Departmental Colloquium: Colin Chamberlain (Temple)

Thursday October 7, 2021
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Queen's University, Kingston Hall 201
Event category

The Department of Philosophy is pleased to invite you to the upcoming meeting of its regular colloquium series, which will welcome Colin Chamberlain (Temple). The colloquium will be held in Kingston Hall, Room 201. Those who cannot join in person are invited to tune in via Zoom. Zoom details will be distributed to the colloquium mailing list the day of the event. If you are not on the mailing list but wish to receive Zoom or other details, please contact

Talk title: “Pears, Witches and Werewolves: Malebranche on the Imagination”

Abstract: Malebranche holds that the proper function of the senses is to help us preserve our bodies. The senses tell us what we need to do to survive, and they represent the world in such a way that we can easily do it. But Malebranche also holds that the senses share this function with the imagination and passions. This combination of views generates a puzzle about the division of labor between these mental faculties. If the senses tell us virtually everything we need to know to survive, nothing seemingly remains for the imagination and passions to contribute to the preservation of the body. In this paper, I focus on Malebranche’s account of the imagination’s contributions to self-preservation. I argue that the imagination’s contributions are threefold. First, the imagination allows us to adapt to different circumstances through a process of associative learning. Second, it allows us to form reliable expectations about what the future holds for us, e.g. that if we touch the fire, it will hurt. Third, the imagination underwrites our capacity for sympathy, which is a prerequisite for surviving in the distinctively social world we inhabit.

Departmental Colloquium: Colin Chamberlain (Temple) | Poster (PNG 135 KB)