Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Well, Almost Everything

I just finished giving a guest lecture for Julie's half of the PHL 210 course, on Malebranche. I managed to cover everything in Malebranche in 2 1/2 hours. If anyone can do better, nominate them for the Nobel Prize.

I wasn't able to do as much Astell and Norris as I hoped. I faced something of a complicated dilemma: my position on Malebranche is that, before you take on particular arguments, you have to look at him in a holistic light, and this means that if you want to avoid misleading students, you have either to do him all at once or not at all; and you can't really do either. So what I did was focus on one important point, namely, his view that Reason is not a part of our minds but is an independent rational agent (i.e., a person), and used that to touch briefly on all the major points in his ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. The best that could be done, I think. But it didn't leave me quite as much time to handle the 'English Malebrancheans' as I would have liked. My hope, though, is that by bringing Astell up some students might be interested enough to pursue the matter on one's own. It's in Reason's hands now, I suppose.

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