Arnold Geulincx

Arnold Geulincx

Dutch philosopher
Date of Birth: 31.01.1624
Country: Netherlands

  1. Arnold Geulincx: A Dutch Philosopher
  2. Transition to Reformed Philosophy
  3. Metaphysics as the First Science
  4. Geulincx's Occasionalism
  5. God, the Mind, and Individuality
  6. Perception and the External World
  7. Time, Sensation, and Human Mind
  8. Geulincx's Ethics

Arnold Geulincx: A Dutch Philosopher

Arnold Geulincx was a Dutch philosopher known for his contributions to metaphysics and ethics. He received his education at Leuven University, where he later held a professorship in philosophy. However, he was dismissed from the university senate, which led him to move to Leiden.

Transition to Reformed Philosophy

During his time in Leiden, Geulincx became influenced by Jansenist ideas and underwent a transition towards reformed philosophy. Like other thinkers influenced by Cartesianism, Geulincx sought to bridge the gap between material and spiritual substances that resulted from Descartes' dualism.

Metaphysics as the First Science

Geulincx believed that metaphysics was the foundation of all other sciences, as it provided the starting point for their continuous chain of interconnected principles. He divided metaphysics into three parts, each encompassing a series of principles or "sciences." Ethics, which Geulincx attached great importance to, was seen as an "excursus" of metaphysics.

Geulincx's Occasionalism

Geulincx developed his philosophical system based on the principles of doubt and the cogito ergo sum. From these, he arrived at the axiom upon which his occasionalism was founded: "Impossibile est, ut is faciat qui nescit quomodo fiat. Quod nescis quomodo fiat, id non facis." If I cannot provide a clear account of how a certain activity occurs within me, then I am not the cause of that activity. Instead, the cause should be sought in a rational will external to oneself, namely in God.

God, the Mind, and Individuality

Geulincx posited that our essence as thinking beings is singular, simple, and indivisible. Therefore, God cannot produce the diversity of perceptions within us directly but rather through intermediary bodies. God's activity is governed by laws freely established by His will alone. Geulincx distinguished himself from Spinoza and Malebranche by emphasizing the existence of matter, which cannot merge with God due to its lack of consciousness or "brutality."

Perception and the External World

Geulincx argued that our inner world does not provide us with any knowledge about the external world, which he considered more beautiful. The idea of the external world is not dependent on sensory perception but can be constructed through innate concepts accessible to reason. Through abstraction and limitation, Geulincx reached the concept of simple bodies as infinite extension, leading to the notion of three dimensions and the divisibility of individual bodies. Motion, a consequence of the mutual approximation and separation of body parts, is imparted to bodies by God.

Time, Sensation, and Human Mind

Geulincx derived the idea of time from the concept of motion, which only applies to the external world and not to God. Human beings exist in time due to their bodies' involvement in motion. The variety of sensations in the mind can only be caused by the diversity of matter. Geulincx stated, "God could not have made man without creating the world."

Geulincx's Ethics

Geulincx's ethical philosophy revolved around the idea that things in the external world do not possess qualities such as whiteness, blackness, warmth, coldness, goodness, or badness. These are subjective perceptions, and therefore, human power resides solely within oneself. Geulincx's ethics focused on the love for true reason as the virtuous act. He distinguished between passive love, characterized by admiration, and active love, driven by a firm decision to act in a certain way. When this decision aligns with the dictates of reason, active love becomes virtuous. Virtue, in its essence, is singular and simple but can be viewed from various perspectives, consisting of multiple virtues.