Garber on Descartes

Good Essays
Alex Burke
2/13/13
Modern Phil.
MW 2pm
Garber on Descartes: Rejection and Retention In Daniel Garber’s article, “Descartes against his teachers: The Refutation of Hylomorphism”, the metaphysics of the early scholastics is presented to show the similarities and differences between what Descartes was taught through scholasticism and what he came to refute. Through analysis of the article I will present what Descartes considered to be the central ideas of scholastic metaphysics, as well as show what he chose reject from that doctrine, why he chose to reject it, and what he chose to retain, in the development of Cartesian metaphysics. The central ideas of the scholastic metaphysics stemmed from Aristotle’s Hylomorphic doctrine, a dualistic body of principles. It was believed that all things were made up of Primary Matter and Substantial Form, together resulting in a complete substance. Primary matter was thought of as a necessary component of all things, something that everything held, but not without the accompaniment of a secondary constituent, Substantial Form. When added to Primary matter, Substantial form gave each object its characteristics, essence, and intrinsic behavior. Each object in the world was thought to have it’s own substantial form, and with that it’s own intention. Descartes also describes what he calls “real quality”, that which is a necessity “by virtue of having Substantial form” (96). This concept of “real qualities” is considered to be “mentalistic” in nature; take heaviness for example, scholastics believed it had “the intention to bear the body toward a particular place” (99), rather then just being “matter in motion” as Descartes believed it to be. Thus, the “real qualities” of substantial forms “explain the characteristic behavior of bodies of various sorts” (99). Descartes rejections of the scholastic doctrine have been taken from his written passages, split up into what could be considered three separate



Bibliography: Garber, Daniel. "Descartes Against His Teachers: The Refutation of Hylomorphism."Descartes ' Metaphysical Physics. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1992. 94-111. Print.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Better Essays

    From the beginning of the third meditation, Descartes seeks to establish the existence of God using his initial concept of self awareness. Descartes argued that because he thought, then he lived. Thinking ability at this time was linked to being alive and thought that there must be a god who puts the thoughts in his mind. In his quest for indubitable truth, Descartes came up with the theory of ideas, which classified those things that he considered distinct and clear to be true. Descartes argued that the idea of god should be coming from within him since he cannot experience god himself directly or find any perfection in himself.…

    • 1107 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    [ 7 ]. A VIEW OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF DESCARTES, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Vol. 18, No. E. H. (Penn State University PressStable 3 July, 1884),p.g 230…

    • 1278 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Kennington, R. 1971. The Finitude of Descartes’ Evil Genius. Journal of the History of Ideas. Vol. 32, No. 3: pp. 442.…

    • 1981 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Stuart, M., (1999). Descartes Extended Substance. New Essay on the Rationalists. Oxford: Oxford University Press.…

    • 1927 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Descartes’ method offers definitive conclusions on certain topics, (his existence, the existence of God)but his reasoning is not without error. He uses three arguments to prove existence (His and God’s) that attempt to solidify his conclusions. For his method to function seamlessly, Descartes needs to be consistent in his use of the method, that is, he must continue to doubt and challenge thoughts that originate in his own mind. He is unable to achieve this ideal state of mind, however, and his proofs are shown to be faulty.…

    • 1672 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    Descartes vs Locke

    • 1175 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Newman, L. Descartes ' epistemology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics ……Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University, 20 July 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. ……<http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/descartes-epistemology/>.…

    • 1175 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Rationalism Exam

    • 472 Words
    • 2 Pages

    7. What is Descartes’ most famous conclusion, and why does it make him a rationalist?…

    • 472 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Kant vs Aristotle

    • 1314 Words
    • 6 Pages

    During the 17th and 18th century two philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, arose carving for themselves a trench in the philosophical world. We can see the biggest distinction between the two in their theories of how we know things exist. The traditions of Plato and Aristotle have been dubbed rationalism and empiricism respectively. Under these traditions many well known philosophers have formed their own theories of God, existence and the material world. Through these individual theories I will show how each fits into the category of either Rationalist or Imperialist. The Plutonian philosophers to be discussed will include Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. And the Aristotelian philosophers will include Locke, Berkeley and Hume.…

    • 1314 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Better Essays

    The question of what is real and what makes us real has been a philosophical question with many different answers. Aristotle’s theory of Hylomorphism explains the reality of the universe, objects, and people in a materialistic way. Hylomorphism is the depiction that every physical thing is composed of two things: Matter and Form. Matter is the potency, or the potential of the physical object or being and the Form is its essence.…

    • 1466 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Descartes theories concern the conservation of motion. He affirms that all motion is caused by God’s hand and that God preserves it all. He writes in his Le Monde, “God alone is the author of all the movements in the universe.” From that statement, it is evident that Descartes strongly implements theological considerations in his theory. His ideas are grounded in the idea that God acts truly and wholly with no attempt of deception. Thus, what occurs happens for the reason that he is causing it. Descartes refers to this conception as the immutability of God. He notes “God imparted various motions to the parts of matter when he first created them, and now he preserves this matter in the same way… and follows that God likewise conserves the same quantity of motion in matter.” Descartes’ laws of nature are based on nothing but God’s perfection. “He appealed to God’s immutability to justify his law of the conservation of motion and his version of the principle of inertia, the foundations of his physics.” It is clear that Descartes applied much theological thought in his practices and theory.…

    • 971 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Aristotle vs Plato

    • 905 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Two of the greatest and earliest thinkers of our time are Plato, and his most famous pupil, Aristotle. Soon after Plato’s teachings, Aristotle criticized his claims and independently became a thinker on his own. These philosophers viewed metaphysics differently, and they approached the idea of reality in two opposing ways. Plato’s Theory of Forms was a concept that was defined in a different way by Aristotle. They both believed in “forms” but approached this idea differently.…

    • 905 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Descartes vs Locke

    • 1265 Words
    • 6 Pages

    René Descartes and John Locke, both seventeenth century philosophers, are often seen as two of the first early modern philosophers. Both Descartes and Locke attempt to find answers to the same questions in metaphysics and epistemology; among these: What is knowledge? Is there certainty in knowledge? What roles do the mind and body play in the acquisition of knowledge? Descartes and Locke do not provide the same answers to these questions. In this paper the similarities and differences between the philosophies of Descartes and Locke will be addressed.…

    • 1265 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    In philosophy, a term known as metaphysics, referred to the writings of Aristotle nearly three centuries after his death. Metaphysics is the area of philosophy that attempts to understand the basic nature of all reality, whether it is seen or indistinguishable we try to relate to our existence. It seeks a description so basic that it applies to everything, whether divine or human. In short, metaphysics attempts to enlighten what anything must be like in order to be at all. To call one a metaphysician in this traditional, philosophical sense indicates nothing more than his or her interest in attempting to discover what underlies everything. Old materialists, who said that there is nothing but matter in motion, and current naturalists, who say that everything is made of lifeless, non-experiencing energy, are just as much to be classified as metaphysicians as are idealists, who maintain that there is nothing but ideas, or mind, or spirit (Metaphysics, par 2). The major schools of thought in relation with metaphysics are realism, idealism, materialism, determinism, and libertarianism.…

    • 1050 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Descartes and Skepticism

    • 888 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Question: In Meditation III, Descartes argues that his idea of God could not have come from him, and so God must exist. How does this argument go?…

    • 888 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Best Essays

    In his Meditations Rene Descartes aimed to reconstruct the whole of science by trying to prove the distinction between mind and matter. He gives an argument from doubt, and another from conceivability. I will give a brief summary of the foundations Descartes builds his thesis on, and then looking at his arguments and whether they are capable of persuading us that dualism is a logical stance to hold.…

    • 2259 Words
    • 10 Pages
    Best Essays

Related Topics