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Malebranche on Descartes on Mind-Body Distinctness TAD M. SCHMALTZ IN MEDITATION VI, Descartes concluded that mind and body are distinct substances.© I propose to consider his defense of this famous conclusion from the unusual perspective of Nicolas Malebranche. Unlike other critics, Malebranche ~lid not doubt that Descartes had the resources to demonstrate this conclusion. Rather, he was concerned to refute Descartes©s claim that such a demonstration relies on a clear and distinct idea of the nature of soul. Indeed, there is a little corner of Malebranche©s work which contains the argument that the very fact that Cartesians establish the difference between soul and body by appealing to the clear idea of extension belies their claim that knowledge of this difference derives from a clear idea of soul. In this paper I want to consider these provocative remarks in relation to Descartes©s account of mind-body distinctness.© I focus not so much on the question of whether Descartes actually offered the sort of argument that© In the text and notes, I use the following abbreviations: AT: C. Adam and P. Tannery, eds., Oeuvres de Descartes (Paris: Vrin, 1964-78); CSM: J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch (with the addition of A. Kenny in vol. llI), trans., The Philosophical Writings of Descartes (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1985); PP: Prineipia philosophice; OCM: A. Robinet, ed., Oeuvres completes de Malebranche (Paris: Vrin, 1958--67); LO: T. Lennon and P. Olscamp, trans., The Search after Truth and Elucidations of the Search after Truth (Columbus: Ohio State Universtiy Press, 198o); RV: De la recherche de la v~t~; Ecl.: i~claircissementssur la recherchede la v~rir OA: Oeuvres de Messire Antoine Arnauld (Brussels: Impression Anastaltique, ]967); TFI: E.J. Kremer, trans., On True and False Ideas, New Objections to Descartes©Meditations, and Descartes©Replies (Lewiston : The Edwin Mellen Press, x99o). Though I cite the standard English translations of passages from the works of Descartes, Malebranche, and Arnauld, all translations of these passages provided in the paper and notes are my own. 9Descartes preferred to speak of the "mind" (menaor l©espri~)in order to distance himself from the Aristotelians (see Fifth Replies, AT VII 355-56/CSM II 246), though he occasionally lapsed into speaking of the "soul" (an/ma or l©dme). On the other hand, Malebranche preferred the more traditional term ©soul© (/©dine), but at times employed the term ©mind© (l©espr/t). I follow Descartes and Malebranche in taking both terms to denote a thinking thing. Which term I use at any particular point is for the most part determined by the terminology of texts I consider there. [57~] 574 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 32:4 OCTOBER ~994 Malebranche attributed to the Cartesians, but more on the question of whether he is vulnerable to certain conceptual points that Malebranche was concerned to make against them. The paper itself has three parts. The first provides a discussion of the different elements of Malebranche©s remarks, which emphasizes the argument against the Cartesians outlined above. In the second part, I consider the response to Malebranche provided by the Cartesian Antoine Arnauld. Arnauld had indicated profound difficulties for the account in the Meditations of mind-body distinctness, but later attempted to defend such an account against Malebranche©s critical remarks. I contend that though Arnauld offered penetrating objections, he failed to come to terms with the point of that portion of Malebranche©s text which I want to emphasize . In the third part, I turn to Descartes©s own discussion in the Meditations of knowledge of mind and of its distinction from body. While it is clear from this discussion that Descartes would have wanted to resist the Malebranchean critique of the Cartesians, I argue that certain portions of this discussion render him vulnerable not only to Malebranche©s claim that Cartesians cannot discern immateriality in the nature of soul alone, but also to Malebranche©s conclusion that the nature of soul is not intellectually transparent to them in the way in which the nature of body is. 1. MALEBRANCHE ON THE CARTESIANS In a section of his I674-75 De la recherche de la v~rit~ which distinguishes...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 573-603
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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