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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 11, 1998

Modern Philosophy

Miran Bozovic
Pages 9-14
DOI: 10.5840/wcp20-paideia199811234

Malebranche’s Occasionalism
The Philosophy in the Garden of Eden

According to Malebranche, Adam should be considered as an occasionalist philosopher. Not only did philosophy originate in paradise, but it in fact originated as Malebranchian occasionalism. It was in order to be able to persist in his occasionalist belief that Adam was given exceptional power over his body, that is, the power to detach the principal part of his brain (i.e., the seat of the soul) from the rest of the body. It was only in continually detaching the principal part of his brain from the rest of the body that Adam was able to persist in his occasionalist belief despite the unmistakable testimony of his sense to the contrary. Having once sinned, he thereupon lost his psychophysical privilege. Whereas pre-lapsarian physiology made Adam's belief in the causal efficacy of God possible, post-lapsarian physiology, in contrast, necessarily engenders and sustains belief in the causal efficacy of bodies. It was only as a result of the post-lapsarian physiology that some of the central problems of early modern philosophy arose. Contingent upon Adam's psychophysical privilege, occasionalism was possible only in paradise.

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