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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Ed Feser: How Hume's "Problem of Induction" Only Arises Post-Descartes

Here: "As Ellis has put it, the early moderns replaced the Aristotelian notion of active powers with an essentially “passivist” conception of nature. For the Aristotelian-Scholastic tradition, by virtue of their substantial forms natural substances exhibit a directedness toward the generation of certain outcomes as toward a final cause. Efficient cause thus presupposes final cause or teleology, which in turn presupposes substantial form. Get rid of substantial form and final causality, and efficient causality in any robust sense -- any sense that entails an active tendency toward the generation of certain effects -- goes out the window with it. That is precisely why Hume’s puzzles about causation and induction followed upon the early moderns’ anti-Aristotelian revolution. What replaced active powers was the idea of natural phenomena as essentially passive -- as inherently directed toward no particular outcome at all -- on which certain “laws” have been imposed from outside."

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