In the long history of causal theories, occasionalism stands out due to its radical departure from common sense. Occasionalism denies that natural objects and human beings are capable of causal activity, and reserves causal powers exclusively for God. Remarkably, occasionalism was defended in both the Islamic tradition, where it was introduced by Abū l-Ḥasan al-Ašʿarī (873-935), and in the Christian tradition, where it was first proposed by Arnold Geulincx (1624-1669). Notwithstanding its prima-facie counter-intuitive nature, occasionalism was construed on the basis of rigorous rational arguments, which initiated – in both traditions – a rich debate on the nature and reality of causal powers.
Despite the noticeable similarities between Muslim and Christian occasionalism, no study has so far approached the two traditions philosophically [...]
The Research's Aim
Despite the noticeable similarities between Muslim and Christian occasionalism, no study has so far approached the two traditions philosophically, analysing and comparing the rational arguments developed by proponents and opponents of this theory. This research aims to address this lacuna by investigating and comparing Muslim and Christian arguments pro and contra occasionalism, focusing in particular on their relation with (i) the underlying physical worldviews, notably theories on the structure of physical bodies and the body-soul relation; and (ii) the Muslim and Christian views on God’s attributes. By embedding the occasionalist and anti-occasionalist arguments in their broader philosophical framework, the research aims to determine (a) how Muslim and Christian thinkers incorporated occasionalism into their physical and theological worldviews, (b) whether Muslim and Christian thinkers exhibit a shared motivation for embracing occasionalism, and (c) whether Christian occasionalists were influenced by Muslim occasionalists and/or whether they drew on common sources.
Partner University: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Promotors: Prof.dr. Carla Rita Palmerino (Radboud University), dr. Andreas Lammer (Radboud University), dr. Andrea Sangiacomo (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)