Leibniz's encounter with Spinoza's monism, October 1675 to February 1678

Mogens Laerke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This article is concerned with Leibniz’s reading of Spinoza’s substance monism. It focuses on a particular period in Leibniz’s philosophical development, from October 1675 to February 1678. This period spans from the time Leibniz, in his De summa rerum papers, developed a rudimentary system in several aspects reminiscent of Spinozism, to the time he first read Spinoza’s Opera posthuma in early 1678. The article reconstructs a decisive shift in Leibniz’s attitude towards Spinoza’s substance monism that took place around 1677. Around 1675–1676, when Leibniz first heard of Spinoza’s philosophy from Tschirnhaus, Leibniz was playing with the option of a monist system where all things are conceived as modes of a single substance. He was also considering a parallelist metaphysical structure where explanatory parallelism between thought and extension is grounded in ontological parallelism. When Leibniz changed his intellectual setting in late 1676—moving from Paris to Hanover—his intellectual attitude toward Spinoza also changed, maybe in part as a result of his exchanges with the Danish catholic Nicolas Steno. In his critical comments on the first book of Ethics, from early 1678, Leibniz developed a comprehensive critique of Spinoza where he put to use and tested some of his own most recent philosophical discoveries. I thus show how he used his theory of predication to challenge Spinoza’s theory of attributes, and how he used the principle equipollence of the full cause and the entire effect to challenge Spinoza’s theory of causation and refute substance monism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Spinoza
EditorsMichael Della Rocca
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter20
Number of pages50
ISBN (Print)9780195335828
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

Fingerprint

Monism
Baruch Spinoza
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Parallelism
Ontological
Causes
Thought
Spinozism
Metaphysical
Philosophy
Causation
Opera
Monist

Keywords

  • Leibniz
  • Spinoza
  • substance monism
  • De summa rerum
  • theory of attributes
  • principle of equipollence
  • theory predication
  • Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus
  • Nicolas Steno
  • explanatory parallelism
  • ontological parallelism

Cite this

Laerke, M. (2017). Leibniz's encounter with Spinoza's monism, October 1675 to February 1678. In M. D. Rocca (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195335828.013.013

Leibniz's encounter with Spinoza's monism, October 1675 to February 1678. / Laerke, Mogens.

The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza. ed. / Michael Della Rocca. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Laerke, M 2017, Leibniz's encounter with Spinoza's monism, October 1675 to February 1678. in MD Rocca (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195335828.013.013
Laerke M. Leibniz's encounter with Spinoza's monism, October 1675 to February 1678. In Rocca MD, editor, The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza. Oxford University Press. 2017 https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195335828.013.013
Laerke, Mogens. / Leibniz's encounter with Spinoza's monism, October 1675 to February 1678. The Oxford Handbook of Spinoza. editor / Michael Della Rocca. Oxford University Press, 2017.
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