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Arnold Geulincx

1624-1669. Philosopher. Born at Antwerp, he studied philosophy at Louvain, and taught there (1646- 52) until dismissed for his sympathy for Jansenist teachings. He moved to Leyden in the Netherlands, and after a decade of poverty, during which he turned to Calvinism, became a lecturer at the university, and (in his early forties) then professor. He died not long after from the plague. His main works were Metaphysica (1651) and Ethica (1655). As a philosopher, starting with the sovereignty of God, he stressed submission to God's will as the main virtue, and in his metaphysics tried to reconcile sovereignty with man's apparent free will. Descartes* had not fully clarified the relation of soul and body (how can an immaterial soul influence material things?), and Geulincx elaborated on this question in an almost paradoxical manner. Since God is the sole cause of all events, second causes do not exist. God is thus the immediate cause of every event, and what we take to be causal relationships are illusory. Man's free will is also thus illusory, for if God is the immediate cause of every event, man cannot will events: he can only resolve to conform to God's causal will.

See Opera Philosophica (ed. J.P.N. Land, 3 vols., 1891-93).

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