“The Power of Self-Motion in Cavendish’s Nature”

In Powers: A History. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 169-188 (2021)
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Nature, according to Cavendish, has “an Infinite Natural power, that is, a power to produce infinite effects in her own self, by infinite changes of Motions.” While Cavendish mentions powers with respect to human beings, medicines, occasional causes, and other entities, these powers are really just the power of self-moving matter to cause changes in the world. This chapter examines why Cavendish attributes the power of self-motion to matter, what this power is, how it arose, how it is enacted, and its limitations. In doing so, it discusses her views on causation, perception, and motion, and argues that motion is not reducible to change in mereological facts.

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Marcy P. Lascano
University of Kansas


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