Between Aristotelianism and Occasionalism: Locke’s Reply to Malebranche and Norris

  • Igor Agostini Università del Salento
Keywords: Locke, Malebranche, Norris, Idea, Empiricism


In this article I reconsider the controversy between Locke and the Malebranchian philosophy. I will argue that: 1) Norris’s objections against Locke on the origin of ideas are based on an application to the doctrine of the Essay of the objections advanced by Malebranche in the Recherche against the Aristotelian intentional species, and are therefore grounded on an assimilation of the Lockean doctrine to Aristotle’s; 2) Locke’s response in the Examination of P. Malebranche’s Opinion of Our Seeing All Things in God, directed against both Malebranche and Norris, consists in an attempt to dissociate his own position from Aristotle’s, and that this response does not follow Le Clerc’s to Norris; 3) the doctrine of perception elaborated by Locke in the Examination is in order to neutralize the assimilation of the doctrine of the Essay to Aristotle’s; 4) in the Examination, the dissociation from Aristotelianism also excludes any convergence with Occasionalism; 5) Collins, who did not know the Examination, makes an error in recognizing (although in an anti-Malebranchian function), in his correspondence with Locke, the existence of the lowest common denominator between the Lockean doctrine of perception and Occasionalism; 6) Collin’s error, as well as Le Clerc’s, arises from a radical adherence to the restrictions of the historical method from which Locke had distanced himself in the Examination.