Continuing from part one on Dialogues on Metaphysics and Religion (1688), dialogue 7 where he gets into his occasionalist theory of causality.
We talk about how this theory relates to mind-body interaction and the student character Aristes argues that there’s nothing more intimate than the relation of mind to body and how the teacher character Theodore smacks that claim down.
How does Malebranche’s account relate to concepts in physics like inertia? He’s against the idea that bodies can move (or keep moving) by themselves, yet inertia could just be a name for the pattern by which God causes bodies that are in motion (or at rest) to remain that way.
The overall philosophy of science question is what is the relation of natural laws to things? Are they just patterns immanent in things that we model in our mind? That wouldn’t explain why those patterns are there. Malebranche’s answer is that there has to be something transcendental that explains and imposes those patterns, much like God was a lawmaker that creates physical laws that things obediently obey. This is obviously just a metaphor though, because it implies that each thing as its own power of motion that it exerts in response to God’s call, whereas for Malebranche God literally makes the movements, which again makes it sounds like God is right there, immanent in the causal network and not a transcendent force governing its patterns.