G. W. Leibniz's Monadology

G. W. Leibniz's Monadology

Nicholas Rescher
Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 480
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    G. W. Leibniz's Monadology
    Book Description:

    G.W. Leibniz'sMonadology, one of the most important pieces of the Leibniz corpus, is at once one of the great classics of modern philosophy and one of its most puzzling productions. Because the essay is written in so condensed and compact a fashion, for almost three centuries it has baffled and beguiled those who read it for the first time.

    Nicholas Rescher accompanies the text of theMonadologysection-by-section with relevant excerpts from some of Leibniz's widely scattered discussions of the matters at issue. The result serves a dual purpose of providing a commentary of theMonadologyby Leibniz himself, while at the same time supplying an exposition of his philosophy using theMonadologyas an outline.

    The book contains all of the materials that even the most careful study of this could text could require: a detailed overview of the philosophical background of the work and of its bibliographic ramifications; a presentation of the original French text together with a new, closely faithful English translation; a selection of other relevant Leibniz texts; and a detailed commentary. Rescher also provides a survey of Leibniz's use of analogies and three separate indices of key terms and expressions, Leibniz's French terminology, and citations.

    Rescher's edition of theMonadologypresents Leibniz's ideas faithfully, accurately, and accessibly, making it especially valuable to scholars and students alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7149-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was born on July I, 1646, at Leipzig in Germany, where his father was professor of moral philosophy at the university. Although he attended the finest school in his native city, he loved working on his own and was largely self-taught from the German and Latin books of his father’s library. A child prodigy with an insatiable appetite for learning, he launched into an intensive study of logic, scholastic philosophy, and Protestant theology already in his early teens. At 15 he entered the University of Leipzig. During the first preparatory years, one semester of which he...

  5. 2. Translation of the Monadology of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
    (pp. 17-30)

    1.The monadwhich we shall discuss here is nothing other than a simple substance that enters into composites. Simple means without parts. (SeeTheodicy,sec. 10.)

    2. And there must be simple substances, since there are composites; for the composite is nothing but an accumulation oraggregateof simples.

    3. However, where there are no parts at all, no extension or figure or divisibility is possible. And these monads are the true atoms of nature, and, in a word, the elements of things.

    4. There is also no dissolution to fear in them and there is no way conceivable in which a simple...

  6. 3. The Thematic Structure of the Monadology
    (pp. 31-36)

    I. Simple substances ormonadsare the ultimate units of existence in nature. They

    have no parts (1);

    must exist (2);

    lack extension, figure, divisibility (3);

    are “true atoms of nature” (3).

    II. Monads are causally impervious and thus

    cannot begin or end in time (4, 5);

    are subject only to creation and annihilation, not to growth or decay (6)

    cannot be causally affected by other things (7).

    III. Monads are quantitatively simple but qualitatively complex existents. Specifically, they

    have qualities (8);

    change qualities over time (8);

    differ in their qualities (identity of indiscernibles) (9).

    IV. Monadic change is change...

  7. 4. Leibniz’s Use of Analogies and Principles
    (pp. 37-44)

    In theMonadology(as elsewhere) Leibniz often expounds his ideas by means of analogies involving a proportion of the form:Xis toX′ even asYis toY′. In fact, virtually the whole of Leibniz’s discussion here is a complex fabric of such analogies or proportions—as is made transparently clear by the inventory given below. (Observe that it is only in the basic expository discussion that describes themodus operandiof monads [sees. 1–13] that Leibniz relies more heavily on direct description than on explanatory comparisons.)

    Regarding the use of analogies in science, Leibniz himself comments...

  8. 5. Text and Commentary
    (pp. 45-308)

    1.The monadwhich we shall discuss here is nothing other than a simple substance that enters into composites.Simplemeans without parts. (SeeTheodicy,sec. 10.)

    1. La Monadedont nous parlerons ici, n’est autre chose, qu’une substance simple, qui entre dans les composés; simple, c’est à dire, sans parties. (Theodicée,sec. 10.)

    (Theodicy, sec. 10.) There are of necessity substances which are simple and without extension, scattered throughout all Nature, and these substances must subsist independently of every other except God.

    (PNG, sec. I)Substanceis a being capable of action. It is simple or compound.Simple substanceis that...

  9. Index of Key Terms and Ideas
    (pp. 309-314)
  10. Index of French Terms and Expressions
    (pp. 315-320)
  11. Index of References
    (pp. 321-323)