chapter  5
29 Pages

Nicholas Malebranche: Insider or Outsider?


Malebranche’s fame and reputation reached its high point around 1700. The persecution suffered by the young Oratorian at the hands of his superiors was now behind him. The elders of the Paris Oratory knew that they were dealing with an international celebrity and treated him accordingly. His modest cell attracted courtesy calls from foreign dignitaries-even the exiled King James II paid a visit. To be sure, Malebranche’s works found themselves on the index of prohibited books, but this was simply due to the machinations of his enemies, and in any case the power of the Roman Inquisition in France was strictly limited.1 His works were undergoing translation into foreign languages and were read from Naples to Dublin. In terms of our insider-outsider distinction, he surely counts as in insider.