Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

The Journal of the History of Philosophy: April 2012, Vol. 50, No. 2

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

The Journal of the History of Philosophy: April 2012, Vol. 50, No. 2

Article excerpt

A Likely Account of Necessity: Plato's Receptacle as a Physical and Metaphysical Foundation for Space, BARBARA SATTLER

This paper aims to show that--and how--Plato's notion of the receptacle in the Timaeus provides the conditions for developing a mathematical as well as a physical space without itself being space. In response to the debate about whether Plato's conception of the receptacle is a conception of space or of matter, which presupposes some vague notion of space, the author suggests employing criteria from topology and the theory of metric spaces as the most basic ones available. He shows that the main task of the receptacle consists in allowing the elements qua images of the Forms to exist as sensible things, since the receptacle is that in which the elements appear, change, and move. The receptacle guarantees this possibility by virtue of being pure continuity, while all further qualifications of this continuity required for a full notion of space are derived solely from the content of the receptacle.

Hobbes, Descartes, and Ideas: A Secret Debate, GIANLUCA MORI

The author proposes that the anonymous letter dated May 19, 1641, which Mersenne delivered to Descartes, should be attributed to Thomas Hobbes. Although the text is known, it is usually considered not so much in itself as for Descartes's two replies, which contain important clarifications on the proof of God's existence. Hobbes' hand is revealed by various thematic, conceptual, and lexical analogies and, above all, by the presence of two doctrines characteristic of his thought: 1) the denial of the existence of intellectual ideas; 2) the assertion that the nature of God can only be described by the proposition "God exists." Attribution to Hobbes of the May 19th 1641 letter throws new light on the debate that followed Descartes's Meditations as well as on Mersenne's role.

Pufendorf on Morality, Sociability, and Moral Powers, STEPHEN DARWALL

Recent commentary has generally missed important aspects and so, in my view, what is most fascinating and original in Pufendorf's thought. Pufendorf, although far from the first thinker to hold some version of a divine command theory of morality, may have been the first to attempt to work out what such a view must look like if it is to take seriously the conceptual links between authority, recognition, and accountability, as well as the psychology necessary for these to be realized in the moral life. …

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