Early Modern Metaphysics and the Material World: Suárez, Descartes, Spinoza


ACLS Fellowship Program




This study traces one route from an Aristotelian account of the material world to a more distinctively modern outlook. This route starts with a revision of the Aristotelian account in the work of the late scholastic Francisco Suárez that prepared the way for modern innovations. It then proceeds to a critical engagement with the scholastic account in the work of René Descartes. The journey ends with a novel interpretation of basic elements of Descartes’s metaphysics of the material world in the work of Benedict Spinoza. Though Spinoza is sometimes considered to be a Cartesian, his account of the material world is in some ways as different from Descartes’s as Descartes’s is from Suárez’s.