Of God and His Creatures

The doctrine refuted in this chapter is known in more recent philosophy as Occasionalism. "Occasionalism . . . . teaches that created things are the mere occasions on which the Divinity takes the opportunity to act conformably to the requirements of the objects present; this theory is especially characteristic of the school of Descartes, and is in intimate connexion with the reduction of matter by that philosopher to extension, with inertia for its chief property. Matter, according to him, can itself do nothing: It is a mere receptivity and channel of communication or transference for the motion imparted by the Creator; it can hand about movement from particle to particle, but it cannot originate or destroy any; and thus it is opposed to mind, the very essence of which is thought or activity. Matter is inert extension, thought is ever operative inextension, etc." See General Metaphysics, Stonyhurst Series, pp. 308-313.

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