Infinite Accumulations and Pantheistic Implications: Leibniz and the Anima Mundi

The Leibniz Review 7:1-24 (1997)
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Abstract

Throughout his early writings, Leibniz was concerned with developing an acceptable account of God's relationship to the created world. In some of these early writings, he endorsed the idea that this relationship was similar to the human soul's relationship to the body. Though he eventually came to reject this idea, theanima mundi thesis remained the topic of several essays and correspondences during his career, culminating in the correspondence with Clarke. At first glance,Leibniz's discussions of this thesis may seem less important in comparison to others, since it might seem like a topic which is far removed from what are regarded as his most important philosophical doctrines. I hope to show in what follows that such a view is mistaken. The large amount of attention Leibniz paid to this thesis is a sure indication of its importance to him. Further, as we shall see, his discussions of this thesis tum on some of his most interesting metaphysical topics, including the development of his thinking about the actual infinite, the structure of organic wholes, and the relationship between God and the created universe. In what follows, I examine these discussions chronologically, from the De Summa Rerum (1675-6), to the correspondence with Clarke (1715-6)

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Laurence Carlin
University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

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