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The Official Occasionalism Thread

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  • The Official Occasionalism Thread

    The unwritten command in all discussions of Theism: thou shalt not even consider Occasionalism -- except as a brain-in-a-vat-like example of what to avoid at all costs. It's like some Faces of Meth poster: this, this could happen to you if you're not careful demarcating Primary causation from the secondary tiers. I've been perusing the following in the hope of shocking myself into greater clarity on the subject. No Eurekas yet. Links, observations, and confessions welcome.

    What Is Wrong with Concurrentism?

    Continuous Creation and the Scarecrow of Occasionalism

    Divine Action and G-d's Immutability

    Malebranche's Arguments for Occasionalism

    Prolegomena to an Occasionalist Metaphysics

    G-d, and His Imaginary Friends: The Izbicer Rebbe and Freewill

    Concurrentism and Consequent Necessity

    Concurrentism: A Philosophical Explanation

    This argument is attempting to prove both the existence of a Creator and also Occasionalism, all in one go.
    I wonder if I can get any of my esteemed readers to swallow the following suggestion. Ten years or so ago it came into my head that Hume's analysis of causation in terms of (i) temporal precedence, (ii) spatiotemporal contiguity,...
    Last edited by Bamidbar 22; 01-19-2019, 06:11 PM.

  • #2
    My own thought is that if humans have always been wrong about the causal relations they've taken to obtain among creatures, then it is an illusion that they even possess the concept of causation, and there is nothing for them to apply or extend to the divine case in formulating occasionalism.

    I also think that some of the epistemological burdens are greater than those mentioned in the first paper to which you linked. It's not just there there might be a mountain in front of me but I don't see it because God isn't causing me to see it; it is that perception is itself a causal notion, and I don't see the mountain even if God is causing in me an image of a mountain when it is front of me. Whatever corresponds in me to seeing the mountain in front of me has to have some causal relation to the mountain in front of me, or else it's just something else.

    It is not even as though it would be enough for God to patch things up by putting in my mind an intentional representation of the mountain in front of me. For it is not only necessary for the thing perceived to bear some causal relation to my perceiving it, but it cannot merely be related by a deviant causal chain. Say a windmill is visible from my window. A friend of mine takes a picture of the windmill and places it outside my window. If I do not notice that it is a picture and, looking at it, form some belief about the windmill, I am not gaining any perceptual knowledge about the external world. It is true that the picture accurately represents the windmill because my friend intended it to, and that there is consequently a chain of causes leading from the windmill to my belief's about it. But my belief about the windmill is not knowledge, for I don't see the windmill, but I've formed the belief because I think I do. So occasionalism undermines perception. It perhaps does not lead us to doubt that the external world exists (if it implies the existence of the external world in some other way), but it undermines our ordinary knowledge about the external world.


    • #3
      Feser on Occasionalism:

      Metaphysical middle man

      Causality, pantheism, and deism

      Are you for real?

      Supervenience on the hands of an angry God