Okrent, Nicholas

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Library and Information Science
Philosophy
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Information Literacy, Undergraduate Services Librarian and History Liaison
Introduction
Nick Okrent is the librarian for American History, Africana Studies, Asian American Studies, Philosophy, and Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Nick holds a BA in Philosophy from Haverford College, an MA and M.Phil. in Philosophy from Columbia University, and a MSLS from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
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Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
  • Publication
    Constructing the Magazine of Early American Datasets (MEAD): An Invitation to Share and Use Data About Early America
    (2016-01-01) Smith, Billy G; Okrent, Nicholas E; Schocket, Andrew M; Wipperman, Sarah L
  • Publication
    A Note on Leibniz's Supposed Flirtation with Occasionalism in the 1669 Letter to Thomasius
    (2000-06-21) Okrent, Nicholas E
    According to the traditional account of Leibniz's early philosophy, he briefly accepted a broadly Cartesian physics by which "only God has the ability to move bodies by continually recreating them in different places..." Some believe that this Cartesianism, which seems to be endorsed in the 1669 letter to Thomasius, indicates that Leibniz accepted a version of occasionalism in that letter. This paper argues that Leibniz does not hold an occasionalistic notion of causation in the 1669 letter to Thomasius. In pursuing a synthesis of hylomorphism and Cartesianism, Leibniz arrives at an account that avoids occasionalism and has striking similaries to scholastic theories about motion.
  • Publication
    Use of Full-Text Electronic Resources by Philosophy Students at UNC-Chapel Hill: A Citation Analysis
    (2001-04-01) Okrent, Nicholas E
    This study addresses the issue of how important full-text electronic resources are to the advanced research of undergraduate and graduate philosophy students. The fact that students in the humanities tend to rely on resources that are often not available in full-text electronic format suggests that this format is of somewhat marginal importance to philosophy students, but no empirical studies have verified this. By performing a citation analysis of undergraduate honors theses and masters theses completed at UNC-Chapel Hill between 1998 and 2000, the researcher presents empirical evidence suggesting that students performing high-level philosophy research at UNC-Chapel Hill during this period made little use of material available in full-text electronic form.
  • Publication
    The Identity of Indiscernibles and Spinoza's Argument for Substance Monism
    (2000-09-01) Okrent, Nicholas E
    In A Study of Spinoza's Ethics, Bennett provides an analysis of what he calls Spinoza's 'offical argument' of substance monism. The official argument is Bennett's interpretation of the demonstration of 1P14, and his criticisms of it are powerful ones. This paper addresses one aspect of Bennet's criticisms. A premise of the official argument is the conclusion of 1P5, that there cannot be two substances with an attribute in common. Bennett argues that 1P5 is insufficient to support 1P14. This paper argues that a correct understanding of Spinoza's version of the identity of indiscernibles reveals that 1P5 is sufficient to support 1P14 and Spinoza's argument for substance monism.
  • Publication
    Descartes' Two Accounts of Mind Body Union
    (1997-07-01) Okrent, Nicholas E
    First paragraph: Descartes was committed both to the Christian doctrine of the unity of man and to an experimentally oriented mechanistic science. Furthermore, he was committed to a dualistic metaphysics in which humans consist of a union of mind (res cogitans) and body (res extensa), which are absolutely distinct substances. There has been little agreement on how his explanation of union reflects his commitments. Some philosophers argue that Descarte's primary or only account of union was the "co-extension" view because it is compatible with the unity of man. As we will see, however, the co-extension account would not have satisfied Descartes' scientific inclinations. Philosophers who pay serious attention to the difficulties with the co-extension account argue that Descartes accepted or should have accepted the "natural institution" account of union, which is compatible with his scientific commitments. However, the natural institution account is guilty of a Platonism and arbitrariness that conflicts with the unity of man. I will argue that Descartes' desire to accommodate all his commitments drove him to accept and be devoted to both the co-extension and the natural institution accounts.
  • Publication
    Leibniz on Substance and God in "That a Most Perfect Being is Possible"
    (2000-01-01) Okrent, Nicholas E
    Leibniz used Descartes' strict notion of substance in "That a Most Perfect being is Possible" to characterize God but did not intend to undermine his own philosophical views by denying that there are created substances. The metaphysical view of substance in this passage is Cartesian. A discussion of radical substance without any sort of denial in the possibility of other substances does not indicate Spinozism. If this interpretation is correct, then the passage is neither anomalous nor mysterious. There is reason to believe that the passage expresses just the beliefs that we should expect Leibniz to hold in his De Summa Rerum period. Furthermore, this interpretation indicates that while Leibniz's metaphysics during this stage of his career is suggestively similar to Spinoza's, there is no evidence that Leibniz accepted Spinoza's pantheistic conclusion.
  • Publication
    Spinoza on the Essence, Mutability and Power of God
    (1998) Okrent, Nicholas E
    This paper argues that Spinoza makes a distinction between the constitutive essence of God (the totality of His attributes) and the essence of God per se (His power and causal efficacy). Using this distinction, I explain how Spinoza can conceive of God as being both an immutable simple unity and a subject for constantly changing modes. Spinoza believes that God qua Natura Naturans is immutable while God qua Natura Naturata is not. With this point established, Curley's claim that Spinozistic modes are causally dependent on but not properties of God loses much of its attraction. In conclusion, I suggest how God's essence is related to His attributes and His modes.