5

OCCASIONALISM AND CONTINUOUS CREATION

How not to think of occasionalism

Malebranche’s occasionalism is sometimes represented - often on the basis of a superficial reading of a remark in Leibniz’s New System1 - as if it were merely an ad hoc solution to Descartes’ mind-body problem, with God intervening to fill the causal gaps between physical and mental events. 2 This is a gross misrepresentation, based on a failure to understand both the full generality of Malebranche’s doctrine and the grounds on which it rests. 3 It is not that he, like other Cartesian dualists, faces a problem in explaining how body and mind can interact, and is obliged to drag God in to plug the explanatory gaps. Rather, he has a perfectly general account of the nature of the causal relation which entails that only God can be a true cause, and this account yields, as a straightforward corollary, his solution to the mind-body problem.

Occasionalism states that all so-called ‘second’ or ‘natural’ causes are not true causes at all, but serve merely as occasions on which the true cause (God) operates. As we saw in Chapter Two, earlier Cartesians such as Cordemoy and La Forge had articulated semi-occasionalist positions, usually denying causal powers to bodies. It is only in Malebranche, however, that we find a full-blooded occasionalism, denying all causal powers also to finite spirits. 4 Only God, for Malebranche, has the power to bring anything about. But God does not act in random or arbitrary ways: on the contrary, He exerts His power in accordance with general rules, by means of what Malebranche calls volontés générales. So the impact of the white billiard ball does not, strictly speaking, cause the red ball to move (the white ball has no such power); the moment of impact merely serves as the occasion for God to redistribute motions according to certain universal laws. Similar stories can be told for all other so-called natural causes. The occurrence of certain events in my nerve organs and brain do not cause a sensation, but whenever my

-96-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Malebranche
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations and Editions x
  • Preface xii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Tensions in Cartesian Metaphysics 18
  • 3 - The Vision in God 47
  • 4 - The Dispute with Arnauld Over the Nature of Ideas 74
  • 5 - Occasionalism and Continuous Creation 96
  • 6 - Malebranche's Modifications of Cartesian Physics 131
  • 7 - Malebranche's Biology 158
  • 8 - Malebranche on the Soul and Self-Knowledge 186
  • 9 - Malebranche on Freedom, Grace and the Will 209
  • 10 - The Downfall of Malebranchism 234
  • Notes 262
  • Bibliography 279
  • Indexes 286
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 290

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.