Nicholas Jolley

in The Light of the Soul

Published in print October 1998 | ISBN: 9780198238195
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597824 | DOI:

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In the first part of this chapter, I shall argue that Malebranche takes over three central doctrines from Descartes and transforms at least two of them; when they are combined, the result is vision in God. The three central doctrines are the distinction between primary and secondary qualities; the representative theory of perception; and the conclusion of the wax meditation—the thesis that bodies are perceived through the intellect, not the senses. In the second half of the chapter, I shall show how Malebranche uses Cartesian innovations to extend Augustine's theory of divine illumination. With the help of Descartes's teaching, Malebranche is able to argue that we can see bodies—changing and corruptible things—in God, without falling foul of divine immutability. In this way, he can overcome Augustine's scruples about the theological dangers of seeking to extend his theory of divine illumination.

Keywords: Augustine; Descartes; dispositional properties; divine; Gueroult; illumination; immutability; perception; primary and secondary qualities; vision in God; wax; Bernard Williams

Chapter.  7343 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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