Johann Christoph Sturm's Natural Philosophy: Passive Forms, Occasionalism, and Scientific Explanations

Andrea Sangiacomo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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This paper presents the first systematic investigation into Johann Christoph Sturm's natural philosophy and his account of causation and scientific explanations. While Sturm maintains that God is the only true cause of natural effects, he also claims that the specificity of natural effects must be empirically investigated by inquiring into natural forms. Forms, however, do not have any active role in the causal process that brings the phenomenon about, but they only account for its specific features. To articulate this view, Sturm engages with a number of crucial topics discussed by seventeenth-century authors, such as the rejection of scholastic substantial forms and the occasionalist claim that only God is the true efficacious cause of natural effects. Sturm's account departs significantly from other currently available early modern positions and offers a still largely overlooked perspective to investigate the seventeenth-century debate on causation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-520
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the History of Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2020


  • Sturm
  • Leibniz
  • occasionalism
  • substantial forms
  • causation
  • scientific explanation
  • natural philosophy

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