discussions that may encompass a number of possible approaches, including voluntary initiatives, legislative options, or both. The Analysis also identifies questions to consider in determining an appropriate policy for the mass digitization of books.
Public discourse on mass digitization is particularly timely. On March 22, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected a proposed settlement in the copyright infringement litigation regarding Google’s mass book digitization project. The court found that the settlement would have redefined the relationship between copyright law and new technology, and it would have encroached upon Congress’s ability to set copyright policy with respect to orphan works. Since then, a group of authors has filed a lawsuit against five university libraries that participated in Google’s mass digitization project. These developments have sparked a public debate on the risks and opportunities that mass book digitization may create for authors, publishers, libraries, technology companies, and the general public. The Office’s Analysis will serve as a basis for further policy discussions on this issue.
early modern philosophy of nature must be troubled by angels, because mechanistic physics reaches an impasse when trying to integrate angels into its world view and that
some misconceptions about early modern angelology should be abandoned (Descartes was interested in angels, to believe that angels have bodies is in itself no indication for atheist or heretical tendencies).
The second aspect will be dealt with in the next and last post of this series. Now I want to dwell a bit on the ‘fundamental angelological problem’: How do we explain that supernatural beings can serve as the (efficient) cause of changes in the natural world.
Two approaches can be distinguished: Descartes proposes a partial ‘reenchantment’ of nature (if it is appropriate to borrow this term from John McDowell). Nature is thought as something that is to a certain extent susceptible to supernatural influence - matter has a (supernatural) receptivity for acts of the angelic will. Hobbes and Leibniz try to naturalise the supernatural by applying the ‘principle of locality’: Only those things are part of the world (Leibniz) or universe (Hobbes) that are (Hobbes) or stand in a relation to (Leibniz) a body. But for Hobbes, only the angels in the Old Testament can be explained away as supernaturally caused natural phenomena that are similar to spectres or delusions. Leibniz is closer to Hobbes than some may have suspected beforehand: Angels are natural phenomena (minds that can change their bodies more easily than humans).
Nevertheless, there are limits for such rationalisations: Hobbes must bow to the authority of Scripture. Spiritual embodied substances (angels in the New Testament) may exist. So we cannot be sure that all changes in the world can be explained by the movement of bodies. Leibniz has to take God’s omnipotency into account. He is forced to concede the possibility that angelic entelechies may exist even though they stand in no relation to a phenomenal body. Such angels may not be part of this world (depending on how we interpret the requirement that the activity of an entelechy must be limited by prime matter). Hence, we cannot deny that there may be ‘supernatural’ angels. Their status within the worldview of natural philosophy is as dubious as it is in Hobbes.
In sum, an integration of angels into a mechanistic philosophy of nature comes at a prize: Descartes’ approach seems to water down the explanatory force of mechanism, because matter is endowed with a receptivity for the supernatural. Hobbes must bow to the authority of Scripture and admit the possibility of embodied spiritual substances, even though his philosophy is built on the presupposition that the universe is but an aggregate of bodies.
In 1706, Leibniz discussed his views on angelology in his a series of letters to the Jesuit des Bosses, giving him the opportunity to discuss his views with a correspondent who was thoroughly acquainted with orthodox Catholic teachings on the subject and at the same time sympathetic to Leibniz’s system.
In these letters, Leibniz gives two main reasons why angels require a body:
Angels need a body in order to be part of the universe.
Only if angels have a body, we can account for the specific differences between humans, angels, and God.
Angels and the ‘principle of locality’
In a draft that was not sent to des Bosses, Leibniz remarks that completely incorporeal substances would need a perpetual miracle in order to occupy a place:
…] et substantiae creatae a materia prorsus secretae meo judicio non nisi per miracula perpetua locum habere possent. (G II 316)
But what precisely would be the divine intervention needed here? Since, for Leibniz, all substances perceive the states of all other substances, all other substances in the universe would have to entertain a representation of the incorporeal substance in question as being in the place it is supposed to be in, even though ‘in fact’ this incorporeal substance does not occupy a place.
So, for Leibniz, incorporeal substances can’t be a part of the world, unless God produces corresponding representations in all other substances, namely the illusion that the incorporeal question is a part of the world, even though this is not the case. In other words, everything that is a part of the world needs a body, because only something that ‘has’ a body can be represented as being in space, unless God engenders the illusion in all beings that an incorporeal substance is a part of the world, even though it is not.
And this is exactly what Leibniz does state. Those who assume that there are incorporeal substances, deny that such substances can be in the world:
Has [sc. intelligentias] enim removere a corporibus et loco, est removere ab universali connexione atque ordine Mundi, quem faciunt relationes ad tempus et locum. (Ibid.)
Incorporeal substances have no body. Things that have no body are not spatial (i. e. they do not occupy a place). Things that do not occupy a place have no natural connection to other things. What has no natural connection to other things, is no part of the world.
The specific differences between humans, angels, and God
In order to be present in space, angels must be able to interact with their environment. For Leibniz, angelic interaction with other spatial objects is similar to how humans act in space. This must be so, because, as we have seen, angels are not pure spirits:
Angeli non sunt Entelechiae corporum, sed ipsi et Entelechias, nempe Mentes, et Corpora etiam, […] (Ibid.)
Hence, there is no difference in how angels and humans move around in the world (presumably because the link between mind and bodies is in both cases mediated by God, i. e. the relationship between mind and body is in both cases merely ideal rather than real):
Angeli ergo corpora movent prorsus, ut nos facimus, […] (Ibid.)
This is a risky statement, because angels are generally supposed to be present in a portion of space in virtue of what they can do in it rather than in virtue of what they are, whereas the human soul is present in a human body because of what it is, namely the substantial form of this body. Pre-established harmony suspends this common notion of how angels and humans differ.
Leibniz finds an ingenious alternative: The main difference between angels and humans is that angels can easily leave the body they are related to and migrate into another:
Arbitror enim cum naturaliter possibile sit […] esse Entelechias, quae facillime mutent corpus, seu de corpore in corpus transeant, […] (G II 320)
Interestingly, this ‘metempsychosis’ is itself a natural phenomenon, because humans can modify their body as well (i. e. add or subtract parts that thus are (or are no more) parts of their body). Leibniz illustrates this with a somewhat gruesome example: It is possible for humans to cut of their foot and replace it with a wooden substitute (cf. ibid.).
So even though there is no difference in how humans and angels are present in space, this need not imply that angels are incorporated in the same way as humans are:
An vero necesse sit Angelum esse formam informantem seu Animam corporis organici eique personaliter unitam, alia quaestio est, et certo sensu in praecedente Epistola exposito negari potest. (G II 325)
If angels can migrate from one body to another with a higher degree of volatility than humans, angelic existence does not rest on a ‘personal unity’ of mind and body that is characteristic for humans. This is what makes angels different from humans.
We have contemplated how angels relate to the physical world at large, i. e. to phenomenal bodies that are aggregates of substances. But Leibniz points out that angels are in a more radical way dependent on matter. Like all other created substances, their entelechies require ‘prime matter’ (materia prima). This requirement is conceptual, so that even if we may concede that an omnipotent God may deprive angels of the phenomenal body they are related to, their relation to ‘prime matter’ would remain unaffected.
Etsi ergo Deus per potentiam absolutam possit substantiam creatam privare materia secunda, non tamen potest eam privare materia prima; nam faceret inde Actum purum qualis ipse est solus. (G II 324f)
An angelic entelechy must be limited by ‘prime matter’, because substances are always active. It is matter that serves as a passive counterpart to this persistent activity. If an entelechy was freed from this, it would be ‘pure act’. This however would imply that God would be able to create a second deity which is logically impossible. So whereas angels are distinguished from humans by their ‘metempsychotic’ capabilities, their difference from God consists in their dependence on ‘prime matter’.
This argument has interesting implications: The question is whether an angel that is supernaturally deprived of its relation with secondary matter, would be perceivable. If it is possible to perceive an angel that consists only of an entelechy and its prime matter, this angel is still a part of the world. But then prime matter (and the entelechy it belongs to) can be represented as a part of the world, i. e. as a phenomenon. This is in agreement with Leibniz’s view of angels discussed here, but it seems to run contrary to the strict separation of phenomena and the substances constituting these phenomena that is central to Leibniz’s thought.
But the alternative is even less palatable: If an angel that is supernaturally separated from the phenomenal world, is imperceivable, it stands in no relations to other substances. Then it is no more part of the universe. Such a being would then form a world of its own, dependent only on its creator. So if we want to save prime matter from being perceivable, this seems to be only possible, if we concede that God may create a multiplicity of actual worlds (the question being whether such a multiverse of actual worlds may not be more perfect than a universe containing only one such world).
Angels, for Leibniz, must be explainable as a natural phenomenon. As such, they must be minds which stand in a relation to a body. This relation differs only in degree from the relation between human minds and their body, since it is more tenuous: Angels can leave the body they occupy more easily than humans. Nevertheless, both human and angelic entelechies are bound to ‘prime matter’. Divine omnipotency may create supernatural angels which stand in no relation with phenomenal bodies. But their reliance on ‘prime matter’ is a conceptual necessity. Nevertheless, ‘supernatural’ angels pose a problem for Leibniz: If they are perceivable, ‘prime matter’ renders entelechies perceivable even though they stand in no relation to phenomenal bodies. If ‘supernatural’ angels are imperceivable, they are a world of their own.
Connected Histories is one of the case studies, for those interested in how the project turned out. It’s also interesting to see it in the context of the projects funded by this JISC programme!
This eBook presents case studies from 11 digital projects managing digital resources for Higher Education. One strand of case studies look at the skills required to build and sustain digital collections, with a focus on how universities embed digitisation as a strategic activity within their core work. The second strand draws on case studies examining how digital silos can be broken down, as users demand increasingly sophisticated resources that cluster or aggregate related content from different areas of the Internet. The projects were funded under the JISC eContent Programme for 2009-11.
Using the simple technology of the wiki allowed Wikipedia’s founders to focus on the encyclopedia’s content — to focus on soliciting article contributions rather than building technology.
Wikipedia offered low transaction costs to participation, and it de-emphasized the social ownership of content. Editing Wikipedia is easy, and instant, and virtually commitment-free. ”You can come along and do a drive-by edit and never make a contribution again,” Hill pointed out. And the fact that it’s difficult to tell who wrote an article, or who edited it—rather than discouraging contribution, as you might assume—actually encouraged contributions, Hill found. ”Low textual ownership resulted in more collaboration,” he put it.
Great news: One of the important libraries in EMTO, the University Libary in Granada, provides the opportunity to download their digital books via a Dspace repository. So if you find a book in EMTO coming from there, search the repository if you want to get the pdf. All old prints seem to be available via a Creative Commons License: So they can be freely redistributed (for details see the license text for each file).
In the previous post of this series on angelology, it was asked what we may deduce about the angelic mind from what we know about our own mind. For Hobbes, the answer to that question is obvious: nothing at all, because conscious states do not give any clue about what they really are, namely physical processes. Therefore, the second question asked about Descartes’ view of angels is even more pressing for Hobbes: How do angels fit into the into the physical world? Even though the ‘Leviathan’ comments extensively on this topic, it is helpful to look first at the accounts of angelic existence given in the ‘Elements of Law’ and ‘De corpore’.
1. Angels and the imagination: ‘Elements of Law’ and ‘De corpore’
Hobbes defines ‘spirit’ in the ‘Elements of Law’ as a
body natural, but of such subtilty [sic], that it worketh not upon the senses, but that filleth up the place which the image of a visible body might fill up. (EoL, I.11.4, 60f)
This definition is very dense and almost incomprehensible as it stands. It is helpful to distinguish the following four propositions contained in it:
(1) Spirits are natural bodies. (2) They do not make an impression on sense organs because of their ‘subtilty’. (3) They fill up a place. (4) This place is in comparable cases ‘filled by an image’.
The clue for understanding this definition lies in proposition (4) which seems to be closely connected to a particular aspect of Hobbes’ theory of space, namely his concept of ‘imaginary space’.
[…] spatii definitionem hanc esse dico, spatium est phantasma rei existentis, quatenus existentis, id est nullo alio ejus rei accidente considerato praeterquam quod apparet extra imaginantem. (DC, II.VII.2, 83)
This ‘representational space’ (spatium imaginarium) consists in a representation of an arbitrary object external to the perceiver and devoid of any aspects that are subject-dependent (secondary qualities like colour etc). But such a representation of a space must itself be caused, namely by extended bodies which exist in ‘space in itself’ (spatium reale) - space insofar as it does not depend on anyone representing it:
Extensio corporis idem est quod magnitudo ejus, sive id quod aliqui vocant spatium reale; magnitudo autem illa non dependet a cogitatione nostra, sicut spatium imaginarium, hoc enim illius effectus est, magnitudo causa; hoc animi, illa corporis extra animum existentis accidens est. (DC, II.VIII.4, 93).
Proposition (4) - ‘spirits fill in the place of an image’ - makes it clear that these spirits are phenomena in imaginary space. We represent them as being in this imaginary space - and this representation is so close to ordinary cases of spatial representation that we are tricked into believing that they are representations of an extended body in real space. So ‘to fill up a place’ (proposition 3) must be read as saying that a spirit is represented as being in a place in imaginary space. But this representation in imaginary space cannot be caused by a real body in the corresponding place in real space, because spirits do not interact with sense organs (proposition 2). The only option left is that spirits are able to interfere with the causal chain leading to ‘phantasms’ (trueful or erroneous sensual representations): And I suggest to interpret the fact that spirits are ‘subtle’ along these lines, as ‘subtle enough to manipulate physiological processes related to perception in our sense organs or our nervous system’.
So spirits in the ‘Elements of Law’ are natural bodies that are imperceptible, but capable of interfering with ordinary perception in such a way that we imagine the presence of an extended body in a certain position in imaginary space, although there is no corresponding extended body in real space causing this perception.
From this Hobbes concludes that judgment concerning the existence of spirits is a matter of faith.
We that are Christians acknowledge that there be angels good and evil, and that there are spirits, and that the soul of man is a spirit, and that those spirits are immortal: […] (Ibid.)
The most conclusive theological evidence can be taken from Scripture. The terms used in the Bible to describe the effects of spirits are all compatible with Hobbes’ view:
But though the Scripture acknowledges spirits, yet doth it nowhere say, that they are incorporeal, meaning, thereby, without dimension and quality; nor, I think, is that word incorporeal at all in the Bible; but it is said of the spirit, that it abideth in men; sometimes that it dwelleth in them, sometimes that it cometh on them, that it descendeth, and goeth, and cometh; and that spirits are angels; that is to say messengers: all which words do imply locality; and locality is dimension; and whatsoever hath dimension, is body be it never so subtile. To me therefore it seemeth, that the Scripture favoureth them more, that hold angels and spirits corporeal, than them that hold the contrary. (I.11.5, 61f)
Moreover, the position of those asserting the incorporeality of spirits is untenable is simply wrong: the notion of incorporeality is self-contradictory and based on misguided assumptions about the physiology of perception (cf. I.11.6, p. 62).
So for the early Hobbes, spirits themselves are corporeal, but imperceptible. We are aware of them, because they interfere with perceptual processes in such a way that we represent them as spatial withouth them being extended in a corresponding place in ‘real space’. Whether or not they exist, is a matter of faith, but evidence from Scripture suggests that belief in corporeal spirits is well-founded. The opposite point of view is self-contradictory.
2. Angels old and new: ‘Leviathan’
Hobbes begins his analysis of angels in the ‘Leviathan’ with a reformulation of his philosophical argument against the conceivability of incorporeal substances. Bodies must be a part of real space and are perceived in imaginary space.
The word body, in the most general acceptation, signifieth that which filleth, or occupieth some certain room, or imagined place; and dependeth not on the imagination, but is a real part of that we call the universe. (III.34.2, 381)
The totality of bodies is the universe, so everything that is in the universe, is a body.
For the universe, being the aggregate of all bodies, there is no real part thereof that is not also body; nor any thing properly a body, that is not also part of that aggregate of all bodies, the universe. (Ibid.)
All bodies are substances that persist through change (i. e. through various modes of perceiving them). Because everything that is real (i. e. a part of the universe) must be a body, and every body is a substance, there cannot be incorporeal substances on pain of self-contradiction:
The same also, because bodies are subject to change, […], is called substance, that is to say, subject to various accidents: […] And according to this acceptation of the word, substance and body signify the same thing; and therefore substance incorporeal are words, which when they are joined together, destroy one another, as if a man should say, an incorporeal body. (Ibid.)
But as we have already seen in the ‘Elements of Law’, Hobbes must explain how such a self-contradictory notion has gained general acceptance. He begins by analysing the common usage of the term ‘body’ which to some extent deviates from its proper philosophical interpretation. Common sense presupposes that bodies resist touch or can be seen. For air, neither of them is true, so ‘aerial substances’ are contrasted with ‘solid bodies’. Such substances are called ‘spirit’.
But in the sense of common people, not all the universe is called body, but only such parts thereof as they can discern by the sense of feeling, to resist their force, or by the sense of their eyes, to hinder them from a farther prospect. Therefore in the common language of men, air, and aerial substances, use not to be taken for bodies, but (as often as men are sensible of their effects) are called wind, or breath, or (because the same are called in the Latin spiritus) spirits; as when they call that aerial substance, which in the body of any living creature gives it life and motion, vital and animal spirits.(III.34.3, 381f)
The second step in this argument again echoes the arguments from the ‘Elements’ and ‘De Corpore’: Occasionally, seeming bodies are represented by us although there is no body in the (‘real’) place corresponding to this representation in ‘imaginary space’. Such ‘idols of the brain’ have natural causes, either the ‘action of the objects’ (previous impressions made on the senses) or the ‘disorderly agitation of the organs of our sense’ (malfunctions in perception).
But for those idols of the brain, which represent bodies to us, where they are not, as in a looking-glass, in a dream, or to a distempered brain waking, they are, as the apostle saith generally of all idols, nothing; nothing at all, I say, there where they seem to be; and in the brain itself, nothing but tumult, proceeding either from the action of the objects, or from the disorderly agitation of the organs of our sense.(III.34.3, 382)
Authority on such questions belongs to specialists investigating causes of phenomena (i. e. philosophers). So Hobbes assumes that there is a division of labour between those who research the origin of spirits and the rest of mankind ‘otherwise employed’. These experts have two options for an answer: They either rely on sight and regard spirits as aerial bodies. Or they put their trust in the sense of touch, because spirits are not impenetrable. Hence, spirits are interpreted either as subtle bodies or as non-substantial ghosts.
And men, that are otherwise employed, than to search into their causes, know not of themselves, what to call them; and may therefore easily be persuaded, by those whose knowledge they much reverence, some to call them bodies, and think them made of air compacted by a power supernatural, because the sight judges them corporeal; and some to call them spirits, because the sense of touch discerneth nothing in the place where they appear, to resist their fingers: so that the proper signification of spirit in common speech, is either a subtle, fluid, and invisible body, or a ghost, or other idol or phantasm of the imagination. (Ibid.)
But this explanation is not true only for spirits in general, but also for angels in particular. The mistaken ‘consensus omnium’ originates in errors of the ‘Gentiles’ (Greek philosophers), because they took ‘idols of the brain’ for real. Such real spirits can either be good (angels) or bad (demons). Jewish thought (maybe, Hobbes is hinting at the Kabbalah as an important source for Christian angelology?) follows this erroneous argumentation, because Scripture does not prevent it. Nevertheless, angels are supernaturally produced ‘idols of the brain’, the result of Divine intervention. They only exist in our ‘fancy’, i. e. as representations in ‘imaginary space’:
And as the Gentiles did vulgarly conceive the imagery of the brain, for things really subsistent without them, and not dependent on the fancy; and out of them framed their opinions of demons, good and evil; which because they seemed to subsist really, they called substances; and, because they could not feel them with their hands, incorporeal: so also the Jews, upon the same ground, without any thing in the Old Testament that constrained them thereunto, had generally an opinion, except the sect of the Sadducees, that those apparitions, which it pleased God sometimes to produce in the fancy of men, for his own service, and therefore called them his angels, were substances, not dependent on the fancy, but permanent creatures of God ; whereof those which they thought were good to them, they esteemed the angels of God, and those they thought would hurt them, they called evil angels, or evil spirits; […] (III.34.16, 389)
And although Scripture is no safeguard against erroneous views of angels, it can be interpreted as being in in agreement with Hobbes’ explanation of angels as ‘idols of the brain’ - at least as far as the Old Testament is concerned:
But if we consider the places of the Old Testament where angels are mentioned, we shall find, that in most of them, there can nothing else be understood by the word angel, but some image raised, supernaturally, in the fancy, to signify the presence of God in the execution of some supernatural work; and therefore in the rest, where their nature is not expressed, it may be understood in the same manner. (III.34.17, 389)
So, in the ‘Leviathan’ Hobbes draws two conclusions that are compatible with his earlier views on angels. The first: The idea of incorporeal substances is incoherent.
To men that understand the signification of these words, substance, and incorporeal; as incorporeal is taken, not for subtle body, but for not body; they imply a contradiction: insomuch as to say, an angel or spirit is in that sense an incorporeal substance, is to say in effect, there is no angel nor spirit at all. (III.34.21, 393)
The second: the Old Testament allows for angels as ‘apparitions’:
Considering therefore the signification of the word angel in the Old Testament, and the nature of dreams and visions that happen to men by the ordinary way of nature; I was inclined to this opinion, that angels were nothing but supernatural apparitions of the fancy, raised by the special and extraordinary operation of God, thereby to make his presence and commandments known to mankind, and chiefly to his own people.(III.34.21, 393f)
The New Testament, however, forces Hobbes to revise his account and to allow for angels that are substances. If they are substances, they must be (not merely have) bodies, because incorporeal entities cannot be present in space. Incorporeal substances cannot exist in real space, because real space is defined as the extension of bodies. They cannot exist in ‘imaginary space’, because representations in imaginary space must be caused by something in real space. This is why a lack of locality implies, for Hobbes, a lack of existence.
But the many places of the New Testament, and our Saviour’s own words, and in such texts, wherein is no suspicion of corruption of the Scripture, have extorted from my feeble reason, an acknowledgment and belief, that there be also angels substantial, and permanent. But to believe they be in no place, that is to say, no where, that is to say, nothing, as they, though indirectly, say, that will have them incorporeal, cannot by Scripture be evinced. (III.34.21, 394)
So in fact Hobbes regards angels either as spectres or as superhuman (rather than supernatural) beings. In order to exist, they must exist in space - either in imaginary space, as fictions of the imagination produced by Divine will, or in real space, as natural beings created by God.
In a few weeks, I’ll give a lecture on early modern angelology, specifically the interdependence of metaphysics, natural philosophy, and (‘philosophical’) angelology in Descartes, Hobbes, and Leibniz. In preparation, I will collect some thoughts on this matter in a series of blog posts, the first one dedicated to Descartes. Since this post is a bit verbose I have put up a [PDF-Version] at Google Docs (S. H.-W.).
Cartesian angelology is mostly being referred to in discussions of the so-called ‘hypostatic union’ of mind and body (e. g. by Geneviève Rodis-Lewis who puts Descartes’ ‘anthropology’ in the context of early modern debates of man between animal and angel). In this post, I will reverse this strategy and talk about the human mind only insofar as facts about it are required in order to understand Descartes’ stance in angelological matters.
This post addresses two questions:
What can we deduce about the angelic mind from what we know about our own mind?
How does the angelic mind so construed fit into the overall picture of Cartesian physics?
For an answer, two main sources are available:
the so-called “Entretien avec Burman”, a record of a conversation between a Descartes and a young Calvinist theologian from the Netherlands which seems to have taken place in 1648,
the correspondence between Descartes and the Cambridge Platonist Henry More from 1648/1649.
Whereas the Descartes of the ‘Entretien’ seems somewhat doubtful that the topic of angels has philosophical relevance, the correspondence with More appears to take their existence for granted and focuses on the question in what sense an angel may be said to be extended.
The concept of an angel: a more perfect res cogitans
I believe that Descartes’ reticence concerning angels in the ‘Entretien’ may be owed to the background of this conversation. Xavier Kieft has traced in some detail the connections between Dutch theologians interested in Cartesianism and Burman himself. From this analysis, he derives the hypothesis that the Entretien is a text “d’origine théologique […] de manière à permettre aux universitaires cartésiens de répondre aux reproches adressés à l’encontre de la philosophie nouvelle par les théologiens conservateurs […]” (Kieft 2009, p. 124 f). If we accept this hypothesis for a moment, it follows that maybe we should approach Descartes’ views in this text with some caution, because Descartes may well have tailored his responses to the requirements of an audience interested primarily in theological controversies.
Nevertheless, Descartes concedes in the ‘Entretien’ that both man and angel are res cogitantes, though with different degrees of perfection:
Ambo quidem sunt res cogitantes; sed hoc tamen non impedit quo minus angelus multo plures habeat perfectiones quam mens nostra, vel in majori gradu, etc. (AT V 157)
Besides that, there is not much to know. We have no innate idea of angels, and hence no knowledge of the angelic mind. So there cannot be any certain knowledge about how angels may unite with a body or the stuff an angelic body may be made of:
Angelorum enim cognitio nos fere latet, cum, ut dixi, eam ex mente non hauriamus; et sic etiam ignoramus ea omnia quae de iis quaeri solent, an scilicet uniri possint, cum corpore, qualia illa fuerint corpora quae in Vetere Testamento sibi saepe adaptabant et similia. (Ibid.)
Hence philosophers should believe what Scripture has revealed to us and (presumably) leave these matters to the theologians:
Praestat nos ea credere, prout in Scriptura habentur, scilicet eos juvenes fuisse, ut tales apparuisse et similia. (Ibid.)
The existence of angels: minds without imagination
Descartes had been ‘burned’ by angelological questions once before during the so-called Querelle d’Utrecht (more background can be found in Desmond Clarke’s article on Regius in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). In a letter to to Regius from January 1642, i.e. approx. six years before the conversation with Burman (I quote the edition by Bos, letter no. 31 [PDF], p. 98, cf. AT III 491 ff), Descartes tries to persuade his follower to abandon the notion that the union between mind and body is merely accidental, i. e. a contingent result of a mind residing in a certain region of space. Descartes wants Regius to state instead that a human person is a self-sufficient being, an ens per se, a ‘substantial union’ of mind and body.
Atque omnino ubicumque occurret occasio, tam privatim quam publice, debes profiteri te credere hominem esse verum ens per se, non autem per accidens, et mentem corpori realiter et substantialiter esse unitam, non per situm aut dispositionem, […] sed per verum modum unionis, […] (Ibid.)
In this context, Descartes compares the human mind to the mind of an angel. Even though we may not understand ‘hypostatic union’ properly, we have a clear indication why it really is the best position concerning the interaction of mind and body - a human being has mental states which are inextricably bound to physical processes or states of its body:
[…] potes, ut ego in Metaphysicis, [sc. modum unionis explicare] per hoc, quod percipiamus sensus doloris, aliosque omnes, non esse puras cogitationes mentis a corpore distinctae, sed confusas illius realiter unitae perceptiones: […] (ibid.)
If an angel would ‘occupy’ a human body, it would not have such perceptions, because it could merely observe the motion of particles in this body it resides in:
[…] si enim Angelus corpori humano inesset, non sentiret ut nos, sed tantum perciperet motus qui causarentur ab obiectis externis, et per hoc a vero homine distingueretur. (ibid.)
A similar point is taken up by Burman, refering to the Sixth Meditation. There, Descartes states that imagination is no essential part of my mind, because I could remain who I am even if I should lose the faculty of imagination:
Ad haec considero istam vim imaginandi quae in me est, prout differt a vi intelligendi, ad mei ipsius, hoc est ad mentis meae essentiam non requiri; nam quamvis illa a me abesset, procul dubio manerem nihilominus ille idem qui nunc sum; unde sequi videtur illam ab aliqua re a me diversa pendere. (VI.3, AT VII 73)
Burman notes (and Descartes seems not to have contradicted) that a mind that has no imagination is similar to an angelic mind, because angels lack imagination, too:
Tunc essem sicut angeli, qui non imaginantur. (AT V 162)
We can think what an angelic mind is like because we can abstract in thinking from the sensual faculties clouding our cognitively relevant functions.
Moreover, in his Reply to the Second Objections, Descartes concedes that we can form the idea of an angel by ‘putting together’ (componere) the idea of God and the idea of Man both of which are directly known to us:
Quod additis de idea Angeli, qua sumus imperfectiores, nempe non opus esse ut ipsa ab Angelo in nobis effecta sit, facile concedo, quia ipse in tertia Meditatione jam dixi illam ex ideis quas habemus Dei et hominis componi posse. (AT VII 138)
By abstracting from our imagination and by ‘synthetising’ the idea of an angel from the ideas of God and Man, we can form an idea of an angel not by extending the reach of our cognitive abilities, but by abstracting some of them away, because we know that they are not required in higher-order incorporeal substances.
Angels: objects of pure thought, acting in space
The Meditations remain silent on how precisely we are able to form the idea of an angel. Some indications of Descartes’ position in this respect can be found in his correspondence with Henry More (more on More in John Henry’s quite detailed SEP article).
Both ideas being synthesised in the idea of an angel must be grasped intellectually. The imagination has no role to play in this process:
Atqui de Deo ac etiam de mente nostra nihil tale dicere licet; neque enim est imaginabilis, sed intelligibilis duntaxat, […] (Descartes to More, DXXXVII, February 5th 1649, AT V 270)
But if God and Man can only be grasped in thought, the same must be true for an angel (i. e. the idea of a being that never has any need for perceptual input in order to have cognitive states). We have already seen that I can think about my own mind in precisely this fashion. If I were transformed into an angel, the continuity of my self as a res cogitans would not be put in jeopardy by that transformation. This shows that angels are conceivable, hence they are possible (in exactly the same way as mathematical objects are possible, because they are conceivable in pure thought). Since there is no justification for an almighty God to deceive me about the existence of angels (in fact, Scriptural evidence speaks clearly in favor of it), it can be argued without any reference to theology that angels exist.
This is insofar no particular suprise, as it merely shows that contrary to the impression conveyed to Burman, Descartes has no argument for his purported agnosticism about angels. (And Burman seems to have been aware of that when he pointed out that if we can think about a mind that doesn’t need imagination this mind is an angelic mind.)
The main point of controversy between Descartes and More is the relation of angelic minds to space. For More, both God and Angel are extended, because all self-subsistent beings must be enclosed in limits which in turn are determined by their respective essence:
Res enim extensa Deus videtur esse, atque Angelus; imo vero res quaelibet per se subsistens, ita ut eisdem finibus claudi videatur extensio, atque essentia rerum absoluta, quae tamen variari potest, pro essentiarum ipsarum varietate.(More to Descartes, DXXXI, December 11th 1648, AT V 238)
Descartes respectfully disagrees. More abuses the concept of extension. In fact, extension is an attribute only of bodies that we cognise in imagination. Extended things have parts that have a determinate magnitude. We can imagine that bodies change place. But we can’t imagine that two bodies are in the same place:
Ego vero non vero soleo quidem de nominibus disputare, atque ideo, si ex eo quod Deus sit ubique, dicat aliquis eum esse quodammodo extensum, per me licet. Atqui nego veram extensionem, qualis ab omonibus vulgo concipitur, vel in Deo, vel in Angelis, vel in mente nostra, vel denique in ulla substantia quae non sit corpus, reperiri. Quippe per ens extensum communiter omnes intelligunt aliquid imaginabile (sive sit ens rationis, sive reale, hoc enim iam in medium relinquo), atque in hoc ente varias partes determinatae magnitudinis et figurae, quarum una nullo modo alia sit, possunt imaginatione distinguere, unasque in locum aliarum possunt etiam imaginatione transferre, sed non duas simul in uno et eodem loco imaginari. (Descartes to More, DXXXVII, February 5th 1649, AT V 269 f)
None of this is true of God or an angel or our own mind: They aren’t represented imaginatively, because, as we have seen, they are objects of thought. They have no parts and no magnitude. We can easily understand that our mind, God, and several angels are in the same place at the same time. Hence, in a strict sense, none of them can be extended. But incorporeal substances are able to ‘pervade’ space, if they choose to ‘apply’ themselves to it. This somewhat enigmatical remark is explained by a fairly misguided simile: We should think of a body that has some immaterial substance ‘applied’ to it like a fiery piece of iron that is not changed in its material nature by being heated.
Atqui de Deo ac etiam de mente nostra nihil tale dicere licet; neque enim est imaginabilis, sed intelligibilis duntaxat, nec etiam in partes distinguibilis, praesertim in partes quae habeant determinatas magnitudines et figuras. Denique facile intelligimus, et mentem humanam, et Deum, et simul plures Angelos, in uno et eodem loco esse posse. Unde manifeste concluditur, nullas substantias incorporeas proprie esse extensas. Sed intelligo tanquam virtutes aut vires quasdam, quae, quamvis se applicent rebus extensis, non idcirco sunt extensae; ut quamvis in ferro candenti sit ignis, non ideo ignis ille est ferrum. (Descartes to More, DXXXVII, February 5th 1649, AT V 270)
This simile is imprecise, because on Descartes’ own terms, we probably ought to think of this piece of iron as a mixture of proper iron corpuscles and lighter fire corpuscles. But no iron corpuscle would in this situation share its location in space with a fire corpuscle.
Descartes elucidates the point he wants to make in his second reply to More: The presence of an angel in space is defined by the magnitude of the body it wants to apply its potency to. This must be true, because it is conceivable that bodies do not exist. If More was right that God and angel as substances are extended, this would lead to the unwelcome consequence that neither God nor an angel could exist in a world without bodies.
Quantum autem ad me, nullam intelligo nec in Deo nec in Angelis vel mente nostra extensionem substantiae, sed potentiae duntaxat; ita scilicet ut possit Angelus potentiam suam exerere nunc in maiorem, nunc in minorem substantiae corporeae partem; nam, si nullum esset corpus, nullum etiam spatium intelligerem, cui Angelus vel Deus esset coextensus. (Descartes to More, DLIV, April 15th 1649, AT V 342.)
So for Descartes, an angel can act in a place, even though it is not present in this place as a substance. This view of the effectiveness of angels in space follows a long-standing tradition in Thomism to define the presence of an angel in a place as ‘circumscriptive’ or ‘virtual’ presence, the presence of a potency rather than the presence of a substance (something I may return to in the last post of this series comparing philosophical and theological perspectives on angelology): So even though angels can have effects in the material world, these effects do not depend on angels being present in material objects as a substance.
But how can a potency be active in a region of space, even though the substance it seems to belong to is itself incorporeal? Descartes gives an interesting answer: The potency that allows an angel to be active in a region of space is no potency of the angel. It belongs to the region of space, i. e., the body to be acted upon. If an angel chooses to apply its potency to a stone in order to turn it to the right, the potency must, strictly speaking, be described as ‘the potency of a stone to be turned to the right by angelic will’ rather than ‘the potency of an angel to turn a stone to the right’. This potency can only be thought to be extended as long as it is a potency of a particular region of space/a particular body. As soon as we think of it as the potency of an angelic substance to move a body, it is not extended.
Ad sequentia iam respondi, notando extensionem quae rebus incorporeis tribuitur, esse potentiae duntaxat, non substantiae; quae potentia, cum sit tantum modus in re ad quam applicatur, sublato extenso cui coexistat, non potest intelligi esse extensa.(Descartes to More, DLIV, April 15th 1649, AT V 343)
This must be so, because no aspect of angelic existence must depend on any kind of interaction with space.
If the specific difference between Man and angel consists only in having or not having confused mental states, this has interesting consequences for Descartes’ theory of ‘hypostatical union’: Bodily movements of a human person are possible, because the human body has the ‘potency of being moved by acts of the will’ rather than because our mind has the ‘potency of moving bodies by acts of the will’. If this is true, we may see where Regius went wrong: The human soul cannot apply itself to any region of space indiscriminately, it has to reside in a region of space that is fit to be moved by its acts of will.
Descartes did have a fairly detailed conception of angels: They are res cogitantes which are more perfect than human minds, presumably because they have no confused mental states. If they reside in a human body, they merely observe the physical processes going on in that body, but these processes have no direct effect on their own mental status. This is not true for humans, which are inextricably tied to their bodies.
Moreover, his professed agnosticism about philosophical arguments for their existence is unfounded: We can know about angelic minds, because we can think of a mind that has no imagination. We can even think ourselves to be such a mind. So angels are objects of pure thought, and there is no reason why we should be deceived about their existence. Hence, angels exist.
Angels apply themselves to regions of space (we may guess that this can happen indiscriminately, whereas human minds are bound to a body capable of accomodating them). The only extended ‘thing’ present in space is the potency of a region of space, i. e. the potency of a body to be moved by angelic will.
These views about angels have implications for our view of the human body, the human mind and their ‘special relationship’: The human body provides input for confused mental states, and it is fit to obey acts of the will. Hence, not every region of space will serve indiscriminately as a place for potencies of the human will. The human mind can think that it persists, if and when it does not rely anymore on bodily functions and the mental states resulting from these functions. Traditionally, this has been described as the status of ‘separate souls’ (animae separatae). So we may conclude that to think in detail about one sort of created incorporeal and immortal substances (angels) may very well allow for insights into the intelligible properties of a different sort of created incorporeal and immortal substances (human minds) without assimilating one to the other.
Inhoud: De beelddatabank van de Universiteitsbibliotheek VU bevat beelden en beschrijvingen van verschillende collecties uit het bezit van de UB (Bijzondere Collecties) en het Historisch Documentatiecentrum voor het Nederlands Protestantisme (HDC).
De beeldbank is gestart met de Van der Meer-Cools collectie: kleitabletten en overige voorwerpen. November 2009 is een tweede collectie toegevoegd: ca. 1500 portretten, in december 2010 gevolgd door ruim 1100 historische kaarten, kaartseries en globes.
Door middel van een bestelformulier is het mogelijk de gedigitaliseerde bestanden op hoge kwaliteit te bestellen.
Toekomst: In 2011 zullen diverse andere collecties aan de beeldbank worden toegevoegd. Om er enkele te noemen: middeleeuwse en moderne handschriften, de gehele brievencollectie en de verzameling handschriftfragmenten. Op dit moment worden deze collecties gedigitaliseerd en, waar nodig, beschreven. Er wordt dus hard aan gewerkt!
Credo sia evidente il contributo che la ricerca di Geretto può dare, attraverso lo studio di questo aspetto curioso, ma significativo, dell’opera di Leibniz, l’angelologia, a una comprensione più completa e adeguata della metafisica leibniziana.
The RIT Philosophy Department invites papers that address any topic on or related to Epictetus and Stoicism, including, but not limited to: happiness, tranquility, detachment, reason, fate, volition, agency, what is (and is not) under our control, our moral purpose, virtue, cosmic order, divine providence, death, the Stoic sage, Epictetus as teacher, influence of earlier thinkers on Epictetus, Epictetus’s influence on later thinkers (including writers of our own time), the “practical” philosophy of Stoicism, and comparisons and contrasts with other traditions (such as Buddhism, Epicureanism, Christianity).
Submission Deadline: January 15, 2012. Papers should be 4,500–5,500 words in length (35–40 minutes reading time), and prepared for anonymous review. Please submit full papers as email attachments to (and direct inquires to): David.Suits@rit.edu.
Comment on essays from October 6th to November 14th, 2011.
Has the digital revolution transformed how we write about the past — or not? Have new technologies changed our essential work-craft as scholars, and the ways in which we think, teach, author, and publish? Does the digital age have broader implications for individual writing processes, or for the historical profession at large? Explore these questions in Writing History in the Digital Age, a born-digital edited volume, under contract with the University of Michigan Press for the Digital Humanities Series of its digitalculturebooks imprint.