This article discusses some reasons for taking a reconstructive approach to the argumentative structure of Leibniz’s metaphysics. One reason is the fragmentary nature of the countless notes and letters that constitute by far the largest part of Leibniz‘s philosophical output. Another reason is that conjecturing how the many isolated arguments proposed by Leibniz fit into a large-scale argumentative structure could yield insights into how Leibniz made use of the method of intuition – both in his analysis of mind and in (...) his analysis of matter. Contemporary critics have objected that the method of intuition leads to philosophical conservatism, arbitrary choices between conflicting intuitions, and a preoccupation with psychological facts rather than with reality. By contrast, reconstructing the methodology behind Leibniz’s metaphysics could indicate how intuitions could be used in a way that sidesteps these problems. Leibniz gives priority to intuitions concerning the structure of mental operations over intuitions concerning the structure of material objects; this is why intuitions concerning the structure of material objects can be replaced by innovative philosophical theories; these theories, however, make use of metaphysical concepts implied by the analysis of mind and, thereby, can capture facts both about psychology and about the structure of extra-mental reality. (shrink)
This paper contributes to a special issue on methodology in the history of philosophy. I consider contemporary contextualism and reflect on prospects for an increasingly pluralistic, global, and decolonial historical scholarly practice.