The work of seventeenth-century polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz has proved inspirational to philosophers and scientists alike. In this thought-provoking book, Pauline Phemister explores the ecological potential of Leibniz’s dynamic, pluralist, panpsychist, metaphysical system. She argues that Leibniz’s philosophy has a renewed relevance in the twenty-first century, particularly in relation to the environmental change and crises that threaten human and non-human life on earth. Drawing on Leibniz’s theory of soul-like, interconnected metaphysical entities he termed 'monads', Phemister explains how an individual’s true (...) good is inextricably linked to the good of all. Phemister also finds in Leibniz’s works the rudiments of a theory of empathy and strategies for strengthening human feelings of compassion towards all living things. Leibniz and the Environment is essential reading for historians of philosophy and environmental philosophers, and will also be of interest to anyone seeking a metaphysical perspective from which to pursue environmental action and policy. (shrink)
Leibniz believed the ‘true concept of substance’ is found in ‘the concept of forces or powers’. Accordingly, he conceived monadic substances as metaphysically primitive forces whose modifications manifest both as monads’ appetitions and perceptions and as derivative forces in monads’ organic bodies. Relationships between substances, and in particular the ethical relationships that hold between rational substances, are also foregrounded by Leibniz’s concept of substances as forces. In section one, we discuss the derivative forces of bodies. In section two, we consider (...) monads’ perceptions and appetitions. Section three attends to ethical aspects of Leibniz’s account, focusing in particular on souls’ representative natures and the correspondence that obtains between perceptions in one and perceptions in all others. In section four, however, I argue that Leibniz’s commitment to the doctrine of the conservation of force makes it impossible for any one substance to pursue its own advantage by increasing its active force without there being a correlative disadvantageous decrease in the active force of substances elsewhere in the universe. While the reconciliatory proposals offered do not entirely remove the tension between Leibniz’s ethics and his physics, they do soften its severity and allow it to be regarded in a more positive light. (shrink)
Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz stand out as the great 17th century rationalist philosophers who sought to construct a philosophical system in which theological and philosophical foundations serve to explain the physical, mental and moral universe. In her new book Pauline Phemister explores their contribution to the development of modern philosophy.
One of the most intriguing – and arguably counter-intuitive – doctrines defended by environmental philosophers is that of positive aesthetics, the thesis that all of nature is beautiful. The doctrine has attained philosophical respectability only comparatively recently, thanks in no small part to the work of Allen Carlson, one of its foremost defenders. In this paper, we argue that the doctrine can be found much earlier in the work of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz who devised and defended a version of positive (...) aesthetics in the early modern period, grounded in a conception of the world as a world of monads, each of which individually fulfils the rationalist aesthetic criteria of multiplicity-in-unity and that taken together ensure that the world as a whole is a harmoniously ordered system of multiple and diverse individuals, whose intelligible order and variety is made known to us through natural scientific endeavour. In showing this, we advance two further theses: first, that Leibniz's vers.. (shrink)
This introductory overview comprises a brief account of Leibniz's own monadology; a discussion of the reception of his philosophy up to Kant; and a short overview of the monadologies developed after Kant's first Critique, made via a summary of key points raised in this guest issue, highlighting recurrent themes, which include questions of historiography.
This article examines the history of ideas during the early modern period. René Descartes extended the term idea to include sensation, imagination, and memory and located ideas in the human intellect. Not all philosophers agreed with him, and among the most prominent resistors were Baruch Spinoza and Nicolas Malebranche. Spinoza viewed ideas as modes of God insofar as God possesses the attribute of thought. Malebranche too insisted on retaining the pre-Cartesian opinion that ideas exist in God and not in human (...) minds. (shrink)
What is consciousness? What is the place of consciousness in nature? These and related questions occupy a prominent place in contemporary studies in metaphysics and philosophy of mind, often involving complex interdisciplinary connections between philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, biology and cognitive neuroscience. At the same time, these questions play a fundamental role in the philosophies of great thinkers of the past such as, among others, Plotinus, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, William James and Edmund Husserl. This new collection of essays by leading (...) contemporary philosophers of mind and historians of philosophy seeks to address these questions from both a systematic and a theoretical perspective and to create a new and fruitful forum for future discussion. In the attempt to do justice to the richness of our mental life, the volume features in-depth examinations not solely of mainstream physicalist doctrines, but also of largely neglected positions such as Cartesian dualism, idealism and panpsychism. (shrink)
In his Essay, John Locke sets out his theory of knowledge and how we acquire it. He shows how all our ideas are grounded in human experience and analyses the extent of our knowledge of ourselves and the world. This new abridgement uses P. H. Nidditch's authoritative text to make an accessible edition of Locke's masterpiece.
Dieser Aufsatz hält es für angeraten, einen bisher vernachlässigten Aspekt der Leibnizschen Gedanken bezüglich der Willensfreiheit, nämlich die Rolle der Rationalität, näher zu betrachten. Von den drei für die Freiheit notwendigen Bedingungen gehört nur die Rationalität all denjenigen Menschen, die frei sind, und ihnen ausschließlich an. Kontingenz und Spontaneität können die Handlungen unfreier Menschen kennzeichnen. Die Rolle der Rationalität erscheint in klarem licht, wenn man sie in die Reihe folgender zueinander in Beziehung stehender Konzepte stellt: Kraft, Wahrnehmung, Tätigsein, Vollkommenheit, Schönheit, (...) Weisheit, Liebe, Gerechtigkeit, Glück. Kritische Bemerkungen und im Sinne Leibnizens gegebene Antworten gegen Ende dieses Aufsatzes dienen nicht nur dem Zweck, Leibniz' Stellung zu beurteilen, sondern auch dem Zweck, seine Gedanken bezüglich dieses Themas näher zu erläutern. (shrink)