Whatever happened to the theory of supposition?

Reading Arash Abizadeh’s recent “The Absence of Reference in Hobbes’s Philosophy of Language” reminds me of something that puzzles me about early modern philosophy of language. Whatever happened to the theory of supposition? If you look at medieval scholastic theories of language, you find repeated mention of signification and supposition, two semantic features of terms. […]

“For one man calleth Wisdome, what another calleth feare”

Discussions of Hobbes’s views about language seem to proceed on two separate paths. (Neither of these paths is terribly busy, I’ll grant you, but they both seem to be there.) On the one hand there are discussions of Hobbes’s general philosophy of language — signification, nominalism, and the like. On the other hand there are […]

Cavendish and causal models

[Cross posted from http://philosophymodsquad.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/cavendish-and-causal-models/.%5D I want to say a little bit about the way Margaret Cavendish thinks about causation.[1] A key aspect of that is an inversion, or set of inversions, of what other modern philosophers were up to. One prominent trend in modern philosophy was what is called mechanism. The central mechanist idea is […]

Pasnau, Hobbes, and substance

[Cross-posted from http://philosophymodsquad.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/pasnau-hobbes-and-substance/.] Robert Pasnau, in his Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671, draws attention to two ways in which we find Hobbes talking about substance. One is found in De Corpore, among other texts. On this, “there is no room for metaphysical entities like the thin substance and its inhering accidents” (Pasnau 117). Indeed Hobbes wrote against Bramhall that […]

Cudworth and basic obligations

In my previous post, I looked at Cudworth’s argument that good and evil (and other moral features) cannot arise from decision alone, for something good cannot simply be made good by decision, without being also given the underlying nature of a good thing. Of course, his opponents have some possible responses open to them. Not all obligations, […]

Cudworth, tautologies, and natures

Prompted by Lewis’s mention of Cudworth, a post or two on Cudworth’s most famous argument. Book 1 of Cudworth’s Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality [TEIM] contains a relatively short, and apparently free-standing, argument that morality cannot arise merely from decisions, either human or divine. Hobbes is among Cudworth’s targets, but so are Descartes and […]

Hobbes’s arguments for nominalism in De Corpore

[Cross-posted from philosophymodsquad.wordpress.com.] (Following up on my earlier post on an argument for nominalism in the Elements of Law.) In chapter 2 of De Corpore Hobbes offers two further arguments for the view that names are the only universals. (1) The first involves the way in which common names denote. However a common name, as it is the name of […]