The Controversy Concerning Ideas Between Malebranche and Foucher

  • Richard A. Watson
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire Des Idees / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 11)


The first volume of the first edition of De la recherche de la verité où l’on traite de la nature de l’esprit de l’homme, et de l’usage qu’il en doit faire pour éviter l’erreur des sciences by Nicolas Malebranche appeared in 1674.1 No volume number is given and the only indication that the three books it contains do not constitute a complete work is a one- sentence paragraph in Chapter IV of Book I which lists six topics to be treated; the volume closes with the word FIN. It is not surprising, then, to find Simon Foucher publishing his short Critique de la Recherche de la vérité où l’on examine en méme-tems une partie des Principes de Mr Descartes in 1675 2 under the impression that he was examining a completed work. He was soon apprised of his oversight; Malebranche responded in the preface to the second volume with one of the nastiest printed attacks in the history of philosophy (Descartes’ opinion of Pere Bourdin is comparable, but was not meant for the public) which is crowned with the now famous line: “Quand on Critique un Livre, il me semble qu’il faut au moins l’avoir lû.” 3


Infinite Regress Material Thing Material Image External Thing External Idea 
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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. Watson
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington UniversityUSA

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