Malebranche 7th DIALOGUE

Malebranche 7th DIALOGUE - SEVENTH DIALOGUE The inefficacy...

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1 SEVENTH DIALOGUE: The inefficacy of natural causes and the lack of power in created things. We are immediately and directly united to God alone. [Theotimus has now joined the group, and engages in some joking conversational skirmishes with Aristes. Then Theodore gets down to business.] Theodore: . . . . Tell us please, Aristes, what has entered your mind on the topic I put to you in our last discussion. What are the things with which we have some connection? What are the causes of these connections, and what are their effects? . . . . [Aristes replies jokingly, and Theodore, who is in a bad temper with Aristes throughout this dialogue, reproves him sharply. Then:] 1. Aristes: It seems to me, Theodore, that there is nothing to which I am more closely united than I am to my own body. For it can’t be touched without my being affected. The moment it is injured I feel that I am hurt and discomfited. When a mosquito intrudes on my evening walk by sinking its venomous proboscis into my skin, I feel that I have been stabbed in my soul – tiny though that proboscis is. The mere noise the mosquito makes in my ears sounds an alarm in me – a sure sign that I am more closely united to my body than to anything else. Yes, Theodore, this is so true that we are connected to all the objects that surround us only through ·our connection with· our bodies. If the sun didn’t affect my eyes it would be invisible to me; and, if I became deaf I would no longer enjoy so much the company of my friends. It is even through my body that I adhere to my religion, because it is through my eyes and ears that faith entered my mind and my heart. In short, everything that matters to me relates to me through my body; so I am more closely united to my body than to anything else. Theodore [ sarcastically ] : Did you meditate for a long time, my dear Aristes, to make this great discovery? Theotimus [ pouring oil on troubled waters ] : Those are all quite good things to say, Theodore. Theodore: Yes, Theotimus, ·good to be said· by people who consult their senses only. Who do you think Aristes is , when you applaud his saying things that any peasant might say? I no longer recognize Aristes in this reply. Aristes: I see I have started off badly. Theodore: Very badly! I didn’t expect this beginning, because I didn’t think you would have forgotten today what you knew yesterday. But old opinions keep returning to the attack, driving us back from the ground we have won; we can’t hold our position unless we dig in and stay vigilant. Well, then: I contend that we, far from being united more closely to our bodies than to anything else, aren’t united to them at all . I exaggerate my way of speaking a little, so that it will impress you and you won’t again forget what I tell you. No, Aristes (speaking now precisely and strictly), your mind isn’t and can’t be united to your body. It can only be united to what can act in it. Now, do you think your body can act in your mind? Do you think that it is through your body that you are rational, happy or unhappy, and so on? Does your body unite you to God? Isn’t it rather God who unites you to your body and, by way of your body,
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