What is occasionalism, causation?June 27, 2021
Occasionalism or causation is a system of philosophy that argues that God is the only real cause of all events, and that all other things that appear to man as ’causes’ are aranes that reflect God’s will and actions. For example, occasionalism explains that physical events in the body are an occasion for God to activate the mind and vice versa.
Distinction between “True Cause” and “Instrumental Cause”
It is possible to briefly explain the doctrine of occasionalism (eng. occasionalism, Fr. occasionalisme), which is generally associated with Malebranche, as follows: As opposed to the idea that an effect is attributed to an earlier cause by means of knowledge and observations obtained through experience, the first of any two physical phenomena is necessary (true) the doctrine that there can be no cause, that appearance is nothing more than conjecture, but an intermediate cause.
In this teaching, the “necessary cause” is none other than God, who created everything out of nothing and is omnipotent (Mautner 2005: 437). When we look at its short history, it is seen that Descartes’ idea of repairing the doctrine of double substance lies at the base of the teaching, and his first arguments are taken from him (Clarke 2000: 143).
Dutch philosopher Arnold Geulincx(1624-1669), French Gerauld de Cordemoy and Malebranche, who are known as very strong Cartesians, are prominent names with occasionalism. Some of the names of French philosophy, such as Antoine Arnauld (1612–1694), Clauberg and la Forge, are also mentioned as contributors to this teaching.
Malebranche’s occasionalism should not be separated from the doctrine of knowledge. Because the issue of causality in a way constitutes an important part of the knowledge problem. On the one hand, a necessary, ontological connection is established between cause and effect, and on the other, there are discussions about whether there is a necessary connection between both phenomena and whether it can be known or not. One of the pioneers of those who represent the second view is undoubtedly Malebranche. It can be said that this issue is the most original point of Malebranche philosophy.
Occasionalism is often associated with Malebranche.
‘Why’ Means Creative Power!
Malebranche put the phrase “The most dangerous mistake in the philosophy of the ancients” in the title of his explanation of causality. He is of the opinion that the fact that any physical object is seen as a reason for bringing out another object means that this object has the characteristics of god. In his opinion, it is futile to look for any other “power” or an active cause in bodies other than their matter, even by any name, and it is a superficial assertion put forward by ordinary philosophers (1997/VI: 91).
Malebranche understands the term cause as an “absolute creator”, a force that creates out of nothing. This is true in the philosophical sense. He, too, undoubtedly observes that what happens in the physical world takes place in a cause-effect relationship. For the “apparent” link between cause and effect, Malebranche uses the phrase “natural cause”. According to Malebranche, the first, i.e., “true divinity” with absolute creative power, and the second, intermediate cause or mediator.
If Malebranche’s distinction between appearance and “truth” is carefully followed, it is understood that he also made a rating in terms of “power”. This interpretation can be considered as a “subordinate deity” power for those who believe in Malebranche and the God of Christianity. However, Malebranche is of the opinion that the widely known cause-effect thought is regarded as “true deity” by philosophers whom he describes as ordinary and Pagan, and by those who follow them. According to the philosopher, here is the real problem. The real concern of Malebranche, who argues that some apparently Christian people will become idolaters unknowingly, out of respect for the philosophies of philosophers who accept a divine power in all material things, is revealed here.
comes out (ibid.).
Malebranche makes his philosophical reasonings entirely in the shadow of the Christian belief, bringing every phenomenon, whether scientific or metaphysical, at the end and interpreting it in terms of this belief. It is worth emphasizing once again that Malebranche’s objection is not to distinguish between the cause of the event occurring in the physical world and the “absolute power” that he attributes to God. There is a great difference between what the thinker calls an “intermediate cause” and what he calls a “necessary cause”. The first is apparent and deceptive, the second is a permanent, “eternal and perpetual” power in “ideas”. Although the first is seen in objects, the second is seen in God, it is “believed” and has a basis in the mind. Since bodily objects, which are thought to be power in themselves, do not have the property of being “adored”, the thing that is accepted as a “forced cause” and that can affect people must be superior to people, says Malebranche (1997/I: 92).
Malebranche, repeating a view parallel to the general belief of monotheistic religions, shows God as “the cause of good and evil”. “For natural causes are by no means the true causes of the evil they seem to do to us. ”(199