Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous - The Second Dialogue: Pages 50-60 Summary & Analysis

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Summary

Hylas wonders whether, for all Philonous’s reasoning, matter could still exist as a type of intermediary between our ideas and God. Philonous grants that there could be such a thing, but to call it ‘matter’ would be an abuse of language, because it would not be inactive, unthinking, and so on. A cause must be active, but we can think of no other active thing but our will. This is because everything else we think about is an idea, as Philonous has earlier shown, and ideas are not active but passive.

Still, Hylas thinks matter might exist as some kind of tool of God. First, he thinks of it as a kind of “instrument” through which God gives us ideas (53). Yet Philonous argues that instruments are only used when the will alone is not enough; an able-bodied person would...

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This section contains 1,270 words
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Buy the Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous Study Guide
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