Excerpt from The Princeton Review, Vol. 31: April, 1859
It is well known that Malebranche maintained the doctrine that we see all things in God, and subordinately to this, that the immediate object of our perception can be nothing but those representative entities which are called ideas. Arnauld, who was preeminently a theologian, came to this debate by a theological route. Malebranche had written a treatise on 'nature and Grace'; the principles of which seemed to the J ansenist to impugn the grand foundations of the Augustinian system. It was while preparing to combat these errors, that, ten years after its first appearance, Arnauld set himself to examine the famous Recherche de la Verite; and, being arrested by the portentous dogma of our seeing all things in God, be instituted labours which resulted in the work on True and False Ideas, which appeared in Arnauld wrote on his copy of Malebranche these words: Pulchra, nova, falsa. He is said to have been stirred up to the controversy by Bos suet, who for some years threatened to engage in it personally; on hearing this, Malebranche said he would be proud of such an adversary. In this discussion every thing turns upon the question whether ideas have any separate existence. After settling this to his own satisfaction in the negative, he proceeds to the particular system of Malebranche, which he denominates the most ill-contrived and unintelligible of all hypotheses. He shows that his Opponent leaves altogether undetermined the important inquiry, what it is precisely that we see in God. At first, he seems to say, it is all things. A little further on, he excepts our notion of the mind itself acquired by a direct inter nal consciousness, and the knowledge of other minds which we derive from analogy. Presently he represents the divine ideas as representing to us only space, number, and the essences of things; afterwards all the works of God. Equally vague is Malebranche when he undertakes to explain the nature and mode of this imaginary vision. He seems at first to have believed that each individual object has its individual idea in the Divine Mind. But he afterwards adopted the opinion, that the different objects of the universe are represented all toge ther in an intelligible and infinite space which God comprises.
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