torstai 8. maaliskuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 1 - Monads without spontaneity equals elements

After ontology, Darjes turns his attention to monadology, which in his philosphy means two things: firstly, a discipline for the study of simple entities in general, and secondly, particularly study of those simple entities, which constitute complex entities, or elements. It is just natural to start with the general part.

Now, the essence of any simple entity, Darjes begins, consists of two things. Firstly, as simple it is indivisible or does not consist of further entities. Secondly, an an entity it is impenetrable or it cannot be a determination of any other entity. Just like in all previous Wolffian philosophy, because of its simplicity, a simple entity cannot have been generated from previously existing entities that would retain their existence even after the generation of new entity. Instead, a generated simple entity would have to have appeared instantaneously out of nothing. Similarly, when a simple entity is destroyed, it will be completely annihilated.

Another commonplace with earlier Wolffians is the importance of force as a basic characteristic of simple entities. For instance, because a simple entity does not consist of many entities, the only way quantities can be applied to it is through the strength or intensity of its basic force. What is more original is Darjes' attempt to use the notion of force as a way to divide simple entities into further genera. Some forces do not act by themselves, but require still some efficient cause to activate them – simple entities with such forces Darjes calls passive. Some forces require only a removal of obstacles for their activation – simple entities with such forces Darjes calls active. And it wouldn't be a Darjesian division, if he wouldn't note the possibility of a third genera, with simple entities with both active and passive characteristics, although in practice he doesn't mention them often.

The essence of passive simple entities in Darjesian philosophy is simple. By themselves, they do nothing. They can be activated by impenetrability of other simple entities, which move to the place where the passive entity is and thus force it to move away from its original location. After this, the passive entity acts, that is, it moves, and cannot stop from moving, unless something external stops it. In effect, a passive simple entity isn't spontaneous, that is, it cannot determine itself to act.

Active entities, on the other hand, might be spontaneous. Yet, it is also possible, Darjes says, that an active entity is not spontaneous, in other words, it might require only removal of obstacles for its own activity, but perhaps cannot itself remove those obstacles. In case of spontaneous simple entities, on the other hand, these obstacles come mainly from the entity itself – in a sense they forbid themselves of doing things. Spontaneous entities can remove such a self-imposed obstacle and thus, in a sense, choose to do something. In other words, they act first on themselves and through this self-action act toward other things. Darjes suggests that this self-action happens always through representations or perceptions – the simple entity perceives some goal as good, that is, as conforming to its essence, and proceeds to actualise that goal.

After defining the three species of simple entities – passive, non-spontaneously active and spontaneous simple entities – Darjes goes on to discuss their possible interactions with one another. In case of mere passive entities, these interactions – mostly collisions – happen according to the laws of motion, which had been a hot philosophical topic since the time of Descartes. The introduction of active entities complicates interactions, even when the active entities are not spontaneous, since a collision might not just force an active entity to move, but also to remove impediments for natural movement of the entity. In case of a spontaneous simple entity, finally, other entities cannot really make it do anything, but merely provide an occasion for the spontaneous entity to do something.

An important relation between simple entities in Darjesian scheme is coherence, that is, a relation of proximity in which the simple entities have become so unified that one cannot be moved without moving the other. For such a coherence it is not enough that the simple entities just lie passively side by side, Darjes notes, because then one of them could be simply moved without any change in the other. Instead, the diverse entities must act on one another and this act cannot be mere movement – in other words, they must somehow attract one another. Thus, at least some of the cohering entities must be naturally active. Then again, Darjes notes, a spontaneous simple entity cannot really cohere with other simple entities, because other entities can at most provide an occasion for it to act. These results are important especially for the special part of Darjesian monadology, because Darjes thinks that unified bodies are essentially constituted from simple entities by coherence. Hence, elements – simple entities constituting bodies – cannot be spontaneous. Furthermore, because infinite entity must be most perfect in every sense, and like many philosophers before him, Darjes regards activity and especially spontaneity as more perfect than passivity, all elements are revealed to be finite.

keskiviikko 7. helmikuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 1 - Connecting substances

While in previous post I discussed Darjesian notions of entity and substance, when regarded in abstraction from other entities and substances, now we shall see what happens when entities and substances are connected to one another. Darjes notes that these connections fall into three general classes, depending on whether the connection exists between mere entities, between both mere entities and substances or between substances. In case of the first kind of connection the things connected are regarded as just being impenetrable to one another. Example of a such a connection would be placing many entities into a same space so as to form a figure.

If in addition to or in place of mere entities substances are added to the connection, Darjes notes, we get forces to the equation. Such connections involve either the existence of substances or then their states – for instance, existence of certain substances might be connected with a state of one substance. In other words, such substantial connections concern various interactions between substances, for example, when one substance acts upon a passive substance or when one substance removes obstacles stopping some substance from acting.

All connections involving mere entities are extrinsic in the sense that it doesn't affect entities if we e.g. arrange them to form a figure. Thus, these connections are completely contingent. One might think that the case might be different with substantial connections, but Darjes notes that this is not so – substances can exist independently of one another, so there is no necessity that e.g. a substance affects another substance. Because no connections between entities or substances is necessary, Darjes says, these connections must ultimately be dependent on some necessary entity.

A particular type of connection Darjes mentions is the relationship between cause and what is caused. Like always, Darjes makes interesting divisions rarely seen in previous Wolffian philosophy. Thus,he notes when discussing cause or caused, one can firstly regard cause and caused as mere subjects – that is, as a material cause and caused – secondly as containing a reason for the possibility of something or having a reason of possibility in some other entity – this is what Darjes calls active/passive causating reason – and finally, as containing or having in something else a reason for actuality – active or passive causality. Like many other Wolffians before him, Darjes goes into great lengths in describing various causal notions, such as principal cause and instrumental cause or mediate and immediate cause, and we need not follow him in such a detail.

Just like almost all Wolffians thus far, Darjes defines the notion of space through the spatial relations an entity could have. Indeed, spatial relations are based on certain connections between entities, in which one entity cannot take the place of the other entities. Such space is then no true entity, but merely an abstraction out of real entities and their relationships. While spatial relationships are completely external to the entities or substances, if one adds activities to the equation, the connection becomes at least more internal. Darjes speaks of presence, by which he means the factor of one substance affecting another – the more a substance affects another, the more present it is to that other substance. Darjesian presence is then a much stronger relationship than mere spatial closeness – if one unites entities by bringing them close to one another, the union is merely external, while a union involving substances being present to one another is internal.

Before moving to more particular parts of metaphysics, Darjes finally considers the notions of infinity and finity, which he defines simply through the notion of perfection – finite entity is such that something can be more perfect than it, while an infinite entity is as perfect as is possible. The finity of an entity does not mean it couldn't be also perfect in some measure. It just isn't completely perfect and all perfection it has must belong also to the infinite entity. It is then immediately clear that all passivity, incompleteness and possibility of non-existence are signs of finity.

Already at this place in metaphysics, Darjes introduces Wolffian aposteriori and apriori proofs of God's existence, although he is, of course, not yet speaking of God. He notes, firstly, that since all finite entities are contingent, they must ultimately depend on a necessary infinite entity. Hence, if finite entities exist, an infinite entity surely must exist also (aposteriori proof). Since it is clearly possible that a finite entity would exist, an infinite entity must also be a possibility. Because infinite entity can be only impossible or necessary, it must then exist necessarily (apriori proof). We see here a similar dual role played by the two proofs as in Wolff's theology, the difference being that Darjes has to assume only the possibility of something finite.

Infinite and finite form then the major division of entities. Infinite entity is essentially unique, so no further division of that species is possible. Finite entities, on the other hand, can divide into further subspecies, depending on whether they are simple or complex.

tiistai 23. tammikuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 1 - Forceful being

We have been studying what Darjes calls primary philosophy, but we finally come to his ontology, when we see his definition of an entity (ens). In effect, by an entity Darjes means something that is not accident, that is, which can be in itself. What this being in itself means, according to Darjes, is at least that in the same place as one entity exists, no other entity can exist. Thus, impenetrability of an entity is an ontological characteristic for Darjes, while accidents might share the same place by occurring in same entity. An entity need not exist, but it can be a merely possible entity. If it does exist, Darjes calls it a substance.

Darjes notes that all substances can contain something which is a reason for something else being what it is. In other words, they are forces that can act on other things. Now, because this activity is an essential part of what substances are, they can also be divided according to their level of activity. The highest kind of substance is completely active and needs at most something to remove obstacles from its way to start acting – they are what Darjes calls an effective conatus. At the lowest rang of substances are completely passive substances, which require some efficient reason to make them act – these are what Darjes calls bare potentia. Between these two extremes fall cases where substances are in some sense passive and in some sense active – these substances Darjes calls either ineffective conatuses or potentias with conatus (it is difficult to say whether Darjes means these two to be separate groups, depending on whether the emphasis is on the active or the passive side of the substance or whether they are just two names for the same thing).

Darjes does not just distinguish between different kinds of forces or substances, but also between different kinds of actions these substances can make occur. The actions might happen within the substances or be intrinsic to it – these would be immanent actions. Then again, the actions might also be extrinsic to the substance – these would be transitive actions. Of course, Darjes also admits that some actions might be partially immanent and partially transitive.

Like all Wolffians, Darjes is a nominalist who insists that no universals can exist. Hence, all substances must be individuals. Although substances cannot then be divided into universals and individuals, Darjes does divide them into complete and incomplete substances, depending on whether a substance acts or not. He also notes that a substance can be variably or contingently complete, if it sometimes happens to act and sometimes not. Even if a substance would be contingently complete, it still might be a necessary existent, since there is no necessity that a necessary existent would always act.

A notion near to completeness is the subsistence of a substance. Darjes defines subsistent substance as a complete substance that is not sustained by something else. Here, sustaining means a relation in which one force determines another to act in a precise manner. Thus, subsisting substance would act and not be acted upon by other substances.

Darjes goes on to define states of an entity. In effect, these are nothing more than collections of some determinations that the entity has. For instance, being a substance or substantiality and subsistence are states that some entity might have. Depending on the determinations making up the state, the state can be internal, external or mixed, and it can be necessary or contingent. For instance, if there are some entities existing absolutely necessarily, then they have an absolutely necessary state of substantiality. With contingent entities, on the other hand, their state of substantiality is also contingent and in fact depends ultimately on some absolutely necessary substance.

Darjes does not remain on mere level of definitions, but tries to determine some general characteristics true of all substances, based mostly on the principle of sufficient reason. The most important conclusion is that all substances must persevere in their state of action or non-action, until some further reason makes them change their state. Thus, an action continues, until something comes to impede it.

Darjes also spends some time considering how to quantify forces. His idea is to measure forces through the actions they can make happen. For instance, if two passive substances have the same quantity of force is they are as quick in producing same actions, then they will produce same action in same time. Thus, by checking what the substances can achieve and how quickly they do it, one can compare the quantity of their forces with one another.

perjantai 19. tammikuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 1 – Connecting things

In previous post, we saw Darjes define basic notions of thinkable and possible and various determinations thinkables and possibles can have. The next step is to relate especially the possibles in various ways to one another. The most basic concepts in this relating are those of succession and coexistence. Darjes does provide definitions for these terms, but these definitions are somewhat circular or at least rely on our notions of what it means e.g. that a thing stops to exist, when another comes to existence. Thus, we might as well take these two notions as primitive relations, on basis of which temporal and spatial relations in general can be founded.

As one might have suspected, the primary mode of connection Darjes considers is that of reason/ground – that which makes something to be what it is. Darjes is one of the most careful philosophers in making distinctions between various forms of ground. The most important distinctions lie, firstly, between reason for the possibility of something and reason for the actual existence of something, and secondly, between a metaphysical/synthetical reason, which makes something be in itself what it is, and logical/analytic reason, which makes us know what something is. Further distinctions concern the questions whether a reason is by itself sufficient to ground something, whether a reason for something lies within the thing grounded or outside it and whether reason has truly caused something to occur or merely removed some obstacles preventing something to occur.

Like all Wolffians, Darjes is not happy to just define notions, but he wants also to show where they can be deployed. Especially the question of metaphysical reason of existence is important. Darjes notes that since essences must necessarily be, there really can't be any metaphysical reason for their existence. Instead, it is only us who can have analytical reasons for knowing that some essence exists, that is, we might have reasons for knowing something is possible.

If essences do not need metaphysical reasons, the connection of essences – or in general, any subjects – with further determinations not implicit in them does require. In essence, Darjes shows here his commitment to a version of the principle of sufficient reason. Like other Wolffians before him, Darjes tries to argue for this principle, but his arguments clearly just presuppose a number of things. Darjes suggests that a determination without a reason to back it up would not be able to prevent its opposite to latch on to the same subject, which would inevitably cause contradictions. In other words, Darjes merely presumes that some explaining or even causating factor is required for connecting a particular non-necessary and possible determination to a thing – or what amounts to the same thing, for removing the opposite determination. Darjes also hastily assumes that this presumption requires the stronger supposition of a sufficient reason – that is, that for the connection of a subject and determination there must be a finitely describable series of reasons, ending with a final reason, which requires no reason beyond itself.

The first particular kind of reason Darjes considers is the essence as a reason of some affections of a thing. Such affections Darjes calls attributes, although he at once admits this concept has two meanings, depending on whether the essence is the reason of their actuality or possibility – thus, attributes could be divided into actual and possible attributes. Now, some possible attributes might still require another reason for making them actual affections of the thing in question. Such affections would not be actual attributes. While most of the Wolffians would just name these non-attribute affections modes, Darjes has still some more divisions to make. The reason actualising the non-attribute affection might be something external to the thing in question, and in that case Darjes speaks of a mode. Then again, this reason might be something intrinsic to the thing, although not its essence – Darjes calls this a mode by analogue. These modes by analogue are an interesting addition to the normal classification of determinations of things. Firstly, they resemble modes, because they are not grounded on the essence of the thing: hence, they are at least analogical to modes. Secondly, they still resemble in a sense attributes more, because they do not require anything external to the thing for their explanation.

Even modes are not a simple group in eyes of Darjes. The modes in the most proper sense are actualised just through some external effective reason. Yet, Darjes says, some modes might also have partial actualising reason in something within the thing in question (Darjes also calls these affections mixed non-attribute affections). In effect, such immediate modes would otherwise be actualised by something internal to the thing in question – and would then be just modes by analogy – but some obstacle prevents this actualisation, which then requires some external reason removing this obstacle. Noticeably, while the place of relations in relation to modes has been somewhat murky in the Wolffia tradition, Darjes clearly takes them to be a subspecies of modes – modes divide into intrinsic modes, such as qualities and quantities, which can be cognised without any reference to other things, and into extrinsic modes or relations, the cognition of which requires a reference to other things.

At this moment, after going through all these various determinations things could have, Darjes makes a detour to different ways things could be distinguished, apparently through these various affections. Some distinctions, Darjes begins, concern merely the words used – this is a logical distinction – while other distinctions concern also what the words refer to and what is then something thinkable – metaphysical distinction. A metaphysical distinction, then, concerns either things thought – real distinction – or then just our conceptions of things – rational distinction. Although the distinction between real and rational distinctions appears a rather straightforward dichotomy, Darjes thinks these two types of distinction can be classified in a more gradual manner. Real distinction might concern something intrinsic to the things distinguished, but it might also be just an extrinsic distinction, based on different ways to denominate things. Furthermore, while rational distinction can be purely rational in the sense that it has nothing to do with the objects of our conceptions, in what Darjes calls eminent rational distinction this distinction is based on the objects of the concepts. Indeed, an extrinsic real distinction can well be connected with an eminent rational distinction, which is then in some sense intrinsic, although not real distinction. The importance of this highly abstract classification for Darjes is that two attributes or an attribute and an essence of the same thing can be distinguished only in an eminently rational manner – that is, the difference between the two is not just something in our heads, but it still doesn't require that two attributes or an attribute and an essence would be two separate things. Thus, while a thing might have several attributes, it still might not be divisible into several things.

We noted in the previous post that Darjes spoke of possibles of first and second order, when other Wolffians would have spoken of absolutely necessary and contingent things. This is because Darjes defines the notions of necessity and contingency in connection with combinations of determinations and subject – determination is necessary to a thing, if its opposite cannot belong to the thing, otherwise it is contingent. Such a notion of necessity and contingency is obviously relative to the thing in question. In addition to this subject-relativity, necessity and contingency can be relative to some hypothetical condition, and if not, Darjes speaks of absolute necessity and contingency. It is quite clear that essences and attributes are absolutely necessary, while all non-attribute affections are contingent – a thing has them because of some external or internal reason, and in another situation it might well have quite different affections. While Darjesian account of necessity and contingency is primarily about determinations, he still can speak of necessary and contingent things, because he regards existence as one possible determination of a thing. Furthermore, he notes that necessity and contingency can occur not only within determinations of a single thing, but also as characteristics of connections of things.

Like many Wolffians, Darjes concludes his discussion of connections between entities or nexuses with the notions of unity, order, truth and perfection. Starting with unity, Darjes notes that all connections between things form unities, which might be, depending on the nature of connection, absolute or relative, intrinsic or extrinsic and necessary or contingent. Thus, for instance, essence and respective attributes form a necessary, intrinsic and absolute unity. Then again, non-attributive affections form only a contingent unity with the essence. Furthermore, if thing has some mode produced by something external, the thing must form an extrinsic unity with this external reason.

Order Darjes defines as a characteristic of a series of connected things, where the things are connected because of same reasons – for instance, if some causal factor connects A1 to A2, the same factor connects A2 to A3 and so on. Darjes insists that we can always express this same reason in the form of a proposition, which then acts as a rule for the order in question. Truth, on the other hand, Darjes defines as the convenience of such things that have been posited together – for instance, truth in the usual sense of the word is the convenience of what we think about a thing or what we say about thing with the concept of this thing. Since the general definition of truth does not mention any series, all truths are not orders. Then again, in all orders the members of the series convene with one another. Perfections, finally, Darjes defines as consent of various things, where consent means that things conjoined are not adverse to one another.

lauantai 13. tammikuuta 2018

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics 1 – Thinkable and possible

While philosophers of Wolffian school began metaphysics usually with ontology, Darjes starts with something called primary philosophy, which should be distinct from ontology. The main difference between the two disciplines is that only latter deals with entities (ens). I shall speak in a later post what Darjes meant by an entity, but for the moment I am concentrating on his primary philosophy.

Like all Wolffians thus far, Darjes begins his account of metaphysics with the principle of non-contradiction. It is not surprising that this principle delineates the realm of possible for Darjes. More interesting is that Darjes actually has an account of what is left outside this realm. Even Wolff did define nothing as what is impossible, but it was unclear what this nothing should be – something in our minds or something more ontologically robust. Now, Darjes notes that nothing and something or impossible and possible are simply kinds of cogitable or thinkable, while thinkable simply is what we can think. Thus, metaphysics is then forcibly defined in relation to our thought, which paves the way for a complete change of ontology into an analytic of principles, which will happen with Kant. It is also important that according to Darjes we can think even contradictions – something not admitted by all philosophers – and very telling about Darjesian attitude toward thinking, which seems then to be nothing more than mere combining words together.

Darjes notes that everything thinkable, whether it be possible or impossible, has something that makes it possible or impossible. This feature making something possible or impossible Darjes calls the essence of thinkable. Darjes thus actually has a definition for an essence, which is more than one could say of Wolff. Then again, Darjesian notion of essence is is another deviation from the usual Wolffian stand, where essences belong only to possible things. Darjes also calls essence a constitutive or adequate primary concept, implying that essences are nothing but thoughts.

Darjes also introduces at this point the primary division of complex and simple, although he extends this classification to all thinkables. His method is to introduce these notions through the idea of essence. Essence of something we can think might be resolvable into further thinkables. If it is, the corresponding thinkable is complex, while if it isn't, this thinkable is simple. Note that we still appear to be moving in the level of thoughts, since Darjes especially calls the parts of essences or essentials partial or inadequate concepts. Further evidence that we are here dealing with thought is provided by Darjes' statement that division of complex thinkables must inevitably end with something simple, because we simply cannot think a bottomless series of constitution. Furthermore, Darjes notes that all impossible thinkables – nothings – must be complex, since simplicities cannot contain contradictions (another assumption that Wolff never made).

Beyond essence and its constituents or essentials, what is thinkable has what Darjes calls affections or adjuncts, in relation to which the thinkable is a subject. Knowing a bit about Wolffian tradition, one might suspect that Darjes would mention attributes and modes at this point. He will mention them, but in a completely different place, because his division of characteristics of thinkable is much more fine-grained than with earlier Wolffians. Still, something similar is in Darjes' mind, when he mentions that affections can be divided into two sorts. Some of them the thinkable has absolutely – that is, they characterise the thinkable in any situation whatever, for instance, like triangle is characterised by certain sum of angles. Some affections, on the other hand, are hypothetical, that is, characterise the thinkable under some conditions, such as when a triangle could be characterised by a certain colour, if it happens to painted in some manner. While the former affections are stable, the latter could be changed without any contradiction.

Beyond essence, essentials, attributes and modes, Wolffians also mentioned relations and Darjes makes no exception. For him, relation or extrinsic determination is something external to a thinkable which it characterises, that is, even when we have assumed the existence of the thinkable, we still need to assume the existence of something else, before this determination could hold of the first thinkable (for instance, one cannot be a child without someone else, whose child one is).

An opposite of an extrinsic determination is, of course, an intrinsic determination, that is, a determination that characterises a thinkable, even if there were no other thing to relate it to. Darjes doesn't leave this class of characteristics here, but goes on to divide intrinsic characteristics further. At first sight the division appears to just repeat the division between extrinsic and intrinsic determinations- some intrinsic determinations can be conceived without other things, some cannot. Yet, it is the word ”conceive” which is obviously important here – a determination might ontologically not be dependent on relations with other things, but we might epistemically require such relations.

The first part of the division or qualities is an easy thing to understand, and for instance, essence and essentials are obviously qualities in this sense. But what belongs to the other category? Darjes suggests that at least quantities belong to this class of intrinsic determinations. Clearly, quantity is an intrinsic determination in the sense that a thing can be of certain size without any thing external to it. Yet, if thing has a size, it must, firstly, be a complex and contain other things as its constituents. These other things or parts are then what is required for conceiving that a thing has a certain quantity – for instance, to say that a field is four acres large, we must think of field as consisting of acre-sized parts.

A thinkable with a quantity should not just consist of parts, but of parts that are in some sense same – this if how we can say e.g. that a field is six acres in size or that there are six wolves in a pack. This sameness, Darjes defines, means that these thinkables can replace one another, at least in some respect (just like if wolves are required, one wolf is as good as another, and that's why we can determine the size of a wolf pack). Darjes goes into more details of various kinds of sameness – identity or sameness of all characteristics, equality or sameness of quantities, similarity or sameness of qualities etc. - but none of this is surprising.

The one final thing to discuss at this point is Darjesian notion of existence. Unlike Baumgarten, Darjes does not try to beat Wolff in finding a definition for existence, but like Wolff, he merely accepts it as a given notion, which is related in a certain manner to the notion of possibility – what exists is possible, but something might be possible, without existing. Thus, Darjes divides possible essences into two kinds – ideal or merely possible essences and real or actual essences. The ideal essences Darjes also takes as a kind of nothing. That is, they are not nothing, in the official Wolffian sense of the word of being impossible – in other words, they are not complete negations of all existence. Instead, Darjes calls them nothing in a privative sense – they could exist, but happen to not exist.

We've already seen how innovative Darjes is in his use of the absolute and hypothetical viewpoints on various notions, and possibility is not an exception – in addition to absolute or intrinsic possibility or non-contradictoriness, Darjes mentions hypothetical or extrinsic possibility, that is, potentiality in some specific conditions. Another and more interesting use of these viewpoints concerns Darjesian differentiation between possibles of first and second order – possibles of first order absolutely cannot fail to exist,while possibles of second order cannot fail to exist under some hypothetical condition. We are obviously already speaking here of absolute and hypothetical necessity, although the term necessity hasn't yet been introduced. Darjes also makes a quick interesting remark about absolute necessity. He notes that while a thing exists, we cannot really distinguish between the essence and the existence of the thing. We can do this separation only with things that at some point won't exist and with things that must exist essence and existence just cannot be distinguished.

torstai 14. joulukuuta 2017

Joachim Darjes: Elements of metaphysics I (1743)

Darjes is quickly becoming one of the most interesting second-generation Wolffians. In his logical works he has shown himself to have an analytical mind with an ability to make clear and still profound distinctions, has manifested extensive historical knowledge of such then rarely mentioned things like the medieval theory of supposition, and finally, has been quite original, for instance, in his metaphysical reading of predication. It will be interesting to see whether this positive view will continue through the first part of his metaphysical work, Elementa metaphysices.

As metaphysics is in the heavy core of philosophy, I will use several articles to go through in more detail what Darjes had to say about its many facets. I shall begin by asking what he himself considered to be the nature of metaphysics. We find an interestingly original take already in Darjes' view on the nature of philosophy. While previous Wolffians had either emphasised the object of philosophy – e.g. happiness – or then saw the essence of philosophy in finding reasons, for Darjes philosophy is all about abstracting. In other words, Darjes does not think philosophy or science is about explaining things, but about describing their general features.

Darjesian definition of metaphysics seems more in line with the Wolffian tradition. Its topic, Darjes says, are possible objects and the primary genera to which the possible objects divide into. Metaphysics then divides naturally into two different disciplines – ontology as the study of possible objects as such and special metaphysics as the study of primary genera of possible objects.

Thus far the division of metaphysics with Darjes doesn't seem surprising, but when it comes to special metaphysics, Darjes introduces some interesting novelties. Like with many Wolffians, for Darjes basic division of things was into simple and composite things. Darjes found from this division two primary parts of special metaphysics – monadology and somatology. This was already a bit of a novelty, since this division did not completely correspond with the usual division into cosmology on the one hand, psychology and natural theology on the other hand. While e.g. Wolff's cosmology contained a study of elements, in Darjesian division elements as simple objects were a topic to be handled in monadology – they formed the topic of monadology proper.

In addition to monadology proper, Darjes divided monadology into psychology – study of souls – and something called pneumatology – study of spirits – where both souls and spirits were not elements of bodies. We will have to consider the full import of this division later, but at least the pneumatology should contain natural theology as the study of infinite spirit, while finite spirits should be the topic of pneumatology proper. Just like other Wolffians, Darjes suggests that psychology should have an emprical side, because experiences are our only route to some capacities of souls. Darjes also extends this demand to pneumatology, which should have its own experimental side.

The main difference from other Wolffians is the lack of world as a proper topic of metaphysics. Indeed, this is quite logical, since world is not a primary genera of entities, but a collection of some of them – bodies form a corporeal world, while souls and spirits together form a moral world and both of them together a transcendental world or the world in the most extensive sense.

Next time, I shall begin with Darjesian primary philosophy, which strangely isn't identical with ontology and wasn't included in Darjes's division of metaphysics.

torstai 16. marraskuuta 2017

Christian Wolff: Natural right 3 (1743)

The third part of Wolff's Jus naturae continues with the topic of property, which was so prominent in the second part. Now it is not anymore a question about the original method of acquiring property, but more about what Wolff calls derivative modes of acquiring. In other words, it is all about rules by which the ownership of some thing can be transferred from one person to another. The primary result of Wolff's discussion is that this transference is always two-sided: while the owner undoubtedly has a right to state that he wants to transfer his property to someone, the person to whom the property is transferred must also accept this transaction.

Since transference of property, and more generally rights, involves usually spoken or written interaction between human beings, Wolff also considers obligations regarding language. A general rule guiding speech in Wolff's opinion is that one should be morally true or honest, that is, say what one believes is true. Yet, Wolff does not take this principle to the supposedly Kantian extreme, in which honesty is more important than anything, even human life. Instead, Wolff clearly states that honesty can never be an excuse for breaking natural law. One should even avoid saying honest things, which would offend someone's feelings. In general, one should not speak frivolously, but one should have always a good reason for saying something.

Wolff also says that no person is obligated to always say the same thing. Indeed, if one doesn't consider anymore as true something that one once held to be true, one need not be accountable for one's earlier opinions. Instead, such a change of opinion is a sign of flexible mind, who can correct oneself when new evidence is found. Yet, there is one particular type of speech that cannot be taken back, namely, promises involving transfer of property or some other activity.

Thus, Wolff's discussion of transference of property and his discussion of honesty are combined in a discussion of pacts or contracts. Just like contract requires more than one person, it cannot be broken just by a one-sided decision, but only by a mutual consensus. If one side of the contract does not do what she has promised, the other side of the contract has the right to force the first person to keep her promise.

Not all contracts are valid, and a valid contract requires something more than mere mutual consent of the persons making the pact. Firstly, the persons making the contract must have enough reason that they are able to make contracts. Thus, minors, people who lack the necessary intellectual capacities and even persons under some severe emotional distress cannot make valid pacts. Secondly, the contract itself must be such that it can be fulfilled. Thus, contracts involving impossibilities or even conditions exceeding the capacities of the persons involved cannot be valid. Hence, no one could have made valid contracts, which would lead them to debts they could never hope to settle.

The majority of the third part of Wolff's natural law goes then into various intricacies of contracts. What makes interest a just part of contracts? That it is a recompensation of potential profits a person could have got by using her capital in another manner. If you have promised something to another person in a letter, can you still take your promise back? As long as the letter hasn't arrived to its destination, you can renounce the promise, but once the person to whom the promise has been made has read and accepted it, the promise becomes a valid contract. Can we in some case presume that a person has wanted to transfer some of his property, although she hasn't said it? If a thing has been derelict for years, we can assume that its owners won't miss it anymore.

Some of Wolff's concerns seem rather quaint these days, such as his long account of oaths, in which person tries to verify what he has spoken and especially to make his promises more believable by insisting that God will curse him if he lies or break his promises. Quite rightly Wolff notes that atheists can't make true oaths, although they can vouch for their own conscience. Furthermore, he notes that such an oath does not really add anything to promises or contracts and it certainly won't make it valid, if it isn't already – thus, although one would vow to do something impossible or beyond one's capacities, one still shouldn't be afraid of hell fire.

Next time we shall see what Darjes had to say about metaphysics.