Nicholas Malebranche

Nicholas Malebranche was a theologian and philosopher from the 17th century. He was very influential in two aspects of the history of philosophy. The first was that we see all things though God. Second was his works with occasionalism. He was concerned with how our minds get perceptual images of external objects. His final answer was that God contains all external objects there for God implants these ideas in our mind and the right time. So, we see external objects and there images as God sees them. Malebranche gave his ideas to help people to realize that God was a part of their lives at all times.

Nicolas Malebranche was born August 5th, 1638 in Paris. He was born deformed and sickly and preferred solitude in his childhood. Malebranches father was a government official his fathers official title was royal counselor, from the rural bourgeoisie. For work he was a treasurer of five large farms. Malebranches mother belonged to the minor nobility. And had a brother-in-law that was the governor of Canada. It was believed that Malebranche lived off of his familys wealth. The religion Malebranche was raised in was catholic.

Malebranche was born crippled and had a deformed spine he remained this was all of his life. There for he could not go to school like all the other children. He was educated at home from his mother who was a very educated woman. This is thought of how he got his great literary style. After getting the start of his education from his mother he went on to attend the College de la Marche from 1654 to 1656 were he studied philosophy and theology. Malebranche graduated Master of the Arts, and went on to Sorbonne in Paris until 1659.

He intended to make theology his life intention but stopped going to the Sorbonne because he did not believe he was learning anything new. Malebranche had the chance to be canonry at Notre Dame but refused to accept. Then he joined the Congregation of the Oratory in 1660. The chief aim of this program was to train candidates for the priesthood. During the time Malebranche studied at the Oratory its teachings where strongly based from the philosophies of Descartes. Malebranche was ordained a priest in 1664 having studied ecclesiastical history in Hebrew and Biblical criticism.

Malebranche had to major influences in his studies of mathematics and philosophy. The first was Descartes, which Malebranche spent years reading his works, evaluating and revaluating making the works gives more since to the catholic religion. And the second Leibniz who Malebranche had many meetings where the two talked about philosophy and mathematics. In these meetings Leibniz conveyed many of his new ideas on the new calculus. In 1674 Malebranche became professor of mathematics at the Congregation of the Oratory.

He had a great influence in the development of mathematics and science. Although Malebranche made no outstanding discoveries in mathematics he is of major importance in the development of mathematics since though him the works of Leibniz and Descartes in mathematics was spread and developed. Malebranches direct contributions to mathematics was the editorial role in some books and the teaching of mathematics and physics to Privat de Molies and Reyneau. Malebranche was a major philosopher and follower of Descartes. His metaphysics is his belief that we see all things in God.

He took the ideas of Descartes and expanded them to bring in line with the standards of the Roman Catholic orthodox belief. Malebranche had many theories on how we see things. He looks at how as humans we see things though God and how God places truths into our minds. Malebranche says that God houses all ideas of external things and by Gods choosing he allows as to see the ideas of external things. Also that God holds all ideas and blueprints of all things because he is the creator. And that all spirits and spiritual things such as ideas dwell within God just as all physical things dwell in space.

Given that we obtain ideas of external things by viewing them though God, this does not mean that we see the inner nature of God himself. The Nature of God is simple but the ideas of things we see in God are complex said Malebranche. Another point of Malebranche was since God creates all things for his own purpose, then as human creatures we cannot look at anything without seeing God in those things. Malebranche had many points in which he proved the point that God is the key in ideas and seeing all external objects though God. One other large point that Malebranche covered was occasionalism.

Occasionalism means that God controllers all things of motion. Malebranche looked at the reasons why God has to controller all things for motion for it to locigical. One of the examples given in a book I looked at was a baseball bat hitting a baseball. When the bat strikes the ball, God is the actual cause of the motion of the ball. The bat is merely the occasional or incidental cause, which signals God to move the ball. Malebranche also took this work from Descartes and expanded it for the Roman Catholic religion as he has done numous times before.

Malebranche talks about how humans cannot control motion because it will make them Godlike and will break the unwritten rule of philosophers about the one and only god. Simply because it would make all humans have the Godlike ability of controlling motion. Malebranche influenced make writers and philosophers of his times and later. For example in 1713 Malebranche started meeting with Berkeley. Berkeley was strongly influenced by the writings of Malebranche they talked about philosophy and mathematics similar to when Malebranche got started and meted with Leibniz.

Many modern philosophers write about Malebranches books and views on philosophy. Fontenelle considered him a great mathematician, physicist and writer he wrote his diction is pure and chaste, and has all the dignity which the subject requires and all the grace of which it admits. DAlembert also praises his writing but not his philosophy. I think he is in all respects very inferior to Bayle and Gassendi as a philosopher; it even seems to me that he was less a great philosopher than an excellent writer on philosophy I see him as a good demolisher but a bad architect, said DAlembert.

And finally my favorite writing about Malebranche is by Voltaire when he was comparing Locke and Malebranche. Voltaire said A single page of Locke contains more truths than all the volumes of Malebranche; but a single line of Malebranche reveals more subtlety; imagination, finesse, and genius, perhaps, than all of Lockes enomous book. There are many more quotes I liked about Malebranche but these are the ones I found most interesting to me. Malebranche was taken ill in 1715 while staying at the house of a friend at Villeneuve.

He was taken back to the Oratory in Paris and died four months later after great suffering. He lived a long life for the time and died at the age of 77. Fontenelle wrote about his illness and how his death was very painful in the last months dealing with the illness. I found everything about Malebranche interesting because I knew nothing about him before I picked him to do this paper. I just picked him out of a list and wanted to learn about someone I would get a better knowledge of a philosopher that I had no idea about.


Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out