The Leibniz Review 11:35-49 (2001)

Patrick Thomas Riley
Harvard University
The latest volume of Political Writings in the great Berlin-Brandenburg Academy Edition of Leibniz’ Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe reveals once again the astonishing range of Leibniz’ contributions to the political-moral-legal sphere: more than 900 pages document Leibniz’ reflections on augmenting public well-being through new academies of science, on the policies of the Imperial court in Vienna, on the improvement of Imperial finances and military readiness, on the political history of Sachsen-Lauenburg, on the interests of Hannover-Brunswick, on European politics, on “church politics” and ecumenism, on the overcoming of “schism” through wise charity, on coinage and commemorative medallions, even on pensions and life-insurance.. What holds this far-flung, wide-ranging collection together, however, achieving Leibnizian “unity in multiplicity”—as the learned editor of Vol. 4, Dr. Hartmut Rudolph, makes clear in his illuminating Introduction—is Leibniz’ devotion to “the common good;” for Rudolph is entirely right to say that Leibniz reveals his affection for the bonum commune, “the general best,” in a characteristic letter to Emperor Leopold I from 1688: “My entire purpose now,” Leibniz says, “is to forward the general good [das gemeine Beste] through the few talents which God has given me. And this concern for le bien général is crowned, in the present Volume 4, by Leibniz’ magisterial Memoir for Enlightened Persons of Good Intention—of which we finally have a wholly reliable text, thanks to Dr. Rudolph and his colleagues at the Leibniz Arbeitsstelle in Potsdam.
Keywords History of Philosophy  Major Philosophers
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 1524-1556
DOI 10.5840/leibniz20011110
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