Today In Fact, 6 August

The only man to have been the Emperor of two empires at the same time, Francis II, the Holy Roman Emperor was also Francis I of the Austrian Empire from 1804 to 1806. He dissolved the Holy Roman empire on this day in 1806, thus becoming the last Holy Roman Emperor, an Empire that had its roots in Julius Caesar.

But today perhaps should go to Nicolas Malebranche, born today in Paris in 1638. Ordained a prist in 1664, Malebranche is remembered as an interpreter of Augustine and Descartes.

Malebranche argued that we see all things in God. That is God is the cause of our perception of the World. Further it is only through God that we act in the World, thus it is not we who act but God acting through us.

Malebranche’s thesis is logically sound but entirely rejected by less Godly philosophers. Hume refers to Malebranche as the “occasional Philosopher because Malebranche argues that created things are at best “occasions” for divine activity. Bodies and minds act neither on themselves nor on each other; God alone brings about all the phenomena of nature and the mind.

The problem with occasionalism as Malebranche’s arguments have been called, is that it leaves almost no space for free will. A thing we value highly.

Apart from his interesting philosophy, Malebranche was the first to suggest that colour and light was carried in vibrations and waves. Prefiguring discoveries in physics by about two hundred years.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (