The Most Dangerous Error: Malebranche on the Experience of CausationSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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Do the senses represent causation? Many commentators read Nicolas Malebranche as anticipating David Hume’s negative answer to this question. I disagree with this assessment. When a yellow billiard ball strikes a red billiard ball, Malebranche holds that we see the yellow ball as causing the red ball to move. Given Malebranche’s occasionalism, he insists that the visual experience of causal interaction is illusory. Nevertheless, Malebranche holds that the senses (mis)represent finite things as causally efficacious. This experience of creaturely causality explains why Aristotelian philosophers and others struggle to recognize occasionalism’s truth.