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Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.1 (2002) 123-124

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Book Review

Textes philosophiques: conclusions philosophiques. Dissertation en deux parties sur la vision des vérités en Dieu et l'amour de la vertu. Régle du bon sens. De la liberté de l'homme

Antoine Arnauld. Textes philosophiques: conclusions philosophiques. Dissertation en deux parties sur la vision des vérités en Dieu et l'amour de la vertu. Régle du bon sens. De la liberté de l'homme. Épiméthée. Translated by Denis Moreau. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2001. Pp. xi + 333. Cloth, FF 198.00.

This collection should prove useful to anyone doing research on Antoine Arnauld, or more generally on philosophical theology in seventeenth-century France. The collection contains excellent French translations of three Latin texts, and a scholarly, if not critical, edition of a fourth text that appeared originally in French. They are accompanied by helpful [End Page 123] introductions and copious scholarly notes. A bibliography of 533 secondary works on Arnauld is provided.

Studies of Arnauld's philosophy have concentrated on his polemics with Malebranche and Leibniz. Moreau suggests that Arnauld's philosophy is worth studying in its own right, and the texts he has selected provide a start for such a study. The first text, Conclusiones Philosophicae, is a set of theses composed by Arnauld for defense by one of his students in 1641, when Arnauld himself was twenty-nine years old. It is our only record of Arnauld's early philosophical thought. Moreau points out that Conclusiones anticipates themes developed by Arnauld during the rest of his long career, and that the text is also valuable as an indicator of the sort of philosophical questions being discussed in Paris at the time that Descartes wrote the Meditations. The original Latin and Moreau's French translation are given on facing pages.

The second and third texts in the collection, Dissertatio Bipartita and Régles du Bon Sens, were parts of a debate within Jansenist circles near the end of Arnauld's life. Arnauld's friend, and his collaborator in the Port-Royal Logic, Pierre Nicole, had introduced into Port-Royal the speculation that every human being receives a "grace générale" that makes it possible for her to perform morally good actions. Arnauld attacked this theory in the late 1680s. Given the Augustinian assumption that an action is morally good only if it is directed to God as the agent's final end, and given that some people have never thought about God, the theory of a grace générale raised a philosophical question: How could someone who has no knowledge of God act out of the love of God? Nicole's answer was that the grace générale given to every human being brings with it a sort of implicit, confused, and imperceptible knowledge and love of God. In defense of this answer, Nicole refers to a thesis written by the Louvain theologian Gommaire Huygens, also a friend of Arnauld's, and defended by one of Huygens's students in 1688. Huygens says that anyone who has knowledge of a necessary and immutable truth sees that truth "in the first and uncreated truth, which is God," and that anyone who loves chastity or any other moral virtue, by that very fact loves "the eternal reason of chastity, which is in God." These positions seemed to support the notion that everyone might have an implicit knowledge and love of God even if some have never consciously thought about God. Arnauld attacked these claims in 1692 in his Latin Dissertatio bipartita, of which Moreau provides a French translation. Nicole was impressed and disturbed by the Dissertatio, confessing that he did not know how to respond. He asked another mutual friend of his and Arnauld's, the Benedictine François Lamy, to answer Arnauld. In reply to Lamy, Arnauld wrote...


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