In this article, I discuss Leibniz's interpretation of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. In particular, I consider whether Leibniz's position on this point was developed partly in reference to Spinoza's position. First, I analyze Leibniz's annotations from 1676 on Spinoza's Letter 12. The traditional cosmological argument, as found in Avicenna and Saint Thomas for example, relies on the Aristotelian assumption that an actual infinite is impossible and on the idea that there can be no effect without a (...) cause. From these premises, the argument concludes that God must be the uncaused first cause of all things. In Letter 12, Spinoza follows Chasdai Crescas and rejects this proof. Instead, he develops a variant of the cosmological argument which depicts God as the self-caused ground of all causes or things. In his annotations, Leibniz agrees with Spinoza about the inadequacy of the traditional argument, but remains ambiguous as to Spinoza's conception of God as a self-caused being. Next, I turn to Leibniz's comments from 1678 on Spinoza's Ethics . Here, Leibniz develops an original interpretation of the cosmological argument based entirely on the consideration of conceptual relations. Leibniz's argument depicts God as an uncaused being conceived through itself which is the condition of conceivability of all things. I argue that Leibniz developed this argument in deliberate opposition to Spinoza's conception of God as the self-caused ground of all causes or things. (shrink)
Ce beau volume rassemble vingt-trois contributions à un colloque international sur le thème des « Lumières radicales », tenu à l’École normale supérieure Lettres et sciences humaines à Lyon en février 2004. L’objectif du colloque était de s’interroger sur le sens et la pertinence de cette catégorie historiographique qui s’est imposée dans l’histoire intellectuelle du xviie et du xviiie siècle depuis quelques décennies déjà, mais avec une force considérable depuis une dizaine d’années. Le volu..
In the Nouveaux Essais, Leibniz famously declared that he once had “begun to lean towards” Spinozist necessitarianism. In this article, I argue that this remark refers to his modal philosophy anterior to 1677. Leibniz’s mature refutation of Spinoza’s necessitarianism relies on the notion that pure possibility has some sort of reality in God’s mind, because only this allows for a strong notion of divine choice. But I believe that Leibniz only developed this ontology of possibility after 1677. Before this date, (...) he inclined towards the view that non existing possibilities are mere logical abstractions that God never actually conceives. In order to show this, I analyze a series of early texts written between 1668 and 1676. Next, I consider a series of texts from 1677-1678, where Leibniz developed his ontology of possibility and put it to use against Spinozist necessitarianism for the first time. (shrink)