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Geulincx, Arnold


Cartesian philosopher; b. Antwerp, Jan. 31, 1624; d. Leyden, November 1669. He studied at the University of Louvain, where he was named professor and later dean (1654). His frankly Cartesian sympathies and his attachment to jansenism and later to calvinism obliged him to resign (1658) and take refuge in Leyden. Deeply impressed by his reading of Descartes's works, Geulincx rediscovered in them the decisive stages of doubt and of the cogito. But he linked these with the results of an inspiration very different from that of Descartes. The cogito is not so much the affirmation of a thinking substance as the consciousness of entire dependence with regard to God: the individual spirits of men are only modes of the infinite spirit of God, just as particular things are only modes of universal extension. Whence it follows that of himself man can perceive only what God allows him to perceive and that if he himself can will, this willing is limited by the absolute inefficiency of a passive perception. "Nihilest in me praeter cognoscere et velle; nudus sum hujusce mundi contemplator: spectator sum in hac scena, non actor" (Ethica, 1). The principle of this sharing between things and self, as between God and self, is given in one of the fundamental propositions of the doctrine: "qua fronte dicam, id me facere, quod quomodo fiat, nescio" (ibid. ). From this is also derived the first rule of morality: "ubi nihil vales, ibi nihil velis" (ibid. ). This governs all the obligations that the rule prescribes and the unity of the virtues it retains, the main one of which is humility.

See Also: cartesianism; occasionalism.

Bibliography: Opera philosophica, ed. j. p. n. land, 3 v. (The Hague 18911893). Arnold Geulincx, trans. a. de lattre (Paris 1970). a. del noce, Enciclopedia filosofica 2:693699. v. van der hÄghen, Geulincx: Étude sur sa vie, sa philosophie et ses ouvrages (Ghent 1886). j. p. n. land, Arnold Geulincx (The Hague 1895). e. terraillon, La Morale de Geulincx dans ses rapports avec la philosophie de Descartes (Paris 1912). b. rousset, Geulincx entre Descartes et Spinoza (Paris 1999).

[a. de lattre]

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