The Defence of Innate Ideas
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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