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Harmonizing Leibniz’s Ontology

  • ANDREW D. H. STUMPF (a1)

I propose a novel compatibilist interpretation of Leibniz’s mature views concerning what is metaphysically basic. Drawing on a compatibilist reading of Aristotle on primary substance in the Categories and Metaphysics Z, I argue that Leibniz is working with two complementary ways of being metaphysically basic—one applying to immaterial monads, the other to corporeal substances. Although corporeal substances derive their status as basic from their dominant monads, they are nevertheless fully real, unified, and genuinely capable of acting. This perspective respects Leibniz’s idealist tendencies and his commitment to the reality of bodies without (implausibly) attributing inconsistency to his considered views.

Je propose une interprétation compatibiliste des positions de Leibniz sur ce qui est métaphysiquement fondamental. En m’appuyant sur une lecture compatibiliste de ce que dit Aristote de la substance première dans les Catégories et au livre Z de la Métaphysique, je soutiens que Leibniz pense en fonction de deux manières d’être fondamentales—l’une qui s’applique aux monades immatérielles, et l’autre aux substances corporelles. Ces dernières sont fondamentales d’une façon secondaire, mais elles sont néanmoins vraiment réelles, unifiées et capables d’agir. Cette approche respecte à la fois les tendances idéalistes de Leibniz et son attrait pour la réalité des corps, sans pour autant attribuer d’incohérence aux positions en question.

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D. Garber 2005Leibniz and Idealism.” Leibniz: Nature and Freedom, eds. D. Rutherford and J. A. Cover . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 95107.

D. Garber 1985Leibniz and the Foundations of Physics: The Middle Years.” The Natural Philosophy of Leibniz, eds. K. Okruhlik and J. R. Brown . Dordrecht: Reidel: 27130.

G. Hartz 1998Why Corporeal Substances Keep Popping up in Leibniz’s Philosophy.” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 6 (2): 193207.

G.W. Leibniz 1997 Leibniz’s “New system” and Associated Contemporary Texts. eds., trans., R. S. Woolhouse and R. Francks . New York: Oxford University Press.

P. Phemister 2005 Leibniz and the Natural World. Dordrecht: Springer.

D. Rutherford 1995. Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

C. Witt 2002Critical Notice: Aristotle’s Theory of Substance.” The Philosophical Review 111, 1: 98101.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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