Leibniz was born in Leipzig and died in Hannover in Germany.
He studied mathematics, jurisprudence and philosophy at Leipzig University.
When he was 26 years of age through 30 years, he lived in Paris. During that period, he briefly visited London.
Leibniz went to Hannover (visited Wien and Rome).
became Hannover's Hofrat and Bibliothekdirektor.
After Aristotle, Leibniz was said to be the second greatest encyclopedic scholar and an extremely productive scholar.
Leibniz was a historian, a lawyer, a diplomat, a mathematician (disputed with Newton regarding the discovery of the differential calculus), a physicist, a theologian. a linguist and a philosopher.
Leibniz founded Die Akademie der Wissenschaften (the Academy of Sciences) and became the first president.
De principio individui 1663 (At the age of 17 years, Leibniz wrote this dissertation)
Discours de metaphysique 1686 (40 years old)
Système nouveau de la nature et de la communication des substances 1695
Nouveau essais dur l'entendement humain 1704 (objections to Locke)
Théodicée 1710 (against Bayle)
Principes de la nature et de la grace 1714
Monadologie 1714 (Leibniz was 68 years old!)
Epistoles (to Arnould 1686-1690 and to Clarke, Newton's defender, 1715-1716)
The center of philosophical thinking is the concept of monad. As the background of his thinking, there is a profound understanding of the infinity by Leibniz.
It is also helpful for Leibniz to go back to Aristotle's philosophy and revive the Aristotelian notion of potency, actuality and entelechy. However, Leibniz was basically an atomist (his concept of monad derived from the notion of atom as the ultimate substance) and yet he did not agree with Spinoza's materialistic conception of substance.
According to Leibniz, the substance cannot be matter, but anything worth the name of substance must be spiritual. For Leibniz believed that matter is infinitely divisible, so there cannot be an atom (the ultimate, indivisible substance) among matter. Only the spiritual entity is worth the name of to atomon (the ultimately indivisible). Since this atom is not material, it cannot be influenced by the external, material things. Thus, Le monad est sans fenêtre (the monadis without window). Besides, Leibniz was influenced by Aristotle and wanted that there is activities in this substance (monad). No material substance can be active and only the spiritual substance is capable of activities. Therefore, Leibniz said, "La substance est l'être capable d'action." Leibniz saw the independence of substance in the capability of activity.
The concept of substance called "Monad" is the center of his metaphysical pursuit.
This is influenced from Cusanus, Giordano Bruno, Descartes and atomism.
Descartes conceived of substance as the being which is independent in its existence.
When this independence is understood in terms of causa sui (Self-caused Cause) and
in terms of no limitation,
This substance necessarily became Spinoza's God = Monism.
First of all, in order to avoid the consequence of Spinoza's philosophy,
The independence of Substance must be construed as "activity."
Leibniz' definition of substance:
"La substance est un être capable d'action."
(Substance is the being capable of activity.)
Atom (To atomon) was defined as the last, ultimately indivisible element of nature.
According to Leibniz who, being the founder of differential calculus believes in the infinite divisibility of the physical world,
as long as the atom is physical ( and it is physical), it is infinitely divisible.
There is no atom in the universe as long as the atom is physical.
Leibniz' conclusion is:
The last indivisible entity (= atom) must be non-physical!
According to Leibniz,
The mathematical point is indivisible, but it is not real.
The physical point is not the indivisible point, although it is real.
Le Monade = the genuine atom (the last, ultimately indivisible entity which is not physical)
eternal (no generation, nor corruption)
having no part (because it is not divisible)
Monad comes into being by The Divine creation
perishes to exist by destruction of God.
Monad = i. indivisible, no parts, no change
ii. non-physical = spiritual
iii. eternal as long as God wills
iv. non-spatial (itself occupies in space, nor has size)
v. without a window (no outside-influences)
vi. developing itself from within, self sufficient (= independent)
vii. in activity, entelechy = actuality
viii. non-physical force = the power of representation
(= cognitive act)
What exists in the world is the monades and their "ideas."
1) Petite perception (non-human yet) = like obscure sounds of waves
2) Apperception = a congromat of petite perceptions, that can be clearly & distinctly known.
Apart from apperception,
Petite perceptions exist in the human consciousness, too.
In the lower, less developed, monades,
petite perceptions alone fill the "consciousness" of a monad,
like a deep sleep, which one can never been awaken from.
Representation = the inclusion of the external in the internal, which Leibniz called "containment."
Representing itself is simple
has the relation to the multiplicity
the universe as a whole
Each monad represents the universe and all the other monades in itself =
Each monad contains in itself "infinity."
If there exists the highest intellect, he could read everything (in the past, the present and the future)
of the universe in the monad.
"Le Monade est un mirror vivant de l'universe."
(Monad is a living mirror of the universe.)
These representations in the miror are "produced" by its own activities of the monad out of its own potentials
"Les monades n'ont point de fenêtres."
(Monades do not have any window.)
From the above, it is clear that
each monad represents one the same universe,
in its own perspective, i.e.,
the difference is the difference of evidence.
Since Monad's action (or activity) is representation,
the more active the monad is, the more evident the representation becomes.
To possess the clear and distinct ideas alone is God's privilege.
To be everywhere, i.e., in equal distance from all the "things,"
God alone is purely active ( or to be more exact, fully active.)
All Finite Beings are partially active and partially passive, i.e., possess both clear & distinct ideas and confused and obscure notions.
Leibniz distinguished in the monad
the principle of activity = form
the principle of passivity = matter = the principle of the hindrance from activity.
Further, Leibniz distinguished two kinds of matter,
1) primary matter = the principle of obscure and confused ideas
2) secondary matter = matter, which is the appearance as "material substance."
According to Leibniz,
If one failed to recognize the activity in the monad,
one ends up with Spinozism, i.e., Spinoza's Monism
If one failed to recognize the principle of passivity and the passivity itself,
one ends up with the deification of every individual (monad).
One and the same universe is represented by different monades from their different perspective.
a) Clear Ideas
b) Obscure Ideas
3 Different kinds of Monades
1) Completely naked Monades or Entelechies = Monades possess only petite perceptions
(with obscure & confused ideas)
2) Souls or Sensitive Souls = possess apperception
3) Spirits or Rational Souls = possess reason, recognize universals
The Monad in the higher level contains in itself the lower level of "consciousness," or activities.
According to Leibniz,
Descartes was mistaken by eliminating all the obscure and confused representations from our thinking, when this viewed as the essence of Spirit.
The essence of Spirit contains in itself "petite perceptions."
One Mode of Representation = Appetite
= inclination to move from one representation to another!
Appetite becomes Volition or Will, when the Monad's petite perceptions become apperception.
The Spontaneity of Monad (against Spinoza's Determinism)
Without external force (because of having no window)
Monad acts independently and spontaneously.
Only Spirit as thinking, rational monad possesses "Liberty."
Liberty is the spontaneity of Spirit,
is to act from within, following the rational laws of itself.
The Pre-established Harmony
Monad develops its representation from within, from its own potencies.
How is the universe represented by a Monad is one and the same as the universe itself?
How is the one universe represented by one monad identical with the other by the other monad?
Everything happens in every monad is parallel mutually.
It develops itself in accordance with its own Law, but
looks like due to (mutual) influences.
God had pre-established this harmony in the essence of all the Monades.
The Mind-Body problem may be easily solved by this principle.
There are absolutely no mutual influences among the Monades, but
they synchronize with each other perfectly as if they were well set clocks.
While Occasionalism (Malebranche for example) recognized infinite number of small miracles,
The Principle of Pre-established Harmony needs only one Big Miracle.
This is superior.
The Principle of Pre-established Harmony does not violate the Law of Nature, but
the philosophical doctrine of the nature of the universe,which holds that
this universe is (chosen by God as) the best of all the possible worlds.
This concept of optimism is quite different from the common-sense use of the notion.
Harmony = the unity of multiplicity = beauty and perfection
the multiplicity of infinitely various degrees of the evidence is unified to
One Vision of the Universe.
This World is the Best of all the Possible Worlds = in this universe,
even the least perfect being contributes ultimately to the perfection of this universe.
the Monades with more obscure & confused representations
are less active and more passive, therefore,
they subordinate themselves to the monades of clearer and more distinct representations, thus constitutes the Order of the Universe among them.
God created this universe as the best of all possible worlds.
All the Monades which constitute this universe were given reality by Divine Will.
(= these Monades exist as "ideas" in the Divine Understanding.)
The perfection and characteristic of the "actualized" monades were also possessed by the monades in potency as their potentials.
The Real Essence of a Monad is identical with its Potential Essence.
The Essence is not affected by "evidence."
(Remember Kant's refutation of the Ontological Argument for God.)
The more perfect the essence is, the more justifiable the appetite to actualize is!
Every Monad competes with each other for perfection before (in the eye of) God!
Among the Monades,
those compossibles are united.
Thje best of all the possibly conceivable perfections is determined to actualize.
The bedst perfection does not derive from each indvidual monad's perfection, but
It is due to the perfection of the system and order of the universe as a whole.
Compossible = a relative term
all the possibles are not compossible, in other words,
those which are able to realize themselves at the same time in the same world
The compossibility is determined by "the principle of the better"
(le principe du meilleur ou lex melioris.)
In other words,
Under the Divine View-point,
all the empirical truths are to be utimately reduced to a priori, analytical truths
by means of the principle of sufficient reason.
Leibniz distinguished among the necessities,
1) logical necessity or metaphysical necessity or
the criterion = its negation implies a contradiction
2) moral necessity (its mutual opposites are possible.)
The better is to be selected by the "Wise" (=God)
This moral necessity derives from the principle of the better, or
the priniciple of sufficient reason.
The principle of sufficient reason applies both to
1) the efficient cause
2) the final cause equally
The domain of the former is contained in the domain of the latter.
Each individual event in nature should be explainedly purely meachnically, but the totality
of the Laws of Nature, i.e., the mechanicality itself (efficient causality itself) cannot be
explained meachnically, but teleologically.
The efficient cause is subordinated to the final cause.
The principle of sufficient reason = princium rationis sufficentis or
le principe de la raison suffisante
The principle of the better is a special case of this principle.
Anything which exists in this unvierse exists by a sufficient reason ti exist!
even if we do not know why!
Ratio sufficiens contains both ratio essendi and
"Il y a une raison suffisante du choix de Dieu, qui le détermine à l'une plutôt qi'à
(There is a sufficient reason of the choice God who determines to choose one rather than the other.)
Nothing occurs without any cause or at least something occurs with at least determinant cause.
Leibniz distinguished among truths
1) analytic truth or la verité de la raison = necessary
the criterion of truth = the principle of contradiction
its negation implies a contradiction
2) synthetic truth or la verité de fait = accidental
the criterion of truth = the principle of sufficient reason
(monadologie § 33-36)
The knowledge or truth according to the principle of contradiction (= identity)
is rational knowledge or analytic truth
The knowledge or truth according to the principle of sufficient reason
is empirical knowledge or truth of fact
However, this distinction may be meaningfully held from the finite, human point of view.
From the Divine Point of View,
the principle of sufficient reason ultimately is reducible
to the a priori principle of contradiction.
Le loi de la continuité (The Law of Continuity)
The absolute continuity governs the universe.
In the Universe,
there is no difference in kind, but
only Difference in Degree!
Any prima facie difference in kind is reducible to a series of difference in degree
I) All the difference in kind are reduced to those of degree!
equality least inequality
evil least good
confused least distinct
fluidity lowest degree of solidity
II) The component members in a series are similar, at the same time
The component members in a series are varied.
1) the principle of analogy
in the universe,
there are identity and analogy
2) the principle of identity of the indiscernible (monadologie § 8-9)
Difference is not necessarily quantitative alone
not necessarily spatial alone
not necessarily temporal alone
Difference is internal
This principle not only applies to monades but also to all "phenomena."
Le principe de la constance de la force.
(The principle of the constancy of the force)
Force = mass x velocity2
Momentum = mass x velocity
Philosophy of Nature and Anthropology
Monad is simple in that it has no part!
Many Monad may constitute a composite = corps or body
whereby there is a Central Monad
There are three bodies, due to the nature of the "Central Monad."
1) Simple Substance (Monad)
a) the totally naked Monad = entelechy
c) Spirit = rational soul or reason
2) Composed Substance (= body)
a) body consisting of the totally naked Monades = non-living being
b) body with Soul = animal
c) body with Spirit = rational animal = human being
All the entities in the universe are "organic."
Matter, therefore, is ultimately a "body."
The Central Monad is more active, more perfect than the other constitutive monades.
What the corporeal monades obscurely and confusedly represent is represented by the Central
Monad clearly and distinctly.
Central Monad (= Spirit for example) more clearly and more distinctly represents the monades of its own body than the monades of the body.
Everything in the universe is alive.
What is real is constituted by non-material group of monades and corresponds to the representation of Soul.
All material entities are alive in the universe
Soul must have its body.
The normal continuous metabolism in the monad is very slow, while
death and birth are the very quick change!
Death is decrease, involution
Birth is increase, evolution
the existence before birth or after death = the state of "sleep."
the immortality of soul = the memory and consciousness of one's own moral person retained after death
the central monad of the human = reason, not mere soul.
It is not consciousness, but rational
the human spirit possesses, therefore, universals and eternal truths.
the humans distinguish themselves from the higher beings in that many of human representations
are obscure and confused, while the latter's are all clear and distinct.
aesthetic(=sensory) apperception = obscure and confused comprehension of perfection, order and harmony.
aesthetic (sensory) experience is lower cognition.
the principle of continuity also applies here.
the difference between senses and thinking are a matter of degree.
According to Leibniz,
All Ideas are Innate!
while according to Locke, all ideas are adventitious!
Descartes held an in-between position.
The knowledge of universals follows that of particulars (Leibniz and Locke).
Descartes held the reverse.
petite perception becomes apperception, which will become rational knowledge of universals.
The higher knowledge is always implied in the lower ones.
Leibniz intended to synthesize Freedom and necessity
1) A decision or action is necessarily determined only physically or morally,
but not metaphysically.
2) the determination of the will is internal necessity, but externally free from the external force or causal determination.
Leibniz fought against Spinoza's determinism and fatalism of the others.