As well as coming across fun quotes in JE, I’ve been trying to figure out the sources of some of his basic metaphysical commitments and how they fit together. Here are a bunch of them:
(1) no creaturely diachronic identity
(2) no created substances
(3) no created powers
(4) continual creation
(5) the principle of sufficient reason
(7) what I (maybe misleadingly) think of as ‘no action at a distance’ – the effect must be in the same place and at the same time as its cause
7 does a lot of work for Edwards. It’s the main (or at least most controversial) premise in his argument for 4 and 1. But he only gives parity arguments for it: If you think action “at a thousand miles distance, without any existence to fill up the intermediate … space” is unacceptable, he says, then you should think action “in different parts of space … though ever so near one to another” is unacceptable. And if you think action at a spatial distance is unacceptable, then you should think action at a temporal distance is unacceptable.
The spatial distance half is not a big deal, given 6. Edwards ends up analyzing co-location in terms of ability to act. But I find the temporal distance half more puzzling.
Why must the effect occur at the same moment as the cause, rather than just (as Hume would say) at the next moment? I don’t think it’s because there is no next moment. Although Edwards holds that matter is infinitely divisible and hence presumably that space is continuous, he seems to think of time as discrete. At least, he’s happy to talk about ‘the very next moment’.
Does anyone know any antecedents to this view? Does anyone want to speculate about possible motivations?