UCL Philosophy


Chamberlain: Move Your Body! Cavendish on Self-Motion

27 June 2024

Colin Chamberlain: Move Your Body! Cavendish on Self-Motion (2024)Routledge

Margaret Cavendish argues that when someone throws a ball, their hand does not really cause the ball to move. Instead, the ball moves itself. This chapter reconstructs Cavendish’s argument that material things—like the ball—are self-moving. Cavendish argues that body-body interaction is unintelligible. We cannot explain interaction in terms of the transfer of motion nor the more basic idea that one body acts in another body. Assuming something moves bodies around, Cavendish concludes that bodies have a power of self-motion. Still, Cavendish needs to explain why bodies appear to causally interact even if they do not really. Balls do not usually throw themselves without a helping hand. This chapter offers a new reading of the way bodies respond to their external circumstances in terms of prerequisites or enabling conditions.

Chapter in "Powers and Abilities in Early Modern Philosophy" (2024) Sebastian Bender, Dominik Perler (Eds.), Routledge