Uneasiness and Passions in Leibniz's Nouveaux essais II, xx

In Breger Herbert, Herbst Jürgen & Erdner Sven (eds.), Natur Und Subjekt. Ix. Internationaler Leibniz-Kongress Vorträge 3. Teil. Leibniz Geschellschaft (2011)
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Abstract

Chapter 20 of book II of John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, titled ‘Of Modes of Pleasure and Pain’ is the most extensive discussion of emotions available in Locke’s corpus. Likewise, Nouveaux essais sur l’entedement humain, II, xx, together with the following chapter xxi remains the chief source of Leibniz’s views of emotions. They offer a very interesting and captivating discussion of moral philosophy and good life. The chapter provides also a great platform to study Leibniz’s argumentative techniques and the differences between the philosophers in general. Locke strives to explain the emotions with a single, unifying notion of uneasiness while Leibniz’s view of the mind is much more complex and he finds more unique ways of explaining different emotions. My paper focuses on Leibniz’s critique of Lockean uneasiness as an explanans for emotions. He views uneasiness as a unavoidable part of all our mental states and therefore it is not sufficient to explain passions or moral wrong-doing of men. I will discuss such passions as love, joy, sorrow, hope, fear, despair, anger, envy and shame and consider Locke’s possible response to Leibniz’s critique.

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Markku Roinila
University of Helsinki

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