Malebranche, Nicolas

Malebranche, Nicolas

Malebranche, Nicolas, 1638-1715, French philosopher. Malebranche's philosophy is a highly original synthesis of Cartesian and Augustinian thought. Its purpose was to reconcile the new science with Christian theology. Beginning with Descartes's dualism between mind and body, Malebranche developed a theory called occasionalism, which denied any interaction of the two realms. To Malebranche, the eternal truths are contained in the divine intellect, and scientific knowledge is possible only because the soul is part of the divine intellect. He summarized his beliefs in his famous assertion that we see all things in God, a statement that led to an extended controversy with the theologian Antoine Arnauld. The philosophy of Malebranche influenced such diverse minds as Leibniz, Berkeley, and John Norris. His chief works are De la recherche de la vérité (1674; tr. The Search for Truth, 1694) and Traité de la nature et de la grâce (1680).

See studies by M. E. Hobart (1982) and C. J. McCracken (1983).

(born Aug. 6, 1638, Paris, France—died Oct. 13, 1715, Paris) French priest, theologian, and philosopher. His philosophy is an attempt to reconcile Cartesianism with the thought of St. Augustine and with Neoplatonism. Central to Malebranche's metaphysics is his doctrine of occasionalism, according to which what are commonly called “causes” are merely “occasions” on which God acts to produce effects. His principal work is Search After Truth (3 vol., 1674–75).

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