Research

Cudworth and More on Immaterial Extension: A New Text with Analysis

Author
  • Matthew A. Leisinger orcid logo (York University)

Abstract

Henry More famously argues that all substances are extended, body and spirit alike. In The True Intellectual System of the Universe, More’s friend and fellow Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth notes More’s position but refrains from criticizing it. By contrast, in a passage from one of Cudworth’s unpublished manuscripts that has escaped scholarly attention and that is included here as an appendix, Cudworth addresses More directly, raising objections against More’s view and responding to two of More’s arguments. My aim in this paper is to provide a detailed analysis of Cudworth’s response to More in this passage.

Keywords: Ralph Cudworth, Henry More, Cambridge Platonism, space, holenmerism, force

How to Cite:

Leisinger, M., (2023) “Cudworth and More on Immaterial Extension: A New Text with Analysis”, Journal of Modern Philosophy 5: 5. doi: https://doi.org/10.25894/jmp.1909

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20 Apr 2023
Peer Reviewed

Henry More famously argues that all substances are extended, denying that extension is the essence of body and instead positing the existence of extended immaterial substances. What did Ralph Cudworth, More’s colleague and fellow Cambridge Platonist, make of More’s position? In The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678), Cudworth discusses the following argument for materialism:

  1. ‘Whatsoever is Extended, is Body’ (TIS: 770).1

  2. ‘Whatsoever Is, is Extended’ (TIS: 770).

  3. ‘Therefore Whatsoever Is, is Body’ (TIS: 770–71).2

Cudworth considers two responses to this argument. The first response denies (2), arguing that immaterial substances exist but are not extended. Cudworth discusses this response in detail, defending it against objections and establishing its philosophical pedigree in the likes of ‘ancient incorporealists’ such as Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, and Origen.3 The second response denies (1), arguing that immaterial substances are, in fact, extended. Proponents of this second response, Cudworth explains, assert the existence of ‘Another Extension, Specifically Differing from that of Bodies, […] which is both Penetrable, and also Indiscerpible’ (TIS: 833). Cudworth clearly has More in mind here, as the uniquely Morean language of penetrability and indiscerpibility makes plain, even if he does not mention More explicitly and only attributes this response to ‘other Learned Asserters of Incorporeal Substance’ (TIS: 833).4 Cudworth is less enthusiastic about this second response. He keeps his discussion brief and refrains from defending More’s view against possible objections. Officially, Cudworth refuses to take sides: ‘it is not our part here, to oppose Theists, but Atheists: wherefore we shall leave these Two Sorts of Incorporealists to dispute it out friendly amongst themselves’ (TIS: 833).5 Reading between the lines, we may infer that Cudworth prefers the first response but does not wish to oppose his friend.6 This inference, however, leaves us to speculate about Cudworth’s true opinion of More’s view.7

Fortunately, Cudworth is more direct elsewhere. In an unpublished passage from British Library Additional Manuscript 4981 that has, to my knowledge, entirely escaped scholarly attention, Cudworth addresses More directly, raising objections against More’s view and responding to two of More’s arguments. This passage, which is included here as an appendix and which I will refer to as ‘our passage,’ is thus the clearest extant statement of Cudworth’s position. My aim in this paper is to provide a detailed analysis of our passage.

1. Historical and Textual Background: Situating Our Passage

Cudworth only published a single major philosophical work in his lifetime, The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678).8 At his death in 1688, however, Cudworth left behind a large collection of unpublished manuscripts, most of which have been lost.9 One of these manuscripts was published posthumously in 1731 as A Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality. Five more, the so-called ‘freewill manuscripts,’ are now held in the British Library as Additional Manuscripts 4978–4982.10 One of the freewill manuscripts, Additional Manuscript 4978, was published posthumously in 1838 as A Treatise of Freewill.11 Our passage is from another of the freewill manuscripts, Additional Manuscript 4981.12

The dating of Cudworth’s unpublished manuscripts remains a matter of speculation.13 Nonetheless, we can say with some confidence that Cudworth composed our passage between 1664 and 1671. In our passage, Cudworth responds to a pair of arguments from More’s Divine Dialogues, which More published in 1668 but began composing in 1664 or 1665.14 By contrast, there is no sign in our passage that Cudworth is familiar with More’s Enchiridion Metaphysicum, published in 1671, in which More develops his arguments in much greater detail. It would be odd—even disingenuous—if Cudworth had encountered the updated arguments of Enchiridion Metaphysicum but then chose to ignore them and respond instead to the outdated arguments of Divine Dialogues. We may thus tentatively conclude that Cudworth composed our passage after he first read Divine Dialogues but before he read Enchiridion Metaphysicum—roughly, the late 1660s.

Unfortunately, this tentative conclusion sheds little light on the chronological relation between our passage and The True Intellectual System of the Universe. While the System was not published until 1678, its imprimatur is dated May 29, 1671.15 It is thus likely that Cudworth composed much of System during the same general period in which he composed our passage.16 Cudworth does mention in our passage that he has ‘somtime made a larger treatise upon this subject than is fit here to be inserted’ (4981: 63). We ought not to assume, however, that this ‘larger treatise’ is the System. Cudworth says that the ‘subject’ of this ‘larger treatise’ is ‘the two grand Arguments which are urged to prove that extension & Matter are not reciprocall’ (4981: 63). While The True Intellectual System of the Universe may touch upon these arguments, it would surely be a stretch to characterize it as a treatise on this subject. There is thus reason to suspect that Cudworth may be referring to another treatise, which he never got around to publishing.17

Turning to the text itself, our passage is from British Library Additional Manuscript 4981, one of Cudworth’s freewill manuscripts. Compared with the other freewill manuscripts, 4981 tends to focus on theological questions. The manuscript is divided into four chapters. The first chapter discusses divine omnipotence, the second divine foreknowledge, and the third divine grace. The fourth chapter then gives a general summary of Cudworth’s account of freewill.18 Our passage is located near the end of the second chapter, on divine foreknowledge.

Cudworth argues in that chapter that divine foreknowledge does not by itself pose any threat to freewill because, while God’s foreknowledge necessarily entails the truth of what God foreknows, it doesn’t follow that what God foreknows is itself necessary (4981: 29–33). In Cudworth’s view, the real challenge is to explain how divine foreknowledge of future contingents is possible in the first place. Cudworth’s eternalist proposal is that, because God is ‘above all that successive Mocion of Time’ (4981: 56), God is able to know future contingents in the same way that God knows past and present contingents, since all are timelessly present to God in eternity.

It is in this context that Cudworth turns from God’s temporal non-extension to God’s spatial non-extension. Here is how our passage begins:

And now since there is a Parity of Reason for locale as well as temporall indistance of \in/ the Deity & the one beleived or admitted will also the more facilitate the admittance of the other {but the one resisted will very much dispose to the [……….] of the other} I cannot avoid speaking something of this also. (4981: 63)19

In Cudworth’s view, God’s temporal non-extension parallels God’s spatial non-extension. Just as God is not extended in time so as to be subject to the succession of past, present, and future, so too God is not extended in space so as to consist of parts.20 Cudworth thus interrupts his discussion of divine eternity in order to consider whether God might be spatially extended because, if God were spatially extended, then Cudworth thinks that we would be under some pressure to think that God is temporally extended as well.

Cudworth goes on to address More’s account of immaterial extension in particular. Cudworth explains that there are ‘two grand Arguments which are urged to prove that extension & Matter are not reciprocall’ (4981: 63). These two arguments, it turns out, are precisely the two arguments that More presents in Divine Dialogues.21 Indeed, near the beginning of our passage, Cudworth notes that ‘a Learned Person hath lately improved ^\with/ all Advantages of wit & Eloquence, ^\endeavored/ to prove that all Incorporeall Beings & the Deity it selfe are distantly extended by juxtaposition of parts one without another & hath merrily represented the contrary opinion ^\merrily/ ridiculous’ (4981: 63). While Cudworth leaves this learned person unnamed in the main body of the text, he writes on the verso of the previous page, ‘This is Dr. M[].’ While the name of the learned person is not clearly legible, it does look very much as if Cudworth originally wrote: ‘This is Dr. More.’

2. Philosophical Background: Henry More

Since Cudworth’s aim in our passage is to evaluate More’s account of immaterial extension, it will be helpful to know a bit more about More’s position.22

More contrasts his position with two alternatives, which he terms ‘nullibism’ and ‘holenmerism’ (or ‘holenmerianism’).23 Nullibism is the view that immaterial substances do not exist anywhere. More accuses the Cartesians of nullibism, dubbing Descartes ‘the Prince of the Nullibists’ (EM XXVII, §2: 351/More 1681: 101/More 1925: 184).2425 Throughout his career, More argues at length against nullibism.26 More’s arguments against nullibism were hardly new, however. On the contrary, scholastic philosophers (and many of More’s contemporaries) commonly took it for granted that everything that exists is spatially present—that it exists somewhere.27 Importantly, however, immaterial substances were not thought to be spatially present in the same way as material substances. Whereas material substances consist of parts that are spread out in three dimensions (partes extra partes), immaterial substances are unextended and do not consist of parts. The standard scholastic view, therefore, was that immaterial substances are present ‘whole in the whole and whole in each part’: the whole of the mind, for example, is present in the whole body and also in each part of the body. This is the view that More dubs ‘holenmerism.’ While More may have accepted holenmerism early in his career, he would later mock it as incoherent: ‘If the whole Soul be in the Toe, there is nothing left to be in the Head’ (DD 1, §XXII: 91).2829

Having rejected nullibism and holenmerism, More argues instead that all substances whatsoever possess extension. More thus holds that immaterial substances are spatially present in much the same way as material substances, namely, by consisting of parts that are spread out in three dimensions.30 More argues that the difference between material and immaterial substances is that, whereas material substances (bodies) are extended substances that are impenetrable and discerpible, immaterial substances (spirits) are extended substances that are penetrable and indiscerpible. More understands penetrability as the ability to ‘penetrate’ another substance by simultaneously occupying its location.31 Bodies are impenetrable in that no two bodies can occupy the same place at the same time. By contrast, spirits are penetrable in that a spirit is able simultaneously to occupy the same place as a body or another spirit. Turning to the second point of contrast, More understands discerpibility as physical divisibility. For More, all extended substances are mentally or intellectually divisible in the sense that it is always possible to distinguish their parts and to consider those parts separately. More argues, however, that there are some extended substances that, while intellectually divisible, cannot in fact be physically divided. Their parts can be considered separately but cannot actually be separated, even by God. Such substances, for More, are intellectually divisible but physically indiscerpible. In More’s view, spirits are indiscerpible in this sense, because their parts cannot be physically separated from one another. By contrast, bodies are discerpible because their parts can be physically separated.32

More’s account of immaterial extension leads him to a striking view about space. More argues on independent grounds for the existence of what we might call ‘absolute space,’ that is, an infinite immovable extension in which all bodies and (finite) spirits are located.33 Because bodies and spirits exist in space, it follows that space must be penetrable—otherwise, its impenetrability would preclude such co-location. And, whereas bodies and spirits are able to move with respect to space, the parts of space cannot move with respect to one another. It follows that space is also indiscerpible, because its parts cannot be physically separated from one another. More concludes that space is an infinite extension that is both penetrable and indiscerpible, which makes it look a lot like the extension of some spirit. More’s theological commitments, however, dictate that there can only be one infinite spirit. More thus ends up, at least by the end of his career, identifying space with God’s infinite extension.34

3. Our Passage: Cudworth’s Opposition to More

Returning to our passage, Cudworth’s opinion of More’s position is plain from the outset:

[F]or my part I must needs professe that I neither ^\never/ did nor yet doe se any Just Cause of departing from that Doctrine which hath been generally received of all those Antients that sincerely hold a Deity, as ^\besides Plato/ Aristotle, Philo-Judeus, Origen Plotinus and all the Platonists that God is ἀμεγέθης, ἀδιάϛατος & ἀμέρίϛος ὀυσία35 A Being that is not spread out in bulk ^\having/ one part without another but yet that at once Comprehends the whole corporeall ^\extended/ world \with/in it. (4981: 63)

Whereas Cudworth officially remains neutral in The True Intellectual System of the Universe, here he clearly sides with the ancient incorporealists against More, claiming that he sees no reason not to accept the holenmerian view to which More objects so vehemently. Indeed, in the final paragraph of our passage, Cudworth proclaims that there is ‘nothing […] more paradoxicall’ in the view of the ancient incorporealists than there is in More’s own suggestion that ‘this empty Space should be […] the very Substance of God himselfe extended infinitely’ (4981: 65).

Why, exactly, does Cudworth reject More’s view? Cudworth goes on in our passage to respond to a pair of arguments from More’s Divine Dialogues, which I will discuss later. Cudworth also has a more general reason for rejecting More’s view, however.

In The True Intellectual System of the Universe, Cudworth pays More a backhanded compliment, commenting that More’s view ‘may be very useful and Serviceable to retain some in Theism, who can by no means admit, of a Deity, or Any thing else, Unextended’ (TIS: 833). Cudworth’s own preferred view is that God is an infinite unextended substance. He realizes, however, that some may find it difficult to accept the existence of unextended substances. Cudworth’s concessive suggestion is that More’s view may be helpful insofar as it suggests that, even if there is no infinite unextended substance, we can still defend the existence of God as an infinite extended substance. Indeed, earlier in his discussion, Cudworth uses More’s view to respond to the Epicurean assertion that ‘Space is a Nature distinct from Body and Positively Infinite’ (TIS: 769), arguing that it follows from this claim ‘that there must be some Incorporeal Substance, whose Affection its Extension is; and because there can be nothing Infinite, but only the Deity, that it is the Infinite Extension of an Incorporeal Deity; just as some Learned Theists and Incorporealists have asserted’ (TIS: 769–70).

In our passage, by contrast, Cudworth is less enthusiastic about More’s position:

[T]ruly I think Infinitely extended matter, being a solid and substantiall thing, may put in \as/ fairre for the Godship and pretend as great a Right to all the Attributes of the Deity, Omnipotence and omniscience also \itselfe/ as Infinite ^\Thinne &/ empty space and vacuity:36 But if it once come to this the Issue and Resul\t/[….] will quickly \soon/ be that there is no God at all; Which I am sure is \as/ farre from the Learned & pious Authors Intention as tis possible for Contradictories to be distant from one another. (4981: 65)

Whereas Cudworth suggests in The True Intellectual System of the Universe that More’s view might help to forestall atheism and even uses More’s view to argue from the existence of infinite space to the existence of an infinite deity, he now worries that More’s view will have the opposite effect. Once we concede to the atheist that God is extended, Cudworth worries that it is but a short step to the atheistic identification of God with infinitely extended matter and the consequent denial of God’s existence.

Cudworth returns to this worry a few pages after our passage:

And those that out of Caution lest they should offend Atheists & harden them in their infidelity by rendering the Deity such an unintelligible thing & puzling Riddle to their understandings, ^\had need to take heed lest/ by bringing it \the Deity/ down to their grosse apprehensions & Imaginacons ^\they fortify Atheists the more/ for ^\when they/ make God infinitely extended by parts one without another which cannot mutually penetrate this will sound nothing els to the apprehension of Atheists, but onely this that there is noe other God but Matter infinitely extended. (4981: 69)

More holds that extended immaterial substances differ from extended material substances in that the former are penetrable and indiscerpible while the latter are impenetrable and discerpible. Cudworth worries, however, that More’s view may actually place God on the material side of this division. While it’s true that More’s God is able to penetrate other substances, Cudworth observes that the parts of God’s infinite extension, on More’s view, cannot penetrate one another. For More, this mutually impenetrability follows from their immobility: because the parts of God’s infinite extension are immobile, it follows that one part cannot move in such a way as to penetrate another part.37 Cudworth worries that this mutual impenetrability will simply add grist to the atheist’s mill: if there is a sense in which More’s God turns out to be not only extended but also impenetrable, the atheist will insist that More’s God is just ‘matter infinitely extended.’ As a result, while More’s view may help to render God intelligible to those who reject the existence of unextended substances, Cudworth’s position in our passage seems to be that the dangers of More’s view outweigh this benefit.

4. More’s First Argument

Cudworth doesn’t just note the atheistic tendency of More’s position, however. He also responds directly to two of More’s arguments for that position. Here is how the second paragraph of our passage begins:

I shall but breifly touch upon the two grand Arguments which are urged to prove that extension & Matter are not reciprocall. […] [F]irst that from hence that \because/ there is an extension intrinsicall to Motion, & therefore it doth not belong to Matter onely: Secondly that there is an immoveable extension distinct from that of moveable Matter. (4981: 63–64)

Cudworth is referring here to a pair of arguments that More presents in Divine Dialogues 1, §§XXIV–XXVI (93–104). In fact, Cudworth’s wording in this passage is taken directly from the headings of these three sections. In the rest of this paper, I’m going to examine More’s arguments and Cudworth’s responses in some detail, beginning now with the first argument.

As is evident from the title of §XXIV, More’s goal in §§XXIV–XVI is to argue ‘That Extension and Matter are not reciprocall,’ that is, that there are entities other than matter that possess extension. More’s first argument for this conclusion is deceptively straightforward:

  1. All entities possess extension.

  2. Motion is an entity.

  3. Therefore, motion possesses extension. (From 1 and 2.)

  4. Motion is an entity distinct from matter.

  5. Therefore, extension and matter are not reciprocal. (From 3 and 4.)

Let’s walk through this argument step by step.

The first premise states that all entities possess extension. This premise goes by pretty quickly. At this point in the dialogue, the character of Philotheus, who functions as More’s mouthpiece, is trying to convince the materialist Hylobares that extension and matter are not reciprocal. Because Hylobares is a materialist, he is happy to accept (1) with little argument. More’s argument, however, is not merely directed ad hominem against the materialist. More would later explain in Enchiridion Metaphysicum that the ‘essence’ of any ‘being’ is ‘nothing other than matter and form taken together,’ and that ‘matter in this logical sense means nothing other than a certain indeterminate amplitude’ (EM II, §7: 8–9/More [1671] 1995: 8–9).38 He infers that, since all beings consist partially of matter (along with form), it follows that ‘every being […] is extended to some degree’ (EM II, §8: 9/More [1671] 1995: 9). More himself is thus committed to (1).39

The second and third premises go by even more quickly:

Philoth. And it can as little be deny’d but that Motion is an Entity, I mean a Physicall Entity.

Hyl. It cannot.

Philoth. Therefore Extension is an intrinsecall property of Motion.

Hyl. It must be acknowledged. (DD 1, §XXV: 96–97)

More takes this part of his argument to be uncontroversial. Motion is an entity in that it is something that exists.40 Therefore, since (1) all entities possess extension and (2) motion is an entity, it follows that (3) motion possesses extension.

The argument becomes more complicated with the fourth premise, which states that motion is an entity distinct from matter. At this point in the dialogue, having established (3), Philotheus tries to jump immediately to the conclusion that extension and matter are not reciprocal. Hylobares objects, however, that motion is a mode of matter and therefore that motion ‘has no other Extension then that of the Matter it self it is in’ (DD 1, §XXV: 98). In other words, Hylobares grants that motion possesses extension, but he argues that extension and matter are nonetheless reciprocal because the extension of a motion just is the extension of the matter in which that motion exists.

Here is how Philotheus responds to Hylobares’s objection:

Philoth. But if [motion] have another Essence from the Matter it self, by your own concession it must however have another Extension. (DD 1, §XXV: 98)

More’s inference in this passage is exceedingly peculiar. More first claims (assuming, as seems clear in context, that he accepts the truth of the antecedent of the conditional) that the essence of motion is different from the essence of matter. He then infers on this basis that the extension of motion must be numerically distinct from the extension of matter. Therefore, while it is true that motion is a mode of matter, More denies that the extension of a motion is identical to the extension of the matter in which it exists.

To better understand this peculiar inference, we can turn for help to the opening sections of Enchiridion Metaphysicum VIII, where More presents the same argument in more detail. In these sections, More sets out to argue ‘that there can be some real extension apart from matter’ on the grounds that ‘there are some real modes of matter, which are themselves extended, but are not, however, themselves matter, such as motion and rest’ (EM VIII, §1: 64/More [1671] 1995: 54). Here is how More argues for this claim:

Certainly, it cannot be that motion or hardness or any other mode of matter of this sort whatsoever [alius hujusmodi Materiae Modus quilibet]41 is not extended by its own extension but by that of matter, since any being insofar as it is a being has its own extension, as we have maintained above. Therefore, motion cannot be extended by another extension any more than that which it is, that is, motion, can exist by another essence. For, indeed, motion is not motion through the essence of matter any more than matter is matter by the essence of motion, but both have their distinct natures, and therefore, distinct extensions. (EM VIII, §2: 64–65/More [1671] 1995: 54)

More reminds us in this passage of his earlier claim that every being is extended in virtue of its essence.42 He then argues that, since the essence of motion is distinct from the essence of matter, it follows that the extension of motion is numerically distinct from the extension of matter. Importantly, More’s claim is not that every mode of matter has its own numerically distinct extension. On the contrary, in the first section of the same chapter, More restricts his claim to ‘some real modes of matter,’ giving ‘motion and rest’ as an example (EM VIII, §1: 64/More [1671] 1995: 54). Likewise, in the block quotation above, More limits his argument to ‘motion or hardness or any other mode of matter of this sort whatsoever’ (my emphasis). More thus seems to think that there is something special about some modes, such as motion or hardness, in virtue of which they possess their own essence (and therefore their own extension) distinct from the essence (and extension) of matter. In fact, More already suggests as much in the section immediately prior to the block quotation above, where he writes of such modes that, ‘although they are rightly said to be modes of body or matter, are, however, in themselves beings, not modes of a being’ (EM VIII, §1: 64/More [1671] 1995: 54).43 More’s claim seems to be that modes such as motion or hardness have a special ontological status. On the one hand, motion and hardness are modes of body—a motion exists in a moving body, and an instance of hardness exists in a hard body. And yet, on the other hand, More makes it clear in the passage just quoted that modes such as motion or hardness are not mere modes of body but are, in some sense, beings in their own right—they are ‘beings’ and not mere ‘modes of a being.’

Why does More think that motion and hardness have this special ontological status? The answer is not immediately clear from the text. The closest that More comes to suggesting an answer is when he asserts that ‘motion is not motion through the essence of matter any more than matter is matter by the essence of motion.’ Reading between the lines, More’s suggestion may be that the essence of matter is not sufficient for motion or hardness. It may help to contrast motion or hardness with, for example, size or figure, other modes of body that More presumably takes to be mere modes and not beings in their own right. If a body exists, the essence of that body is plausibly sufficient to explain why it is that the body possesses modes such as size or figure. Of course, the essence of body may not be sufficient to explain why the body possesses the particular size or figure that it does, but it is sufficient to explain why it possesses some size or figure. This is because mere modes such as size or figure are, in a familiar sense, nothing over and above the extended bodies in which they exist: for a square figure to exist, for example, just is for a body to exist extended in a squarish way. By contrast, More seems to think that modes such as motion and hardness are something over and above the bodies in which they exist. In this sense, the essence of body is sufficient for mere modes such as size or figure but is not sufficient for modes such as motion or hardness.

This interpretation fits nicely with what More says elsewhere about the essence of matter. In Divine Dialogues, More claims that the three ‘Attributes’ of matter are ‘Self-disunity, Self-impenetrability, and Self-inactivity’ (DD 1, §XXIX: 119). Given this characterization of the essence of matter, we can see why More might think that both motion and hardness are something over and above the essence of matter. Take hardness. Hardness is that mode of a body in virtue of which its parts cohere together in such a way as to resist division. Because ‘self-disunity’ is one of the essential attributes of matter, More observes that ‘Matter has no Vinculum of its own to hold it together’ (DD 1, §XXIX: 119). In this sense, the essence of matter is not sufficient for hardness: considered in itself, there is nothing about matter that could possibly explain or give rise to hardness. Consequently, More maintains that the parts of a body can cohere together only if they are held together by the activity of one or more immaterial spirits.44 More thus holds that hardness, despite being a mode of body, must nonetheless be something over and above the essence of body, given that body is essentially disunified.

Much the same is true of motion. According to More, the essence of matter includes not only self-disunity but also ‘Self-inactivity’ (DD 1, §XXIX: 119). More explains in The Immortality of the Soul that a self-active substance is a substance that is essentially active and therefore cannot be inactive: ‘what is simply active of it self, can no more cease to be active then to Be’ (IS I.vii.7: 31).45 Because matter is capable of rest, More infers that matter is not self-active: ‘Matter is not active of it self, because it is reducible to Rest’ (IS I.vii.7: 31). In this sense, the essence of matter is not sufficient for motion any more than it is sufficient for hardness: considered in itself, there is nothing about matter that could possibly explain or give rise to motion. As a result, More maintains that a body can move only if it is caused to move by something else, either by another body colliding with it or by an immaterial substance.46 More thus holds that motion is similar to hardness in that motion, despite being a mode of body, must nonetheless be something over and above the essence of body, given that body is essentially self-inactive. In either case, both motion and hardness do not arise from the essence of body but must instead be caused in a body by something else.

At this point, it may help to return to Divine Dialogues. Immediately after concluding his argument, More clarifies his position by appealing to the Cartesian distinction between translation and force:

Philoth. […] Besides, you seem mistaken in what I mean by Motion. For I mean not simply the Translation, but the vis agitans [impelling force] that pervades the whole body that is moved. (DD 1, §XXV: 98)

In Principles of Philosophy II.25, Descartes distinguishes motion ‘in the strict sense,’ understood as the translation of a body from one vicinity to another, from ‘the force or action which brings about the [translation]’ (AT VIIIA: 53–54/CSM I: 233).47 More invokes this distinction in order to specify that, when he uses the word ‘motion,’ he is talking not about translation but about the impelling force or ‘vis agitans’ that causes translation. In More’s view, when a body undergoes translation, its translation is caused by a force that is a mode of that body and that ‘pervades the whole body.’48 More’s point is that motion, understood now as the force or vis agitans causing translation, clearly does not arise from the essence of matter as such, because there is nothing in the essence of matter that could possibly explain or give rise to such a force. For More, therefore, a body’s motion or force is a mode that exists in that body, but it is a special kind of mode that goes above and beyond the essence of body and therefore must be caused in the body by something else acting upon it.

Let’s return now to More’s peculiar inference:

Philoth. But if [motion] have another Essence from the Matter it self, by your own concession it must however have another Extension. (DD 1, §XXV: 98)

In this passage, More begins by claiming that the essence of motion is different from the essence of matter. More’s point is that, since matter is essentially self-inactive, the essence of matter is not sufficient to explain motion (understood as force or vis agitans) and therefore that motion must possess its own essence distinct from the essence of matter. Consequently, since More holds that every being is extended simply in virtue of its essence, More infers that motion also possesses its own extension, numerically distinct from the extension of matter.

This concludes More’s first argument. More has argued that, since all entities possess extension, and since motion (understood as force or vis agitans) is not only an entity but moreover an entity with a distinct essence from the essence of matter, it follows not merely that motion possesses extension but moreover that the extension of motion is numerically distinct from the extension of matter. Therefore, extension and matter are not reciprocal: there are entities other than material bodies that possess extension.

Before turning to Cudworth’s response to More’s first argument, let me pause to acknowledge that I am attributing to More a rather strange metaphysical view. More’s view, on my interpretation, is that bodies possess certain modes, such as motion and hardness (and perhaps others),49 that, despite being modes of body, nonetheless possess their own extension distinct from the extension of the bodies in which they exist. This view raises all sorts of philosophical questions. For example, what exactly is the relation between the extension of a motion and the extension of the body in which that motion exists?50 Do motions have further properties, such as size or shape or place, independently of the bodies in which they exist?51 Are motions sufficiently independent from the bodies in which they exist that a motion might be transferred from one body to another?52 Is More resurrecting the old scholastic doctrine of real accidents?53 Despite their intrinsic philosophical interest, I want to set these questions aside—they are questions for More, not for me.

There is a closely related question, however, that I do need to consider. Given the independence that More attributes to motion or vis agitans, we might wonder whether More really thinks that it is a mode of body.54 Perhaps More thinks that motion or vis agitans is not actually a mode of the body undergoing translation but rather a mode of (or perhaps identical to) some spirit, an immaterial substance that is co-extensive with the body and that causes its translation. After all, it is the character of Hylobares, More’s imagined materialist interlocuter, who says that ‘Motion is not Ens, but Modus Entis’ (DD 1, §XXV: 97). When More responds in the voice of Philotheus, he is somewhat cagey, conceding only that motion is in some sense a mode of body: ‘Motion is Ens, though in some sense it may be said to be Modus corporis’ (DD 1, §XXV: 97). Since More will introduce the distinction between motion as translation and motion as vis agitans on the next page, perhaps More thinks that only motion as translation (and not motion as vis agitans) is a mode of body?

While it may be possible to read Divine Dialogues along these lines, More’s more detailed discussion in Enchiridion Metaphysicum undermines this reading, and for two reasons. First, More says explicitly that motion—that is, the kind of motion that has its own extension distinct from the extension of matter—is a mode of matter:

For, that there can be some real extension apart from matter is clear from the fact that there are some real modes of matter, which are themselves extended, but are not, however, themselves matter, such as motion and rest. (EM VIII, §1: 64/More [1671] 1995: 54)

Here, More says plainly that motion is indeed a mode of matter, even though it is ‘extended by its own extension’ and not ‘by [the extension] of matter’ (EM VIII, §2: 64/More [1671] 1995: 54). Second, it is crucial to More’s argumentative strategy that motion is a mode of matter. More’s goal in Chapter VIII of Enchiridion Metaphysicum is to argue that there are immaterial—or, as More says, ‘metaphysical’—substances that are extended.55 In order to establish this conclusion, More first sets out to undermine the tight Cartesian connection between extension and matter by establishing that, even within the physical realm of bodies, there are beings that are extended that are not simply identical to matter. Accordingly, instead of arguing directly for the existence of extended immaterial substances, More first argues ‘That extension suits other physical beings [rebus]56 besides matter, and therefore that it can suit metaphysical beings’ (EM VIII, §1: 64/More [1671] 1995: 54). More thus focuses on motion precisely because he takes it for granted that motion is a mode of body. His strategy is to argue that motion, a paradigmatic mode of body, possesses its own extension distinct from the extension of body, thereby demonstrating that something can be extended without therefore being a body and opening up conceptual space for the existence of extended immaterial substances. As a result, More’s argumentative strategy relies crucially on the claim, which More makes explicitly, that motion really is a mode of body, despite possessing its own extension distinct from the extension of matter.

5. Cudworth’s Response to More’s First Argument

Let’s turn now to Cudworth’s response to More’s first argument. Unsurprisingly, Cudworth does not find More’s argument convincing. Since Cudworth happily accepts the existence of unextended substances, he could simply reject the argument’s first premise (that all entities possess extension). In our passage, however, Cudworth does not quarrel with the first premise. Instead, he takes up the distinction between motion as translation and motion as force. On the one hand, translation is simply a mode of matter and therefore does not possess an extension distinct from the extension of body:

As to the first of these Locall Motion taken properly for the translacion, of \the change of/ distance & Situacion of the parts of matter one tow another, being nothing els but a Mode of Matter hath plainly noe other extension than that of the Matter it selfe. (4981: 64)

On the other hand, while Cudworth agrees with More that force is in some sense importantly distinct from matter, Cudworth argues that this is because the force that causes the translation of a body actually belongs to an immaterial—and therefore, in Cudworth’s view, unextended—substance:

[B]ut as for the vis movens [moving force] which causeth motion & translacon in Moving Bodys, which the ^\learned/ Objector seemes to mean by Mocion & affirmes that it hath an extension distinct from that of Matter. ^\Though/ That which causeth Motion is not itself locall Motion ^\nor is it […] matter/ for Motion & translacion of Matter doth not by a force of its own cause it selfe to move or Change the Situacion of its parts. ^\for matter does not move itself/ Either is it properly sub ^\Wherfore this is not sub/jected in the Matter ^\itselfe/ but in some other Substance which is Autokineticall or self-moving. (4981: 64)

In short, Cudworth’s response to More’s first argument is that motion as translation does not possess an extension distinct from the extension of matter, while motion as force is not extended in the first place.57 Either way, there is no reason to deny that extension and matter are reciprocal.

Part of what’s interesting about this response is that Cudworth and More clearly have different views about the ontology of force. For More, the translation of a body is caused by a force that exists in that body itself. Granted, More argues that force is not contained in the essence of matter and is, in this sense, ‘loose or exemptitious from Matter’ (DD 1, §XXV: 98). He nonetheless maintains, however, that force is a mode of matter. By contrast, Cudworth denies that force is a mode of matter: ‘matter does not move itself’ and therefore force ‘\is not sub/jected in the Matter ^\itselfe/ but in some other Substance’ (4981: 64). So, whereas More conceives of force as something that exists in an extended, moving body, Cudworth conceives of force as something that exists in the unextended, immaterial substance that causes that body to move.

This disagreement about the ontology of force points towards another, more fundamental disagreement. Cudworth and More are both dualists, positing the existence of body and spirit as two fundamentally different kinds of substances. Moreover, they both characterize their dualism in terms of self-activity, holding that spirit (unlike body) is essentially self-active. It turns out, however, that Cudworth and More have importantly different conceptions of self-activity.

We have already seen that, for More, a self-active substance is a substance that is essentially active and therefore cannot be inactive. As a result, when More characterizes the contrast between body and spirit in terms of self-activity, his claim is that spirits are essentially active while bodies are not essentially active, which is why a body can cease acting and thereby come to rest. Nonetheless, once a body has been set in motion, More maintains that it is the body’s own force or activity (its vis agitans) that causes its translation. More even claims that, once a body has been set in motion, it can cause motion in other bodies in virtue of its own force or activity: ‘matter moved can even move some other matter’ (EM IX, §7: 79/More [1671] 1995: 74).58 As a result, More does not deny that bodies can cause motion or translation, either in themselves or in other bodies. Instead, he simply argues that a body is able to act—and, consequently, to cause motion or translation—only if it is first caused to act by something else.

By contrast, Cudworth denies that bodies can cause anything. For Cudworth, a self-active substance is a substance that is able to cause its own activities. Cudworth thus defines ‘Self-Activity’ as ‘That which is not a Passion from any other Agent, but springs from the immediate Agent it self’ (TIS: 844). Accordingly, when Cudworth maintains that only spirits are self-active, his claim is that spirits are able to cause their own activities while bodies are not able to cause their own activities. Since ‘Local Motion […] or Translation from Place to Place’ (TIS: 831) is the only activity of which body is capable, Cudworth concludes that a body cannot cause its own motion but instead must always be caused to move by something else: ‘Local Motion […] never springs originally from the thing it self moving, but alwaies from the Action of some other Agent upon it’ (TIS: 47). And, in particular, he argues that the motions of bodies must be caused by one or more immaterial, self-active substances:

Though Motion considered Passively in Bodies, or taken for their Translation, or Change of Distance and Place, be indeed a Corporeal thing, or a Mode of those Bodies themselves moving; yet as it is considered Actively, for the Vis Movens, that Active Force which causes this Translation or Change of Place, so is it an Incorporeal thing; the Energy of a Self-Active Substance, upon that sluggish Matter or Body, which cannot at all move it self. (TIS: 668)

Cudworth thus denies that a body is able to cause local motion or translation either in itself or in another body. This is because, for Cudworth, the force that causes local motion is not itself a mode of body in the first place. Instead, it is the mode of some immaterial, self-active substance.59

Consequently, while More and Cudworth both deny that matter is self-active, they disagree about what that denial amounts to. For More, the self-inactivity of matter implies only that matter must be incited to activity by something else. Once matter begins to act, however, More grants both that a body is able to cause its own translation and that one body can cause motion in another body. For Cudworth, by contrast, matter is entirely passive: matter cannot cause activity (translation) in itself, nor can one body cause anything in another body. Cudworth infers that all activity must be caused by immaterial, self-active substances.

It is this disagreement that underlies Cudworth’s response to More’s first argument. In his argument, More assumes that motion, understood not as translation but as the force or vis agitans that brings about translation, is a mode of body, albeit one with an essence (and therefore an extension) that is distinct from the essence (and therefore the extension) of body. This assumption is perfectly consistent with More’s conception of body as self-inactive (that is, as not acting simply in virtue of its essence), but it runs contrary to Cudworth’s conception of body as wholly passive (that is, as entirely unable to cause activity of any kind). Cudworth’s response to More’s first argument thus rests upon Cudworth’s fundamentally different conception of self-activity and, consequently, of the nature of matter.

6. More’s Second Argument

After concluding his argument in Divine Dialogues 1, §XXV for the conclusion ‘That Extension and Matter are not reciprocall,’ More goes on in §XXVI to present a second argument for the closely related conclusion ‘That there is an immovable Extension distinct from that of movable Matter’ (DD 1, §XXVI: 101). Speaking again in the voice of Philotheus, More presents a pair of thought experiments. In the first, Philotheus asks Hylobares to imagine himself standing at the Earth’s equator and shooting an arrow up in the air at a ninety-degree angle so that it flies straight up and then falls straight back down (DD 1, §XXVI: 101–2). In the second, Hylobares is asked to imagine an upright wooden cylinder rotating upon its axis, with a diagonal line drawn from the middle of the top of the cylinder to a point on the circumference of the bottom of the cylinder (DD 1, §XXVI: 102–3). Philotheus asks Hylobares to consider the line described by the arrow and the shape described by the diagonal line. In the first case, Philotheus observes that there is a sense in which the arrow actually describes two lines. Relative to the Earth, the arrow describes a vertical line: it flies straight up and then falls straight back down. Given the Earth’s rotation, however, there is also a sense in which the arrow describes a curved line. In the second case, Philotheus observes that there is a sense in which the diagonal line in the cylinder rotates around the axis of the cylinder in such a way as to describe the shape of a cone.60

Having presented these two examples, Philotheus confronts Hylobares with a difficulty:

Philoth. But it [viz. the diagonal line] describes no such Figure [viz. a Conicum] in the wooden Cylinder it self: As the Arrow in the aereal or material Æquinoctial Circle describes not any line but a right one. In what therefore does the one describe, suppose, a circular Line, the other a Conicum? (DD 1, §XXVI: 103)

The difficulty that Philotheus observes in this passage arises from the nature of description. Later in Divine Dialogues, Philotheus explains that to describe a figure is ‘to draw some Extensum or some point of it through the parts of some other Extensum, so that the parts are passed through of that Extensum in which the Figure is said to be described’ (DD 1, §XXVII: 113). So, consider the arrow: what is the extended thing in which the arrow describes its lines? One obvious answer would be that the arrow describes its lines in the air. Philotheus observes, however, that the ‘Arrow has described onely right Lines with its point, upwards and downwards, in the Air’ (DD 1, §XXVI: 101–2). While the arrow does describe a vertical line in the air, it does not describe a curved line in the air. The difficulty, of course, is that both the air and the arrow are moving along with the Earth’s rotation around its axis. As a result, the arrow does not pass through the parts of the air in such a way as to describe a curved line. Much the same difficulty arises in the case of the diagonal line in the wooden cylinder. Consider: what is the extended thing in which the diagonal line describes the shape of a cone? One obvious answer would be that the diagonal line describes a cone in the wooden cylinder. Again, however, the difficulty is that, when the wooden cylinder rotates, the diagonal line rotates along with it. As a result, the diagonal line does not pass through the parts of the wooden cylinder and therefore cannot describe anything in the wooden cylinder.

More is quick to propose a solution to this difficulty:

Philoth. I hope, Hylobares, […] that you are convinced […] that there ever was, is, and ever will be an immovable Extension distinct from that of movable Matter. (DD 1, §XXVI: 103)

If the arrow does not describe a curved line in the air, and if the diagonal line does not describe a cone in the wooden cylinder, then More reasons that there must be some other extension in which the arrow and the diagonal line do describe these figures. This other extension must be co-located with the air in the first case and with the wooden cylinder in the second. Since material substances are impenetrable and thus cannot be co-located with other material substances, it follows that this other extension must be an immaterial extension, distinct from the extension of matter.

Notice that, in the passage just quoted, More makes a further claim about this immaterial extension, namely, that it is immovable. This claim doesn’t obviously follow from anything else that More says in §XXVI. Moreover, as the discussion continues, it becomes clear that More wishes to identify this immaterial extension with space itself, understood as an infinite immovable extension. More’s argument in §XXVI doesn’t obviously support this identification either. More does likely take himself to have independent arguments for the existence of space, thus defined. Indeed, when More presents a more developed version of the same argument in Enchiridion Metaphysicum, he prefaces it with a series of independent arguments for the existence of space (EM VI: 42–51/More [1671] 1995: 38–44). At this point in Divine Dialogues, however, More simply puts forward his view as a plausible conjecture: the extended thing in which the arrow describes a curved line and in which the diagonal line describes a cone is, More proposes, the infinite immovable extension of space.

7. Cudworth’s Response to More’s Second Argument

Here is Cudworth’s response to More’s second argument:

[W]e cannot conceive any ^\common instance of/ Motion whatsoever […] without supposing the [….] ^\or Basis/ of it as standing and immoveable, The ^\Figure of a/ Line which a Nayle in a Cartwheel moving describes must needs be conceived by us in somthing as quiescent, but for all that I doe not think that this is any solid argument to prove, that Space is an immoveable extension distinct from that of moveable Matter, but I [……] ^\believe/ that the extension of Matter is here conceived by us twice over: first inadequately and as quiescent, It being abstractly & not concretely \onely/ apprehended. Secondly concretely and individually the necessity of which Duplicity of Conception is because Motion cannot be apprehended ^\by us/ without an immobile or some standing thing to measure it by; Wherefore I think Space as considered distinctly from extended Body & Matter is but an inadequate conception of our own a figment of the mind, & a Modus concipiendi [way of conceiving] onely. (4981: 64–65)

Cudworth begins by conceding that we cannot conceive of any motion without conceiving of its ‘Basis’ as ‘standing and immovable.’ He uses the example of a nail in a rotating cartwheel that describes the figure of a circle, claiming that we must conceive of the nail as describing this figure in something ‘quiescent.’ Applied to More’s examples, Cudworth concedes that we must conceive of the arrow and the diagonal line as describing their respective figures in some extension. Cudworth denies, however, that we must therefore posit the existence of an immaterial extension distinct from the extension of matter. Instead, Cudworth proposes that ‘the extension of Matter is here conceived by us twice over.’

Consider the case of the rotating wooden cylinder. Cudworth agrees with More that the diagonal line must describe this figure in some extension. Cudworth argues, however, that this extension is just the extension of the wooden cylinder itself. When we conceive of the cylinder as rotating, Cudworth suggests, we simultaneously conceive of the cylinder’s extension in two ways. First, we conceive of its extension ‘inadequately’ or ‘abstractly’ by abstracting from its motion. Second, we conceive of its extension ‘concretely and individually,’ without abstracting from its motion. Cudworth’s proposal is that the diagonal line describes its figure in the extension of the cylinder conceived in the first way, in abstraction from its motion. More generally, Cudworth suggests that this same structure of dual conceptions is involved in all instances of motion. Whenever we conceive of a body as moving, Cudworth maintains, we conceive of it as moving in space, where space is simply an inadequate conception of the infinite extension of matter.

Cudworth is borrowing this account of space in large measure from Descartes’s Principles of Philosophy II.10 (AT VIIIA: 45/CSM I: 227). While Descartes maintains that a body’s space or ‘internal place’ is not really distinct from the body occupying that space, he admits that they do differ conceptually. According to Descartes, we can conceive of the extension of a body in two different ways. We may conceive of it either particularly, as the particular body that it is along with all of its various modifications, or generically, as merely a region of extension with a certain size, shape, and situation. Descartes thus maintains that the space of a body is nothing more than the body itself conceived generically rather than particularly. Cudworth’s strategy is to put this Cartesian account of space (or something like it)61 to work in response to More’s second argument: the extended space in which the arrow describes a curve and in which the diagonal line describes a cone is just the extension of matter itself conceived in abstraction from its motion.

As it turns out, More considers and rejects this Cartesian account of space explicitly in Divine Dialogues:

But how can that which is immovable, O Sophron, be the Genus of those things that are movable? (DD 1, §XVIII: 117)

More develops this objection in much more detail in Enchiridion Metaphysicum (EM VII, §10: 59/More [1671] 1995: 50). His point is that, whereas the extension of a body such as the cylinder is movable, the extended parts of space are immovable. The extension of body and the extension of space thus possess contradictory properties. When we form a generic conception of something, however, we do so by omitting certain features from our conception, not by adding new features—let alone contradictory features. More concludes that the conception of space cannot be merely a generic conception of the extension of body.

While Cudworth doesn’t address this objection explicitly, I think that we can discern two lines of response in our passage. The first line of response addresses More’s objection directly by simply denying that we must conceive of space as immovable or immobile in order to conceive of a body as moving. It is true that, in our passage, Cudworth does sometimes adopt More’s language of immovability or immobility. Significantly, however, Cudworth seems equally happy to speak of space not as immovable but merely as ‘quiescent,’ that is, not moving. The implicit suggestion is that, in order for us to conceive of matter as moving, we need only conceive of it against the backdrop of something that is not moving. In Cudworth’s view, this backdrop is provided by the extension of matter itself conceived in abstraction from its motion.

Cudworth’s second line of response goes a step further. As we will see, he argues not merely that we don’t have to conceive of space as immovable but that we cannot do so.

8. Cudworth’s Objection

After responding to More’s two arguments from Divine Dialogues, Cudworth goes on in the final paragraph of our passage to raise a series of objections against More’s position. We’ve already examined one of these objections, namely, that More’s position may unintentionally encourage a slide into materialistic atheism. Cudworth also objects more directly to More’s account of space:

Moreover if that which is commonly Calld Vacuum or Empty Space be the very reall Substance of the Deity it is not conceivable but that Omnipotence could make a whole Sphere of this Substance of as for example of two foot Diameter, to move round upon an Axis \of its own/, or transpose the severale parts of it making them change the distance or situacion one from another; which being supposed will follow that there must be another Space immovable Space or Vacuum for that to move in because Motion cannot be conceived without an immobile. (4981: 65)

Cudworth’s objection is straightforward. Suppose that space were an infinite immaterial extension, as More claims. In this case, Cudworth argues that the parts of space would be movable, since it would be possible for an omnipotent God to move them. And, granting this inference, it would follow absurdly from More’s position that there would have to be yet another space in which the parts of the first space were able to move, leading to a regress of spaces.

More, of course, would not grant the inference. On the contrary, More maintains that the parts of space are immovable. While he does not argue explicitly for this claim in Divine Dialogues, he presents at least two arguments for this conclusion in Enchiridion Metaphysicum. In one passage, he argues that the simplicity, indiscerpibility, and infinity of space entail the immobility of its parts (EM VIII, §9: 70/More [1671] 1995: 58).62 In another passage, he turns Cudworth’s modus ponens into a modus tollens:

For, if it were supposed that parts were discerped, they would be ipso facto moved in the same place and, so, the place in which they are moved would be more internal and deeper than that which we have hitherto needed. (EM VIII, §14: 74/More [1671] 1995: 60)63

Whereas Cudworth objects that the extension of space would entail the movability of its parts and that the movability of its parts would require yet another space in which the parts would be able to move, More takes the absurdity of this consequence to demonstrate that the parts of space must be immovable. Cudworth and More thus disagree about whether extension entails movability—Cudworth says yes, More no.

In fact, I think that there is another, somewhat deeper disagreement here. Cudworth and More disagree about whether extension entails movability, I propose, because they also disagree about whether extension entails physical divisibility (More’s discerpibility). For his part, Cudworth clearly accepts this entailment. On this point, Cudworth simply follows Descartes, who presents a straightforward argument for the entailment in Principles of Philosophy: extended substances have parts, those parts can be conceived to exist separately, and therefore they can also be made to exist separately by an omnipotent God (AT VIIIA: 51–52/CSM I: 229–30; see also AT III: 213–14/CSM III: 155). In fact, Cudworth deploys precisely this line of reasoning in The True Intellectual System of the Universe to argue that, if the soul were extended, then it would be physically divisible into parts (TIS: 828–29). Cudworth thus agrees with Descartes that extension entails physical divisibility. And, since extension entails physical divisibility, Cudworth further maintains that extension entails movability because, if two parts an extended substance can be physically divided from one another, then it follows that the one is able to be moved away from the other.

In Divine Dialogues, by contrast, More explicitly rejects the Cartesian argument from extension to physical divisibility. After distinguishing intellectual divisibility from physical divisibility or discerpibility and arguing that the extension of space is intellectually divisible but not discerpible, More has the character of Cuphophron ask: ‘cannot the Omnipotence of God himself discerp a Spirit, if he has a minde to it?’ (DD 1, §XXX: 126). More’s response is that God cannot discerp the parts of an extended immaterial substance because indiscerpibility is part of the essence of an extended immaterial substance and God cannot do what is impossible (DD 1, §XXX: 126–27).64 More thus denies that extension entails discerpibility, even by an omnipotent God. And, given this denial, More would feel no pressure to concede Cudworth’s claim that God would be able to move the extended parts of space.

My aim is not to adjudicate this disagreement. The important point for our purposes is simply to observe that a significant part of the dispute between More and Cudworth seems ultimately to turn on this disagreement about the conceptual entailment from extension to physical divisibility (discerpibility) to movability. As we have just seen, Cudworth’s objection to More clearly presupposes this entailment. By contrast, More’s objection to the Cartesian account of space, which I discussed in the previous section, clearly presupposes that extension does not entail either discerpibility (physical divisibility) or movability. Recall, More’s objection was that the extension of space cannot be the extension of matter conceived generically because the extension of space is immovable while the extension of matter is movable. This objection obviously assumes that extension does not entail movability—an assumption that, as we have seen, Cudworth would deny.

9. Concluding Remarks

When Cudworth brings up More’s account of space in The True Intellectual System of the Universe, he refrains from criticizing his friend and colleague, noting diplomatically that ‘it is not our part here, to oppose Theists, but Atheists’ (TIS: 833). As we have seen, however, Cudworth’s unpublished thoughts make it clear that he disagrees with More in some fundamental ways. On a pragmatic level, while Cudworth doesn’t doubt the sincerity of More’s theism, Cudworth worries that More’s account of divine extension will have the unintended consequence of encouraging materialists to identify God with infinitely extended matter. And, on a philosophical level, Cudworth simply does not share the concerns about holenmerism that motivate More to develop his account of spiritual extension in the first place.

On a more fundamental level, however, what our passage makes clear is that, despite their broader philosophical alliance as ‘Cambridge Platonists,’ Cudworth is much more of an orthodox Cartesian about the nature of matter and extension than is More.65 Foundationally, Cudworth agrees with Descartes that extension is the essence of matter—unlike More, who holds that ‘Extension […] is an intrinsecall or essential Property of Ens quatenus Ens’ (DD 1, §XXV: 96). We have also seen that Cudworth agrees with Descartes that extension entails physical divisibility—unlike More, who holds that spirits are extended yet indiscerpible. And, while we didn’t look at these passages, Cudworth further agrees with Descartes in opposition to More that extension entails impenetrability: according to Cudworth, every extended substance has a power of ‘Keeping out or Hindering, any other Extended Thing, from Penetrating into it: (which yet it doth meerly by its being Extended, and therefore not so much by any Physical Efficiency, as a Logical Necessity,)’ (TIS: 829). Moreover, while Descartes’s own position on the metaphysics of force is controversial, Cudworth clearly takes orthodox Cartesian strictures about the passivity of matter to controvert More’s claim that force (vis agitans) is a mode of matter. For Cudworth, since body is wholly passive, it follows that all translation or local motion must be caused in bodies by self-active, immaterial substances. This isn’t to say, of course, that Cudworth is simply a dogmatic Cartesian. On the contrary, Cudworth remarks in our passage that ‘Cartesius […] ought not to bee defended in many thinges’ (4981: 64).66 Nonetheless, when it comes to the nature of matter, Cudworth’s view seems to be that Descartes got it basically right and that More’s criticisms of Descartes on this topic miss their mark.67

Appendix: British Library Additional Manuscript 4981: 63–65

The following is a semi-diplomatic transcription of Cudworth’s discussion of immaterial extension at 4981: 63–65.68 I have retained all original spelling and punctuation and I have struck through words that are cancelled in the manuscript, but I have lowered superscripts and expanded abbreviations for ease of reading. All footnotes are editorial. I employ the following additional notation:

[.….] indicates a word or phrase that is illegible in the manuscript, with the number of dots indicating approximately the number of letters thought to be missing.
{ } indicates a passage written on the verso of the previous page and marked for insertion.
\ / indicates a word or phrase written above or below the line.

*

[Page 63] And now since there is a Parity of Reason for locale as well as temporall indistance of \in/ the69 Deity & the one beleived or admitted will also the more facilitate the admittance of the other {but the one resisted will very much dispose to the [……….] of the other} I cannot avoid speaking something of this also & though a Learned Person70 hath lately improved ^\with/ all Advantages of wit & Eloquence, ^\endeavored/ to prove that all Incorporeall Beings & the Deity it selfe are distantly extended by juxtaposition of parts one without another & hath merrily represented the contrary opinion ^\merrily/ ridiculous, yet for my part I must needs professe that I neither ^\never/ did nor yet doe se any Just Cause of departing from that Doctrine which hath been generally received of all those Antients that sincerely hold a Deity, as ^\besides Plato/ Aristotle, Philo-Judeus, Origen Plotinus and all the Platonists that God is ἀμεγέθης, ἀδιάϛατος & ἀμέρίϛος ὀυσία71 A Being that is not spread out in bulk ^\having/ one part without another but yet that at once Comprehends the whole corporeall ^\extended/ world \with/in it.

I shall but breifly touch upon the two grand Arguments which are urged to prove that extension & Matter are not reciprocall. Because I have somtime made a larger treatise upon this subject than is fit here to be inserted, first that from hence that \because/ there is an extension intrinsicall to Motion, & therefore it doth not belong to Matter onely: Secondly that there is an immoveable extension distinct from that of moveable [Page 64] Matter. As to the first of these Locall Motion taken properly for the translacion, of \the change of/ distance & Situacion of the parts of matter one tow another, being nothing els but a Mode of Matter hath plainly noe other extension than that of the Matter it selfe neither doth this ever passe out of one Body into another, but is perpetually changed in that moving Body in which it is, & therefore cannot be said to be capable sometimes of more sometimes of lesse extension, but as for the vis movens72 which causeth motion & translacon in Moving Bodys, which the ^\learned/ Objector seemes to mean by Mocion & affirmes that it hath an extension distinct from that of Matter. ^\Though/ That which causeth Motion is not itself locall Motion ^\nor is it […] matter/ for Motion & translacion of Matter doth not by a force of its own cause it selfe to move or Change the Situacion of its parts. ^\for matter does not move itself/ Either is it properly sub ^\Wherfore this is not sub/jected in the Matter ^\itselfe/ but in some other Substance which is Autokineticall or self-moving; indeed it acts upon the matter variously so that the same matter may suffer more or lesse from it. ^\according to Lawes of Nature and that is all/ And Cartesius (though hee ought not to bee defended in many thinges) yet here soe far as I can see speakes very consistently with himselfe who ^\carefully/ distinguisheth between the translacion or Motion it selfe, & the Vis Movens or Impellens73 which as he saith doth apply it self somtime to this part of Matter & somtime to that according to certaine Lawes of nature, but never transmigrates from one part of Matter to another ^\it being never for it is not subjected in it/ but alwayes remaines in that Autokineticall Self-moving power \Substance/. Wherefore this active Vis Movens is not a Mode of Matter, but a Mode of that Self-active Substance which begetts motion in Matter, wherefore \and so/ this first argument vanishes into nothing \is sufficiently answered/.

As for the second that there is an immoveable extension distinct from that of moveable matter which is proved by the shooting up of an arrow in the Earths Equinoctiall Line, or the Descripsion of a Conicum by the Axis of a Cylender turned round there needed not to have been such far fetched busine instances for this businesse for we cannot conceive any ^\common instance of/ Motion whatsoever ^\as that of our friend [……]/ without supposing the [….] ^\or Basis/ of it as standing and immoveable, The ^\Figure of a/ Line which a Nayle in a Cartwheel moving describes must needs be conceived by us in somthing as quiescent, but for all that I doe not think that this is any solid argument to prove, that Space is an immoveable extension distinct from that of moveable Matter, but I [……] ^\believe/ that the extension of Matter is here conceived by us twice over: first [Page 65] inadequately and as quiescent, It being abstractly & not concretely \onely/ apprehended. Secondly concretely and individually the necessity of which Duplicity of Conception is because Motion cannot be apprehended ^\by us/ without an immobile or some standing thing to measure it by; Wherefore I think Space as considered distinctly from extended Body & Matter is but an inadequate conception of our own a figment of the mind, & a Modus concipiendi74 onely.

But there is nothing seemes to mee more paradoxicall & which I would more unwillingly admit \neither in […………] nor Nullibisme rightly apprehended/ than that this empty Space should be a ^\reall/ Substance dist existing without us & distinct from Body & that it should be the very Substance of God himselfe extended infinitely, that in which Matter & all other Created Beings whatsoever move and is, or that in which all thinges \according to that of the Script for in him we/ live & move & have their \our/ beings.75 {Moreover if that which is commonly Calld Vacuum or Empty Space be the very reall Substance of the Deity it is not conceivable but that Omnipotence could make a whole Sphere of this Substance of as for example of two foot Diameter, to move round upon an Axis \of its own/, or transpose the severale parts of it making them change the distance or situacion one from another; which being supposed will follow that there must be another Space immovable Space or Vacuum for that to move in because Motion cannot be conceived without an immobile. As also, that there is no Real Difference betwixt the Deity & matter, but th and truly I think Infinitely extended matter, being a solid and substantiall thing, may put in \as/ fairre for the Godship and pretend as great a Right to all the Attributes of the Deity, Omnipotence and omniscience also \itselfe/ as Infinite ^\Thinne &/ empty space and vacuity: But if it once come to this the Issue and Resul\t/[….] will quickly \soon/ be that there is no God at all; Which I am sure is \as/ farre from the Learned & pious Authors Intention as tis possible for Contradictories to be distant from one another.} But because this whole Controversy to speak to all the many little things in it would require a larger disquisition than is fit to be inserted here, I shall conclude that to the best of my apprehension that that Opinion that the Substance of God is distantly extended by parts one without another ^\in of a Bulky manner/ or that it is the same thing with ^\thinne/ immoveable Space is nothing but Idolum Specus76; an apprehension contracted^\fined within & [……….] to/ from the by our own dark and narrow Cave, because we commonly use somthing of fansy in our Cogitacions to think that All Being must of necessity be fantasticall. And if God be Locally indistant, he is also temporary^\ly so/ not by reason of narrowness or contractednesse as if he were nothing but a Meer point, but by reason for Time it selfe is nothing but a pointing flowing, but by reason of the vast comprehension of his nature. For what can be bigger than that which at [..] once is yesterday today & Forever.

Notes

  1. References to Cudworth’s (1678) The True Intellectual System of the Universe are given in-text as follows: ‘TIS’ followed by page number (e.g., TIS: 1). [^]
  2. Cudworth’s imagined interlocuter, a materialist atheist, proceeds to the further conclusion that ‘there can be no Incorporeal Deity’ (TIS: 771). [^]
  3. Cudworth introduces the view and its proponents at TIS: 771–76, defends it against four objections at TIS: 777–822, and recounts arguments in its favour at TIS: 822–33. Note, however, that Cudworth goes on a bit of a tangent at TIS: 783–822, which focuses on the soul’s posthumous union to matter. [^]
  4. Compare TIS: 770, where Cudworth mentions ‘some Learned Theists and Incorporealists’ who hold that space is ‘the Infinite Extension of an Incorporeal Deity.’ I will return to More’s language of ‘penetrability’ and ‘indiscerpibility’ below. [^]
  5. Cudworth is similarly noncommittal in the System’s Preface: ‘whether this Substance, be altogether Unextended, or Extended otherwise then Body; we shall leave every man to make his own Judgment concerning it’ (TIS: Preface [13]). [^]
  6. This is how Reid (2012: 222–24) and Passmore (1951: 25–27) interpret Cudworth’s discussion. [^]
  7. One other piece of evidence comes from a letter that Cudworth’s daughter Damaris Masham wrote to Leibniz: ‘I remember my father as well as other assertors of unextended substance to have said: That it is an imposition of Imagination upon theire reason in those who cannot be convinc’d of the realitie of substances unextended’ (Masham [1704] 1887: 351). [^]
  8. Cudworth also published two shorter works and two sermons: A Discourse concerning the True Notion of the Lords Supper (London: Richard Cotes, 1642), The Union of Christ and the Church; in a Shadow (London: Richard Cotes, 1642), A Sermon preached before the Honourable House of Commons, at Westminster, March 31. 1647 (Cambridge: Roger Daniel, 1647), and A Sermon preached to the Honourable Society of Lincolnes-Inne (London: J. Flesher and R. Royston, 1664). [^]
  9. These manuscripts are described in Thomas Birch’s (1743) preface to the second edition of the System. [^]
  10. The British Library holds five further manuscripts attributed to Cudworth, Additional Manuscripts 4983–4987. The attribution of 4983–4985 is almost certainly incorrect, as the British Library Manuscripts Catalog itself concedes: http://searcharchives.bl.uk/IAMS_VU2:LSCOP_BL:IAMS032-002110500 (accessed February 28, 2023). 4986–4987 are likely authentic, however, and contain Cudworth’s commentary on the ‘seventy weeks’ of Daniel 9:24. See Lewis (2013: 51–58). [^]
  11. A short section from Additional Manuscript 4981 has also been published as Cudworth (1997). Additional selections from the freewill manuscripts have been digitized and are available online as part of The Cambridge Platonism Sourcebook: https://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk (accessed February 28, 2023). [^]
  12. References to the freewill manuscripts are given in-text by manuscript and page number (e.g., 4981: 1). [^]
  13. The most up-to-date analysis of the composition history of the freewill manuscripts is Burden (2019), but see also Passmore (1951: 107–13) and Carter (2011: 161–68). [^]
  14. See Burden (n.d.a) for the composition history of More’s Divine Dialogues. [^]
  15. In a letter to Anne Conway that is coincidentally also dated May 29, 1671, More mentions that his Enchiridion Metaphysicum is ‘out of the press’ (Nicolson and Hutton 1992: 333; noted by Gabbey 1982: 248n148), implying that More’s book was published only a short time before Cudworth’s System received its imprimatur. For possible explanations of the System’s delayed publication, see Burden (n.d.b). [^]
  16. Burden (n.d.b) suggests ‘that much of the composition of the True Intellectual System took place in the 1660s, and particularly during the period 1665–71.’ [^]
  17. Thomas Birch reports to have found amongst Cudworth’s unpublished manuscripts one such manuscript containing ‘An Explanation of Hobbes’s Notion of God, and of the Extension of Spirits’ (Birch 1743: xx). [^]
  18. The fourth chapter has been published as Cudworth (1997). [^]
  19. Please see the appendix for an explanation of the editorial notation used in this transcription. [^]
  20. Compare TIS: 781. [^]
  21. It worth emphasizing that much of Cudworth’s wording in our passage appears to be taken directly from Divine Dialogues. For example, Cudworth’s reference to ‘the two grand Arguments which are urged to prove that extension & Matter are not reciprocall’ (4981: 63) echoes the section heading of Divine Dialogues 1, §24: ‘That Extension and Matter are not reciprocall.’ [^]
  22. Here and throughout the paper, my discussion of More is deeply indebted to Reid (2012). [^]
  23. More uses these terms extensively in Enchiridion Metaphysicum (EM XXVII: 350–75/More 1681: 99–137/More 1925: 183–205). More had already coined the term ‘nullibism’ in a short note placed at the beginning of Divine Dialogues, entitled ‘The Publisher to the Reader,’ in which he mentions ‘that new fond Opinion of the Nullubists, who, forsooth, imagine themselves so superlatively intellectual above other men, in declaring that God is no-where’ (More 1668: A3). It is telling that Cudworth uses the term ‘nullibism’ (4981: 65) but not ‘holenmerism’ in our passage, lending further evidence to my earlier suggestion that Cudworth likely composed our passage between reading Divine Dialogues and Enchiridion Metaphysicum. [^]
  24. There is disagreement about whether More’s accusation was correct. For contrasting views, see Reid (2008) and Slowik (2019). [^]
  25. References to More’s Enchiridion Metaphysicum (More 1671) are given in-text as follows: ‘EM’ followed by chapter and sections numbers, followed by page number (e.g., EM I, §1: 1). Where relevant, I also include page numbers for English translations in More (1681), More ([1671] 1995), and More (1925). [^]
  26. See Reid (2012: 147–57) for discussion of More’s arguments. [^]
  27. See Pasnau (2011: 328). [^]
  28. References to the first volume of More’s Divine Dialogues (More 1668) are given in-text as follows: ‘DD’ followed by dialogue, section, and page number (e.g., DD 1, §I: 1). [^]
  29. More’s criticism echoes Hobbes’s in Leviathan Part 4, Chapter 46 (EW 3: 676). See Reid (2012: 158–75) for detailed discussion of More’s engagement with holenmerism. All references to Hobbes’s English Works (Hobbes 1839–45) are given in-text as follows: ‘EW’ followed by volume and page number (e.g., EW 1: 1). [^]
  30. More sometimes claims that immaterial substances do not possess parts. His point in such passages, however, is only that immaterial substances do not possess physically separable parts. When More is being more careful, he concedes that all extended substances do possess at least intellectually divisible parts. See the scholium that More added to Enchiridion Metaphysicum III, §2 when he republished the work in 1679 in the second volume of his Opera omnia (More 1679: 134/ More [1671] 1995: 24). See also More’s correspondence with John Norris (Norris 1688: 152–53). For discussion, see Reid (2012: 189–90). [^]
  31. See Reid (2012: 194–200). [^]
  32. Puzzlingly, however, More holds that atoms (‘physical monads’) are also, like spirits, intellectually divisible but physically indiscerpible. See Reid (2012: 188–94). [^]
  33. We will examine some of More’s arguments in detail later. See Reid (2012: 103–39) for discussion. More’s account of space is widely recognized to anticipate Newton’s, although it is a matter of debate whether or to what extent Newton was influenced by More in this regard. See Reid (2012: 124–34) for discussion and further references. [^]
  34. See Reid (2012: 212–15) for discussion. [^]
  35. Literally: ‘a being [ὀυσία] without magnitude [ἀμεγέθης], without interval [ἀδιάστατος], and indivisible [ἀμέρίστος].’ [^]
  36. An anonymous reviewer helpfully observes the significance of the fact that Cudworth has crossed out the words ‘empty’ and ‘vacuity’, given that More denies the existence (albeit not the possibility) of a vacuum. The early More also believed that the extension of the material universe was infinite, but More changes his view on this point starting in Enchiridion Metaphysicum (EM X, §§6–14: 91–99/More [1671] 1995: 84–88). See Reid (2012: 52–63) for discussion. [^]
  37. The immobility of the parts of God’s infinite extension, in turn, follows from its simplicity, indiscerpibility, and infinity: ‘For, no infinite extension which is not combined from parts, nor is condensed or thickened in some way, can be moved, either part from part, since the whole is simple and indiscerpible, nor can the whole at the same time, since it is infinite, be contracted into less space, since it is not condensed anywhere nor can it leave its place, since this infinite is the intimate place of all things, within or beyond which there is nothing’ (EM VIII, §9: 70/More [1671] 1995: 58). By contrast, More maintains that finite spirits are mobile both because they can move as a whole and also because they can expand (‘dilate’) and contract. Significantly, More explains the expansion and contraction of finite spirits in terms of the mutual penetrability of their parts: a finite spirit contracts when some of its parts penetrate and thus come to overlap other parts, and a finite spirit expands when some of its parts stop penetrating one another and instead spread themselves out spatially (Reid 2012: 200–201). [^]
  38. As I noted earlier, it is unlikely that Cudworth had read Enchiridion Metaphysicum when he wrote our passage. Nonetheless, I will draw freely upon Enchiridion Metaphysicum to order to elucidate the arguments from Divine Dialogues to which Cudworth is responding. [^]
  39. Of course, this first premise is already quite strong. Even if both More and his imagined materialist interlocutor are in agreement, this premise obviously would not be accepted by many of More’s opponents, Cudworth included. For this reason, More’s first argument is unlikely to have much dialectical force, regardless of what we make of the rest of the argument after the first premise. [^]
  40. More further specifies that motion is a physical entity. In Enchiridion Metaphysicum, More contrasts physical or material entities with metaphysical or immaterial entities (EM VIII, §1: 64/More [1671] 1995: 54; see note 55). His point, therefore, is that motion is not merely an entity but moreover a material entity, or an entity that belongs in some way to the material realm of bodies. [^]
  41. I have modified Jacob’s translation to make it clear that I take ‘of this sort [hujusmodi]’ to modify ‘mode [Modus]’ rather than ‘matter [Materiae].’ I prefer this reading because I think that it is clear in context that More means to be restricting his claim only to modes of a certain sort, namely, the same sort as motion and hardness. By contrast, Jacob’s translation reads: ‘or any other mode whatsoever of this sort of matter.’ [^]
  42. Recall the passage that I quoted earlier: according to More, the ‘essence’ of any ‘being’ is ‘nothing other than matter and form taken together,’ and ‘matter in this logical sense means nothing other than a certain indeterminate amplitude’ (EM II, §7: 8–9/More [1671] 1995: 8–9). [^]
  43. The italics are not present in Jacob’s translation but are present in the original Latin text. [^]
  44. See Reid (2012: 296–98). [^]
  45. References to the second edition of More’s The Immortality of the Soul, found in the second edition of A Collection of Several Philosophical Writings of Dr Henry More (More 1662), are given in-text as follows: ‘IS’ followed by book, chapter, and section numbers, followed by page number (e.g., IS I.i.1: 1). [^]
  46. As we will see later, More maintains that a body in motion can cause motion in another body. [^]
  47. References to the Adam and Tannery edition (Descartes 1964–76) and, where possible, the standard English translation by Cottingham et. al. (Descartes 1985–91) of Descartes’s works are given in-text as follows: ‘AT’ followed by volume and page number, and then ‘CSM’ followed by volume and page number (e.g., AT I: 1/CSM I: 1). [^]
  48. Descartes’s own view about the ontology of force—and, in particular, about whether forces exist in bodies—is a matter of scholarly controversy. For competing interpretations, see Garber (1992: 293–99) and Schmaltz (2008: 87–128). [^]
  49. What others? It’s hard to say. More doesn’t give any further examples. [^]
  50. Prima facie, it seems that the extension of the motion ought to depend in some way upon the extension of the body, but it’s hard to see how this will work if the two extensions are supposed to be numerically distinct. [^]
  51. While More does not to my knowledge consider this question, it seems to me that he might simply answer yes. [^]
  52. I take it that More’s answer to this question would be no. In his correspondence with Descartes, More famously denies that modes such as motion can be transferred from one substance to another (More to Descartes, 23 July 1649; AT V: 382–83). While it is true that, in Divine Dialogues, Philotheus says that ‘both Regius and Des-Cartes acknowledge [vis agitans to be] exemptitious and loose, so that it may pass from one part of Matter to another’ (DD 1, §XXV: 98), More is arguing ad hominem at this point. Since More thinks that the Cartesians are committed to the transfer of motion, he thinks that they ought to concede that motion is not a mere mode of body but is ‘exemptitious’ from body such that it has an extension of its own. It does not follow that More himself is committed to the transfer of motion. [^]
  53. If a real accident is an accident that ‘is a genuine, irreducible entity, existing in its own right even while inhering in a subject’ (Pasnau 2011: 191), then More’s characterization of modes such as motion as ‘beings, not modes of a being’ (EM VIII, §1: 64/More [1671] 1995: 54) does suggest that they might qualify as real accidents. More does not seem to think that motions are separable from the bodies in which they exist (see note 52), but Pasnau (2011: 191) emphasizes that many late scholastic Protestants defended the existence of real accidents while denying their separability. [^]
  54. I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for pressing this important question. [^]
  55. More defines ‘metaphysics’ as ‘the art of correctly contemplating incorporeal substances insofar as they are revealed in our faculties by the light of nature’ (EM I, §1: 1/More [1671] 1995: 1). He goes on to argue, as the title of Chapter II puts it, that ‘Being as Being is not the object of metaphysics, but of logic’ (EM II: 5/More [1671] 1995: 6) and therefore that ‘only incorporeal substance remains that can be the legitimate object of metaphysics’ (EM VI, §1: 42/More [1671] 1995: 38). For this reason, More sometimes refers to immaterial or incorporeal substances as ‘metaphysical’ substances. [^]
  56. I have modified Jacob’s translation, which misleadingly translates ‘rebus’ as ‘substances.’ [^]
  57. While Cudworth doesn’t say explicitly in the quoted passage that motion as force is not extended, this conclusion is implicit in his claim that motion as force exists ‘in some other Substance which is Autokineticall or self-moving,’ since this other substance for Cudworth is obviously an unextended immaterial substance. An anonymous reviewer worries that this response is question-begging, since the point in question is precisely whether or not such substances are extended. Note, however, that Cudworth is not arguing at this point for the claim that immaterial substances are unextended. Instead, Cudworth is objecting to More’s argument for the claim that motion as force is extended. Cudworth’s point is that More’s argument should not be persuasive to someone who, like Cudworth, accepts the existence of self-active, unextended, immaterial substances. [^]
  58. Compare: ‘Matter it self once moved can move other Matter’ (IS I.iii.1: 21). [^]
  59. One implication of Cudworth’s view seems to be that, strictly speaking, bodies lack inertia: if the immaterial substance causing motion in some body were suddenly to withdraw its causal activity, the body would immediately come to rest. [^]
  60. Later, More makes this example more vivid by asking us to imagine a diagonal red line in a rapidly rotating glass cylinder, noting that the rapid rotation of the red line would cause us to see the shape of a red cone inside the glass cylinder (DD 1, §XXVIII: 113–14). [^]
  61. When Cudworth contrasts ‘abstract’ with ‘concrete and individual’ conceptions of the extension of matter, he is actually running together two distinct theories, the first a Cartesian theory on which the conception of space is a generic conception of the extension of matter and the second a Hobbesian theory on which the conception of space is an inadequate conception of the extension of matter (EW 1: 94). More discusses these two theories separately in Enchiridion Metaphysicum VII, objecting to the first in §10 and the second in §11 (EM VII, §10–11: 59–60/More [1671] 1995: 50–51). This complication can be set aside for our purposes because More raises the same objection against both theories. Note, however, that More also raises an additional objection (which I will not discuss) against the first theory, on which the conception of space is a generic conception of the extension of matter. See Reid (2012: 119–20) for discussion of More’s arguments. I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for pressing me to clarify this point. [^]
  62. See note 37. [^]
  63. I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for drawing my attention to the significance of this passage. [^]
  64. This response seems to miss the point. Cudworth and Descartes (setting aside complications raised by Descartes’s doctrine of the creation of the eternal truths) can grant the conditional claim that, if there were (per impossibile) extended substances that were essentially indiscerpible, then God would not be able to discerp them. Nonetheless, since Cudworth and Descartes maintain that extension entails discerpibility, it follows on their view that all extended substances are discerpible at least by God. [^]
  65. There is a certain irony in this result, given that it was More who was in large measure responsible for the increased popularity of Cartesianism in England in the 1650s and 1660s (Gabbey 1982: 171–72). Indeed, an anonymous reviewer informs me that it was More who first introduced the term ‘Cartesian,’ which can be found in More’s writings as early as 1651 (More 1651: 42, 151, 203). See Gabbey (1982) and Leech (2013) for detailed discussion of More’s relation to Cartesianism. [^]
  66. Cudworth disagrees with Descartes, for example, about the explanatory success of mechanism (TIS: 148) and about the essence of immaterial substances (TIS: 159). [^]
  67. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Québec-Ontario Workshop in Early Modern Philosophy at the University of Toronto in October 2022. My thanks to Helena Bensimon, Marleen Rozemond, Alison Simmons, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments. I am particularly grateful to one reviewer for this journal, whose meticulously detailed comments improved the paper significantly. Special thanks also to Marilyn Lewis, who double-checked my transcription, and to Jacqueline Broad and Antonia LoLordo, who gave me advice about publishing it. [^]
  68. Please note that the transcribed work is in the public domain in the United States but is under copyright in the United Kingdom, its country of origin. [^]
  69. Here and throughout, I transcribe the y-shaped handwritten letter thorn as ‘th.’ [^]
  70. The following is written on the verso of the previous page but is not marked for insertion: ‘This is Dr. M[].’ Presumably, however, Cudworth is here identifying the ‘Learned Person’ discussed on the recto page. Note also that, while the name of the learned person is not clearly legible, it does look very much as if Cudworth originally wrote: ‘This is Dr. More.’ [^]
  71. ‘A being without magnitude, without interval, and indivisible.’ [^]
  72. ‘Moving force.’ [^]
  73. ‘Moving or impelling force.’ [^]
  74. ‘Way of conceiving.’ [^]
  75. ‘For in him we live, and move, and have our being’ (Acts 17:28, KJV). [^]
  76. ‘Idol of the cave.’ [^]

Competing Interests

The author has no competing interests to declare.

References

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29 Pasnau, Robert. 2011. Metaphysical Themes: 1274–1671. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI:  http://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567911.001.0001

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