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Henry More, Supporter and Opponent of Cartesianism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Descartes and Cartesianism
EditorsSteven Nadler, Tad M. Schmaltz, Delphine Antoine-Mahut
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford Univerity Press; Oxford
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780198796909
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2019

King's Authors


Henry More was one of Descartes’s earliest English supporters, but later became one of his most vigorous critics. This chapter explores the philosophical connections between the two, focusing particularly on their views on body and spirit. More regarded life, not thought, as the principal attribute of immaterial substance, and he increasingly rejected Cartesian mechanism in favour of a vitally animated physical world. The principal attributes of body were impenetrability and discerpibility (i.e. divisibility, though ultimately into indivisible atoms). Body could not be defined in terms of extension, More argued, because spirits were extended too, space was really distinct from body, and a vacuum was possible (though not actually existent).

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