Philosophy Colloquium: Sean Greenberg’s “Occasionalism and Human Freedom in Malebranche — ‘Things that Undermine Each Other’?”

Colloquium: Sean Greenberg’s “Occasionalism and Human Freedom in Malebranche — ‘Things that Undermine Each Other’?”

ABSTRACT: Malebranche’s readers have continuously thought that there is a tension between his commitments to human freedom—or, in Malebranche’s terms, that which delineates human beings having the power to either consent or suspend consent—and occasionalism, of which only God has causal power. In the body of the paper, I argue that attention to Malebranche’s moral psychology reveals that, contrary to long-standing interpretive consensus, occasionalism and the power to consent or to suspend consent can be reconciled. I conclude, however, that it does not thereby follow that occasionalism and human freedom can be reconciled: the reconciliation of occasionalism and the capacity to consent or suspend consent depends on Malebranche’s conception of attention. Consequently, in order to determine whether occasionalism and human freedom can be reconciled, commentators must engage a question that almost no commentators have engaged, and determine whether occasionalism and the human capacity for attention can be reconciled.

All are welcome to attend!

Host: The Department of Philosophy

The Philosophy Department’s second colloquium of the spring 2011 semester will present Jeremy Heis (UC Irvine) and his lecture “Kant on Parallel Lines” on Thursday, April 7th.