Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Reminiscing about his early views on the continuum problem in a dialogue penned in 1689,2 Leibniz recalled the period in his youth when he had enthusiastically subscribed to the "New Philosophy", embracing the composition of the continuum out of points and the doctrine that “a slower motion is one interrupted by small intervals of rest.”3 Speaking of himself through the character Lubinianus, he continues: And I indulged other dogmas of this kind, to which people are prone when they are willing to entertain every imagination, and do not notice the infinity lurking everywhere in things. But although when I became a geometer I relinquished these opinions, atoms and the vacuum held out for a long time, like certain relics in my mind rebelling against the idea of infinity; for even though I conceded that every continuum could be divided to infinity in thought, I still did not grasp that in reality there were parts in things exceeding every number, as a consequence of motion in a plenum. That “atoms and the vacuum held out for a long time” among Leibniz’s cherished views is readily confirmed by an examination of his manuscripts. One may find papers containing some measure of commitment to atomism intermittently throughout the period from 1666 to 1676; moreover, if his later memory is to be trusted, he first “gave himself over to” atomism as early as 1661.4 As for his reasons for rejecting atoms, Leibniz’s mature..|
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