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date: 23 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist (the transformation of the whole substance of the bread in the body of Christ) was a stumbling block for Cartesian physics, which denied any accidents. Descartes worried about this and proposed several solutions in order to solve the difficulty and assert his orthodoxy. Despite this, the problem stirred up fierce discussions among his followers and brought him official condemnation from the Catholic church. This chapter shows how this debate is not only a theological debate concerning transubstantiation—Descartes has had to bring a theological discussion into philosophy. The true issue in this discussion is not the explanation of the dogma, but the definition of the body.

Keywords: Eucharist, physics, transubstantiation, Desgabets, theology

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