In Pierre-Francois Moreau & Mogens Laerke (eds.), Spinoza et Leibniz (forthcoming)
That Leibniz finds the philosophy of Spinoza horrifyingly wrong is obvious to anyone who reads Leibniz’s work; that Leibniz finds Spinozism so seductive that his own system is in danger of collapsing into it is less obvious but, I believe, equally true. The difference here is not so much between an exoteric and an esoteric philosophy suggested by Russell2 but between a thorough-going rationalism on the part of Spinoza and Leibniz’s “mitigated rationalism” – mitigated by the exigencies of his orthodox Christianity. In other words, it is Leibniz’s traditional view of the nature of God and his creatures that leads him to abhor Spinoza’s vision, while his own commitment to a number of principles and ideas pushes him to rationalism. And if Kant is right that the mind naturally desires a system, then Leibniz ought to see the Spinozistic consequences of many of his philosophical principles. Of course, there is nothing new in saying that the God of Spinoza and the God of Leibniz are fundamentally different, but I believe that if we focus on Leibniz’s critique of Spinoza’s account of the nature of God and a constellation of related concepts, we can come to a deeper understanding of the thought of both philosophers
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