Toland and Locke in the Leibniz-Burnett Correspondence

Locke Studies 17:117-141 (2017)
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Abstract

Leibniz's correspondence with Thomas Burnett of Kemnay is probably best known for Leibniz's attempts to communicate with Locke via Burnett. But Burnett was also, more generally a source of English intellectual news for Leibniz. As such, Burnett provided an important part of the context in which Locke was presented to and understood by Leibniz. This paper examines the Leibniz-Burnett correspondence, and argues against Jolley's suggestion that "the context in which Leibniz learned about Locke was primarily a theological one". That said, in thinking about Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity, and his subsequent defenses of it, Leibniz does offer an argument against Locke's book -- but not one that's closely related to Locke's theological views, or to any accusation of Socinianism. The paper also considers, by way of contrast, the way Leibniz and Burnett talk about the more obviously controversial figure John Toland.

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Stewart Duncan
University at Buffalo

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