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One of the 17th century's most important thinkers, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz exercised enormous influence on the philosophy of Herder, Feuerbach, and Hegel as well as on the writings of Schiller and Goethe. Two of Leibniz's most studied and often quoted works appear in this volume: Discourse on Metaphysics and The Monadology. Published in 1686, the Discourse on Metaphysics One of the 17th century's most important thinkers, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz exercised enormous influence on the philosophy of Herder, Feuerbach, and Hegel as well as on the writings of Schiller and Goethe. Two of Leibniz's most studied and often quoted works appear in this volume: Discourse on Metaphysics and The Monadology. Published in 1686, the Discourse on Metaphysics consists of Leibniz's expansion of a letter to his theologian friend Antoine Arnauld, in which he explains that through our perceptions we express the rest of the universe from our own unique perspectives. The whole world is thus contained in each individual substance as each represents the same universe and "the universe is in a way multiplied as many times as there are substances, and similarly the glory of God is redoubled by as many completely different representations of His work." It is here that Leibniz makes his famous assertion that God, with perfect knowledge and goodness, freely chose to create this, the best of all possible worlds. The Monadology, written in 1714, offers a concise synopsis of Leibniz's philosophy. It establishes the laws of final causes, which underlie God's free choice to create the best possible world — a world that serves as dynamic and perfectly ordered evidence of the wisdom, power, and benevolence of its creator.


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One of the 17th century's most important thinkers, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz exercised enormous influence on the philosophy of Herder, Feuerbach, and Hegel as well as on the writings of Schiller and Goethe. Two of Leibniz's most studied and often quoted works appear in this volume: Discourse on Metaphysics and The Monadology. Published in 1686, the Discourse on Metaphysics One of the 17th century's most important thinkers, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz exercised enormous influence on the philosophy of Herder, Feuerbach, and Hegel as well as on the writings of Schiller and Goethe. Two of Leibniz's most studied and often quoted works appear in this volume: Discourse on Metaphysics and The Monadology. Published in 1686, the Discourse on Metaphysics consists of Leibniz's expansion of a letter to his theologian friend Antoine Arnauld, in which he explains that through our perceptions we express the rest of the universe from our own unique perspectives. The whole world is thus contained in each individual substance as each represents the same universe and "the universe is in a way multiplied as many times as there are substances, and similarly the glory of God is redoubled by as many completely different representations of His work." It is here that Leibniz makes his famous assertion that God, with perfect knowledge and goodness, freely chose to create this, the best of all possible worlds. The Monadology, written in 1714, offers a concise synopsis of Leibniz's philosophy. It establishes the laws of final causes, which underlie God's free choice to create the best possible world — a world that serves as dynamic and perfectly ordered evidence of the wisdom, power, and benevolence of its creator.

30 review for Discourse on Metaphysics/The Monadology (Philosophical Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Noah Goats

    Until recently whenever I thought of Leibniz, I thought of him as "that guy who Voltaire demolished in Candide," or "that guy who was embroiled in a priority dispute with Isaac Newton over the invention of calculus." In other words, I wasn't giving this genius his due. He was one of the most brilliant men of his era, or any era, and he had a mind that ranged far and wide. So what if his "best of all possible worlds" philosophy looks silly nowadays (and even thenadays), and who cares if Newton be Until recently whenever I thought of Leibniz, I thought of him as "that guy who Voltaire demolished in Candide," or "that guy who was embroiled in a priority dispute with Isaac Newton over the invention of calculus." In other words, I wasn't giving this genius his due. He was one of the most brilliant men of his era, or any era, and he had a mind that ranged far and wide. So what if his "best of all possible worlds" philosophy looks silly nowadays (and even thenadays), and who cares if Newton beat him to calculus by a few years (we actually use the notation system created by Leibniz)? This is a man who deserves respect. This volume covers some of Leibniz's metaphysical ideas including, man's nature and place in the universe, the characteristics of god, the mystery of consciousness and much more. It may not all be believable, but I found much of it interesting and thought provoking. If you're new to Leibniz I wouldn't jump right into this kind of source material though. I recommend starting by reading The Courtier and the Heretic or The Dream of Enlightenment first. Neither one of these books focuses solely on Leibniz, but their explanations of his ideas were clear and easy to read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Xander

    Collection of two of Leibniz' most important writings. That is, with hindsight, since both texts weren't published during his lifetime. In these works he lays out his metaphysical system as opposed to Descartes' mechanistic philosophy and Spinoza's monism. In offering an alternative metaphysics Leibniz draws heavily upon Scholastic philosophy, especially the notion of substantial form. His project is basically to preserve the mechanistic philosophy of nature (as formulated by Descartes and Galil Collection of two of Leibniz' most important writings. That is, with hindsight, since both texts weren't published during his lifetime. In these works he lays out his metaphysical system as opposed to Descartes' mechanistic philosophy and Spinoza's monism. In offering an alternative metaphysics Leibniz draws heavily upon Scholastic philosophy, especially the notion of substantial form. His project is basically to preserve the mechanistic philosophy of nature (as formulated by Descartes and Galileo, and developed further by Newton and Leibniz himself) but in such a way that Christian theology would serve as the foundation of this world. In short: Leibniz wouldn't adopt Newton's God as a master watchmaker, creating the device and once in a while readjusting some spring. In taking this step, he adheres to the famous dictum 'hypothesi non fingo'. It would be too tedious to set out all his arguments and concepts, but in summary Leibniz offers us this. There is only one substance - God - and the universe consists of an infinity of entities that are manifestations of this substance. These entities are immaterial and contain all other entities as well as the entire system of relations between all entities within them. It is this metaphysical system out of which the material world emerges, so to speak. Scientists study this material world through the mechanistic lens, philosophers should study the underlying immaterial world. Supposedly this way of conceiving of the world solves the body-mind problem that emerged out of Descartes' dualism. The metaphysical system of Leibniz is entirely conceived of in logical terms. That is, he analyzes this world through the use of logical principles, axioms, definitions, and deductions. Through this rationalistic enterprise (here we see the influence of Scholasticism) Leibniz is able to discover God both as Creator and the foundation of the world. This dualistic conception is important, since it circumvents all sorts of problems, like the problem of the existence of the world - a problem which Descartes never solved (according to Him God's goodness is our guarantee). It is unclear to me in what way Leibniz differs from Spinoza, since both assume God to be the sole substance (and to be, in this sense, the universe). According to Spinoza this substance manifests itself as an infinity of modes (of which mind and are matter are the ones we are familiar with), while Leibniz claims this substance manifests itself as an infinity of immaterial entities (souls in the Aristotelean sense - that is, the essence which makes a thing that thing) out of which the material world emerges somehow. Both are heavily deterministic, but whereas Spinoza adopts a Stoic ethic as a result of this, Leibniz draws a line between necessary facts and contingent facts - allowing him to adapt a rather fuzzy theory about human freedom. We are fully determined by God through his laws (and thus, ultimately, through His will) yet our essence is contingency, letting us freely act in the way we want - thus allowing for personal responsibility. I am neither a professional philosopher nor a logician, but it really seems to be a fishy move. Especially the way Leibniz 'solves' the mind-body problem. Also, his Neo-Platonic outlook on all the beings in the universe - i.e. everything resembles God's perfection in a particular degree, the highest beings (human beings) resemble God's perfection to the highest degrees - seems rather convenient to neatly fit the Christian ethics into his metaphysical system. To me it seems as if Leibniz wanted to prove his theological convictions to be right and in order to succeed in this he had to bend the existing systems, with the help of logic, in such a way that all fits perfectly. Wishful thinking of course, which is proved by later centuries, when his technical inventions were adopted and his metaphysical and ethical theories were largely forgotten. I will re-read this work in the future, when I have some more insights into this type of philosophy, possibly learning some new things.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Em Laurent

    Pre monadic bliss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Roberto Rigolin F Lopes

    We are in 1686, Leibniz is talking about some properties/qualities of reality and its “god”. Well, he assumes that there is such an impossible “god” doing everything perfect for its own glory. Boring. I almost threw this book at /dev/null (a sort of hellish digital black hole; but Leibniz would claim that his “god” can read stuff there). But, hey, that is exactly the point of reading philosophy! To bring DISCOMFORT (Thanks, B. Russell). So I replaced “god” by “nature” and kept reading the damn t We are in 1686, Leibniz is talking about some properties/qualities of reality and its “god”. Well, he assumes that there is such an impossible “god” doing everything perfect for its own glory. Boring. I almost threw this book at /dev/null (a sort of hellish digital black hole; but Leibniz would claim that his “god” can read stuff there). But, hey, that is exactly the point of reading philosophy! To bring DISCOMFORT (Thanks, B. Russell). So I replaced “god” by “nature” and kept reading the damn thing. You may have some extra motivation because the text is short and Voltaire wrote Candide as satire of this nonsense. By the way, Voltaire’s book is delicious and gets even better after reading this one. Take away: Leibniz was writing to be understood, no fancy language and ingenious analogies with mathematical concepts. And some of the 90 monads, at the end of the book, are sober reasoning over nature (the ones not stating that “god perfection is absolutely infinite” and so on).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jung Edda

    Beautifully written. Not very difficult to understand. Monads is better than his Metaphysics. Obviously Gravity can replace God in this work. He was very close to the Newtonian realty. Alas he was Christian. He was human.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Treeforged

    He figures out a more primary knowledge then "i think therefore i am" mainly the law of noncontridiction. I also learned that the conservation of energy or the 3rd law of thermodynamics was known to ancient philosophers long before Boltzman. He figures out a more primary knowledge then "i think therefore i am" mainly the law of noncontridiction. I also learned that the conservation of energy or the 3rd law of thermodynamics was known to ancient philosophers long before Boltzman.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nelson

    I read this book for Liebniz’s argument from contingency to a necessary being. I also enjoyed his thoughts related to PSR, necessity, contingency, and how infinity factors in the discussion. This part alone is worth five stars (although it only covers a small portion of this book). Although I think Leibniz’s argument doesn’t quite succeed (due to the BCCF/MCCF objection), his ideas are great and since have been further developed into successful arguments for a necessary being (see the writings o I read this book for Liebniz’s argument from contingency to a necessary being. I also enjoyed his thoughts related to PSR, necessity, contingency, and how infinity factors in the discussion. This part alone is worth five stars (although it only covers a small portion of this book). Although I think Leibniz’s argument doesn’t quite succeed (due to the BCCF/MCCF objection), his ideas are great and since have been further developed into successful arguments for a necessary being (see the writings of Joshua Rasmussen, Alexander Pruss and William Lane Craig). The rest of the book I’d give a three.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vapula

    Useful as a prereq to various texts.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aayush Raj

    "It can indeed be said that every substance bears in some sort the character of God's infinite wisdom and omnipotence, and imitates him as much as it is able to; for it expresses though confusedly, all that happens in the universe, past, present, and future, deriving thus certain resemblance to an infinite perception or power of knowing." This book is remarkable. It is undoubtedly a complicated book, both in its prose and in the idea that it tries to convey but having given the time to it intentl "It can indeed be said that every substance bears in some sort the character of God's infinite wisdom and omnipotence, and imitates him as much as it is able to; for it expresses though confusedly, all that happens in the universe, past, present, and future, deriving thus certain resemblance to an infinite perception or power of knowing." This book is remarkable. It is undoubtedly a complicated book, both in its prose and in the idea that it tries to convey but having given the time to it intently, the reader would be enthralled by the marvel that is wrapped in the words therein. The book is very comprehensive and encompasses a multitude of ideas and religious thoughts (perspectives), which might not be discernible to the readers generally. I read this book conjointly with Emile Durkheim's - The Elementary Forms of Religious Life and that helped me in better appreciating the two books. I could find correlations in the fundamental perceptions about religious life and how the two reverberate the fact that there are (can be) as many religions as there are humans. This is further echoed in the ideas of Swami Vivekananda in his writings and especially in the book - Premyoga. Moreover, the precept of the Vedanta philosophy as understood and propagated by Swami Vivekananda finds encapsulation in this book. The idea in the discourse seems one to reconcile, what various religions have meant to convey but in a more logical, coherent, and reasonable manner. This book, as mentioned in its introduction, bridges a gap and tries to reconcile the facets of science intricately with philosophy, religion, and God. It's been written in an erudite manner which may overburden the mental faculties. But it makes absolute sense if one reads it in light of Hindu philosophical traditions. A conjoint reading of Durkheim's & Swami Vivekananda's work mentioned above alongside A Source Book in Indian Philosophy by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan may help the reader make an absolute sense of the metaphysical phenomenology.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Discourse on Metaphysics - 3.5 stars The Monadology - 5 stars

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Simmons

    Where I think Leibniz is too quick to use "the mysteries of God" as an answer to serious questions, the sheer accessibility of this text is actually really nice. Both works are short enough to be read quickly, and written in a way that is easily understood. Leibniz is placed within an area where one can find themes from Descartes and Spinoza. To simply state, he distances himself from Cartesian subjectivity and Spinoza's monism in order to produce a philosophical system that carries a lot of sim Where I think Leibniz is too quick to use "the mysteries of God" as an answer to serious questions, the sheer accessibility of this text is actually really nice. Both works are short enough to be read quickly, and written in a way that is easily understood. Leibniz is placed within an area where one can find themes from Descartes and Spinoza. To simply state, he distances himself from Cartesian subjectivity and Spinoza's monism in order to produce a philosophical system that carries a lot of similarities with the atomists (e.g. Lucretius).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christian

    Leibniz (1646-1716) was a true polymath and has been called the most comprehensive thinker since Aristotle. In these two great works by the founder of modern German speculative philosophy, the reader is introduced to Leibniz's matephysics, including his conception of physical substance, the motion and resistance of bodies, and the role of the divine within the dynamic universe. Leibniz (1646-1716) was a true polymath and has been called the most comprehensive thinker since Aristotle. In these two great works by the founder of modern German speculative philosophy, the reader is introduced to Leibniz's matephysics, including his conception of physical substance, the motion and resistance of bodies, and the role of the divine within the dynamic universe.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joe Sabet

    I enjoyed the Discourse on Metaphysics a lot more than the Monadology. Certain parts in the former book were excellent but the latter seemed repetitive, opaque, and contradictory in some ways. I believe Descartes is more insightful

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Monads and Nomads - Leibniz and Deleuze.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    Heavy stuff for people with no knowledge on the topic.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tim Weelinck

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carolina

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jordon Bell

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aung Sett Kyaw Min

  20. 4 out of 5

    Valentin Sanchez

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anamainiak

  22. 4 out of 5

    Isabella Galdamez

  23. 4 out of 5

    Agustin Casalia

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kjellerup

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dawson

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Bennett

  28. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kassina Dwyer

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt

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