Leibniz on Teleology and the Intelligibility of Nature

Among the many tensions in Leibniz’s philosophical system is his tendency to invoke both mechanistic and teleological explanations. Jonathan Bennett, typicalof recent Leibniz commentators, attempts to relieve this difficulty by arguing that teleology for Leibniz is theological posturing and philosophically thin; such a doctrine does not serve to explain the relationship between teleology and mechanism. I argue that Leibniz’s appeal to final causality is both inextricably grounded in his wider metaphysic and helpful in understanding the preconditions for causality in general. To this end I defend the two following claims: 1) It is in part Leibniz’s theory of contingency, and not exclusively theological concerns, that leads him to conclude that the laws of nature must admit of teleological explanations. 2) The finality of the laws of nature, coupled with one of Leibniz’s most promising arguments against occasionalism, are together sufficient to show that teleology must play a role in explanations of the activity of all genuine substances
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