Confusing Faith and Reason? Malebranche and Academic Scepticism

In P. J. Smith & S. Charles (eds.), Academic Scepticism in the Development of Early Modern Philosophy. Springer. pp. 181-213 (2017)

Julie Walsh
Wellesley College
When we consider early modern philosophers who engage with sceptical arguments, Nicolas Malebranche is not usually among the first names to come to mind. But, while Malebranche does not spend much time with this topic, the way in which he responds to it when he does is nevertheless valuable. This is because his response underlines the central role of a particular principle in his system: the utter dependence of all created things on God. In this paper, I argue that the end of Malebranche’s engagement with scepticism in general is to show that it is a position, like atheism, that is only possible if one has a disordered imagination. And, importantly, one feature of a disordered imagination is the questioning or denial of what Malebranche takes to be a foundational principle of human knowledge: that we, and all other finite things, utterly depend on God for everything.
Keywords Malebranche  Atheism  Intelligible extension
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