Volume 88, Issue 3/4, July/October 2011
Theological Themes in Modern Philosophy
Thomas M. Lennon
Malebranche’s Thomist Inclination
Malebranche’s doctrine of the will can be illuminated by consideration of the views both of Aquinas and early modern would-be Thomists. Three Malebranchian themes are considered here: his conception of the will as an inclination toward general and indeterminate good, his intellectualism (the view that that the locus
of morality lies ultimately with the intellect), and his attempt to avoid the extreme views of Jansenism and Quietism, both condemned in the period as theologically unacceptable. Two little-known Thomists in particular are examined: Antonin Massoulié, whose work helps to explain why Malebranche rejected Quietism and the libertarian view of the will typical of it, and Laurent-François Boursier, whom Malebranche criticized for failing to provide a conception of the will and its freedom that avoids Jansenism.