Leibniz on Plurality, Dependence, and Unity

Res Philosophica 95 (1):69-94 (2017)

Authors
Adam Harmer
University of California, Riverside
Abstract
Leibniz argues that Cartesian extension lacks the unity required to be a substance. A key premise of Leibniz’s argument is that matter is a collection or aggregation. I consider an objection to this premise raised by Leibniz’s correspondent Burchard de Volder and consider a variety of ways that Leibniz might be able to respond to De Volder’s objection. I argue that it is not easy for Leibniz to provide a dialectically relevant response and, further, that the difficulty arises from Leibniz’s commitment to part-whole priority in the case of material wholes, a commitment not shared by De Volder. One major implication is that Leibniz relies on a bottom-up conception of material things, which makes his argument vulnerable to objections stemming from certain types of monist positions.
Keywords Leibniz  Unity  History of Philosophy  Dependence  Plurality  Monsim
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Reprint years 2017
ISBN(s) 2168-9105  
DOI 10.11612/resphil.1614
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