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Part Two, Section Twelve: How space differs from body in our mode of conceiving it

29 September, 2015 - 14:49

There is, however, some difference between them in the mode of conception; for if we remove a stone from the space or place in which it was, we conceive that its extension also is taken away, because we regard this as particular, and inseparable from the stone itself; but meanwhile we suppose that the same extension of place in which this stone was remains, although the place of the stone be occupied by wood, water, air, or by any other body, or be even supposed vacant, because we now consider extension in general, and think that the same is common to stones, wood, water, air, and other bodies, and even to a vacuum itself, if there is any such thing, provided it be of the same magnitude and figure as before, and preserve the same situation among the external bodies which determine this space.

In the following two sections, Descartes is confronting the problem of transference: how can one body produce motion in another?(See Aquinas’s treatment of this in his Chapter Sixty-nine: Of the Opinion of those who withdraw from Natural Things their Proper Actions, Section Seven.) Is the answer Descartes gives here compatible with occasionalism?How might he react to Aquinas’s answer?