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Download PDF by Steven Nadler: The Cambridge Companion to Malebranche

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By Steven Nadler

ISBN-10: 052162729X

ISBN-13: 9780521627290

The French thinker and theologian Nicholas Malebranche was once probably the most very important thinkers of the early sleek interval. A daring and unorthodox philosopher, he attempted to synthesize the hot philosophy of Descartes with the spiritual Platonism of St. Augustine. this is often the 1st choice of essays to handle Malebranche's concept comprehensively and systematically. There are chapters dedicated to Malebranche's metaphysics, his doctrine of the soul, his epistemology, the prestigious debate with Arnauld, his philosophical procedure, his occasionalism and conception of causality, his philosophical theology, his account of freedom, his ethical philosophy, and his highbrow legacy.

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He even wrote as if ideas were like pictures onto which sensations could be attached or projected like a painter's colors (OC 6:78). 10 As is shown in Chapter 6, Malebranchian ideas are properly construed as logical concepts; they are, for example, typically geometrical concepts of circles and triangles. Now we might say (at least pretheoretically) that a given circular figure is red and blue, but logical concepts are not the sort of things that can be perceived or sensed redly or bluely or onto which color can be projected.

Vii, OC 1:453; LO 239) Malebranche here appeals to the Cartesian principle that we have incorrigible knowledge of our mental states; thus, if I believe that I am in pain, for example, then it is true that I am in pain. However, obviously it is a far cry from asserting such incorrigibility to demonstrating the spirituality and immortality of the mind. As we shall see, Malebranche became dissatisfied with this strategy of appealing to inner consciousness, and this is hardly surprising, for it raises a number of difficulties.

Somewhat harder to assess is Arnauld's objection to Malebranche's claim that our mental modifications cannot be ordered or compared. 21 Sensations can of course differ among themselves in terms of intensive magnitude: one shade of green is deeper or brighter than another. However, it is merely silly (and confused) to complain that such intensive magnitudes lack the precision of extensive magnitudes. Indeed, as Robert Adams observes,22 it was precisely the fact that sensations were not amenable to mathematical treatment that was one important motive for kicking the phenomenal qualia out of the physical world and into the mind.

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The Cambridge Companion to Malebranche by Steven Nadler

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