Cartesian Meditations and Malebranchian Meditations
Raffaele Carbone (University of Naples Federico II)

April 4, 2022, 5:00pm - 7:00pm

This event is online


  • European Commission, Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 892794


University of Venice
University of Venice

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Venue: online Zoom meeting

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Zoom meeting ID: 845 7164 0858; Passcode: gMi180


In his Méditations chrétiennes et métaphysiques (1683) Malebranche develops a path of reflection in which the self, questioning the origin of its knowledge and volitions, discovers in its interiority that the interlocutor able to answer some of its questions is the divine Word. The self, i.e. the disciple, thus understands that the light illuminating him/her does not coincide with human understanding, but is in fact the Word, the Sagesse éternelle. Through references to the Holy Scriptures and to Augustine, Malebranche constructs a meditative itinerary that differs from the one proposed by Descartes, as it moves from the lumière naturelle in the Cartesian sense, which does not seem to have a divine character, to the lumière of the Word. In the light of these historical-theoretical data, we propose a reconstruction of the role played by interiority and meditation in certain texts by Malebranche, highlighting the moments in which he appropriated the Cartesian heritage and those in which he distanced himself from Descartes’s philosophical paradigm. Both meditative paths reveal a plurality of aspects. The Cartesian path is centred on a subject capable of attaining the truth through a series of operations (the various moments of doubt, the discovery of its own existence, the identification of the author of its being, namely God, and so on), in the course of which the access to truth, as Foucault affirms in L’herméneutique du sujet, is revealed to the subject itself as being made possible in virtue of its own structure as a subject. On the other hand, in the Malebranchian itinerary, characterized by multiple practices (praying, meditating, examination of conscience, vigilance) and by deductive reasoning, it is the discovery (in the second Méditation) of the ‘Master’, the ‘Other’, that turns out to be decisive, entailing a crucial conversion of the subject both on the epistemological and on the ethical level.

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