Discourse Metaphysics Other Essays

Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays contains complete translations of the two essays that constitute the best introduction to Leibniz's complete thought: 'Discourse on Metaphysics', a short course in his metaphysics, written in 1686 at the time his mature thought was just crystalising and 'Monadology' of 1714, a summary of Leibniz's mature metaphysics, written late iDiscourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays contains complete translations of the two essays that constitute the best introduction to Leibniz's complete thought: 'Discourse on Metaphysics', a short course in his metaphysics, written in 1686 at the time his mature thought was just crystalising and 'Monadology' of 1714, a summary of Leibniz's mature metaphysics, written late in his long career. These are supplemented with two essays of special interest to the student of modern philosophy, 'On the Ultimate Origination of Things' of 1697, which deals clearly with Leibniz's celebrated doctrine of contingency and creation, and the Preface to his New Essays of 1703-1705, which presents a brief and coherent overview of his epistemological position, particularly as it relates to the empiricism of Locke....more

Paperback, 96 pages

Published November 15th 1991 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (first published 1686)

Abstract

The first mature synthesis of Leibniz’s philosophical opinions is an essay without title which is described in a letter to the Landgrave Ernest of Hesse-Rheinfels on February 1/11,1686.

Finding myself recently at a place with nothing to do for a few days, I wrote a little discourse on metaphysics, on which I should like to have the opinion of Mr. Arnauld. For I have treated the questions of grace, the co-operation of God with creatures, the nature of miracles, the cause of sin, the origin of evil, the immortality of the soul, ideas, etc., in a way which seems to provide new openings proper to clearing up the greatest difficulties [G., II, 11].

So far as is known, however, the work itself was never sent to Arnauld, but only the 37 propositions summarizing its conclusions, which Leibniz asked the Landgrave to forward to him. Though it has been esteemed very highly as a statement of Leibniz’s mature philosophy, he himself considered it inadequate on the nature and kinds of substances, on the interpretation of body, and on the various degrees of perception. In contrast to his later philosophical summaries (Nos. 66 and 67), its emphasis is predominantly theological beginning with the argument for God rather than with the argument for individual substances, and it may have been a study for the preface to the Catholic Demonstrations.

Gerhardt’s text has been corrected with the comparatively collated text of Schmalenbach (Sch. I,1–50) based on the critical edition by Lestienne. Only the more significant variations found in earlier drafts of the essay, of which G.’s text is the third, are found in the notes.

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