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The Light of the Soul – Theories of Ideas in Leibniz, Malebranche, and Descartes - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Light of the Soul: Theories of Ideas in Leibniz, Malebranche, and Descartes

Nicholas Jolley


The concept of an idea plays a central role in seventeenth‐century theories of mind and knowledge. However, philosophers of the period were seriously divided over the nature of ideas. The Light of the Soul examines the important but neglected debate on this issue between Leibniz, Malebranche, and Descartes. In reaction to Descartes, Malebranche argues that ideas are not mental but abstract, logical entities. Leibniz in turn replies to Malebranche by reclaiming ideas for psychology. Nicholas Jolley explores the theological dimension of the debate by showing how the three philosophers make use o ... More

Keywords: Descartes, eternal truths, history of philosophy, innate ideas, Nicholas Jolley, Leibniz, logical entity, Malebranche, mind–body problem, occasionalism, scepticism, self‐knowledge

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1998 Print ISBN-13: 9780198238195
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003 DOI:10.1093/0198238193.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Nicholas Jolley, author
University of California, San Diego
Author Webpage