Monday, May 23, 2005

Malebranche's Account of Reason

I. The Reason that enlightens man is the Word or the Wisdom of God Himself. For each creature is a particular being, and the Reason that enlightens the mind of man is universal.

II. If my own mind were my Reason, or my light, my mind would be the reason of all intelligences; for I am sure that my Reason or the light that enlightens me is common to all intelligences. No one can feel my own pain; all men are able to see the truth that I contemplate. Thus it is that my pain is a modification of my own substance, and that the truth is a good common to all minds.

III. So by means of Reason, I have, or I am able to have, some society with God, and with all the intelligences that there are; since all minds have with me a common good and the same law, Reason.

IV. This spiritual society consists in a participation of the same intelligible substance of the Word, from which all minds are able to nourish themselves. In contemplating this divine substance, I am able to see a part of what God thinks; for God sees all truths and I am able to see some of them in Him. I am also able to discover something of what God wills: For God is only able to will according to Order, and Order is not entirely unknown to me. Certainly God loves things in proportion as they are lovable; and I am able to discover that there are some things more perfect, more estimable, more lovable, than others.

[From Traité de morale, Part I, Chapter I. My translation.]

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