Scott Ferguson: “Descartes, Boyle, and (Early) Kant on Physico-Theology and the Existence of God”

Scott Ferguson

PhD Candidate, Philosophy of Religions

Descartes, Boyle, and (Early) Kant on Physico-Theology and the Existence of God

Wednesday, October 4, 4:30pm, Swift 208

Physico-theology – the attempt to infer God’s existence and concept from nature – has an equivocal position in both Kant and Descartes. Kant consistently praises the beauty of the physico-theological (nee “cosmological”) proof for God’s existence, except that he never grants it any independent validity. Descartes explicitly rejects final causality, seemingly ruling out any theistic proof from nature’s purposiveness, except that Robert Boyle can fairly convincingly show room for just such a proof within Descartes’ thinking. Beyond just laying out the texts, I want to suggest that the reason for these obscurities may be that the basic concepts of physico-theology have just never been clarified – that this sense of “nature,” as an ontological field(a way for entities to be), has never been adequately characterized, nor explored in terms of its link (which I will try to show) to sensation and the union of mind and body.

Refreshments will be served

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Monima Chadha on Selflessness and Experience in the Abhidharma

Monima Chadha (Monash University)

“Selfless Minds: An Abhidharma Buddhist Analysis of Experience”

Wednesday, Oct 7th, 4:30 pm

Swift Hall, 106


The Abhidharma view of mind and consciousness emerges as a consequence of the Buddhist doctrines of no-self and impermanence. These two doctrines taken together are not only fundamentally at odds with contemporary science and most Western philosophy but also with our ordinary everyday experiences. This revisionary Buddhist-Abhidharma metaphysics is profoundly counterintuitive. And the Buddhists are acutely aware of this fact. This underlies the Buddhist-Abhidharma drive to develop an accurate descriptive metaphysics of mind. In my paper I provide a rational reconstruction of a Buddhist-Abhidharma account of mind and conscious experience in the absence of mind or any persisting entities. And then I explore whether the sparse Abhidharma ontology can account for the phenomenological and cognitive features of our experience.