Leibniz on substance and changing properties

Dialectica 59 (4):503–516 (2005)
The paper examines three essays that Leibniz wrote in 1688, immediately after the composition of the Discourse on Metaphysics, one of his most organic philosophical works. The main topics which emerge from these essays are: the relationship between substance and accidents; the nature of accidents; and, more generally, the nature of abstract entities. Given that accidents' nature is that of changing, Leibniz sees how hard it is to give an account of the relationship between substance and accidents that does not imply any change in the substance, when its accidents undergo a change. To find a way out of this problem, Leibniz assumes that abstract terms (whiteness, wisdom, etc.) do not name real properties or real parts of substances, and that any sentence containing real abstract terms can be rephrased as a sentence containing logical abstract terms, which do no imply any commitment to the existence of real properties. Coherently with this nominalistic attitude, Leibniz ends up, in the Theodicy and in his correspondence with Des Bosses, considering accidents as modes or internal modifications of the substance
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DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2005.01040.x
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