Motions in the Body, Sensations in the Mind: Malebranche's Mechanics of Sensory Perception and Taste

Arts Et Savoirs (forthcoming)
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Abstract
This article, which seeks to connect philosophy, polite culture, and the Enlightenment, shows how Malebranche’s Cartesian science presented a full-frontal attack on the worldly notion of a good taste aligned with reason. It did this by arguing that the aesthetic tastes that people experience were the result of mechanically-transmitted sensations that, like all physical sensations, were inaccurate, erroneous and relativistic. The mechanics of this process is explored in detail to show how Malebranche was challenging honnête thinking. The article suggests that Malebranche’s demystifying approach was at once a hallmark of the Enlightenment, and that his views would ironically come to inform much Enlightenment thought about taste in ways he would have despised.
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Archival date: 2019-06-20
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