By Jacques Derrida
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Extra resources for Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas
Her Majesty commanded me quite often to put my replies in writing, so that one could examine them carefully. After the death of this great Princess I collected these pieces and augmented them at the urging of friends who were informed about them, and from them I composed the work of which I have just spoken, which is an octavo of considerable size. Life and Works 27 As I have thought deeply about this matter since my youth, I claim to have discussed it in depth. (G III 321) The Dictionary in question was of course the work in which Bayle had raised objections to Leibniz’s system of pre-established harmony.
Occasionalism, by contrast, maintains that some physical events like the movement of my arm when I will to raise it have mental events, such as volitions, at least as their occasional causes. The ﬁrst objection targets occasionalism simply as a proposed solution to the mind–body problem. A second objection is of more general application. The trouble with occasionalism is that it introduces perpetual miracles into the world, and that it is contrary to the divine wisdom to act in this way. Bayle, with his characteristic intelligence, voices a sense of puzzlement at this objection which will be shared by readers with at least a cursory knowledge of occasionalist teachings.
Leibniz may have been sincerely committed to the Egyptian plan, but once in Paris he let the matter drop: he never found the opportunity to present the plan to the French government. In fact, it is diﬃcult to avoid the suspicion that the Egyptian plan was to some extent a pretext for visiting Paris, which was then not only the cultural but also the intellectual capital of Europe. Leibniz’s years in Paris were enormously important for his whole intellectual development; it is during these years, for instance, that Leibniz made the acquaintance of Arnauld and Malebranche, perhaps the two leading French philosophers of the age; for the ﬁrst time also he studied Descartes’s philosophy at ﬁrst hand.