Leibniz’s Philosophy Summary

April 24, 2012

leibniz philosopher

Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz, German philosopher and scholar, wrote essentially:

- Discourse on Metaphysics (1685)

- New Essays on Human Understanding (1704)

- The Monadology (1714)

The work of Leibniz is huge and rich with insights of genius. In the field of knowledge and in the field of mind and nature, Leibniz opened new horizons to the history of philosophy. The world is full of life, with which we are connected by a small crowd of perception (unconscious).

Leibniz and the Knowledge:

In terms of knowledge, Leibniz classifies ideas, defined as objects of thought, according to their clarity and distinction.

- An idea is clear enough to recognize when a thing and to distinguish it.

- Otherwise, the idea is unclear.

- Have different ideas that distinguish the marks in the subject who do know.

- Otherwise, we call them confused.

Leibniz’s theory of Cartesian ideas excludes innateness. Indeed, Leibniz does exceed both the empiricism of Locke (in which all would know the meaning), and the Cartesian doctrine of innate ideas.

- Locke is mistaken: the human soul is not a tabula rasa, a clean slate, which would join the experiment.

We must recognize the importance of spiritual activity. However, Cartesian innateness is not acceptable as such: the experience is at least an opportunity for the spirit of awareness of the wealth that is in him.

Halfway Descartes and Locke, Leibniz therefore underlines the dynamism of spiritual man.

- What is first and first given is the spirit, as evidenced by the examination of the principles of knowledge, these basic statements that support our arguments

- What are they? These are the principles of contradiction and sufficient reason.

► The first reads as follows: two contradictory propositions, one is true the other false.

► On the second, he asserts that no fact can not be existing without there be a sufficient reason.

The principle of sufficient reason, in the eyes of Leibniz, supreme principle, very large and very noble.

Leibniz and Monads:

In his description of the universe, Leibniz also attempts to “overcome” the Cartesian mechanism: in the eyes of Descartes, matter back to the geometric extent.

A mechanism that opposes the dynamism of Leibniz, that the universe is composed of monads, simple substances without parts, atoms and elements of the nature of things, dynamic spiritual realities, like souls.

Everywhere these spiritual principles are in action: they are characterized, in fact, not only by the perception of multiple representation in the unit, but also by the appetitive, tend to act in any monad. Every monad perceives the world and tends to perform an action.

- These factors are creating a mobile and fluid universe, where everything, material, nature and objects is facilitated by the monads or souls.

- Moreover, there are levels in perception. And this plurality of levels such that consciousness appears only as a degree and a passage.

If the perception as such refers to a distinct perception and perceived by consciousness, perception without apperception or reflection is also possible. So when I walk beside the sea, a thousand little unconscious perceptions and too petty to be seized, and psychic contents that I do not know that I have not clear understanding, form the whole of my vision clear.

- For those little unnoticed perceptions, we are linked, so insensitive to the whole world and the real.

Once again, we are far from Descartes, whose every thought is accompanied by consciousness.

Leibniz and the pre-established harmony:

How to develop relations between monads?

- God has made them a deal, and this from a pre-established harmony: God has, indeed, wanted to create a coherent and established a harmony between all substances.

- So the world has he organized on the principle of the best.

Therefore, we can make a justification of God in regard to the problem of evil in the universe is what Leibniz called theodicy.

- God is not responsible for the evil that exists in the world, should be exonerated.

- It creates the best of possible worlds.

Voltaire, as we know, is ironic about this justification.

The optimism of Leibniz:

It is therefore legitimate to speak of Leibniz‘s optimism, optimism here denoting the idea that the world is the best of possible worlds: between an infinity of possible worlds, there is the best of all, it’s true world today.

A person who raises the issue: “the world is it not, nevertheless, full of pain? “…

- Leibniz replied that any pain or anxiety are the very conditions of pleasure and happiness.

- The pleasure, indeed, does not carry a uniform current, which give birth to boredom.

- The pleasure, this sense of perfection and that progress towards happiness, comes from a victory over quantity of half-soothe pain that eventually satisfying his desire.

- As for happiness, it is not in full use, where there would be nothing to be desired, but in a perpetual progress to new pleasures and new perfections.

Evil, pain, anxiety, all conditions of the property, as many shortcuts to a greater perfection.

- Such is the optimism of Leibniz, who sees, in particular, in anxiety, all stress imperceptible keep us always on the alert, a promise of fun and an announcement of perfection.

Thus, according to the Leibnizian optimism, evil is a mere shadow of the good. Leibniz, the great conciliator, describes a world steeped in consistency when evil loses positivity.