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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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The Defence of Innate Ideas

(p.153) 9 Leibniz
The Light of the Soul

Nicholas Jolley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

It would be foolish to try to pretend that Malebranche is always Leibniz's primary target in his writings on innate ideas. Obviously, the arguments of the New Essays are powerfully shaped by the polemical needs of replying to Locke, but it is surely significant that Leibniz has the resources in his philosophy for answering all Malebranche's objections, and it is not uncharacteristic of Leibniz to fight a war on two fronts. Indeed, the fact that Malebranche is a target can throw new light on Leibniz's sometimes obscure defence of innate ideas; for many features of Leibniz's case fall into place when they are seen as part of a coherent strategy for answering Malebranche's objections. In the first part of this chapter, we shall analyze Leibniz's strategy for defending a dispositional theory of innate ideas against both Locke and Malebranche; in the last part of the chapter, we shall see how Leibniz's defence of innate knowledge is supported by a psychologistic theory of necessary truth.

Keywords:   Jonathan Bennett, C. D. Broad, dispositional, divine psychology, eternal truths, faculty explanations, innate ideas, Leibniz, Locke, mechanistic physics, necessary truth, petites perceptions, Margaret Wilson

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