From Angels to Occasions. A reading starting from the 'problem of transduction'

  • Simone Guidi Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Istituto per il Lessico Intellettuale Europeo e Storia delle Idee


This article addresses some Late Scholastic accounts (Suárez, Abra de Raçonis, Gamaches, Ysambert, Arriaga), of the “problem of transduction” in angels, as a possible source for the genesis of early modern occasionalism, particularly La Forge’s and Cordemoy’s. Indeed, if the “problem of transduction” is a structural issue of all the Aristotelian gnoseology, the impossibility of interaction between immaterial and material substance concerns, more generally, all spiritual substances, posing the issue about the principle of "transduction" already at the level of angels, entirely immaterial creatures, unable to any relationship with the bodies. In order to answer to this peculiar version of the 'problem of transduction' Late Scholastic elaborate doctrines that are direct antecedents of occasionalist ones, and which likely directly influenced early modern occasionalism. To follow this investigative path, I will intersect three complementary argumentative lines. First, I will focus on Late Scholastic angelology, to point out how the need to solve the 'problem of transduction' in this peculiar context pushes the sixteenth and seventeenth-century Schools to a proto-occasionalist conception of angelic innatism. Secondly, I will identify in the debate on the angelic locutio of the key places for the elaboration of a model that sees God as the only efficient cause and the only guarantor of the mind's communications and contents. Thirdly, I will stress how the Late Scholastic angelological debates could be an important source for early modern dualism and the seventeenth-century occasionalism, notably for La Forge and Cordemoy.