Nicolas Malebranche's account of the nature of ideas and their role in knowledge and perception has been greatly misunderstood by both his critics and commentators. In this work, Nadler examines Malebranche's theory of ideas and the doctrine of the vision in God with the aim of replacing the standard interpretation of Malebranche's account with a new reading. He argues that Malebranche's ideas should be seen as essences or logical concepts, and that our apprehension of them is thus of a purely (...) intellectual character and serves to provide us with knowledge of eternal truths. He then shows that the visionary representationalist reading usually given to Malebranche's theory of perception simply misconstrues the nature of ideas and the role he intended them to play in perception. Nadler's discussion includes detailed analyses of Malebranche's notion of representation and of his arguments for the presence of divine ideas in knowledge and perception. These aspects of Malebranche's system are considered both in light of his Cartesian and Augustinian commitments and in the broader seventeenth-century philosophical context. (shrink)
This paper examines a common misreading of the mechanics of Malebranche's doctrine of divine causal agency, occasionalism, and its roots in a related misreading of Malebranche's theories. God, contrary to this misreading, is for Malebranche constantly and actively causally engaged in the world, and does not just establish certain laws of nature. The key is in understanding just what Malebranche means by general volitions'.
Louis de La Forge and the Development of Occasionalism: Continuous Creation and the Activity of the Soul STEVEN NADLER THE DOCTRINE OF DIVINE CONSERVATION is a dangerous one. It is not theologi- cally dangerous, at least not in itself. From the thirteenth century onwards, and particularly with the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas, the notion of the continuous divine sustenance of the world of created things was, if not univer- sally accepted, a nonetheless common feature of theological orthodoxy, Chris- tian (...) and otherwise. Rather, the danger is philosophical in nature . The philosophical problem I am concerned with is not some logical incoherence at the heart of the doctrine; nor does it lie in any objections that can be raised against the arguments that, historically, have been given for the thesis that God, as a causa secundum esse, must continually act in order to conserve the world in being. The question I address -- and it is a pressing one for any seventeenth-century Cartesianmis whether the doctrine of divine conservation establishes too much. I believe that, under certain circumstances, it does, and that the ultimate ramifications of the doctrine for natural causality must be unacceptable to an orthodox Cartesian such as Louis de La Forge , perhaps the most strict follower of Descartes of the.. (shrink)
Leibniz in Paris -- Philosophy on the Left Bank -- Le Grand Arnauld -- Theodicy -- The kingdoms of nature and grace -- Touch the mountains and they smoke -- The eternal truths -- The specter of Spinoza.
Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy focuses on the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries--the extraordinary period of intellectual flourishing that begins, very roughly, with Descartes and his contemporaries and ends with Kant. It also publishes papers on thinkers or movements outside of that framework, provided they are important in illuminating early modern thought.
BOOK REVIEWS 143 level of ignorance. I was, for example, surprised to learn that haecceitas is a compara- tively rare term in Scotus rather than signate matter. In his Introduction and Epilogue Gracia nicely counterbalances the tendency to- ward fragmentation stemming from the disparate accounts of individuality in the various thinkers represented in the volume. He does this, first, by highlighting for the reader the basic issues surrounding the problem of individuality, such as the concep- tion of individuality, the extension (...) of the term 'individual', the ontological status of individuality, the principle of individuation, the discernibility of individuals, and lin- guistic reference to individuals. Secondly, he sums up the achievement of the thinkers of this period with regard to individuation. His speculation on why the question of individuality and individuation received the emphasis it did in scholastic thought, namely, because Christianity placed an emphasis upon the individual in a way that Greek thought never did, strikes me as quite plausible. I would suggest by way of addition that Scholasticism was also forced to develop a philosophical account of indi- viduality, precisely because some of the Aristotelian doctrines that entered the Chris- tian West, especially in the thought of Avicenna and Averroes, were quite opposed to forms of individuality: for example, the.. (shrink)
Leibniz in Paris -- Philosophy on the Left Bank -- Le Grand Arnauld -- Theodicy -- The kingdoms of nature and grace -- "Touch the mountains and they smoke" -- The eternal truths -- The specter of Spinoza.