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Original Sin and the Problem of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Original Sin and the Problem of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe Peter Harrison It is not the philosophy received from Adam that teaches these things; it is that received from the serpent; for since Original Sin, the mind of man is quite pagan. It is this philosophy that, together with the errors of the senses, made men adore the sun, and that today is still the universal cause of the disorder of men's minds and the corruption of men's hearts. Nicolas Malebranche1 In his Éloge du Pere Malebranche, delivered to the Parisian Academy of Sciences on 22 April 1716, Bernard Fontenelle recounted the story of Nicolas Malebranche's somewhat controversial conversion to Cartesianism. When friends and colleagues had taken him to task over his new-found commitment to the doctrines of Descartes, Malebranche responded with this question: "Did Adam have the perfect science?" It was agreed that this was the common view. Malebranche responded that he, too, aspired to the perfect science, and that his quest for this knowledge could not be satisfied by following the historical or critical pursuits of his colleagues, but by adopting the procedures set out by Descartes.2 For Malebranche, the Cartesian method offered a means of overcoming the limitations of the fallen intellectual faculties of Adam's http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the History of Ideas University of Pennsylvania Press

Original Sin and the Problem of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

Journal of the History of Ideas , Volume 63 (2) – Apr 1, 2002

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 The Journal of the History of Ideas, Inc.
ISSN
1086-3222
Publisher site
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Abstract

Peter Harrison It is not the philosophy received from Adam that teaches these things; it is that received from the serpent; for since Original Sin, the mind of man is quite pagan. It is this philosophy that, together with the errors of the senses, made men adore the sun, and that today is still the universal cause of the disorder of men's minds and the corruption of men's hearts. Nicolas Malebranche1 In his Éloge du Pere Malebranche, delivered to the Parisian Academy of Sciences on 22 April 1716, Bernard Fontenelle recounted the story of Nicolas Malebranche's somewhat controversial conversion to Cartesianism. When friends and colleagues had taken him to task over his new-found commitment to the doctrines of Descartes, Malebranche responded with this question: "Did Adam have the perfect science?" It was agreed that this was the common view. Malebranche responded that he, too, aspired to the perfect science, and that his quest for this knowledge could not be satisfied by following the historical or critical pursuits of his colleagues, but by adopting the procedures set out by Descartes.2 For Malebranche, the Cartesian method offered a means of overcoming the limitations of the fallen intellectual faculties of Adam's

Journal

Journal of the History of IdeasUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Apr 1, 2002

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