Malebranche by Andrew Pyle
Roger Caldwell has occasion to consider Andrew Pyle’s ideas on Malebranche.
Nicolas Malebranche, the seventeenth-century French philosopher and theologian, was for a long time little more than a footnote in the history of thought, associated with the much-derided and often misunderstood theory of occasionalism. Now, with recent scholarship, he is emerging from the shadows as an original thinker and taking his place amongst his fellow rationalists, Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza. The new paperback edition of Andrew Pyle’s magisterial study fills a much-needed gap, and is easily the most accessible and comprehensive introduction to Malebranche’s work.
Occasionalism is a theory about the mind and has to be understood in the context of Cartesian dualism. Descartes famously posited two kinds of substance, physical and mental, and so landed himself with the intractable problem of how the two could be causally related.