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The Light of the SoulTheories of Ideas in Leibniz, Malebranche, and Descartes$
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Nicholas Jolley

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198238195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198238193.001.0001

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Vision in God and Occasionalism

(p.99) 6 Malebranche
The Light of the Soul

Nicholas Jolley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

It is characteristic of both occasionalism and vision in God that they place man in a condition of extreme dependence on God; indeed, they might be seen respectively as ontological and epistemological versions of this theme. Further, both doctrines can be seen as pushing Cartesian themes to extreme lengths. Occasionalism is a radical version of the continuous creation doctrine of the ‘Third Meditation’; vision in God is a radical version of Descartes's thesis in the ‘Fifth Meditation’ that all knowledge depends on the prior knowledge of God. We shall see that Malebranche does not achieve a fully satisfactory account of the relations between his two most famous doctrines because he sometimes has difficulty acknowledging that the realm of the psychological is not simply coextensive with the sensory; when he does try to accommodate this insight, the result is that he sets up tensions with his most basic commitments. The two doctrines may be flawed, but they are free from the arguably more serious conflations and inconsistencies that bedevil Descartes's treatment of the same issues.

Keywords:   absolute necessity, continuous creation, covering law, deductive subsumption, hypothetical necessity, Louis Loeb, Meditations, mind–body interaction, occasionalism, psycho–physical laws, Spinoza, vision in God

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