Malebranche's Theory of the Soul

Malebranche's Theory of the Soul : A Cartesian Interpretation

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This book offers a provocative interpretation of the theory of the soul in the writings of the French Cartesian, Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715). Though recent work on Malebranche's philosophy of mind has tended to emphasize his account of ideas, Schmaltz focuses rather on his rejection of Descartes' doctrine that the mind is better known than the body. In particular, he considers and defends Malebranche's argument that this rejection has a Cartesian basis. Schmaltz reveals that this argument not only provides a fresh perspective on Cartesianism but also is relevant to current debates in the philosophy of mind.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 162.6 x 237.7 x 25.9mm | 712.15g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0195103440
  • 9780195103441
  • 2,125,400

Back cover copy

When French philosopher Nicolas Malebranche (1638-1715) set forth his opposition to Descartes' view that mind is better known than body, he touched off a controversy that had prominent fellow Cartesians accusing him of both failed logic and dubious theology. Malebranche responded by asserting that his negative thesis concerning our knowledge of mind derived from his superior grasp of Cartesian theory and signalled neither a rejection of Descartes' philosophical system nor a denial of properties of the soul such as spirituality, immortality, and freedom. The current resurgence of interest in Malebranche's work has led to a greater understanding of his account of ideas, his notorious doctrine of "the Vision of all things in God", but has left unexplored crucial aspects of his theory of the soul and the precise nature of its Cartesianism. This vital new book confronts these matters directly, arguing provocatively that Malebranche was correct in claiming a Cartesian foundation for his theory and demonstrating the value to Cartesian studies of Malebranche's uniquely internal critique of Descartes' account of body and mind.
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Review quote

"A very fine piece of scholarship, and displays real philosophical acumen as well....An original and stimulating discussion....It makes a solid and important contribution to early modern scholarship."-Steven Nadler, University of Wisconsin, Madison "Schmaltz's book...comes as a welcome addition to the Malebranche literature; that he has given us such a well-researched and carefully argued study is even more welcome....this is an excellent book....Schmaltz has given us an excellently researched and carefully analyzed account of an important aspect of the thought of one of the leading philosophers of the seventeenth century."-The Philosophical Review
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