Malebranche, Nicolas


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Malebranche, Nicolas

(nēkôlä` mälbräNsh`), 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 occasionalismoccasionalism,
metaphysical doctrine that denies that finite things have any active power and asserts that God is the only cause, whereas physical events and mental states are only occasions for God's action. Muslim theologians in the 8th cent.
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, 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 NorrisNorris, John,
1657–1711, English clergyman and philosopher. As the most prominent follower of Malebranche he wrote, in exposition of that philosopher's system, An Essay towards the Theory of the Ideal or Intelligible World (1701–4).
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. 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).

Bibliography

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