The Leibniz Review 5:33-35 (1995)

Eric Sotnak
University of Akron
This book contains translations of four of Leibniz’s writings on China: Preface to the Novissima Sinica, On the Civil Cult of Confucius, Remarks on Chinese Rites and Religion, and Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese. Cook and Rosemont have included a splendid introduction to the collection, which describes the historical and theological background of Leibniz’s China writings, placing them in a context of debate over whether or not existing philosophical and cultural traditions could be reconciled with Christian theology. In the main, this is the topic addressed by all the essays translated here. Leibniz takes the position that there is something of the truth in Chinese intellectual traditions, and thus it should not be too difficult for missionaries from the West to instruct Chinese literati, and help them to see that, with the exception of the special revelation found only in Christianity, their own traditions have always contained the seeds of theism within them. At times Leibniz is even charitable enough to suggest that certain concepts found in Chinese philosophy are similar in spirit to concepts found in his own philosophy. Leibniz professes great admiration for Chinese culture and philosophy, even going so far as to claim that in many respects, the Chinese had the upper hand over the West.
Keywords History of Philosophy  Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 1524-1556
DOI 10.5840/leibniz199556
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