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LEIBNIZ

Determinist,Theist,Idealist

ROBERTMERRIHEWADAMS

NewYorkOxford

OXFORDUNIVERSITYPRESS

1994

iii

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CopyrightU+00A91994byRobertMerrihewAdams

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Adams,RobertMerrihew.

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Includesbibliographicalreferencesandindexes.

ISBN0195084608
1.Leibniz,GottfriedWilhelm,16461716.

I.Title.

24689753

PrintedintheUnitedStatesofAmericaonacidfreepaper

iv

Formymother,MargaretBakerAdams,thehistorianofourfamily

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vi

Preface
IdidnotsetouttowriteabookonLeibniz.ThroughmorethantwentyyearsIhavetaughtgraduate
andundergraduatecoursesonthephilosophyofLeibnizonceattheUniversityofMichigan,and
moretimesthanIcannowenumerateatUCLA,usuallyatintervalsoftwoorthreeyears.Mydebt
tothestudents,andsometimescolleagues,whoattendedthoseclassesisenormous,andnolonger
specifiableindetail.AboutfifteenyearsagoIbegantopublisharticlesonLeibniz.Eventually,at
thesuggestionofcolleagues,IbegantothinkaboutpublishingacollectionofpapersonLeibniz,
andsetouttowriteacoupleofnewonestocompletethecollection.Thesegrew,andtheolder
pieceswerethoroughlyrevised,andinlargepartreorganizedandrewritten,andallthepieces
acquiredmultiplecrossreferencestoeachother.Theresultisabook,andnolongeracollectionof
papers.

Themajorityofthematerialisnew.Chapter1isareworkingof"Leibniz'sTheoriesof
Contingency,"RiceUniversityStudies,63,No.4(Fall1977),pp.141.Chapter2andmuchof
Chapter3areareworkingof"Predication,Truth,andTransWorldIdentityinLeibniz,"whichwas
publishedinHowThingsAre:StudiesinPredicationandtheHistoryandPhilosophyofScience,
editedbyJamesBogenandJamesE.McGuire(Dordrecht:Reidel,1985),pp.23583.Some
materialinChapter8comesfrom"PresumptionandtheNecessaryExistenceofGod,"Nos22
(1988):1932.Chapters9and10containmuchmaterialfrom"PhenomenalismandCorporeal
SubstanceinLeibniz,"MidwestStudiesinPhilosophy8(1983):21757.AGermanversion(notin
allpartsexactlyatranslation)ofmuchofthematerialofChapter11isforthcominginStudia
Leibnitiana,vol.25(1993),underthetitle,"FormundMateriebeiLeibniz:diemittlerenJahre."I
amgratefultothepublishersofthesepiecesfortheirpermissiontoreprintthematerialhere.

IamgratefulalsotothemanyscholarswithwhomIhavediscussedLeibnizandrelatedtopics,
orallyandinwriting,overtheyears,particularlytoMarilynMcCordAdams,WallaceAnderson,
DavidBlumenfeld,HerbertBreger,TylerBurge,JohnCarriero,KeithDeRose,JohnEarman,
UrsulaFranke,AmosFunkenstein,DanielGarber,GlennHartz,PaulHoffman,JeremyHyman,
WilliamIrvine,NicholasJolley,MarianneKooij,MarkKulstad,MarcLange,MarianneLaori,
LouisLoeb,J.E.McGuire,FabrizioMondadori,MassimoMugnai,AlanNelson,DerkPereboom,
AyvalRamati,NicholasRescher,MarleenRozemond,DonaldRutherford,HeinrichSchepers,
RobertC.Sleigh,Jr.,

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HoustonSmit,MargaretWilson,NortonWise,andRobertYost.JohnCarriero,DanielGarber,and
PaulHoffmanprovidedextremelyvaluablewrittencommentsonpartofthework.

MarleenRozemondandlaterAyvalRamatigaveimportanthelpasmyresearchassistants.Ihave
benefitedfromtheextraordinaryscholarlygenerosityofHeinrichSchepersandassociatesatthe
LeibnizForschungsstelleoftheUniversityofMnsterandthelateAlbertHeinekampand
associatesattheLeibnizArchiveoftheNiederschsischeLandesbibliothekinHannover,who
madethedocumentsonwhichtheyareworkingavailabletomeandotherscholars.Professor
Scheperswasparticularlyhelpfulwithadviceaboutthedatingoftexts.RobertSleighandMassimo
Mugnaiwerealsogenerousinsharingtexts.

IamgratefultoUCLAforsabbaticalsupportduringthefirstwritingofChapters9and10andfor
fundingresearchassistanceinthelaterstages,butmainlyforprovidingtheenvironmentfor
researchandespeciallyforteachinginwhichthisbookdeveloped.Iwasinspiredbygenerous
encouragementoftheprojectfrommycolleaguesAlanNelson,DavidKaplan,RobertYost,and
thelateMontgomeryForth.Thebookwouldbemuchpoorer,ifitwouldexistatall,withoutthe
stimulusofthesplendidgraduatestudentswehavehadinourdepartment.

Itisapleasuretorecordthesedebtsofgratitude.

LosAngeles,CaliforniaR.M.A.June1993

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Contents
Introduction,
3

I.Determinism:ContingencyandIdentity
1.Leibniz'sTheoriesofContingency,
9
1.Leibniz'sFirstMainSolution,
10

2.Leibniz'sSecondMainSolution,
22

3.LeibnizandPossibleWorldsSemantics,
46

4.OnLeibniz'sSincerity,
50

2.TheLogicofCounterfactualNonidentity,
53
1.ProblemsofTransworldIdentity,
53

2.TheConceptualContainmentTheoryofTruth,
57

3.ActualityintheConceptualContainmentTheory,
63

4.AnAntiSemanticalTheoryofTruth,
65

5.WhyDidLeibnizHoldtheConceptualContainmentTheory?,
67

6.ConceptualContainmentandTransworldIdentity,
71

3.TheMetaphysicsofCounterfactualNonidentity,
75
1.SubstanceandLaw,
77
2.SubstanceandMiracle,
81

3.PerceptionandRelations,
102

4.Conclusions,
106

Appendix:APrioriandAPosteriori,
109

II.Theism:GodandBeing
4.TheEnsPerfectissimum,
113
1.AbsoluteQualitiesas"Requirements"ofThings,
115

2.SensibleQualities,Knowledge,andPerfection,
119

3.IsLeibniz'sConceptionofGodSpinozistic?,
123

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5.TheOntologicalArgument,
135
1.TheIncompleteProof,
136

2.ProofofPossibility,
141

6.ExistenceandEssence,
157
1.IsExistenceanEssentialQualityofGod?,
158
2.DefiningExistence,
164

3.ExistenceIrreducible,
170

7.TheRootofPossibility,
177
1.TheProofoftheExistenceofGodfromtheRealityofEternalTruths,
177

2.Leibniz'sTheoryExamined,
184

8.PresumptionofPossibility,
192
1.JurisprudenceandPragmatisminTheology,
194

2.JurisprudenceandtheLogicofProbability,
198

3.AProofforthePresumptionofPossibility,
202

4.PresumingthePossibilityofBeingsasSuch,
206

5.ObjectionsConsidered,
209

III.Idealism:MonadsandBodies
9.Leibniz'sPhenomenalism,
217
1.Phenomena,
219

2.EsseIsPercipi,
235
3.Aggregates,
241

4.TheRealityofPhenomena,
255

10.CorporealSubstance,
262
1.BodiesandCorporealSubstances,
262

2.TheStructureofaCorporealSubstance:AlternativeInterpretations,
265

3.TheStructureofaCorporealSubstance:SomeTexts,
274

4.MonadicDomination,
285

5.PrinciplesofUnity,
291

11.FormandMatterinLeibniz'sMiddleYears,
308
1.Form,
309

2.Matter,
324

3.Realism,
338

12.PrimaryMatter,
341
1.ThreeSensesof"Matter"inaLettertoArnauld,
341

2.MatterandtheEucharist,
349

3.Bernoulli'sQuestions,
361

4.TheDebateaboutThinkingMatter,
364

5.Conclusions,
375

13.PrimitiveandDerivativeForces,
378
1.The"Mixed"CharacterofDerivativeForces,
378

2.PrimaryMatterandQuantity,
393

Bibliography,
401

IndexofLeibnizTextsCited,
411

GeneralIndex,
423

xi

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xii
LEIBNIZ
1

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Introduction
ThelasttwentyyearsorsohaveseenafloweringofLeibnizstudies.Theorganizersofarecent
1IntheUnitedStatesinterestinthe
internationalworkshopcalledit"theLeibnizrenaissance."
philosophyofGottfriedWilhelmLeibniz(16461716)wasenhancedinthe1970sbythe
excitementovermodallogicand"modalmetaphysics."Theideaofapossibleworldwascentralto
thesedevelopments,andthatgavethemanobviousconnectionwithLeibniz.Ithinktherewasalso
asubtleranddeeper,thoughperhapsmoredebatable,connectionbetweenLeibnizandthenew
workinmodalmetaphysics.Fromitsbeginning,partlythroughtheinfluenceoftheViennaCircle,
analyticalphilosophyhadbeenKantianratherthanLeibnizianinitsmethodology.BythatImean
thatitstreatmentofphilosophicaltopics,especiallyinmetaphysics,tendedtobegovernedby
epistemologicalviewsandsubjecttostrict,priorepistemologicalconstraints.Itwascharacteristic
ofmuchearlymodernphilosophy,andespeciallythecriticalphilosophyofKant,toassigna
dominantroletoepistemology.Ofthegreatearlymodernphilosophers,however,Leibnizwas
probablytheleastpreoccupiedwithepistemology.Hewastypicallywillingtobeginanargument
withwhateverseemedtruetohimandmightseemtruetohisaudience,withoutworryingtoomuch
aboutwhetherepistemologywouldpresentitassomethingwecanreallyknow.Muchofthe
developmentofmodalmetaphysicsinthe1970sandsincehasproceededinthisLeibnizianway
perhapsbecauseofthestrengthofthegripthatcertain"intuitions"havehadonmanyofthe
philosophersinvolvedinthemovement.

TheLeibnizianapproachtometaphysicsmightseemembarrassinglyuncritical,andperhapsit
wouldbeifstrongconstraintsonmetaphysicscouldbederivedfromanepistemologythatdeserved
ourfullconfidence.Ifweviewavailableepistemologiesmoreskeptically,however,wemaythink
thattheyarenotgenerallymorereliablethanour"intuitions,"andthatwecannotusuallydobetter
thantobeginourthinkingwithwhatseemsrighttous.OurinterpretationofLeibnizneednot
dependonourownstanceonthisissue.Excellentworkonhisthoughthasbeendoneby
philosopherswhoseviewsonmethodologyinmeta
____________________
1
CentroFiorentino,LeibnizRenaissance.Igiveallreferencesbyabbreviationsorbyshortnames
andtitles;fulldetailsarefoundinthebibliography.
3

2Forbetterorworse,however,thisisapointonwhichmyown
physicsarequiteopposedtohis.
viewsaresupportiveofLeibniz.

Leibniz:Determinist,Theist,IdealistisnotanintroductiontoLeibniz'sphilosophy,norevenafully
comprehensiveaccountofhismetaphysics.Itisapieceofresearchintothreeareasrelatedtothe
3Thethreetopicsareconnected,asiseverythinginLeibniz's
threeattributesmentionedinthetitle.
thought.Mydevelopmentofthefirstispresupposedinmytreatmentoftheothertwo.ThatLeibniz
wasatheistishardlydebatable.Howmuchadeterministandhowmuchanidealisthewasare
morecontroversial;Ibelievehewasmoreofboththansomeinterpretershavethought.Iamnot
sympatheticwithhisdeterminism,butamverymuchinsympathy(thoughnotindetailed
agreement)withhistheismandhisidealism.

ThequestionofLeibniz'sdeterminismhasdrawnmuchrecentattention,inlargepartbecauseofits
connectionwithtwothesesrelatedtomodalmetaphysics.OneisLeibniz'sdoctrinethatevery
predicatetrueofanysubstanceiscontainedintheindividualconceptofthatsubstance.Theotheris
hiscloselyrelateddenialofcounterfactualindividualidentitieshisdenialthatAntoineArnauld,
forexample,wouldhaveexisted,andbeenthesameindividual,ifhehadmarried.Thesetheses
haveheldfascinationforstudentsinterestedintherelationoflogictometaphysics.Thesecondhas
beenseenasarejectionofwhathasbeenknowninrecentmodalmetaphysicsas"transworld
identity."Thefirsthasbeenoneofthegroundsforsuspicionthatnotruthsatallcanbecontingent
forLeibniz.Theseissues,andothersconnectedwiththem,formthesubjectofPartIofthebook.
Onethemethatemergesfrommyargumentthere(athemeintunewithmuchofthemostrecent
Leibnizscholarship)isthatLeibniz'sviewsonthesetopicsarelessdominatedbyhislogical
doctrinesthanwasthoughtbyBertrandRussellandLouisCouturat,themostinfluentialLeibniz
scholarsoftheearlypartofourcentury.Leibniz'sviewoftheproblemswaslargelyshapedbyhis
theology,andhisuseoflogicaldoctrinesindealingwiththemcannotbeunderstoodapartfrom
suchmetaphysicalconceptionsasthatofsubstantialform.

ThemetaphysicalcoreofLeibniz'sphilosophicaltheologyhasattractedlessattentionthanits
intrinsicinterestdeserves.Insomewaysitisalsothecoreofhismetaphysics.Itisintricately
connectedwithhislogicaldoctrinesandisthecontextforhisfullestreflectionsaboutthenatureof
existenceandofessence,andalsoaboutthemostgeneralstructuralrelationshipsoftheproperties
ofthings.ThesetopicsarediscussedinPartIIofthebook,intheframeworkofacomprehensive
studyofLeibniz'streatmentoftheontologicalargumentfortheexistenceofGod,whichIregardas
exceptionallyinteresting.IdonotthinkLeibniz'soranyotherversionoftheontologicalargument
islikelytoconvincemanypeopleoftheexistenceofGod,butarelatedargument,whichseemsto
metohavemorepersuasiveforce,andperhapstobethemostpromisingofallaprioriarguments
fortheexistenceofGod,isdiscussedinChapter7.Onereasonfortheneglectofthispartof
Leibniz'sthought
____________________
2
Forsuchdisagreementbyfinescholars,see,e.g.,Mates,PhilosopbyofLeibniz,p.51,andC.
Wilson,"CriticalandConstructiveAspectsofLeibniz'sMonadology,"p.293.
3
WhatIhavetosayaboutanothermajortopicofLeibniz'smetaphysics,theidentityof
indiscernibles,hasbeensaidinamuchlesshistoricalcontextinR.Adams,"PrimitiveThisnessand
PrimitiveIdentity."
4

isthatitsfullestdevelopment,inmostrespects,cameinhisearlyyears,andmanyofthemost
importanttextswerequiteinaccessibleuntiltherelevantvolumeoftheAcademyeditionof
Leibniz'sworks(AVI,iii)waspublishedin1980.Ihavetriedtogiveafullaccountofthemost
importanttexts.

Leibniz'sdoctrineofmonadsandhistheoryofthephysicalworldmayhavebeenovershadowedat
timesbytheinterestinhisphilosophyoflogic,buttheycanhardlybesaidtohavebeenneglected.
Howcouldtheybeneglected?InteachingaboutLeibnizIhavealwaysfoundthatstudentsare
instantlyfascinatedbythemonads,andfullofquestionsaboutthem.Atthesametime,Russell's
wellknownreportthatheinitially"felt...theMonadologywasakindoffantasticfairytale,
coherentperhaps,butwhollyarbitrary," 4resonateswiththefirstimpressionsofmanystudents.In
fact,IbelievethatLeibniz'stheoryofmonads,initsessentials,thoughnotinallitsdetails,
representsanimportant,permanentmetaphysicalalternative,oneofthehandfuloffundamental
viewsinthisareathathasarealchanceofbeingtrue.Iwouldnotclaimtoprovethatmuchhere,
butIwilltrytogiveinPartIIIafullaccountofLeibniz'sview,includingthoseofhisarguments
thatseemtomeofmostpermanentimportance,andthoseaspectsofhisviewthatmaycommendit
aspreferabletootherformsofidealismorphenomenalism.

Iarguethatthroughoutthematureperiodofhisthought(16861716),hisviewisasidealisticasis
impliedinhisstatementof1704that"thereisnothinginthingsexceptsimplesubstances,andin
themperceptionandappetite"(GII,270/L537).Someinterpretershavetriedtofindmorerealistic
commitmentsinsomeperiodorstrandofhismaturephilosophy,andsomeoftheseattemptsare
addressedinPartIII.Particularattentionispaidtointerpretationsthatfindmorerealistic
implicationsinLeibniz'seffortstorehabilitatecertainAristotelianScholasticconceptions;Iargue
thattheAristotelianconceptionsthatLeibnizundoubtedlydoesuseareemployedintheserviceof
hisidealism.

Ihavetriedthroughouttomaintainarigorouslyhistoricalapproach,attemptingtoestablishas
accuratelyaspossible,andwiththebestevidencepossible,whatLeibnizactuallysaidandmeant.
Thisisnottosaythatmyapproachisunphilosophical.Ibelievethathistoricalaccuracyandcareful
attentiontothehistoricalcontextareimportanttothephilosophicalaswellasthehistoricalvalue
ofworkinthehistoryofphilosophyand,conversely,thatphilosophicalargumentandcritiqueare
importantforhistoricalunderstandinginphilosophy.

Onereasonforthephilosophicalimportanceofpatientandcarefulattentiontotheactualmeaning
ofLeibniz'swritingsintheirhistoricalcontextisthathewasindeedagreatphilosopher,great
enoughthatanarbitraryinterpretationofhiswork,morerelevanttoourhistoricalcontextthanto
his,isunlikelytobeasinterestingphilosophicallyinthelongrunaswhatheactuallythought.
Indeed,theverystrangenessofhiscontext,andofsomeofhisthoughts,isaboonforphilosophy.
Progressinphilosophyismorelikelytoconsistinunderstandingpossiblealternativesthanarriving
atsettledconclusions.Andwearefamiliarenoughwiththefamiliar;partofwhatthegreatdead
philosophersofferusisalternativestoourusualwayofthinkingalternativesthoughtoutingreat

____________________
4
Russell,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.xiii.
5

depthandwithuncommonrationalsensitivity.Partofwhatwearedoinginstudyingthehistoryof
philosophy,moreover,isplacingourownphilosophizinginitslargestcontextinaconversation
thathasbeengoingonformanyhundredsofyears.Justaswearelikelytounderstandbetterwhat
wearedoinginanydiscussionifweaccuratelyrememberandunderstandhowithasgone,sowe
arelikelytounderstandourownphilosophizingbetterifourconceptionofitslongerhistorical
contextisaccurate.

Asforthevaluethatphilosophicalargumentandcritiquehaveforhistoricalunderstanding,I
believethatR.G.Collingwood'sview,thatthepropermethodofhistoryisthatofrethinkingpast
thoughtsinone'sownmind,5islargelytrueofthehistoryofphilosophy.Theaimoftherethinking
istodiscovertheinnerrationaleofthethoughtsonestudies.AsCollingwoodrecognized,this
methodcanbefruitfullyappliedonlytothoughts(andactions)thatlendthemselvesto
understandingintermsofarationale.Itthereforemaynotbeapplicabletoasmuchofhistoryas
Collingwoodmayhavehoped.Butifapplicableanywhere,itissurelyapplicableinthehistoryof
philosophy,wheretheobjectsselectedforstudy,forphilosophicalreasons,arealwayspeople
whosethoughtsarebelievedtohavehadanotablerationale.Therationaleisastructurethatthereis
apermanentpossibilityofrecreatinginthoughtapointthatfitsnicelywithCollingwood's
idealism.Thehistoricalquestioninthehistoryofphilosophyiswhattheactualrationalewas.Itisa
questionwecannotverywellanswerwithoutattainingagoodphilosophicalunderstandingofthe
rationale.Todothat,wemusttrytodeveloptheargumentsinvolvedintherationale,andwemust
subjecttherationale,asweunderstandit,tosearchingcriticism.Foritisapieceofphilosophywe
aretryingtounderstand,andargumentandcriticismareessentialtophilosophy.

Thisapproachmaysound,andmypracticeofitmayseem,tooetherealforsomehistorians.Other
approachesmaybemoreappropriateforotherhistoricalsubjects,butIthinkthisoneisappropriate
forthehistoryofphilosophy.IhavetriedtopayattentiontotherelationofLeibniz'smetaphysicsto
itsintellectualcontext,includingthescientificandespeciallythereligiousthoughtofhistime,and
thesocialpressuresatworkinthediscussionshewasinvolvedin.Yetmyprincipalconcerniswith
theintrinsicrationaleofhisthought.Ihavemadenogeneralapplicationofahermeneuticsof
suspicion.NotthatIthink(norwouldLeibnizhimselfhavethought)thathewasfreeofhiddenand
unconsciousmotives.Onsomepoints,theprojectofunderstandinghisrationaleitselfrequires
someattentiontosuspicionsofinsincerityinhisstatements.Intheend,however,Leibniz'sreasons
aremoreinterestingthanhismotives.Hehadoneofthemostbrilliantintellectsofalltime,buthe
wasnotparticularlyimpressiveinthemorepracticalaspectsofhislife.Hiswritingscontaina
reasonedstructureofthought(atleastone)thathasapermanentclaimontheattentionof
philosophers,whetherornotitaccuratelyreflectsallthemotivesthatmayhaveunderlainhis
writingaswellashisotherconduct.Whatismostinterestingaboutsuchapersonislikelytobe
bestunderstoodbyahistorianwhosetrainingandinterestsareprimarilyphilosophical.

____________________
5
Collingwood,IdeaofHistory,pp.20531.
6

I
Determinism:ContingencyandIdentity
7

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I
Leibniz'sTheoriesofContingency
ThereisafamiliarconceptionofLeibniz'sviewsaboutthenatureofnecessityandcontingencythat
portrayshimasasortofgrandfatherofpossibleworldssemanticsformodallogic.Accordingto
thisconception,Leibnizenvisagesaninfinityofpossibleworlds,ofwhichGod(whoexists
necessarily)choosesandactualizesone(thebest).Necessarytruthsarepropositionsthataretruein
allpossibleworlds.Contingenttruthsarepropositionsthataretrueintheactualworldbutfalsein
atleastoneotherpossibleworld.Whichworldsarepossible,whatwouldhappeninthem,andhow
theyarerelatedtooneanotherassimilarordissimilar,betterorworse,donotchangefromone
worldtoanother;therefore,alltruthsaboutwhatispossiblearenecessary.(ThisLeibnizis,tobe
precise,agrandfatherofpossibleworldssemanticsforS5,thestrongestoftheusualsystemsof
modallogic.)Forthisreasonalsothepropertyofbeingthebestpossibleworldbelongsnecessarily
totheworldthathasit.Therootofcontingencyisthatitisnotnecessarybutonlycontingentthat
Godchoosestoactualizethebest.Allandonlythosetruthsarecontingentwhosetruthdependson
God'sfreechoiceofthebest.

WemeetthisLeibnizinchapter3ofBertrandRussellCriticalExpositionofthePhilosophyof
Leibniz.AnimportantpartofRussell'sinterpretationisthefamousexceptionhemakesinLeibniz's
principlethatineverytruepropositiontheconceptofthepredicateiscontainedintheconceptof
thesubject."Theassertionofexistence,aloneamongpredicates,issynthetic,"Russellsays,"and
1Allotherpredicatesarecontainedintheconceptsofthe
therefore,inLeibniz'sview,contingent."
subjectsthathavethem;existenceisnot,however,exceptinthecaseofGod.Therefore,truths
aboutwhatanypossibleindividualorpossibleworldislike,orwouldbelikeifitexistedorwere
actual,areallnecessary,buttruthsaboutwhichpossibleworldisactual,andthereforewhich
possibleindividualsexist,arecontingent.

RussellgaveuptheseviewsafterreadingLouisCouturat."Recentdiscussions,"reportedE.M.
Curley,accurately,in1974,"havetendedinsomemeasuretogobacktoRussell'soriginalview
(beforeCouturat)that,apartfromthepropositionthatGodexists,existentialtruthsarenot
2Ithinkthistendencyleadsbackward,notonlyintimebutalsoinourunderstandingof
analytic."

____________________
1
Russell,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.27.Theviewsdiscussedherebelongtothefirstedition,however,
andwereretractedintheprefacetothesecondedition.
2
Curley,"RecentWorkon17thCenturyContinentalPhilosophy,"p.242.
9

Leibniz.ForthefamiliarLeibnizdescribedaboveisinlargepartacreatureofmisunderstanding,
thoughnotexactlyoffiction.

Avarietyofconceptionsoftheproblemofcontingency,andsolutionstoit,canbefoundin
Leibniz'swritings.Therewasdevelopmentinhisthoughtonit,andheheldmorethanonesolution
atonce.(Thetwomainsolutionsaresetoutinsections1and2ofthischapter.)Anaccurate
accountofLeibniz'stheoriesofcontingencywillthereforeberathercomplex.Wewillcome
towardtheendofit,ratherthanatthebeginning,tothequestionwhetherheregardedexistenceasa
predicatecontainedintheconceptsofthingsthatexist.

1.Leibniz'sFirstMainSolution

Evenbeforehethoughtoftheproblemofcontingencyintermsofhisconceptualcontainment
theoryoftruth,Leibnizhad"found[himself]veryclosetotheopinionofthosewhohold
everythingtobeabsolutelynecessary,"but"waspulledbackfromthisprecipicebyconsidering
thosepossiblethingswhichneitherarenorwillbenorhavebeen"(FC178/L263).Justhowclose
hewastothecliff,weshallseeinsection1.1;insections1.21.5weshallconsiderthewayin
whichhesayshewasrescuedfromit.
1.1OntheBrinkofthePrecipice

InMay1671LeibnizwrotealettertothelegalscholarMagnusWedderkopfabout"thenecessity
3Hebeginsbyarguingthateverythingthathappensisdetermined
ofevents"(AII,i,117f./L146f.).
byGod'sdecreeandadmittingthatthisisa"hard"conclusion.HethentracesthecauseofPontius
Pilate'sdamnationfromhislackoffaith,tohisfailuretopayattention,tohisfailuretounderstand
theutilityofpayingattention,toalackofcausesofsuchunderstanding.

Foritisnecessarytoanalyzeeverythingintosomereason,andnottostopuntilwe
arriveatafirstreasonorelseitmustbeadmittedthatsomethingcanexistwithouta
sufficientreasonforitsexistence,andthisadmissiondestroysthedemonstrationofthe
existenceofGodandofmanyPhilosophicaltheorems.Whatthenistheultimatereason
ofthedivinewill?Thedivineintellect.ForGodwillsthosethingsthatheunderstands
tobebestandmostharmonious,andselectsthem,asitwere,fromaninfinitenumber
ofallpossibles.

Leibnizgoesontostatethattheultimatereasonofthingsisfoundintheessences,possibilities,or
ideasofthings,which"coincidewithGodhimself,"areunderstoodbyGod,andhavenoreason
outsidethemselves.Leibnizdrawsastronglynecessitarianconclusion:

SinceGodisthemostperfectmind,however,itisimpossibleforhimnottobeaffected
bythemostperfectharmony,andthustobenecessitatedtothebestbytheveryideality
ofthings....Henceitfollowsthatwhateverhashappend,ishappening,orwillhappen
isbestandthereforenecessary,but...

____________________
3
Allquotationsinthissectionarefromthisletter,unlessotherwiseindicated.
10

withanecessitythattakesnothingawayfromfreedombecauseittakesnothingaway
fromthewillandtheuseofreason.

Threepointsdeservecommenthere.
Leibnizhasalreadyslippedovertheedgeoftheprecipiceinthisletter.Hestatesflatlyand
withoutqualificationthateverythingthateverhappensisnecessary.Thisishissimplestsolution
totheproblemofcontingency.Ifthereisnocontingency,thereisnoneedtoaccountforitor
explainitsnature.Leibnizdidnotremaincontentwiththisposition,however.Onhisowncopy
ofthelettertoWedderkopfhelaterwrote,"Ihavesincecorrectedthis;foritisonethingforsins
tobeinfalliblygoingtohappen,andanotherthingforthemtobegoingtohappennecessarily."
Hecontinuedtoascribenecessitytoallthings,butonlywithsomequalification.In1679he
wrote,"Whatisactualisinsomewaynecessary"[italicsadded](Gr536).Eveninfreeactions
thereisallowed(in1710)tobe"hypothetical"and"moral"necessity,butnot"absolute"or
"metaphysical"necessity(GVI,37).
Leibnizwasacompatibilist,maintainingtotheendofhislife(LCV,3)thateveryeventis
determinedbutsomeactsarenonethelessfree.Accordingtotheformulaofhismaturity,freedom
consistsinintelligence(understandingtheobjectofdeliberation),spontaneity(insofarasthe
sourceoftheactioniswithintheagent),andcontingency(whichexcludesabsolute,logical,or
metaphysicalnecessity,butnothypotheticalormoralnecessity)(T28890,302;cf.GVII,10811).
InthelettertoWedderkopf,however,wemeetamoreextremecompatibilism,whichdoesnot
makecontingencyanecessaryconditionoffreedom.Inthisearlyworkvoluntarinessand
intelligenceseemtosufficeforfreedom:necessity"takesnothingawayfromfreedombecauseit
takesnothingfromthewillandtheuseofreason."Thelateradditionofcontingencyasa
conditionoffreedomissurelyrelatedtothechangeinLeibniz'swillingnesstoadmitwithout
qualificationthenecessityofallevents,butthelatterdevelopmentinhisthoughtcomessooner
thantheformer.Inaworkof1673,inwhichhearguesvigorouslyagainsttheclaimthatsinsare
(unqualifiedly)necessary(AVI,iii,124ff.),hestillsays,"Topreservetheprivilegeoffreewill,it
isenoughthatwehavebeensoplacedataforkintheroadoflife,thatwecandoonlywhatwe
will,andcanwillonlywhatwebelievetobegood;butcantraceout,bythefullestgivenuseof
reason,whatshouldberegardedasgood"(AVI,iii,133).Similarly,inhisnotesonaconversation
withBishopNicolausSteno(NielsStensen),27November1677,hedefinedfreedomsimplyas
"rationalspontaneity"(VE302=LHIV,4,3C,1214).Andinapaperfrom167882heopposes
freedomtoconstraintandtoignorance,butsaysnothingbywayofopposingittonecessity(
VE710=LH1,3,5,2324).Later,however,Leibnizdistinguishedasenseinwhichfreedomis
opposedtonecessityandasenseinwhichitisopposedonlytocompulsion(B121);inseveral
textsfromtheyears168187(Gr299,308,229;cf.GVII,108111;Gr381f.)andlater(Gr421,G
III,58f.)heascribesbothkindsoffreedomtohumanagentsthougheveninhislastyearshe
coulddefinethefreeas"thespontaneouswithchoice"(VE1088=LHIV,8,6061).
InthelettertoWedderkopftheargumentforthenecessityofalleventsisnotbasedonthe
conceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth,butratheronthenature
11

ofGodandtheprincipleofsufficientreason.Thislatter,moretheologicalargumentagainst
contingencyisbyfartheonemostoftenaddressedbyLeibnizinhiswritings;andweshallbe
concernedwithitinmostofthischapter.

ThelettertoWedderkopfisanexceptionaltext.Itishardtoregardasmerelytentativeaviewthat
Leibnizcommunicatedtoaneminentpersonwithwhomhewasbynomeansintimate.Buthemay
nothaveheldtheextremenecessitarianpositionforanylengthoftime.Itseemsnottohavebeen
4
heldinafragmentonfreewillwrittenjustafewmonthsbeforeoraftertheletter(AVI,i,540f.).

1.2ThingsPossibleinTheirOwnNature

By1677thenecessitarianpositionwasreplacedbyatheoryLeibnizfrequentlyrepeated,publicly
andprivately,totheendofhiscareer,whichmustberegardedashisprincipal(andmostconfident)
solutiontotheproblemofcontingency.Thebasicideaofthissolutionisbrieflystatedina
commentonSpinozafromabout1678:"Onthehypothesisofthedivinewillchoosingthebest,or
operatingmostperfectly,certainlynothingbutthesethingscouldhavebeenproduced;but
accordingtotheverynatureofthingsconsideredinitself[perse],thingscouldhavebeenproduced
otherwise"(GI,149/L204).Wefinditmorefullystatedinapaperonfreedom,probablywrittenin
theearly1680s.

ButwemustsaythatGodwillsthebestbyhisownnature.Thereforehewills
necessarily,youwillsay.IshallsaywithSt.Augustinethatthatnecessityishappy.But
surelyitfollowsfromthisthatthingsexistnecessarily.Howso?Becausea
contradictionisimpliedbythenonexistenceofthatwhichGodwillstoexist?Ideny
thatthatpropositionisabsolutelytrue.OtherwisethosethingswhichGoddoesnotwill
wouldnotbepossible.Fortheyremainpossible,eveniftheyarenotchosenbyGod.It
ispossibleindeedforeventhattoexistwhichGoddoesnotwilltoexist,becauseit
wouldbeabletoexistofitsownnatureifGodwilledthatitexist.ButGodcannotwill
thatitexist.Iagree;yetitremainspossibleinitsownnature,evenifitisnotpossiblein
respecttothedivinewill.Forwehavedefinedpossibleinitsownnatureasthatwhich
doesnotimplyacontradictioninitselfevenifitscoexistencewithGodcanbesaidin
somewaytoimplyacontradiction.5...

ThereforeIsay:thatispossible,ofwhichthereissomeessenceorreality,orwhichcan
bedistinctlyunderstood....IfGodhaddecreedthatnoreallinemustbefoundwhich
shouldbeincommensurablewithotherreallines(Icallrealalinethatactuallybounds
somebody),itwouldnotthereforefollowthattheexistenceofanincommensurable
lineimpliesacontradiction,evenifGod,fromtheprincipleofperfection,couldnotfail
toordaininthisway.(Gr289f./AG2022)

Onthisview,theactualworld,andthethingsthatexistinit,arenotnecessarybutcontingent,
becauseotherworldsarepossibleinwhichthosethingswouldnotexist.Thepossibilityofthose
otherworldsdoesnotdependonthe

____________________
4
Onthedating,seeAVI,i,537andii,579,andKabitz,DiePhilosophiedesjungenLeibniz,pp.
12126.
5
HereGruainadvertentlyomitstheclause,etsieiuscoexistentiacumDeoaliquomododicipossit
implicarecontradictionem.SeeVE277.
12

possibilityofGod'schoosingthem.Itisenough,forthecontingencyoftheactualworld,ifthe
otherpossibleworldsare"possibleintheirownnature"or"donotimplyacontradictionin
themselves,"consideredapartfromGod'schoice.

LeibnizstilltakesthispositionintheTheodicy.HereportsthatAbelardagreed"thatitcanwellbe
saidthatthatman[whoinfactwillbedamned]canbesaved,inrespecttothepossibilityofhuman
nature,whichiscapableofsalvation,butthatitcannotbesaidthatGodcansavehim,inrespectto
Godhimself,becauseitisimpossibleforGodtodothatwhichheoughtnottodo."Hecomments
thatAbelardthereforeneednothaveheld,ashedid,that"Godcannotdoanythingbutthatwhich
hedoes,"for"theothers...donotmeananythingelsewhentheysaythatGodcansavethatman,
andthathecandothatwhichhedoesnotdo"(T171).Thepossibilityofthealternativesamong
whichGodchoosesisinternaltothem,andthisinternalpossibilityofthealternativesisenoughto
makeGod'schoicefree.

Inaword,whenonespeaksofthepossibilityofathingitisnotaquestionofthecauses
thatcanbringaboutorpreventitsactualexistence;otherwiseonewouldchangethe
natureofthetermsandrenderuselessthedistinctionbetweenthepossibleandthe
actual,asAbelarddid....Thatiswhy,whenoneasksifathingispossibleor
necessary,andbringsintheconsiderationofwhatGodwillsorchooses,onechanges
thequestion.ForGodchoosesamongthepossibles,andforthatveryreasonhechooses
freely,andisnotnecessitated;therewouldbeneitherchoicenorfreedomiftherewere
butonechoicepossible.(T235;cf.T44,45,228,23032,234,367) 6

Thefirstproblemaboutthistheoryistounderstandwhatismeantby"possibleinitsownnature."
IfacertainworldisinferiorandsocannotbechosenbyGod,isthatnotbyvirtueofitsown
nature?Why,then,shouldwenotsaythatitisimpossibleinitsownnature?

Thetheoryrequiresarelativelynarrowunderstandingofthenature,essence,orconceptofathing
oraworld.Theessenceofasubstance,inthenarrowsense,containsinformationaboutsuchthings
astheperceptionsthesubstancehas,andperhapsthegeometricalconfigurationsandmotions
expressedbythoseperceptions,andaboutthesubstance'spowersandtendenciestoproduce
7ItisinthissensethatLeibnizcansay,"That
perceptionsinitselfbutnotaboutothersubstances.
ispossibleofwhichthereissomeessence,"evenifGodcould

____________________
6
RobertSleigh,inhissuperbbookonLeibnizandArnauld,pp.82f.,doubtsthatLeibnizstilladheres
tothe"possibleinitsownnature"theoryofcontingencyintheTheodicy,andoffersaningenious
interpretationofT235,whereitdoesnotimplythattheory.Iamnotpersuaded,however,becauseI
thinktherearetoomanypassagesoftheTheodicy,manyofthemcitedhereandinsections1.4and
1.5,thataremostnaturallyinterpretedonthebasisofthe"possibleinitsownnature"theory.There
isalsoaletterofMarch1713toChristianGoldbachinwhichLeibnizgivesanextendedtreatment
oftheproblemofcontingency,usingonlyideasbelongingtothe"possibleinitsownnature"
theory,andidentifiesthisastheviewdefendedintheTheodicy(LG189).
7
Thispresupposesthatinformationaboutasubstance'sperceptionsandtheir(internal)con?tent
doesnotofitselfcontaininformation,intherelevantsense,aboutothersubstancesthatapartfrom
considerationsofintersubstantialharmony,itdoesnotentailtheexistenceofthesubstances
perceived.IbelievethatLeibnizwascommitted,onthewhole,tothispresupposition;thereare
thingsinhiswritingsfrom1686andlater,however,whichcouldbetakenassuggestingthe
opposite.SeeChapter3,section3.
13

notchoosetoactualizeit(Gr289).Necessityaswellaspossibilitycanbeviewedasinternalto
essencesinthenarrowsense;indeed,whatLeibnizmeansbynecessaryexistenceisprecisely
existencethatfollowsfromtheessenceofasubstancewithoutconsiderationoftheessenceofany
othersubstance(seeChapter5,section1).Conversely,onemainsenseinwhichthingsare
contingent,forLeibniz,isthattheydependonGod'swill(andpower)fortheirexistence(or
nonexistence).

Ofcourse,Leibnizfamouslyspeaksofeachsubstanceashavinganindividualconceptinamuch
broadersenseinwhichitis"complete"andcontainsmuchinformationaboutothersubstances
indeed,perhapsitcontainsalltruths.Thiscompleteconcept,Ibelieve,issupposedtofollowfrom
thesubstance'sessenceinthenarrowersense,butonlyincombinationwithtruthsthatfollowfrom
theessencesofothersubstancesandtheirinterrelations.IntheDiscourseonMetaphysics
"essences"seemtobeequivalenttocompleteconcepts(DM16),butLeibniz'suseoftheterm
'essence'isquitefluid.

Thenatureofapossibleworld,inthenarrowsense,isconstructedfromtheessences,inthenarrow
sense,ofthesubstancesthatwouldexistinit.Leibnizmayindeedhavethoughtofitasthesumof
thoseessences.Butwemaythinkofitascontainingalsoallsortsofrelationsamongthe
substanceswhicharemoreperfectthanwhich,howtheyperceiveorexpresseachother,andso
forth.Thusisbuiltupwhatwemaycallthebasicconceptofapossibleworld.Itistocontain
informationabouteverythingthathappensinthatworld,butnoteverythingthatistrueaboutits
relationtoGod'swill.

Byanalogywiththecompleteconceptofanindividual,wecanalsospeakofthecompleteconcept
ofapossibleworld,whichistobefullerthanthebasicconceptandcontaininformationabout
everythingthatistrueaboutthatpossibleworld,includingwhetheritisthebest,ornearlythebest,
8We
orfarfromthebest,ofallpossibleworlds,andwhetherGodthereforechoosesorrejectsit.
maytakeittobeLeibniz'spositionthataworldispossibleinitsownnatureifitsbasicconcept
containsnointernalcontradictions,andnothingthatisincompatiblewithitsactualitysolongas
certaindeterminantsofGod'schoicearekeptoutofthepicture;itscompleteconceptmaycontain
God'srejectingit,butthatdoesnotkeepitfrombeing"possibleinitsownnature."

Questionsremainaboutjustwhatistobeexcludedfromaworld'sbasicconcept.

1.Doesitincludeanyconceptsofotherpossibleworlds?Itseemsnaturaltoexcludethem,since
wearetryingtocapturetheideaofapossibilitythatisinternaltoonepossibleworld.Andby
excludingthemwecanbecertainofnotincludingenoughinformationtoimplyGod'srejectionof
theworldrepresentedbythebasicconcept.Ontheotherhand,thesolutionoftheproblemof
contingencydoesnotstrictlyrequiretheexclusionofthisinformationiftherightinformationabout
Godisexcluded.Andifrationalcreatureswouldexistintheworld

____________________
8
ThedistinctionbetweenbasicandcompleteconceptsofapossibleworldisnotexplicitinLeibniz.
Hedoesspeakoftheconceptofapossibleworld,butwithoutmakingthedistinction:"thisuniverse
hasacertainprincipalorprimitiveconcept,ofwhichparticulareventsareonlyconsequences"(
LA41).
14
ofthebasicconcept,theywouldpresumablythinkaboutalternativepossibilities;sobycontaining
theirthoughts,thebasicconceptwouldcontainpartialconceptsofalternativepossibleworlds.But
thisdoesnotprovethatthebasicconceptofapossibleworldmustincludecompleteconceptsof
otherworlds.Fornocreature,nobeingotherthanGod,accordingtoLeibniz,conceivespossible
worldsinenoughdetailtodeterminewhichisthebest.

2.DobasicconceptsofpossibleworldsincludeanyfactsaboutGod?Leibnizseemsflatlyto
excludeGodfromtheworldwhen,indiscussionwithGabrielWagner,3March1698,herejects
someofWagner'ssuggestions,saying,"Thesethingswouldbetrue,takingtheword'World'sothat
itincludesGodtoo.Butthisusageisnotappropriate.Bythename'World'isnormallyunderstood
theaggregateofthingsthatarechangeableorliabletoimperfection"(Gr396).Similarly,Leibniz
referstotheworldin1697as"theAggregateoffinitethings"(GVII,302/L486),andintheearlyto
mid1680sas"thecompositeofallcreatures"(VE166=LHIV,7C,70)or,withanunusual
restriction,"theAggregateofallbodies"(VE418=LHIV,7C,11114). 9IfLeibnizconceivesofthe
basicconceptofapossibleworldasasumofessencesof(possible)substances,God'sessencewill
beexcludedfromthesum.Ontheotherhand,Leibnizspeaksofthepossiblethingsthatarethe
alternativesforGod'schoiceascontainingintheirconceptscertaindecisionsofGod,consideredas
possible,sothatGodchoosesamongcertainpossibledivineactions,aswellasamongpossible
creatures(C23f.;LA4951;cf.GI,360).Thiscausesnoproblemforthetheoryofcontingency,
providedthatthedivinedecisionsthatareincludedinthealternativesforGod'schoiceare
noncomparativedecisionsconcernedonlywiththelawsororderoftheworldtowhichtheybelong.

WhatisimportantforLeibniz'streatmentofcontingencyisthatthebasicconceptsofpossible
worldsdonotincludeGod'schoiceamongpossibleworlds.Inordertoexcludeit,theymust
excludesomeinformationeitheraboutGodoraboutotherpossibleworlds.Anditisnotclearthat
excludinginformationaboutotherworldswillalwaysbeenough.If"thedamnationofaninnocent
is...possibleinitself,"anddoesnot"Implyacontradictioninterms,"asLeibnizwroteintexts
datingfrom1677andtheearly1680s,thebasicconceptofsuchathingmayverywellhaveto
excludeinformationaboutGod'sjustice,forLeibnizdoesnotseemtothinkonehastocompare
possibleworldsinordertodeterminethatajustGodwouldnotchoosesuchastateofaffairs.
Indeed,theinformationthatLeibnizinvokesfromoutsidetheconceptofthisstatetoexplainthe
wayinwhichitisnotpossibleisnotaboutotherpossibleworlds,butonlyaboutGod:itcannot
actuallyexist"becauseitisincompatiblewiththepresupposedexistenceofGod,whoseperfection
(fromwhichjusticefollows)cannotpermitsuchathing"(Gr300,271).

____________________
9
Theseformulationssuggestaconceptionofpossibleworldsaslesscompletethantheyarenormally
conceivedtobetoday.AsimilarlyrestrictedconceptionpersistedinpostLeibnizianGerman
philosophy.Thus"theworld"isdefinedbyWolff(VernnftigeGedanken,544)asaconnected
"seriesofchangeablethings"andbyCrusiusas(EntwurfdernothwendigenVernunftWahrheiten,
204)as"thewholeaggregateofallfinitethings."
15

1.3HypotheticalNecessity
Evenifasatisfactoryexplanationcanbegivenofwhatitisforathingoraworldtobepossiblein
itsownnature,thereremainsanimportantobjectiontoLeibniz'suseofthisnotioninaccounting
forcontingency.Hisclaimisthattheactualityofthisworldiscontingentbecauseotherworldsare
stillpossibleintheirownnatureseveniftheyarenotpossibleinrelationtoGod'swill.Butin
presentingthistheoryofcontingency,insomeoftheearliertexts(Gr289f.;AVI,iii,127f.),Leibniz
seemstoadmitthatitisnecessarythatGodchoosesthisworld.AndifitisnecessarythatGod
choosesthisworld,anditfollowsnecessarilyfromthatthatthisworldisactual,mustnotthe
actualityofthisworldbenecessaryandnotcontingent?AsCurleyputsit:

Itisanuncontroversialtruthofmodallogicthatifpisnecessaryandentailsq,thenqis
necessary.Soifitis(absolutely)necessarythatGodchoosethebest,andifthe
existenceofthebestworldis(hypothetically)necessaryinrelationtohischoice,thenit
is(absolutely)necessarythatthebestworldexist.10

Leibnizmakesmuchuseoftheterm'hypotheticallynecessary',whichCurleyrightlybringsinhere.
Leibnizsaysrepeatedly(e.g.,inDM13)thatcontingenttruthsarehypotheticallybutnotabsolutely
necessary.'Hypotheticalnecessity'isnormally,asherecognized(GIII,400/AG193),asynonym
for'necessityoftheconsequence'.Soheseemstobeusingthetraditionaldistinctionbetween
necessityoftheconsequenceandnecessityoftheconsequent:'Ifpthennecessarilyq'11canmean
eitherthat'Ifpthenq'isnecessary(necessityoftheconesquence),orthatif'p'istruethen'q'is
necessary(necessityoftheconsequent).Butthennecessityoftheconsequence(hypothetical
necessity)combinedwithnecessityoftheantecedentimpliesnecessityoftheconsequent.If'p'and
'Ifpthenq'arebothnecessary,then'q'isnecessary.

Leibnizraisedthisveryobjectionagainsthimselfinhis"firstTheodicy,"writtenindialogueform
in1673asThePhilosopher'sConfession,andgiventoAntoineArnauldandothers.12

God'sexistenceisnecessary.Fromitfollowthesinsthatarecontainedin[thisactual]
seriesofthings.Whatfollowsfromthenecessaryisnecessary.Thereforethesinsare
necessary.(AVI,iii,127)

TheanswerthatLeibnizfirstwrotewasasfollows:

Ireplythatitisfalsethatwhateverfollowsfromwhatisnecessaryisnecessary.From
truths,tobesure,nothingfollowsthatisnottrue.Yetsinceaparticular[conclusion]
canfollowfrompurelyuniversal[premises],asin[the

____________________
10
Curley,"RecentWorkon17thCenturyContinentalPhilosophy,"p.243.Substantiallythesame
objectionwasraisedbya"RomanCatholicTheologian"whomDesBossesconsultedandquotedin
anoteto201ofhisLatintranslationofLeibnizTheodicy(Dutens1,273).
11
Iuseordinary(single)quotationmarksinplaceofcornerquotes,sincethelatterarenotuniversally
understood.
12
Iowethisinformation,andthephrase"firstTheodicy,"totheintroductiontoSaame,14,16,22.
Saame'sexcellenteditionisnowsupersededbyAVI,iii,asastandardreference,buthis
introductionandnotesremainextremelyvaluable.
16

syllogisticfigures]DaraptiandFelapton,whynotsomethingcontingentfrom
somethingnecessary?(AVI,iii,127)13

Thusbaldlystated,Leibniz'sanswerseemssimplytoignorethemodalaxiomtowhichCurley
appeals.Leibnizacknowledgedtheaxiom,however,atleastby1675,whenhewrote,"Whateveris
incompatiblewithsomethingnecessaryisimpossible"(AVI,iii,464).Hethereforedistinguished
twotypesofnecessityandimpossibility."Theconceptoftheimpossibleistwofold:thatwhichhas
noEssence;andthatwhichhasnoExistenceorwhichneitherwasnorisnorwillbe,whichis
incompatiblewithGodorwithexistenceorwiththereasonwhichmakesthingstoberatherthan
not"(AVI,iii,463).LeibnizaccordinglycorrectedhisanswerinthemanuscriptofThe
Philosopher'sConfession(verylikelyabouttheendof1677),14toincorporatesuchadistinction:

Ireplythatitisfalsethatwhateverfollowsfromwhatisnecessarythroughitselfis
necessarythroughitself.Fromtruths,tobesure,nothingfollowsthatisnottrue.Yet
sinceaparticular[conclusion]canfollowfrompurelyuniversal[premises],asin[the
syllogisticfigures]DaraptiandFelapton,whymaynotsomethingcontingent,or
necessaryonthehypothesisofsomethingelse,followfromsomethingthatisnecessary
throughitself?(AVI,iii,127f.)15

Healsoadded:

Inthisplacewecallnecessaryonlythatwhichisnecessarythroughitselfthatis,which
hasthereasonofitsexistenceandtruthwithinitself.SucharetheGeometricaltruths,
andofexistingthingsonlyGod.Theothers,whichfollowfromthesuppositionofthis
seriesofthingsthatis,fromtheharmonyofthingsorfromtheExistenceofGod,are
contingentthroughthemselvesandonlyhypotheticallynecessary.(AVI,iii,128)16

Hereitisclearthatinspiteofthetraditionalterminologyofhypotheticalnecessity,theabsoluteor
persenecessitythatLeibnizdeniesinaffirmingcontingencyissomethingmorethanthetraditional
necessityoftheconsequent.17InLeibniz'sconceptionofhypotheticalnecessity,theabsolute
necessityorcontingencyoftheantecedentisnomoreimportantthantheexternalityofthe

____________________
13
HereItranslatethetextofAVI,iii,minusLeibniz'slateradditions.
14
Additionstoamanuscriptarehardtodate,butweknowthatLeibnizwasworkingonthistext,and
thinkingalongtheselines,atthistime.ThemanuscriptbearsmarginalcommentsbyNicolaus
Steno,inSteno'shand,andresponsestotheminLeibniz'shand,whichsurelydatefromtheperiod
ofSteno'sresidenceinHannover,fromlate1677to1680.StenoandLeibnizhadalongdiscussion
onthesubjecton27November/7December1677.Leibniz'srecordofhisownviewsinthat
discussionexpressthesametheoryofcontingencyastheseadditionstoThePhilosopher's
Confession,asIwillshortlyexplain.Onthesematters,seeAVI,iii,115andtheintroductionto
Saame,2023.
15
HereItranslatethefulltextofAVI,iii,italicizingLeibniz'sprincipaladditions.
16
HeretheitalicizedwordswereunderlinedbyLeibniz.WhatLeibnizsayshereisimportantforhis
conceptionofGodasanecessarybeing;seeChapter5,section1.
17
Conversely,'hypotheticalnecessity'couldmeanforLeibnizsomethingstrongerthanittraditionally
meant,somethingthatexcludesonlypersenecessity.FabrizioMondadoriarguesalongdifferent
linesforasimilarconclusioninhisverythoroughandilluminatingstudyofLeibniz'streatmentof
thistopic;seeMondadori,"NecessityexHypothesi,"esp.pp.196205.
17

antecedenttotheconsequent.Whatfollowsnecessarilyfromwhatisnecessarythroughitselfis
certainlynecessarybynecessityoftheconsequent,inthetraditionalsense.Itisnotnecessary
throughitself,however,butonlyhypotheticallynecessary,andcontingent,inLeibniz'ssense,ifthe
antecedentfromwhichitfollowsisexternaltoit,andnotcontainedinitsownnature.Thephrase
Leibnizuseshere,'necessaryexalteriushypothesi'[necessaryonthehypothesisofsomethingelse],
expresseshismeaningbetterthanthemoreusual'necessaryexhypothesi'.

Thisconceptionofhypotheticalnecessityisexpressedonlyslightlylessclearlyinanotherearly
passage.InLeibniz'srecordofhissideofhisconversationon27November1677withNicholas
Steno,whoreadThePhilosopher'sConfessionandcommentedonit,hesaysthat"thereisan
absolutenecessitywhenathingcannotevenbeunderstood,butimpliesacontradictioninterms,"
and"thereisahypotheticalnecessitywhenathing'sbeingsomeotherwaycanindeedbe
understoodthroughitself,butitisnecessarilythisway,nonessentially[peraccidens],onaccount
ofotherthingsoutsideitselfalreadypresupposed"(Gr270f.).

InhislaterwritingsLeibnizisusuallylessexplicitabouthisinterpretationofhypothetical
necessity,andindeeditmaybequestionedwhetherheadheredconsistentlytohisaccountof
contingencyintermsofthingspossibleintheirownnature.Theevidencethathisadherencetoit
wasnotconsistentandunwaveringhastodowiththequestionwhethereffectsthatarecontingent
inthesenseofbeingonlyhypotheticallynecessarymusthavecontingentcauses,andlikewise
whethereffectsthatarepossibleinthemselvesmusthavepossiblecauses.Therearepassages,both
earlyandlate,inwhichLeibnizsaysthatthepossibilityoressence,asdistinctfromtheactual
existence,ofanybeingdependsonthepossibilityofacauseorreasonofitsexistence,which
seemstoimplythattheconceptsofcreaturesaspossibledependontheconceptofGodaspossibly
causingthem.

Thusin1676,inconnectionwiththeontologicalargumentfortheexistenceofGod,Leibnizwrote
thatamostperfectBeing"cannotbeunlessithasareasonofexistingfromitselforfromsomething
else"(AVI,iii,572).18WhileitisGodwhosepossibilityLeibnizisdiscussinghere,heisclearly
relyingonageneralprinciplethatwouldmakethepossibilityofanybeingdependonthe
possibilityofareasonforitsexistence.Thisthreatenstounderminethedistinctionbetweeninternal
andexternalpossibilityonwhichhisfirstmaintheoryofcontingencyisbased.
Ofcoursethistextmaywellhavepreceded,bysomemonths,Leibniz'sfulldevelopmentofthat
theoryofcontingency.Andby1678or1679Leibnizhimselfwasusingadistinctionbetween
internalandexternalpossibilitytocriticizeaSpinozisticproofthatwasbasedonanassumption
verysimilartohisownassumptionof1676.Heendorsesaproofthatasubstanceconceived
throughitselfispossibleinthesensethatit"canbeconceived,"butwithareservation:

Butthusfaritcanstillbedoubtedwhetheritisthereforepossibleinthewayinwhich
possibleistakeninthiscontextthatis,notforwhatcanbecon

____________________
18
ThispassageispartofanargumentdiscussedatlengthinChapter5,section2.3.
18

ceived,butforthatofwhichsomecause,analyzableultimatelyintothefirstcause,can
beconceived.Fornotallofthethingswecanconceivecanthereforebeproduced,on
accountofother,superiorthingswithwhichtheyareincompatible.(GI,143/L199)

Beingunabletobeproduced(byaperfectlywiseandgoodGod)onaccountofincompatibilitywith
superiorthingsisexactlythewayinwhichLeibnizthoughtthatsomethingpossibleinitsown
naturemightnonethelesslackamoreexternalsortofpossibility.In1678or1679heseesthatthis
pointinvalidatesanexistenceproofthatdependsoninferringthepossibilityofacausefromthe
possibilityofathinginitsownnature.Thatin1676heproposed(tohimself,atleast)aproofthat
dependsontheconverseinferencefromimpossibilityofacausetowhatappearstobeunderstood
asimpossibilityofathinginitsownnaturemaybetakenassuggestingthatby1676hehadnotyet
workedoutthedistinctionbetweeninternalandexternalmodalitiesorthetheoryofcontingency
thatdependsonthedistinction.

Perhapshehadnot.Buttheviewexpressedin1676recursatintervalsthroughLeibniz'smiddleand
lateryears.Thereisapaperfromthemid1680s(Gr310f.),forexample,thathints,thoughitdoes
notunambiguouslyimply,thateffectsthatarecontingentinthesenseofbeingonlyhypothetically
necessarymusthavecontingentcauses.WritingtoArnauldin1686,Leibnizsaysthat"the
possibilitiesofindividualsorofcontingenttruthscontainintheirconceptthepossibilityoftheir
causes,namelyofthefreedecisionsofGod"(LA51).Inaletterof1701toBurcherDeVolder,
Leibnizsays,"forconceivingoftheessenceof[asubstance],theconceptofapossiblecauseis
required;forconceivingofitsexistence,theconceptofanactualcauseisrequired"(GII,225/
L524).Similarly,Leibnizseemstothinkthatthepossibilityofaneffectrequiresthepossibility,
thoughnottheactuality,ofsomecauseofit,whenhesays,inaletterof1714toLouisBourguet,
"Generallyspeaking,inorderforathingtobepossible,itsufficesthatitsefficientcausebe
possible;Iexceptthesupremeefficientcause,whichmustexistinfact"(GIII,572/L661).19In
someofthesepassagesitisnotexplicitthatthepossibilityofathinginitselfisatissue;butthe
statementof1701toDeVolderaboutessenceissurelyaboutinternalpossibility.

Iamnotpersuadedbythisevidence,however,thatLeibnizeverabandonedthedistinctionbetween
internalandexternalpossibility,orthetheoryofcontingencybasedonit.ForintheTheodicyof
1710hestillsaysthatconsiderationsaboutwhatGodchooses,andingeneralaboutthecausesofa
thing,arenotrelevanttothequestionofthething'spossibility(T235,quotedearlierinsection1.2).
AnditwouldnotbeplausibletointerpretLeibnizthereasmeaningonlythattheactualityofthe
causesisirrelevant,whiletacitlyassumingthatthepossibilityofthecausesisrelevant.Forheis
explicitlyattackingAbelard,whomhereads(T171)asarguing,notmerelyfromthenonactuality,
butfromtheallegedimpossibilityofGod'shavingchosenotherwisethanGodactuallydid.The
ideathatitisenoughforcontingencythatthereareapluralityofalternativesforGod'schoicethat
arepossibleinthemselvesismoreclearlyand

____________________
19
TwoofthepassagesquotedherewerecalledtomyattentionbyDavidBlumenfeld,whoalso
pointedouttheproblemtheycauseformyinterpretation.
19

emphaticallypresentedintheTheodicythananyotherwellarticulatedsolutiontotheproblemof
contingency.20BythetimeofwritingtheTheodicy,asweshallsee,Leibnizhaddevelopedamore
ambitioustheoryofcontingencythatenabledhimtoholdthatGod'schoiceofthisworldto
actualizeiscontingent,andthereforethatcontingentexistencesdohaveacontingentcauseinGod;
thismoreambitioustheoryisnotclearlypresentedintheTheodicy,however.

PerhapsthereissomevacillationorinconsistencyinLeibniz'streatmentofhypotheticalnecessity
andtherelationofathing'spossibilitytothepossibilityofacauseofit.Butwemaybeableto
obtainaconsistentreadingofall(oralmostall)thetextsifwedrawtherightlinebetween
attributesofGodthatare,andthatarenot,tobetakenintoaccountinthebasicconceptsofpossible
worlds.Inparticular,weshouldconsiderthehypothesisthatLeibnizconsistently(andpersistently)
supposedthattheinternalpossibilityofcreatedthingsdependsonGod'somnipotenceorpowerto
createthem,butnotonGod'sjustice,bywhichGoddiscriminatesamongtheinternallypossible
creatures.

1.4TheRealityofChoice

Wemaybetemptedtoobjectthattheconceptionofthecontingentasthatwhichhassome
alternativethatispossibleinitself(ifnotinrelationtoGod,orGod'sjustice)doesnotreallyshow
howtherecanbeanycontingencyintheLeibnizianuniverse,norhowGod'schoiceamong
possibleworldscanbefree.ForwhatiscontingentinthisLeibniziansensemaystillbenecessary
bynecessityoftheconsequentthatis,absolutelynecessaryinthetraditional(and
twentiethcentury)sense.AndthechoiceofthisworldtoactualizemaybenecessitatedbyGod's
natureasperfectlygood,evenifotherworldsremainpossibleinthemselves.Ifthisisallthat
Leibnizhastoofferindefenseofcontingency,hissystemmaybethoughtasnecessitarianas
Spinoza's.

Mostofwhatissaidinthisobjectionisright,inaway,butitoverlooksthenatureofLeibniz's
interestinfreewillandcontingency,alongwithhisstatedviewofthedifferencebetweenhis
determinismandSpinoza's.Hisinterestincontingencyisrootedinhisinterestindivineandhuman
freewillwithrespecttowhichheis,afterall,acompatibilist.Wemustlethimdefineforhimself
whatkindofcompatibilistheis.Atonetime,aswehaveseen,heregardedunqualifiednecessityas
compatiblewithfreedom.Laterhisprincipalreasonforinsistingonsomesortofcontingencyin
connectionwithfreeactionseemstohavebeentoensuretherealityofchoicetoensurethatwhat
happensisreallyinfluencedbyfinalcausesandjudgmentsofvalue.

ThisisthepointthatLeibnizmostofteninsistsonindistinguishinghisviewsaboutnecessityfrom
Spinoza's.Spinozaheldthattherearenofinalcausesinnature,thatGoddoesnotactforanend,
andthatthingsarecalledgoodorbadwithregardonlytohowtheyaffectus,beingquite
indifferenttoGod(Ethics,I,Appendix).Hesaidthatactualintellectandwillmustbereferredto
Godasaneffect[naturanaturata]andnottoGodasacause[naturanaturans](Ethics,I,

____________________
20
Istillholdthisview,despiteSleigh'sargumentstothecontrary;seeSleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,
pp.82f.,andnote6above.
20

prop.31),anddeniedthatadivineintellectorwillcouldresembleoursinanythingmorethanname
alone(Ethics,I,prop.17,schol.).IndeedthereisnoroominSpinoza'ssystemforGodtochoose,
forthereisnothingtobeexcludedbyGod'schoice.Bythenecessityofthedivinenature,sinceitis
infiniteinSpinoza'ssense,absolutelyeverythingpossiblemustbeactual(Ethics,I,prop.16).

OnallofthesepointsLeibnizdisagreedwithSpinoza.Eveninthemostextremelynecessitarian
interpretationofLeibniz'ssystem,God'schoicehasarealandimportantroletoplay.Forevenif
God'schoiceofthisworldisnecessary,otherworldsarepossibleintheirownnatureandarenot
excludedwithoutGod'schoicebutonlythrough(thenecessityof)God'schoosingthisone.God's
choiceisanindispensablelinkinthechainofexplanationfortheactualityofthisworld."The
natureofthings,takenwithoutintelligenceandwithoutchoice,hasnothingsufficiently
determining"(T350).Thecomparativevalueofthedifferentworldsalsohasacrucialexplanatory
role,inwhichLeibnizemploysanotionoffinalcause.21

LeibnizemphasizesthisdisagreementinhisdiscussionsofSpinoza,earlyandlate.Intheperiod
167678,nearthetimeofSpinoza'sdeath,Leibnizcommented,"Butitisnotatalltobethought
thatallthingsfollowfromGod'snaturewithoutanyinterventionofthewill"(AVI,iii,364;cf.Gr
279),and"Evenifitistruethatnoteverythinghappensforthesakeofhumanbeings,itstilldoes
notfollowthat[God]actswithoutwillorunderstandingofthegood"(GI,150/L205).Inthe
Theodicyhewrote:

Spinoza...appearstohaveexplicitlytaughtablindnecessity,havingdeniedtothe
authorofthingsunderstandingandwill,andimaginingthatgoodandperfectionrelate
onlytousandnottohim.ItistruethatSpinoza'sopiniononthissubjectissomewhat
obscure....Nevertheless,asfarasonecanunderstandhim,heacknowledgesno
goodnessinGod,properlyspeaking,andheteachesthatallthingsexistbythe
necessityoftheDivinenature,withoutGodmakinganychoice.Wewillnotamuse
ourselveshererefutinganopinionsobad,andindeedsoinexplicable.Ourownis
foundedonthenatureofthepossiblesthatistosay,ofthethingsthatdonotimply
anycontradiction.(T173;cf.T174,37174;RS4850/AG277f.)

IfwewillallowLeibniztodisagreewithSpinozainhisownway,ratherthaninsomewaythatwe
mightimposeonhim,thisshouldbeenoughtoshowthathisdeterminismisnotproperlycalled
Spinozistic.

1.5MoralNecessity

WhenLeibnizsaysthatheopposesa"brute"or"blind"necessity(T174,349),hemeans
(sometimeswithexplicitreferencetoSpinoza)anecessitythatdenies

____________________
21
AsimilarpointismadebyMargaretWilson,inherinterestingpaper,"Leibniz'sDynamicsand
ContingencyinNature,"pp.284f.:"Evenifoneshouldconcludethatthedenialofatruthoffact
mustleadtocontradictiononLeibniz'spremises,thereremainvastdifferencesbetweenhissystem
andthenecessitarianismofSpinoza.Themainpointcanbeexpressedverysimply:Leibniz's
philosophyrequiresthattheexplanationofanyexistentialpropositioninvolvereferencetovalue,
purpose,perfection."
21

toGodintelligenceandchoice(T37172).Similarly,intheTheodicy22headmitsa"moral"butnot
a"metaphysical"necessityofGod'schoosingthebest.Leibnizusuallygiveslittleornoexplanation
ofthisdistinction,andonemightbetemptedtotakeitasapromissorynoteforalessstrongly
necessitariantheorythathewasunabletoprovideindetail.Butinfact'morallynecessary'hada
precisemeaning.Themorallynecessaryiswhatonemorallyoughttodo.Inhisearlywritingson
jurisprudence(167178)Leibnizenunciatedasystemofmoralmodalities(averyrudimentary
deonticlogic)intermsofwhatispossible,impossible,necessary,orcontingent(i.e.,omissibleor
notnecessary)"tobedonebyagoodman"(AVI,i,465ff.)."Icallmorallyimpossiblethatwhichit
isnotpossibletodowithoutcommittingasin"(AIV,i,471)."Obligation...isamoralnecessity
thatis,anecessityimposedonhimwhowantstokeepthenameof'agoodman'"(Gr608).
Similarly,"duty[officium]iswhateverisnecessaryintheperfectlyjust"(C517).Accordingly,
whenLeibnizsaysthatGod'schoiceofthebestismorallynecessary,wemusttakehimtomean
thatitisnecessarythatifGoddidnotchoosethebest,Godwouldnotbeperfectlygood.Itis
noteworthythatSamuelClarke,hiscontemporary,didtakethistobeLeibniz'smeaning.Clarke's
examplesofmoralnecessityare"thatagoodBeing,continuingtobeGood,cannotdoEvil;ora
wiseBeing,continuingtobeWise,cannotactunwisely;oraveraciousPerson,continuingtobe
veracious,cannottellaLie"(GVII,423).(Clarkealsothoughtthisa"figurative"and
philosophicallyuninterestingsenseof'necessity'.)

ItisinkeepingwiththisconceptionthattheTbeodicyspeaksofbeing"necessitatedmorallyby
wisdom"(T237),identifiesmoralnecessitywith"thechoiceofthewise,worthyofhiswisdom"(
Tpd2),andsaysthat"itisamoralnecessitythatthewisestisobligedtochoosethebest"(T230).
InsomeofhisdiscussionsofmoralnecessityLeibniz'sconcernfortherealityofchoicecomes
togetherprettyexplicitlywithhisideaofthecontingentasthatwhichreceivesnecessityonlyfrom
outsideitselfandhasalternativesthatarepossibleinthemselves.Hedistinguishesbetween
"metaphysicalnecessity,whichleavesnoplaceforanychoice,presentingonlyonepossibleobject,
andmoralnecessity,whichobligesthewisesttochoosethebest"(T367),andsays:

Butthatsortofnecessitywhichdoesnotdestroythepossibilityofthecontraryhasthat
nameonlybyanalogy.Itbecomeseffective,notbytheessenceofthingsalone,butby
thatwhichisoutsidethemandabovethem,namelybythewillofGod.Thisnecessityis
calledmoral,becausewiththewise,whatisnecessaryandwhatoughttobeare
equivalentthings.[TaVIII(GVI,386)]

2.Leibniz'sSecondMainSolution

WehavenowexploredthesetofideasthatconstitutetheinnermostandsurestbastionofLeibniz's
defensesagainstthedenialofcontingency.Evenifeverythingactualisnecessarilyactualizedby
Godonaccountofthedivinegoodness,

____________________
22
Leibnizusedtheconceptofmoralnecessitymuchearlier,buthadappliedittoGod'schoiceofthe
bestonlysince1707,accordingtoGrua,Jurisprudence,p.235.
22

thethingsthatGodchoosesarenotnecessarythroughthemselves,butonlyonthehypothesisof
somethingexternaltothem,andtheyhavealternativesthatarepossibleinthemselves.Theyare
thereforeinacertainsensecontingent,andonlyhypotheticallynecessary.Leibnizfinds
contingencyinthissenseworthdefending,becauseitpreservestherealityofGod'schoice,
distinguishingthe"moral"necessitythatheascribestoGod'sactionfromthe"brute"or"blind"
necessitythathethinksbelongstoitinSpinoza'ssystem.Leibnizadheredtotheseviewsfrom
1677totheendofhislife.

Butwehaveyettoexaminetheouterwallsofhiscastleofcontingency.Intheend,Leibniznot
onlydeniedthatthisworld,whichinfactisactual,isnecessarythroughitself;healsodeniedthatit
isnecessarilyactualizedbyGod.Inseveralpapersfromthe1680sweseehimstrugglingtojustify
thisdenialandfititintohisphilosophy.By1690hehadmademuchprogressinunderstandingthe
problemandhadattainedasolutionthatseemstohavesatisfiedhimfairlywell.

2.1TheContingencyofWhichWorldIsBest

AccordingtoLeibniz,thisworld,ratherthananyotherpossibleworld,isactualbecauseGod
choosestoactualizewhateverisbest,andthisisthebestofallpossibleworlds.Therefore,ifitis
contingentthatthisworldisactual,itmusteitherbecontingentthatGodchooseswhateverisbest
orbecontingentthatthisisthebest.Whichisitthatiscontingent?Leibnizexplicitlyraisedthis
questioninseveralpaperswrittenbetween1689and1706;hetendedtofavortheanswerthatwhat
iscontingentisthatthisworldisthebest.

Inonenotefromabout1695heraisesthequestionwithoutansweringit:
Theformalcause[oftheknowabilityoffuturecontingents]isthecoherenceofterms,
orthefactthatthepredicateinheresinthesubject,evenifthecausewhyitinheres
dependsontwothings,theuniversalbestnessandGod'sdecisiontochoosethebest.Or
isGod'sgeneraldecisionnecessary?230risitnotthat'Thisisthebest'istrue,butnot
necessary;itistruebutnotdemonstrableapriori.Isitnotthereforecontingent?(
Gr351)

Althoughthequestionisnotansweredhere,Leibniz'sinclinationisclear.

Itisexplicitinothertexts,includinganimportantpaperfrom1689or1690,theearliestwork
knowntomeinwhichLeibnizdefinedthealternatives:24

Wemustseewhetherifwesupposethatthispropositionisnecessary:theproposition
whichhasthegreaterreasonforexistingexists,itfollowsthatthepropositionwhich
hasthegreaterreasonforexistingisnecessary.Buttheinferenceisrightlyrejected.For
ifthedefinitionofanecessarypropositionis,thatitstruthcanbedemonstratedwith
geometricalrigor,thenitcanindeed

____________________
23
Leibnizfirstwrote"God'sgeneraldecisionisnecessary"thenchangedit,producingasentence
thatisquiteawkwardintheoriginal.
24
ThedateisthatofLeibniz'sItaliantour;themanuscriptiswrittenonItalianpaper(VE1763).The
textbelongstoaperiodwhenLeibnizwasincomfortablepossessionoftheinfiniteanalysistheory
ofcontingency,butseemsstilltohavebeenworkingouttheideasexpressedinthequotedpassage.
InmytranslationIomitthemanyphrasescrossedoutbyLeibniz.
23

happenthatthispropositioncanbedemonstrated:everytruth,andonlyatruth,hasthe
greaterreason,orthisone:Godalwaysactsmostwisely.Butitwillnotthereforebe
possibletodemonstratethisproposition:contingentpropositionAhasthegreater
reason,orcontingentpropositionAisconformedtothedivinewisdom.Andtherefore
alsoitdoesnotfollowthatcontingentpropositionAisnecessary.Andthereforeevenif
itwereconcededthatitisnecessarythatGodchoosesthebest,orthatthebestis
necessary,stillitdoesnotfollowthatthatwhichischosenisnecessary,sinceno
demonstrationthatitisthebestisgiven.(Gr305f./AG30)

HereLeibnizisrathercarefulnottoassertthatitisnecessarythatGodchoosesthebest.Buthe
doescommithimselftotheviewthatitisnotnecessarythatthis(whichGodhaschosen)isthe
best,althoughitisinfactthebest.OfthetwowaysinwhichthenecessityofthatwhichGodhas
chosencouldbedenied,Leibnizisreadierheretodenythenecessityof'Thisisthebest'thanthe
necessityof'Godchoosesthebest'.

Hisstanceisthesameinanotewrittenintheearly1690s:
Ordoesthisfollow:'Thispropositionisnecessary:Goddoesthebest.Thereforethat
whichGoddoesisnecessary'?Theinferenceisnotvalid.Fortheconclusionfollows
theweakerpart.Butitisnotdemonstrablethatacertainthingisthebest,nor,therefore,
[canitbedemonstrated]whatmustbedone.Orshallwerathersaythatthisproposition
too,'Goddoesthebest',isnotnecessarybutonlycertain?Thepreviousopinionappears
tobebest,sincethisproposition:Aisthebest,iscertain,butisnotnecessarysinceit
cannotbedemonstrated.(Gr336)

Wedonothavetodenythenecessityof'Goddoesthebest',sincethatwhichisthebestisnot
necessarilythebest.

Inanothertext,thelatestandmostrevealingoftheseries,Leibnizbeginsbystatingagainthat'This
isthebest'isnotnecessaryevenif'Thatwhichisthebestischosen'isnecessary.Hesaysthathe
doesnotknowwhetherGod'snotchoosingthebestimpliesacontradiction.Butheassertsflatly
that"Thisisthebest,"thoughtrue,"isnotdemonstrablebyademonstrationthatshowsthatthe
contraryimpliesacontradiction."Thenheseemstochangehismindandshiftstoalesscautious
positiononthenecessityofGod'schoosingthebest:

Itisthesameargument:Godwillsnecessarilytheworkthatismostworthyofhis
wisdom.Isaythathewillsit,butnotnecessarily,becausealthoughthisworkisthe
mostworthy,thatisnotanecessarytruth.25Itistruethatthisproposition:Godwills
theworkthatismostworthyofhim,isnecessary.Butitisnottruethathewillsit
necessarily.Forthisproposition:Thisworkisthemostworthy,isnotanecessarytruth;
itisindemonstrable,contingent,atruthoffact.(Gr493)

Theargumenthereturnsonanambiguityof'necessarily'.Leibnizsawitasanambiguityofscope.
Heacceptsthe'necessarily'as"appliedtothecopula"(thatis,tothewholeproposition),butnotas
appliedto"whatiscontainedinthecopula"(thatis,asinternaltothepredicate).Hewillaffirmthat
"Godis

____________________
25
Vrit.Grua,bymistake,hassuite.Gruahasalsoinsertedquotationmarksinthetextofthis
passage.
24

necessarilytheonewhowillsthebest.Butnottheonewhonecessarilywillsthebest"(Gr494).It
ismisleading,however,forLeibniztomakeanissueofwhichverb'necessarily'modifies.The
crucialpointintheambiguityiswhetherthenecessityappliesderetotheobjectthatGodinfact
wills.Thispointcouldbebroughtoutbydistinguishingwidefromnarrowscopeofthedefinite
descriptionoperatorin"Godnecessarilywillstheworkthatismostworthyofhiswisdom."Ifithas
widescope,thenecessityappliesderetothework,andthesenseofthepropositionis,'Thework
thatismostworthyofGod'swisdomissuchthatitisnecessarythatGodwillsit'whichLeibniz
denies.Butifthedefinitedescriptionoperatorhasnarrowscope,thesenseisrather,'Itisnecessary
thatGodwillswhateverworkismostworthyofGod'swisdom'whichLeibnizhereaccepts.Of
courseitwouldbeanachronistictoexpectLeibniztohavemadethepointthatway.

Thedateofthistextdeservescomment.Itcannotpossiblyhavebeenwrittenbefore1706,because
itisanotemadeinreadingthethirdvolumeofPierreBayle'sRponsesauxquestionsd'un
provincial,whichwaspublishedattheendofthepreviousyear.26ThisrefutesNicholasRescher's
suggestionthatitwasonly"untiltheyear1686,whenhismaturephilosophytookform"that
Leibnizpreferreddenyingthenecessityof'Thisisthebest'todenyingthenecessityof'God
choosesthebest'.27

Itshouldalsobenotedthattheproposition,"Godwillsnecessarilytheworkthatismostworthyof
hiswisdom,"whichisquotedfromBayle,isdiscussedagain(withthesamereferencetoBayle)in
theTheodicy,whereitisdenied(T237).Leibnizdoesnotmaketherethedistinctionsthathehad
madeinthenotefrom1706,butonlyappealstothedifferencebetweenmetaphysicalandmoral
necessity.WhatheisdenyingintheTheodicy,however,shouldprobablybeunderstoodinlightof
theearliernote.

2.2Necessity,Demonstrability,andInfiniteAnalysis

Thethesisthatthepropertyofbeingthebestofallpossibleworldsbelongsonlycontingentlytothe
worldthathasithasseemedsoevidentlyfalsetosomerecentphilosophersthattheyhavebeen
unwillingtoregarditasapartofLeibniz'smaturephilosophy."Thatthisworldisthebestpossible
worldispresumablyanecessaryfact,"accordingtoCurley;28Reschersays,"itisdifficulttosee
howwhatisbestcouldavoidbeingdeterminedwithnecessitationwhenthesubstancesare
conceivedsubrationepossibilitatis."29Thatthisworldisthebestdoesnotdependonwhichworld
exists,orisactual,orischosenbyGod.Leibnizinsiststhatthevaluesofthingsarecompletely
independentofGod'sWill.30The"bestness"ofthisworldisratherthegroundofitsbeingchosen
byGodandhenceactualandexistent.

____________________
26
December1705,dated1706.SeeLabrousse,PierreBayle,vol.I,p.259,n.88.Leibnizhadseen
thevolumebyFebruary1706(GIII,143).
27
Rescher,PhilosophyofLeibniz,pp.69f.
28
Curley,"RootofContingency,"p.94.
29
Rescher,PhilosophyofLeibniz,pp.69f.
30
AspointedoutinthisconnectionbyLovejoy,GreatChainofBeing,p.173.
25

Inseveralofhismaturewritings,however,Leibnizdidassertthatthebestnessofthatwhichisbest
iscontingent,aswehaveseen,andIdonotknowofanytextfromthematureperiodofhis
philosophyinwhichheassertsorimpliestheopposite.Howcanhehavethoughtwhatheappears
tohavethought?Theexplanationistobesoughtintheidea,whichoccursinallofthecrucial
passages,thatitcannotbedemonstratedwhatisbest.Leibnizbringsinhere,implicitly,hisvery
formalidealofdemonstrationbyanalysisInafinitenumberofsteps.Forofallhissolutionstothe
theologicalversionoftheproblemofcontingency,thatwhichproceedsbydenyingthenecessityof
factsaboutwhichthingsarebestisthemostclearlyconnectedwithhisconceptionofcontingency
intermsofinfiniteanalysis.

Thisconceptionisindeedratherfullystatedintheearliestofthepapersinwhichwehavefound
Leibnizsayingthatitiscontingentwhatisthebest.

Andhere31isuncoveredthesecretdistinctionbetweenNecessaryandContingent
Truths,whichnoonewilleasilyunderstandunlesshehassometinctureof
Mathematicsnamelythatinnecessarypropositionsonearrives,byananalysis
continuedtosomepoint,atanidenticalequation(andthisverythingistodemonstrate
atruthingeometricalrigor);butincontingentpropositionstheanalysisproceedsto
infinitybyreasonsofreasons,sothatindeedoneneverhasafulldemonstration,
althoughthereisalways,underneath,areasonforthetruth,evenif32itisperfectly
understoodonlybyGod,whoalonegoesthroughaninfiniteseriesinoneactofthe
mind.(Gr303/AG28)

ThisisLeibniz'ssolutiontotheversionoftheproblemofcontingencythathasfascinatedhis
twentiethcenturyreaders,theversionthatasks,"iftheconceptofhavingthepredicateatagiven
timeinheresintheconceptofthesubject,howcanthesubjectthenlackthepredicatewithout
contradictionand33impossibility,andwithoutlossofitsconcept?"(FC179/L264)Thesolutionis
thatapredicatecanbecontainedintheconceptofasubjectwithoutthiscontainmentbeing
provablebyanalysisinafinitenumberofsteps.Leibnizwillsaythatinsuchacasethesubject's
lackingthepredicatedoesnot"implyacontradiction,"andthatitshavingthepredicatecannotbe
"demonstrated"andiscontingent(FC181/L264).34

Anexamplemayhelpusunderstandhowsuchcasesmayarise.Itmaybethatthereisaproperty,,
suchthatforeverynaturalnumber,n,itcanbeprovedthatnhas,buttheuniversalgeneralization
thateverynhascannotbeprovedexceptbyprovingthat7has,that4has,andsoonuntil
everynhasbeenaccountedforataskthatcanneverbecompleted.Inthiscaseitisapurely
mathematicaltruththateverynhas,butitcannotbedemonstrated.Anditis

____________________
31
GruahasEthocarcanowherethemanuscriptreadsEthicarcanum.SeeVE1763.AGfollows
Grua.
32
Etsi;Gruahaset.
33
FC'sabisamisreadingofatque.SeeVE1768.
34
Thistextisprobablyfrom1689(VE1767).Forsimilarstatementsfrom1686orearlier,seeC17/
MP97;GI74,130;andfrom1715,GIII,582/L664.NotethatinGr303/AG28,asinC1f./AG
98f.,finitedemonstrabilityispresentedasanecessary,andnotjustasufficient,conditionof
necessity,contrarytotheclaimofCastaeda,"Leibniz'sViewofContingentTruthintheLate
1680's,"pp.266f.
26

apurelymathematicalfalsehoodthatsomenlacks,butnocontradictioncanbederivedfromitin
afinitenumberofsteps.AlfredTarskidecidedtosaythatasystemofwhichtheseconditionshold,
butinwhich'Somenaturalnumberlacks'canbeproved,isconsistent,butnotwconsistent.35He
thusreservedtheuseof'inconsistent',withoutqualification,toexpressaprooftheoreticalnotion
ratherthanthenotionofmathematicalfalsity.Similarly,Leibnizreserves'impliesacontradiction'
toexpressaprooftheoreticalnotionratherthanthenotionofconceptualfalsityorbeingfalse
purelybyvirtueoftherelationsofconcepts.Hethinks,ofcourse,thatthelatternotionisexpressed
simplyby'false'.

Itisnotdifficulttoseehowitwouldfollow,fromthisconceptionofcontingency,thatitis
contingentwhichpossibleworldisthebest.Foronewouldpresumablyhavetoconsiderinfinitely
manyaspectsofaworldinordertoassignavaluetoitasawhole.Andthenonewouldhaveto
compareinfinitelymanyworldsinordertodeterminewhichisthebest.Itcouldnotbedetermined
byanyfiniteanalysis;hence,itiscontingent.SeveralcommentatorshaveexplainedLeibniz's
reasoningalongtheselines,36andLeibnizhimselfdidso.Inapaperon"NecessaryandContingent
Truths"(Couturat'stitle),whichcontainswhatseemstomeanearlystatementofhisinfinite
analysisconceptionofcontingency,Leibnizpointsoutthattheuniversehasinfinitelymany
aspects,andadds:

Indeed,evenifonecouldknowthewholeseriesoftheuniverse,onestillcouldnotgive
thereasonforit,unlessonehadsetupacomparisonofitwithalltheotherpossible
[series].Fromthisitisclearwhynodemonstrationofanycontingentpropositioncan
befound,nomatterhowfartheanalysisofconceptsiscontinued.(C19/MP99;cf.
Gr343fromtheearly1690s)

Thereremaindifficultquestions,neverresolvedbyLeibnizorhiscommentators,aboutjusthow
analysisissupposedtoworkintherelevantcases.Analysis,forLeibnizandtheseventeenth
century,wasamethodofproofbeginningwiththeconclusiontobeprovedandworkingbacktothe
axiomsfromwhichitfollowsthoughinaninfiniteanalysistheaxiomsareneverreached.The
methodthatbeginsattheotherend,withtheaxioms,wascalledsynthesis.37Inconformitywith
thisdistinction,Leibnizdescribedfiniteandinfiniteanalysesasproceedingfromthepropositionto
beproved,bysubstitutingdefinitions,orpartsofdefinitions,foritsterms(FC181f./L264f.).But
theprocessofdeterminingwhichisthebestofallpossibleworldsbycomparingthevaluesofall
theworldsseemslikelytobeasynthesis,ratherthanananalysis,inthissense.IndeedLeibnizgives
usnoideahowonewouldevenbeginananalysis,finiteorinfinite,todeterminewhichworldisthe
bestpossible,althoughitisclearthathethoughttheinfinitenumberofworldstobecomparedis
onegroundofthecontingencyofGod'schoiceofthisworld.Perhapssomethinglikethefollowing
formofanalysisisintended.Let'W*'beapropernameoftheworldthathappenstobeactual.An
analysisof'W*=thebestofallpossibleworlds'willrequirethere

____________________
35
Tarski,"EinigeBetrachtungen."
36
Couturat,"OnLeibniz'sMetaphysics,"p.31;Rescher,PhilosophyofLeibniz,pp.38f.;Abraham,
"CompleteConcepts,"p.278;Broad,Leibniz:AnIntroduction,p.35;cf.Curley,"Rootof
Contingency,"p.94.
37
Cf.Hacking,"InfiniteAnalysis,"pp.127f.
27

placementofoneorbothsidesoftheequationbyananalysans.Toreducetheequationtoidentities
bysuchreplacement,wewouldneedontherighthandsideananalysansincludingastatementof
thecomplete(oratleastthebasic)conceptsofallthepossibleworlds,butthatisnotfinitely
statable.

Anotherdifficultyisthatwhileitdoesseemthatitcouldnotbeprovedinafinitenumberofsteps
thatacertainworldisthebestpossible,theremightperhapsbeafiniteproofthatacertainworld,
oranyworldofacertainsort,isnotthebestpossible.Leibnizhimselfseemstohavethoughtit
couldbedemonstratedthatnoworldinwhichGoddamnstheinnocentisthebest.

Thedamnationoftheinnocentisindeedpossibleinitself,orsomethingthatdoesnot
implyacontradiction;butitisnotpossibleforGod....Forwedonotneedtoexamine
thewholeharmonyofthingsinordertoknowwhetherGodisgoingtodamnsomeone
innocenteternally.(Gr300;cf.Gr271)

HereLeibnizseemstobeconfrontedwithatruth,'Nooneinnocentwillbedamnedeternally',
whichsatisfiesoneofhiscriteriaforcontingency(itscontraryispossibleinitself),butnotthe
other(itwouldnotrequireaninfiniteanalysistoproveit).Leibnizdoesnottellushowtoresolve
thisconflict;indeed,Idoubtthatherealizeditsexistence.

Wemayalsobetemptedtoobjectthattheinfiniteanalysisconceptionofcontingencyrepresents
contingencyasillusory,oratbestmerelyrelativetoourintellectualincapacity(asSpinozahad
regardedit:Ethics,I,prop.33,schol.1).ItisnaturaltoconcludethatforLeibniz,asA.O.Lovejoy
putit,"thoughweareunabletoattainanintuitiveapprehensionofthenecessity[ofajudgment
whichappearstousascontingent],...wecanneverthelessbesurethatthenecessityisthere,and
isrecognizedbythemindofGod."38Russelltookasimilarviewin1903,whenhewrote,"Where
aninfiniteanalysis,whichonlyGodcanperform,isrequiredtoexhibitthecontradiction,the
oppositewillseemnottobecontradictory";hedidnotthinkthealternativesuggestion,"thatthe
denialofananalytictruthmightnotbeselfcontradictory,"wouldcommenditselftoLeibniz.39

ThisobjectionrestsonafundamentalmisunderstandingofLeibniz'sconceptionofnecessityand
contingency.Thedistinctionbetweenthem"isdrawnonlogicalgroundsalone,"asRescherrightly
pointsout.40Itisnotanepistemologicaldistinction,anditisnotbasedonarelationinwhich
contingentpropositionsstandtousbutnottoGod.Itisbasedonadifferenceinthelogicalformof
thereasonsbyvirtueofwhichpropositionsofthetwosortsaretrue.Contingenttruthsarejustas
contingentforGodastheyareforus,andGodcannomoredemonstratethemthanwecan;fornot
evenGodcan"see...theendoftheanalysis,sincethereisnoend"(FC182,184/L26Sf.).41
Leibnizdoessaythat

____________________
38
Lovejoy,GreatChainofBeing,p.175.Cf.Copleston,HistoryofPhilosophy,vol.4,p.286.
39
Russell,"RecentWorkonthePhilosophyofLeibniz,"p.378,n.8.
40
Rescher,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.44,n.24.
41
lnDM13,andinGI131andperhapsGI74,allfrom1686,Leibnizseemstospeakofa
"demonstration"ofcontingenttruthsthatisbeyondthepowersoffinitemindstoaccomplish.And
inanearlytext,probablyfrom1677to1680(VE115=GVII,194)hespeaksofalltruthsas
"demonstrable."Thismaybedueeithertocarelessnessor,morelikely,tounclarityorvariationin
histerminologyduringaformativeperiodofhisthought.Usually,atleastfrom1689on(e.g.,VE
28

Godcanknowcontingenttruthsapriori(thatis,throughtheirreasons),andthatwecannot.But
theseepistemologicalrelationsarenotconstitutiveofcontingency;theyareonlyconsequencesof
thelogicalpropertythatisconstitutiveofcontingency.

Twoinitiallyplausibleprinciplesabout(logical)necessityarethatwhateveristruepurelybyvirtue
oftherelationsofconceptsisnecessary,andthatwhateverisnecessarymustbelogically
demonstrable.Leibnizseemsatfirsttohaveassumedbothprinciples.Thelightthatwaskindledfor
himbytheknowledgeoftheanalysisofinfinites(C18/MP97)wastherealizationthatthetwo
assumptionsareincompatiblebecausesomepropositionsthataretruesolelybyvirtueofthe
relationsofconceptsarenonethelessnotprovablebyanythingthathewouldcountasa
demonstration.Leibnizheldconsistentlytothesecondprinciple.Hisusualdefinitionofthe
logicallynecessaryisthatitisthatwhosecontraryimpliesacontradiction(e.g.,Tpd2).Andwe
haveseenthatLeibniztreats'impliesacontradiction'asexpressingaprooftheoreticalpropertythat
doesnotbelongtopropositionswhosefalsitycanbediscoveredapriorionlythroughaninfinite
analysis(FC181/L264;cf.C17/MP96f.).Therealizationoftheincompatibilityofthetwo
principlesthereforeenabledLeibnizwithaclearconsciencetogiveupthefirstprinciple,which
hadmadehistheoryoftruthseemtoleavenoroomforcontingency.

WhenRussellchargedthattheinfiniteanalysisconceptionofcontingencywouldatmostyield
truthsthatonlyseemtobecontingent,hewasexplicitlyandmistakenlyassumingthatwhateveris
falsepurelybyvirtueoftherelationsofconceptsmustbeselfcontradictoryforLeibniz.Similarly,
Curleyseemstobeassumingaconceptionofnecessityintermsofconceptualtruth,ratherthanin
termsofdemonstrability,whenhesaysthatthebestnessofthisworld"isnotrenderedanytheless
necessarybythenumberofotherpossibleworldsbeinginfiniteratherthanfinite."42Forourown
use,ofcourse,wemaywellpreferaconceptualtruthconceptionofnecessitytoademonstrability
conception.IfsowewillrightlyconcludethatLeibniz'sinfiniteanalysistheorydoesnotgiveus
realcontingency.Ibelievethatconclusionissubstantiallycorrect,asIthinkthedemonstrability
conceptionofnecessityisfundamentallymisguided.43Butthatpresentsnointernalobjectionto
Leibniz'ssystem.Thecontingencywearedemanding,hecanonlyregardasabrutefactanda
violationoftheprincipleofsufficientreason,whichhehasnointentionofadmittinginhismature
philosophy.

Itisjustasclearintheessay"OntheRadicalOriginationofThings"of23November1697(G
VII,3028/L48691)asinthelettertoWedderkopfofMay1671(AII,i,117f./L146f.)thatLeibniz
thinksofeverythingintheworldasdeterminedultimatelybythedivinenature,andparticularlyby
therelationsofconceptsinGod'sintellect.Fromthispointofviewtheproblemofcontingencyisto
findadifferencebetweenwaysinwhichfactsaredeterminedbyrelations

____________________
41
1775f.=C1f./AG98f.),heiscarefulnottosaythatcontingenttruthshave"demonstrations"though
theyhave"proofs"apriorithatareknowntoGod.
42
Curley,"RootofContingency,"p.94.
43
SeeR.Adams,"DivineNecessity."Asindicatedthere,Iwouldnotexactlyendorseaconceptual
truthconceptionofnecessity,either.
29

ofconceptsadifferencethatisbothimportantandplausiblyrelatedtothepreanalyticnotionsof
logicalormetaphysicalnecessityandcontingency.Thedifferencebetweentruthsthatareandare
notdemonstrableinafinitenumberofstepsisLeibniz'scandidateforthisrole.

Ifthislookslikeanattempttosolveaphilosophicalproblembydefinition,thereissomeevidence
thatthatiswhatLeibnizmeanttodo.WritinginFebruary1698toG.W.Molanusaboutwhathe
regardedasexcessivelynecessitarianexplanationsoftheoccurrenceofsins,hesaid:

ButthemoreIconsiderthematter,themoremanifestlyIseemtomyselftoseethatthe
error[peccatum]wasnotsomuchinrealitiesasinformulas,onaccountofassumed
definitionsoffreedom,necessity,will,andrightthatarenotonlylessphilosophical,
andlessfamiliar,butalsolesssuitedtoedification.Fromthemwaysofspeakingwere
boundtoarisethatareoffensivetopiousears.Bythesewaysofspeaking,tobesure,
thegreatnessofGodisextolled,andhumanprideputdown(whichseemstohavebeen
theaimofthosespeakingmorerigidly);butontheotherhand,inadequateprovision
wasmadeforcelebratingGod'sgoodness,andarousingourlovetowardhim.Whatif
therefore,asIamalmostpersuaded,bymerelydevelopingdefinitionsallthatharshness
couldbesoftened,anditispermittedtoremovethecontroversyaboutwhichpeople
havesoundedsotragic;doyouthinkthisshouldbeneglected?(Schrecker84)

2.3ContingentConnectionsamongPossiblesasSuch

Asaconsequenceofhisinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingency,Leibnizacceptedanotherthesis,
whichsomecommentatorshavebeenmostreluctanttoadmitaspartofhisphilosophy.Russell
notedin1903that"theviewthatinfinitecomplexityisthedefiningpropertyofthecontingenthas
thecuriousconsequencethattruthsaboutpossiblesubstancesarecontingent."44BothC.D.Broad
andCurleyhaveclaimedthatLeibnizdidnotacceptthisconsequence,45buttheirclaimis
untenable.Thatyouexistinthebestpossibleworldisafactaboutyouconceivedasapossible
substance;itscontingencyfollowsfromwhatLeibnizwroteinseveralplacesaboutthecontingency
ofwhichworldisbest.

Indeed,theideathattherearecontingentconnectionsamongthingsconsideredaspossiblebecomes
quiteimportanttoLeibnizintheDiscourseonMetaphysicsandthecorrespondencewithArnauld.
Thisistobeexpected,inviewofLeibniz'sinsistencethatalloftheactsofanyindividualfollow
fromtheconceptofthatindividualconsideredaspossible.Itiscrucialtohistheodicythatthe
connectionbetweenournaturesorconceptsandoursinsandotherevilsbeonethatwouldhave
beenthere,noweakerandnostronger,evenifGodhadnotcreatedus(cf.DM30).Soifitis
importanttoourfreedomthatwebecontingentlyconnectedwithouractions,thisfollowingofour
actionsfromourconceptsmustsomehowbeacontingentconnectionbetweenthemandus
consideredaspossible.Accordingly,Leibnizsaysin13oftheDiscoursethat

____________________
44
Russell,"RecentWorkonthePhilosophyofLeibniz,"p.374,n.5;cf.Russell,Philosophyof
Leibniz,p.26.
45
Broad,Leibniz:AnIntroduction,p.36;Curley,"RootofContingency,"pp.92f.
30

therearetwosortsofconnection,oneabsolutelynecessarybuttheothercontingent,bywhich
differenteventsfollowfromthecompleteconceptofacreatedperson.46Arnauldwasperhapsthe
firsttofindthisstrange.Hearguedthat,onLeibniz'sview,theconnectionbetweenAdamand
everything"thathashappenedandwillhappentohimandhisposterity"mustbenecessary,
"because,"asLeibnizputit,"IconsidertheindividualconceptofAdamaspossible,"and"possible
conceptsinthemselvesdonotdependonthefreedecisionsofGod"(LA2830,40).Therearetwo
mainpointsinLeibniz'sreplytothisobjection.
1.
"ThepossiblesarepossiblebeforealltheactualdecisionsofGod,butnotwithoutpresupposing
sometimesthesamedecisionstakenaspossible"(LA51).Thisisbecausethecompleteconceptof
anypossiblethinginvolves(aspossible)somedecisionsthatGodwouldmake(forinstance,in
establishinglawsofnature)ifGodactualizedtheworldtowhichthatthingbelongs.HereLeibniz
clingstotheideathattruthsinvolvingGod'sdecisionsarecontingent.Butnowitseemstheyneed
notdependonwhatGodactuallydecides;itisenoughiftheyinvolvedivinedecisionsconsidered
aspossible.Wemaywonderwhythemerelypossibledivinedecisionsshouldbethoughttohave
thisrelevance.
2.
Theconnectionbetweenacreatedperson,consideredaspossible,andtheeventsofhisorher
possibleworldis"intrinsic"(LA51)and"certain"butnot"necessary,"althoughthefailureofthe
connectionwoulddestroytheindividualconceptofthatperson(LA52;cf.LA41).Hereitseems
clearthatLeibniz'spositioninvolvescontingentconnectionswithinpossibleworlds,andhence
contingenttruthsthatdonotdependonwhichworldisactual.47
ThesameviewisexpressedbyLeibnizinothertexts:

Itisofthenatureofanindividualsubstancethatitsconceptbeperfectandcomplete,
andcontainallitsindividualcircumstances,evencontingentones,downtotheleast
detail....Yettheseindividual[circumstances]arenotthereforenecessary,anddonot
dependonthedivineintellectalone,butalsoondecisionsofthedivinewill,insofaras
thedecisionsthemselvesareconsideredaspossiblebythedivineintellect.(Gr311)

____________________
46
HectorNeriCastaeda,inhisinterestingarticleon"Leibniz'sViewofContingentTruthintheLate
1680's,"proposesaninterpretationofthetwotypesofconnectionthatisquitedifferentfrommine.
IfIunderstandhim,heidentifiesthetwotypesofconnectionwiththeexistentialandessentialuses
ofthecopula'is'thatLeibnizdistinguishes(GI144).FabrizioMondadorihaspointedouttomethat
suchadistinctionwascurrentinLeibniz'stime,andcanbefound,forexample,inFranciscoSurez
MetaphysicalDisputations,XXXI,xii,4445.Thesubstanceofthisdistinction,however,issimply
thatthetruthofan"existential"predicationdependsontheactualexistenceofitssubjectand
predicateterms,whereasthetruthofan"essential"predicationdoesnot.Since,accordingto
Castaeda'sLeibniz,"everycontingenttruth"involvingtheexistentialcopula"isunderlainbyits
correspondingnecessarytruth"involvingtheessentialcopula(Castaeda,"Leibniz'sViewof
ContingentTruthintheLate1680's,"p.264),allthatiscontingent,intuitively,insuchacase,is
theexistenceofthesubjectand/orpredicate,nottheconnectionbetweenthem.Speaking,
technically,ofadifferentcopulawhentheexistenceofthetermsisimplieddoesnot,intuitively,
makethecontingencyoftheexistenceruboffontheconnection.Inthisrespecttheposition
CastaedaascribestoLeibnizisnomoreintuitivethantheoneIattributetohim.
47
Mondadori,in"LeibnizandtheDoctrineofInterWorldIdentity,"pp.32f.,takesitthatwhatisnot
necessaryhereistheactualizationoftheindividual;butthatdoesnotadequatelyexplainwhy
Leibnizshouldcalltheconnectioncontingent.Cf.note46above.
31

Goddecidedtocreateacreaturewhosefullconceptinvolvessuchaseriesofgraces
andfreeactions,althoughnotnecessarilybutbysuchaconnectionasthenatureofthe
thinginvolves.(Gr383)

Thesequotationsareprobablyfromthemid1680s(VE1105,1122).Fromabout1695,according
toGrua,isareadingnoteinwhichLeibnizstatesflatly,"Therearesomeindemonstrabletruths
eveninpossiblethingsnamelyaboutcontingentthingsregardedaspossible"(Gr353).Howcan
theconnectionbetweenanindividualsubstanceandsomeofthepropertiesoreventsinvolvedinits
conceptbecontingent?Leibnizoffershintsofsomeanswerstothisquestion,buttheyarebyno
meansasclearashisbestworkedoutanswerstothequestionofhowtheexistenceofthose
creaturesthatareactualcanbecontingent.Threeanswersmaybedistinguished.
1.In13oftheDiscourseLeibnizsaysthatthepredicateofdecidingtocrosstheRubiconand
winningthebattleofPharsalusiscontainedintheconceptofJuliusCaesar,butthatitisnot
"necessaryinitself"thatthosethingshappentohim.ThissuggeststhatLeibnizthoughtofCaesar's
decidingnottocrosstheRubicon,orhislosingatPharsalus,asthingsthatarepossiblein
themselves,insomethinglikethewaythatnonactualpossibleworldsarepossibleinthemselves
althoughtheyareimpossibleonthehypothesisofsomethingelse.Buthowcanwemakesenseof
thissuggestion,ifthesourceofthethreateningnecessityisintheconceptofCaesarhimself?That
mightbethoughttoconstituteanecessityinternaltoCaesar'sdecidingandwinning,sincehe
himselfisaconstituentofthoseevents.

ItmaybeimportantherethatLeibnizdistinguishes,withinanindividual'scompleteconcept,
betweenfeaturesthatareparticulartotheindividual,andthelawsofthatindividual'suniverse,
whichalsoenterintotheconceptoftheindividual.ToArnauldhesays:

Thusallhumaneventscouldnotfalltooccurastheyhaveactuallyoccurred,giventhat
thechoiceofAdamwasmade;butnotsomuchbecauseoftheindividualconceptof
Adam,althoughthatconceptcontainsthem,butbecauseofthedesignsofGod,which
alsoenterintothatindividualconceptofAdam,andwhichdeterminethatofthatwhole
universe.(LA51)

ItseemsclearthatintheDiscourseLeibnizisthinkingoftheintrinsicbutnotnecessaryconnection
betweenCaesarandhisdecisiontocrosstheRubiconasdependingonlawsthatgovernCaesar's
world.

[T]hispredicateofCaesarisnotsoabsoluteasthoseofnumbersorofgeometry,
but...itpresupposesthesequenceofthingsthatGodhaschosenfreely,andthatis
foundedonthefirstfreedecisionofGod,theimportofwhichistodoalwaysthat
whichismostperfect,andonthedecisionthatGodmade(inconsequenceofthefirst)
withregardtohumannature,whichisthatahumanbeingwilldoalways(though
freely)whatseemsthebest.(DM13)

ThissuggeststhehypothesisthatCaesar'sdecidingnottocrosstheRubiconisviewedbyLeibniz
aspossibleinitselfbecauseitisexcludedbyCaesar'sindividualconceptonlyinvirtueofthelaws
ofCaesar'suniverse,andnotpurelybywhatisparticulartoCaesarinCaesar'sconcept.Thiswould
explainthecontin

32

gencyofconnectionsdependingonmerelypossibledivinedecisions,ifthosepossibledecisions
areidentifiedwithlawsofauniverse.48

Thisisapossibleinterpretation,butnotwithoutproblems,ofwhichthechiefisthat,asweshall
seeinChapter3,section1,Leibniz'sviewsimplythatthelawsofCaesar'suniverseare
incorporatednotonlyinCaesar'sindividualconcept,butalso,concretely,intheprimitiveforces
thatconstituteCaesar'sverysubstance.CanCaesar'sdoingsomethingprecludedbylawsso
incorporatedinhisverysubstancebepossibleinitself?Anadequatelyinformedjudgmentonthis
questionmustawaitChapter3,wherewewillexploreavarietyofconsiderationsbearingonthe
tightnessoftheconnectionbetweenanindividualsubstance'sprimitiveforcesandtheeventsthat
happentoit.

2.Analternativereadingispossibleofthestatement,in13oftheDiscourse,thatifsomeone
didtheoppositeofsomethingthatisinvolvedinhiscompleteconcept,"hewoulddonothing
impossibleinitself,althoughitisimpossible(exhypothesi)forthattohappen."Maybejustas
GodchoosesfreelybecauseGodchoosesamongapluralityofpossibleworlds,eachofwhichis
possibleinitselfevenifitisimpossibleinrelationtoGod,soacreaturecanactfreelyby
choosingamongapluralityofactions,eachofwhichispossibleinitsownnatureevenifitis
impossibleinrelationtothecompleteconceptofthechoosingcreature.In1697,atanyrate,
LeibnizwasexplicitlywillingtoexplicatethefreedomofcreaturesaswellasofGodintermsof
thepluralityofalternativesforchoice:

ItismoreexacteventosaythatthegoodactionsofGod,theAngelsconfirmed[in
good],andtheglorifiedSaintsarenotnecessary,althoughtheyareassured;andthe
reasonisbecausetheyaredonebychoice,whereasthereisnecessitywhenthereis
nochoicetomake.Whenthereareseveralpaths,onehasthefreedomtochoose,and
althoughonemaybebetterthananother,that'sjustwhatmakesthechoice....[I]tis
notindifferenceofequilibrium,sotospeak,thatconstitutesfreedom,butthefaculty
ofchoosingamongseveralpossibles,eventhoughtheyarenotallequallyfeasibleor
convenientfortheonewhoacts.(Schrecker97)

Leibnizhereidentifiesonewayinwhichhethinksthestructureofcreatures'choicesislikethat
ofGod'schoices.Inbothcasestheagent'schoiceamongapluralityofalternativesisanessential
partofthemetaphysicalreasonfortheactuality,orthenonactuality,ofeachalternative.This
seemstobeenoughtoestablishtherealityofchoice,butintuitivelyIwouldnotsaythatit
establishestheinternalcontingencyofthealternativesforchoice.

Ifthelatteristobeestablishedbythisapproach,thealternativesamongwhichcreatureschoose
mustprobablyberegardedassomewhatgeneral,ratherthanascompletelyindividual,actions.
Caesar'salternativesonthebankoftheRubicon,forexample,mustbecrossingandnotcrossing,
ratherthanCaesar'scrossingandCaesar'snotcrossing.Individualconceptsmustbekeptoutof
theobjectsofchoice.Thislineofthought,therefore,seemsnottoprovideanexpla

____________________
48
Foraveryinterestingdiscussionoftherelationoflawsandpossibledivinedecreesto
contingency,andingeneralamuchfullerandricheraccountofcontingentconnectionswithina
singlepossibleworldthanIattempthere,seeCarriero,"LeibnizonInfiniteResolutionandIntra
MundaneContingency."
33

nationofthecontingencyofCaesar'sdecidingtocrosstheRubicon.Butitdoesshowusawayin
whichLeibnizcouldsaythattherealityofCaesar'schoiceispreserved.
3.Contingentconnectionsbetweenpossiblescanbeexplainedintermsoftheinfiniteanalysis
theoryofcontingency.Leibnizgivessuchanexplanationofthecontingencyof'Peterdenies'."The
conceptofPeteriscomplete,andsoinvolvesinfinitethings;thereforeoneneverarrivesataperfect
demonstration"(GI74).'Peterdenies'isunderdiscussioninthistextasanexistentialproposition,
buttheargumentevidentlyworksjustaswellifthesubjectisconsideredonlyasapossible
personasRussellperceivedwithdismay.

Thereareevenmoredifficultproblems,however,abouthowinfiniteanalysisissupposedtowork
inthiscasethaninthecaseofbestnessamongpossibleworlds.Leibnizmostlyignoresthese
difficulties,andIwillnottrytodomuchmoreherethanpointthemout.Thefirstistheproblemof
theLuckyProof.49Evenifinfinitelymanypropertiesandeventsarecontainedinthecomplete
conceptofPeter,atleastoneofthemwillbeprovedinthefirststepofanyanalysis.Whycouldn't
itbePeter'sdenial?Whycouldn'twebegintoanalyzePeter'sconceptbysaying,'Peterisadenier
ofJesusand...'?PresumablysuchaLuckyProofmustberuledoutbysomesortofrestrictionon
whatcountsasastepinananalysisofanindividualconcept,butsofarasIknow,Leibnizdoesnot
explainhowthisistobedone.Ontheotherhand,wemaywonderhowwecanevenbeginan
analysisoftheindividualconceptofanyperson,asLeibnizseemstoimplythatwecan.Forsucha
concept,beingcomplete,isnotourconceptbutGod's,andwedonotseemtohaveadefinitionwith
whichtobegintoreplaceit.50

2.4ReasonsThatInclinewithoutNecessitating

OneofthethingsLeibniznevertiredofsayingaboutfreechoicesisthattheircauses,motives,or
reasons"incline"butdonot"necessitate."Lovejoycallsthis"misleadingifedifyingphraseology"
anda"verbaldistinction,absolutelymeaninglessinthelightof[Leibniz's]otherdoctrines."51One
istemptedtoagreewiththisharshjudgment,forLeibnizdoesnotgivemuchexplanationofthe
differencebetweenincliningandnecessitating.ButIthinkthedistinctionhasaplaceinthe
interpretationofLeibnizIhavebeendeveloping.

Leibnizpresentstheideaofreasonsthatinclinewithoutnecessitating,sometimesinconnection
withthenotionofachoiceamongalternativesthatarepossibleinthemselves(T45,230;LCV,89),
andsometimesinconnectionwiththeinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingency.Inthelatter
connection,whichseemstomethemoreilluminatingofthetwo,Leibnizsays,"Thereisthesame
proportionbetweennecessityandinclinationthatthereisintheMathematicians'Analysisbetween
exactequationandlimitsthatgiveanapproximation"(Gr479;cf.Gr303,Tk14).Thisstatement
waswrittenintheyearsaround1700inamemorandumthatalsomakesclearhowinfinityis
supposedtoenterinto

____________________
49
1amindebtedtoWilliamIrvineforthisnameforit.
50
Cf.Broad,Leibniz:AnIntroduction,p.27.
51
Lovejoy,GreatChainofBeing,p.174.
34
theinfluenceofreasonsonthewill.Theword'incline'suggeststheimageofabalancethatis
tippedorinclinedtoonesideortheotherbythepreponderanceofweights;and'balance'(nounand
verb)occurs,atleastfiguratively,severaltimesinthememorandum.Leibnizlikedmechanical
analogiesofvolition(T22,GVII,304/L488),andinparticularthatofthebalance(cf.NE193).He
laterwrotetoClarke(V,3)that"reasonsinthemindofawisebeing,andmotivesinanymind
whatsoever,dothatwhichanswerstotheeffectproducedbyweightsinabalance."Thoughnot
necessitating,thebalanceofmotivesdeterminesascertainlyasthebalanceofweights:"Wealways
followthedirectiontowardwhichthereismoreinclinationordisposition"(Gr479);weneverfail
todoso(T43).

Themotivesthatplaytheroleofweightsinthescalesofvolitionincludeallourperceptions,
subconsciousaswellasconscious,accordingtoLeibniz."Severalperceptionsandinclinations
contributetothecompletevolition,whichistheresultoftheirconflict.Someofthemare
separatelyimperceptible;themassofthesemakesanuneasinesswhichpushesuswithoutthe
subjectofitbeingseen"(NE192;cf.Gr480).

Heretheinfinitemakesitsappearance.ForinLeibniz'ssystemthemassofsubconscious
perceptionsinafinitespiritisaconfusedperceptionofthewholeuniverse,inallitsinfinite
complexity.Everyfactabouttheworldisperceived,andourperceptionofithassomeinfluenceon
ourwill;thoseperceptionsofwhichwearenotconsciousarenonethelessweighedinthebalance
enmasse,byvirtueoftheircontributiontoourfeelings.Ourminds,beingfinite,cannotcompletely
understandthemotivesofourchoices,becausetheyareinfinitelycomplex.Onthesameground,
theconnectionbetweenafreedecisionanditsultimatereasonsormotiveswillbecontingent,and
cannotbedemonstrated,inthesenseslaiddownintheinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingency.
Muchofthis,includingsomeconnectionbetweencontingencyandtheinfinityofinfluences,is
explicitinthememorandumquotedearlier.Leibnizspeaksthereofourignorance"ofaninfinityof
littleinfluencesonusofwhichwearenotconscious,"whichsometimesletsushavetheillusion
thatthefactorsmovingourwillareequallybalanced.Andheimmediatelyadds:

Thatshowsthatitisindeedalwaystruethatourfreedom,andthatofallother
intelligentsubstancesrightuptoGodhimself,isaccompaniedbyacertaindegreeof
indifferenceorcontingency,whichhasbeendefinedinsuchawaythatweandthose
substancesarenevernecessitated,sincethecontraryofthatwhichhappensalways
remainspossibleorimpliesnocontradiction.(Gr480f.)

ThereferencetoGodshouldnotbetakenassuggestingthatGodhassubconsciousmotives,for
Leibniz'sGodperceiveseverythingdistinctly.ButLeibnizdidsaythat"Godhadinfinitereasons
competingwitheachother,whichheconsideredwhenhejudgedthispossibleuniverseworthyto
bechosen";heoffereditasanexplanationofwhythetruthof"Thisseriesoftheuniverseisthe
best"cannotbeknownaprioribyus(Gr343).God'sreasons,likeours,inclinebutdonot
necessitate,becausetheyareinvolvedinaconflictofsuchinfinitecomplexitythattheresulting
volitioncannotbedemonstrated(inthestrictsense)fromthem.

35
LeibnizhimselfseemsstrangelytogetthispointwronginalettertoJaquelotof1704,wherehe
explicitlylinksthenotionofincliningwiththingsbeingtoocomplexforustounderstandthem.He
saysthat"futurethingsarecontainedinthesoulevenlessthaninGod,becausetheyareinthesoul
distinctlyonlyinanincliningandconfusedway,andnotexplicitlyandperfectlyasintheDivine
ideas"(GIII,472).Thislinkageofthemesisrevealing,butLeibnizhastheshoeonthewrongfoot
inthistext(evenapartfromthepuzzlingsuggestionofaconfusedwayofbeinginthesoul
distinctly).ForhethinksthatGod,too,isonlyinclined,notnecessitated,byreasons(T230),
althoughGod'sperceptionsareinnowayconfused.Whatisessentialtoinclination,therefore,is
notconfusion,buttheinfinityoffactorsthatinourfinitemindsgivesrisetoconfusion.

2.5Is'GodChoosesWhatIsBest'Contingent?

Thecontingencyof'Godchoosesthisworld'couldbeexplainedanddefendedbyholdingeither
that'Godchooseswhatisbest'iscontingentorthat'Thisworldisthebest'iscontingent.Wehave
seenthatLeibnizprefersthelatteralternative,butheexplicitlyrejectstheotherinonlyoneofthe
textsweexamined.Moreoftenheleavesopenthepossibilityofholdingthatbotharecontingent.
ThereseemstohavebeenmorevacillationanduncertaintyinLeibniz'smindaboutwhetheritis
necessaryorcontingentthatGodchooseswhatisbestthanaboutanyothermainissueinthe
problemofcontingency.Ishallargue,however,thattheviewthatitisnecessaryisrequiredby
otherfeaturesofLeibniz'sphilosophy.

ManypassagesinwhichLeibnizappearstoaddressthisissueyieldnosolidevidenceonit,inview
ofsomeofthesubtletiesthatwehavealreadyseeninhisposition.Whenhesays,forexample,
"God'sdecisionsaboutcontingentscertainlyarenotnecessary"(Gr385),theclaimcanbetakende
rewithrespecttothecontingents:foranycontingent,whatGoddecidesaboutitisnotnecessary
(becauseittakesaninfiniteanalysistodeterminewhatisbest).Itmaynotbeimplied,therefore,
thatitisnotnecessarythatGoddecidestoordercontingentthingsaswellaspossible.Similarly,
whenLeibnizsaysthat"Godwasinfalliblyledbyhiswisdomandgoodness...togive[theworld]
thebestformpossible;buthewasnotledtoitnecessarily"(Tk14),theexpression"toit"[French
y]doesnotmakeclearwhetherthedenialofnecessityappliesderetothatformwhichisinfactthe
bestpossiblefortheworld,orwhetheritappliesdedictotoGod'sgivingtheworldwhateverform
isbest.WehavetobearinmindLeibniz'ssayingthat"itisanecessaryproposition"thatGodwills
thebest,butthatGoddoesnotwillit"necessarily,"becausewhatisbestisnotnecessarilyso(
Gr493f.).

Ontheotherhand,ourpresentquestionremainsequallyunansweredwhenLeibnizsays,asheoften
does,suchthingsas"Godcannotfailtochoosethebest,"forLeibnizhasdistinguishedseveralsorts
ofinabilityandnecessity.Hemaymeanonlyamoralnecessity(ashesaysinsuchacontextatT
aVIII),whereasweareinterestedinlogicalormetaphysicalnecessity.

AndwhenLeibnizsaysthat"Godwillsthebestbyhisownnature"(Gr289),orthatthereason
forGod'seternalfreeactionis"thedivinenatureorperfectionitself"(C405),hesaysnothingmore
thanisimpliedbyhisanalytictheoryoftruth.WhatwewanttoknowiswhetherGod'svoluntary
optimizingis

36
demonstrablethatis,whetheritfollowsbyafiniteoronlybyaninfiniteanalysisfromthedivine
nature.Infact,inboththetextsIhavejustquotedonthispoint,itisstatedorsuggestedthatitis
notdemonstrable(Gr288,C405).

Firstofall,therefore,wemustseektextsinwhichnecessityisassertedordenied,dedicto,ofsome
suchpropositionas'Godchooseswhatisbest',andinwhichthenecessityisexplicitlyor
contextuallyindicatedaslogicalormetaphysical,orisstatedorexplainedintermsof
demonstrability.Thereareseveralsuchtexts,andtheyspeakonbothsidesofthequestion.

Themostexplicittextsfortheindemonstrabilityandhencethecontingencyofthecrucial
propositionsdateprobablyfromtheearly1680s,whenLeibnizwasactivelyengagedinformative
workonavarietyofsolutionstotheproblemofcontingency.Inonehedeniesflatlythatthe
proposition'Godchoosesthebest,'or'Godwillsthebest,'canbedemonstrated(Gr301).52A
contrastisintroducedinasimilardenial:"Thus,thatGodloveshimselfisnecessary,foritis
demonstrablefromthedefinitionofGod.ButthatGoddoeswhatismostperfectcannotbe
demonstrated,forthecontrarydoesnotimplyacontradiction"(Gr288).53

Thecontrastrecursinsomelatertexts.Intheearly1690sLeibniznotedwithapprovalThomas
Aquinas'sopinionthat"God'sattitudetowardhimselfisnecessaryandnatural,buthisattitude
towardotherthingsisnotnecessary,norforced,butvoluntary"(Gr333).54AndintheTheodicyhe
says,"ThelovethatGodhasforhimselfisessentialtohim;buttheloveofhisglory,orthewillto
obtainit,isnotessentialtohimatall"(T233;cf.T175,230).(HereGod'sgloryisconceivedasan
externalattribute,"thereflectionofthedivineperfectionincreatedbeings."55)

Thecontingencyof'Godchooseswhatisbest'seemsmorefavoredintheTheodicythaninthe
privatepapersLeibnizwrotewhilepreparingthebook.Inadditiontothepassagejustcited,thereis
alistofthingssaidtobenecessary"inacertainsense,"butnot"logically,geometrically,or
metaphysically";amongthemisthat"Godhimselfchoosesthebest"(T282;itwouldnotbe
plausibletoreadthisdenialoflogicalnecessityasderewithrespecttothebest).IftheTheodicy
wereouronlysourceforLeibniz'sopinions,Ithinkwewouldfindnothingincompatiblewiththe
impressionthatLeibnizthinksitcontingent,dedicto,thatGodchooseswhatisbest.Thegeneral
tenorofthebookwouldleaveuswiththatimpression,althoughmostpassagesinitcanbe
interpretedotherwiseinlightofLeibniz'sotherworks.

____________________
52
Leibnizmuddiedthewatersalittlebyadding"oridentical"totheclaimthatthefirstoftheseis"a
firstproposition";butthecontextmakesclearthatwhathereallywantedtosayisthatitislikean
identicalpropositioninbeingatruthbutindemonstrable.Inanotherrelevanttextfrommoreorless
thesameperiodLeibnizsaysthat"inacertainwayitisofphysicalnecessity[heredistinguished
frommetaphysicalnecessity]thatGoddoesallthingsaswellashecan"(C21/MP101).
53
Thispaper(quotedinsection1.2)isalsoanimportantsourcefortheviewthatnonactualthings
remainpossibleintheirownnatureseveniftheyarenotpossibleinrespecttothedivinewill.It
mightbequibbledwhetherinthequotedpassagedemonstrabilityisdeniedonlydere,withrespect
tothatwhichismostperfect,butIthinkthatwouldbeanunnaturalreadingofthetext.
54
Thesamesetofnotes,however,expressestheviewthatitisdemonstrablethatGodcannotdo
evils,whichIwilldiscusslaterinthischapter.ThereferencetoAquinasisgivenasSummacontra
gentiles,1,82ff.;thecorrectcitationwouldbe1,80ff.
55
Grua,Jurisprudence,p.307.
37

Section13oftheDiscourseonMetaphysicsgivesasimilarimpression.Probablythemost
importantutterancebearingontheissuethereisthementionof"thefirstfreedecisionofGod,the
importofwhichistodoalwaysthatwhichismostperfect."Forifthisdecisionisfreeandfreedom
impliescontingency,itwillfollowthat'Goddecidestodowhatisbest'iscontingent.

Thestrongesttextsontheothersidearethosealreadydiscussedinsection2.1ofthischapter,56in
whichLeibnizpointedlyrefrainsfromdenying,andin1706affirms,that'Godchoosesthebest'is
necessaryinthesenseofbeingdemonstrable.Thosetextsdatefromabout1689to1706;butthere
isanote,probablyfromtheearly1680s,inwhichLeibnizsays,"FromGod'sessenceorsupreme
perfectionitfollows,certainlyand,sotospeak,byanecessaryimplication,thatGodchoosesthe
best"(Gr297).HegoesontoexplainGod'sfreedomintermsofthepluralityofalternatives
possibleintheirownnature.Thephrase"byanecessaryimplication"isimportanthere.When
Leibnizwrotein1698that"itfollowsfromthenatureofGodthatheprefersthemostperfect"(
Gr393),heleftsomeambiguity.Forhealsosaidthatalltruths,evencontingentones,followfrom
God,whoisthehighesttruth(Gr347).MightGod'spreferenceforperfectionfollowfromthe
divinenaturebyaninfiniteratherthanafiniteanalysis,andthereforecontingently?Butwhat
followsfromGod'sessence"byanecessaryimplication"mustbenecessarythoughthe
qualification"sotospeak"or"ifyouwill"[siitaloquiplacet]stillleavesalittleuncertainty.

Inreadingnotesfromthe1690sLeibnizheldthat"theinabilitytodoevilscanbedemonstratedof
God"(G333)and"rigorously,itcanbesaidthatthegoodAngelscansin,andthatdoesnotimplya
contradiction,butinGoditdoesimplyone"(Gr360).Leibnizheldmoreconsistentlytothisthesis
thantothemoregeneralclaimthatitisdemonstrablethatGodchoosesthebest.Eveninoneofthe
papersfromtheearly1680sinwhichhesaysflatlythat'Godchoosesthebest'isnotdemonstrable,
LeibnizsaysthatdamningtheinnocenteternallyisnotpossibleforGodandisthereforeoneof
thosethings"whose...existenceimpliesacontradiction"(Gr300).

TheonlytextagainstthisofwhichIamawareisintheTheodicy:"Howeveritdoesnotimplya
contradictionforGodtowill(directlyorpermissively)athingthatdoesnotimplyacontradiction"
(T234).Nothingissaidhereexplicitlyaboutwhetheritiscontingent,dedicto,thatGoddoesno
evilorthatGodchoosesthebest.Forthepossibilitythatisassertedisprettyclearlyderewith
respecttotheobjectsofGod'schoice:itisclaimedabouteverything,thatifitispossibleinitself,
consideredwithoutregardtoitsrelationtoGod'swill(cf.T235),thenitisalsopossibleforGodto
willtoactualizeit.ButsinceLeibnizthoughttheeternaldamnationoftheinnocentispossiblein
itself(Gr300),itdoesseemtofollowthatitispossibleforGodtodamntheinnocenteternally
whichisnotfarremovedfromtheconclusionthatitispossibleforGodtodoevil.

Ingeneral,however,LeibnizseemsinclinedtotheviewthatitisdemonstrablethatGoddoesno
evil,whetherornotitisdemonstrablethatGodchoosesthe
____________________
56
1nanothertext,from1677,Leibnizwrotethat"Godnecessarilyandyetfreelychoosesthemost
perfect"(VE305=LHIV,4,3C,1214);butthisseemsnottobeintheframeworkoftheinfinite
analysisconceptionofcontingency.
38

best.Indeed,evenhis1706readingnoteonBayleinwhichhesaysthat"Godwillstheworkthatis
mostworthyofhim"isanecessarypropositionendswithahintthatGod"cannotdoorwillmoral
evil"insomesensestrongerthanthatinwhichGodcannotfailtocreatethebestpossibleworld(
Gr494).

ButifLeibnizholdsthatitisdemonstrablethatGoddoesnoevil,howcanheavoidtheconclusion
thatitisdemonstrablethatGoddoesnotpreferthelessperfect?"Forasalesserevilisakindof
good,bythesametokenalessergoodisakindofevil,ifitformsanobstacletoagreatergood"(
T8).Andinmaintainingtheaxiom,Minusbonumhabetrationemmali(Alessergoodhasthe
characterofanevil](T194,DM3,GIII,33),Leibnizdoesnotsuggestthatitiscontingent.Sohe
seemscommittedtoholdingthatpreferringthelessperfectwouldnecessarilybedoingsomething
evil.

Godismorethansinless.That"Godisanabsolutelyperfectbeing,"morallyaswellas
metaphysically,isvirtuallyadefinitionforLeibniz(DM1),andsofarasIknowheneversuggests
thatitiscontingent.Ifitisnottruebydefinition,oratleastdemonstrable,howishesoconfident
thatitistrueatall?Surelyhedoesnotknowitbyexperience.Andhedeniesthatitisknownonly
byfaith(Tpd44).BothRescherandCurleyseemtometoerrinsayingthatLeibnizwouldsolve
theproblemofcontingencybyholdingthatGod'sgoodnessiscontingent.57

ButthatisnottheonlywayinwhichhecoulddenythatitisnecessarythatGoddoeswhatisbest,
forthebeliefthatGoddoeswhatisbestisbasedontwopremises:thatGodis"amostperfect
Being,"andthat"theoperationofamostperfectBeingismostperfect"(Gr16).Once,probablyin
theearly1680s,Leibnizdidsaythatthesecondoftheseiscontingent:"God'schoosingaless
perfectfromamongmanyperfectthingsdoesnotimplyanimperfectioninGod"(Gr300).Iagree
withthisstatement,58butfinditastonishinglyunLeibniziananddonotthinkitfitsintohis
philosophicalsystem.

Oneobjectiontoincludingitinthesystemisinconclusive.Leibnizsaysitismorallynecessaryfor
Godtochoosethebest.ThismeansthatitisnecessarythataperfectlygoodagentinGod'sposition
wouldchoosethebest(seesection1.5ofthischapter).ItfollowsthatitisnecessarythatifGod
choosesthelessperfect,Godisimperfect(cf.GIII,33).Butthecrucialquestionhereishowstrong
thisnecessityis.Isthemorallynecessaryonlywhatitisdemonstrablethataperfectlygoodagent
woulddo?Orisitenoughformoralnecessityiftheactioniscontainedintheconceptofaperfectly
goodagent,eventhoughaninfiniteanalysiswouldbeneededtoshowthereasonofthe
containment?TheweakerrequirementseemstometobetheoneassumedinLeibniz'smature
writings:heappearstoregardGod'schoiceofthisworldasmorallynecessary(cf.Tpd2),butitis
notdemonstrablethataperfectlygoodagentwouldchoosethisworld,sinceitisnotdemonstrable
thatitisthebest.

Otherarguments,however,showthatLeibnizcannotconsistentlyholdthatitiscontingentthata
supremelyperfectbeingwouldchoosethemoreperfect.Forsupposethatiscontingent.Theneither
itmustbecontingentthatasupremelyperfectbeingisperfectlygood,wise,andjust,orelseitmust
becontingentthat

____________________
57
Rescher,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.45;Curley,"RootofContingency,"p.95.
58
R.Adams,"MustGodCreatetheBest?"
39

aperfectlygood,wise,andjustbeingwouldchoosethemoreperfect.Neitheroftheseiscontingent
forLeibniz,forthefollowingreasons.

Leibnizregardsjusticeas"anessentialattributeofGod"(DutensIV,iii,280,wherethisisnot
asserted,butcontextuallyimplied).AndsinceGod'sjustice,forLeibniz,"dependsonwisdomand
goodness"(DutensIV,iii,261;cf.GIII,34),thelatterperfectionsmustpresumablyberegardedas
essentialtoGod,too.

Leibnizwouldhavetoadmitthatitcanbedemonstrated,fromacceptabledefinitionsofthese
perfections,thattheyimplyapreferenceforthebest.

Theendofgoodnessisthegreatestgood,butinordertorecognizeit,wisdomis
needed,whichisnothingotherthanknowledgeofthegood,asgoodnessisnothing
otherthantheinclinationtodogoodtoall,andtopreventevilunlessitisnecessaryfor
agreatergoodortopreventagreaterevil.59

ThusLeibnizseemsunabletoescapetheconclusionthatitisdemonstrable,andhencelogically
necessary,thatGod,asanabsolutelyperfectbeing,doeswhatisbest.

TheconflictinLeibniz'sthoughtisreflectedindivergentpronouncementsabout"therootof
contingency."Inthemid1680shesetout,somewhattentatively,theideathatindealingwith
problemsofcontingencywemust"haverecoursetothatonethingwhichisnotessentialinGod,
butfreenamely,thedecisionofthewill,fromwhichaloneasourceofcontingencyinthingscan
besought"(Gr311).Thisisnotunambiguous,butseemstoagreewithRescher'sjudgmentthatfor
Leibniz"theultimatesourceofcontingenttruthisclearly"inGod'schoosing"toactinthemost
perfectway,"ratherthaninthebestnessofthatwhichischosen.60ElsewhereLeibnizlocatesthe
rootofcontingencynotinthedivinewill,butintheobjectsamongwhichGodchooses.Intheearly
1680shewrote,"TherootoffreedominGodisthepossibilityorcontingencyofthings"bywhich
hemeansthepluralityofalternativespossibleinthemselves,asthecontextshows(Gr298).About
1696,likewise,hewrotenotesontheviews,ascribedtoScotusandAquinas,respectively,thatthe
rootofcontingencyisinthewillofGodasfreeandasefficacious.Leibnizcommentedthatthe
formerviewwascircular.Astothelatter,"contingencyisinthenatureitselfoftruth,orofthe
object,asofpossibility,asofexistence"(Gr348;cf.Gr353).HereperhapswhatLeibnizhasin
mindisthatcontingenttruthscannotbeprovedbyafiniteanalysis.

ThecirclewithwhichLeibnizchargedScotushastodo,presumably,withseekingtheultimate
reasonforallcontingentfactsinadivinedecisionwhichisitselfoneofthecontingentfactstobe
explained.OftenLeibnizseesaninfiniteregressinplaceofthiscircle,andalmostalwayshe
condemnsitasvicious.Thereisonetextfromtheearly1680s,however,inwhichheacceptsthe
infiniteregress;andthisacceptanceassumesgreatimportancefortheinterpretationsofRescher
andCurley.

____________________
59
QuotedbyGrua,Jurisprudence,pp.212f.,fromMittheilungenausLeibnizensungedruckten
Schriften,ed.byG.Mollat(Leipzig:1883),p.48.Gruasaysthetextisfrom17011705.Onthis
subjectseeingeneralGrua,Jurisprudence,pp.198222.
60
Rescher,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.39.
40

ThefirstprincipleaboutExistencesisthisproposition:Godwillstochoosethemost
perfect.Thispropositioncannotbedemonstrated;itisthefirstofallpropositionsof
fact,ortheoriginofeverycontingentexistence....ForifanyoneasksmewhyGod
decidedtocreateAdam,Isay:becausehedecidedtodowhatismostperfect.Ifyouask
menowwhyhedecidedtodowhatismostperfect,...Ianswerthathewilleditfreely,
orbecausehewilledto.Thereforehewilledbecausehewilledtowill,andsoonto
infinity.(Gr301f.)

Curleysaysthatthistextpresents"theonlyoneofthevariouswaysinwhichLeibnizinvokes
infiniteprocesseswhichseems...tohaveanybearingontheproblemofcontingency."61Rescher
doesnotcitethispassage,butdoespropose,asLeibniz'smainsolutiontotheproblemof
contingency,that"God'smoralperfectionfollowsfromHismetaphysicalperfection,butdeduction
wouldrequireaninfinityofsteps."62Somethingofthissortisrequired,ofcourse,ifthesupposed
contingencyof'Godchooseswhatisbest'istobereconciledwithLeibniz'sconceptualcontainment
theoryoftruthandinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingency.

Rescher'sformulationdeftlyavoidstheobviousobjectionthattheinfiniteregressofreasons
violatestheprincipleofsufficientreason.Leibniz'suseoftheprincipleinprovingtheexistenceof
Godrequireshimtorefusetoacceptaninfiniteregressofreasonsasitselfconstitutingasufficient
reason.Furthermore,Leibnizhadsaid,"itisabsurd[tosuppose]thatafreewillisanultimate
reason,sincethefreewillitselfhasitsrequirements[requisital,foritisnotanindependentBeing
[Ensase]"(AVI,iii,120).63Asufficientreasonmustbefoundinsomethingofmetaphysical
necessity;theultimatereasonfortheexistenceofallthingsistobefoundinthedivineessenceand
intellect.Rescherrecognizesandacceptsthis.Inhisinterpretationtheultimatesufficientreasonis
foundinGod'smetaphysicalperfection;ifthereisaninfiniteregressofvolitions,ithasareason
outsideitselfinGod'snature.Butinconformitywiththeinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingency,
thisreasoncannotbeprovedbyafiniteanalysis.

Inthepaperinwhichheacceptstheregress,however,LeibnizwasnotasdeftasRescher,forhe
refusedtogroundtheinfiniteregressofvolitionsinGod'sessence."Nootherreasoncanbegiven
whyGodchoosesthemostperfectthanbecausehewillsto....Andcertainlyhewillsfreely,
becauseoutsidehiswillnootherreasoncanbegiventhanthewill."Hegoesontoclaimthat
"nothingisthereforegivenwithoutareason,butthatreasonisintrinsictothewill"(Gr301).The
infiniteregressofreasonshedescribescertainlydoesnotsatisfyhisprincipleofsufficientreason.
Itisnoteworthy,moreover,thatthisratherearlypapercontainsnoexplicitappealtotheinfinite
analysistheoryofcontingency.IknowofnoworkinwhichLeibnizdevelopstheinfiniteregressof
volitionsintothesortofsolutionthatRescherproposesforhim.

____________________
61
Curley,"RootofContingency,"p.96.
62
Rescher,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.45.
63
ThisisaresponsetooneofSteno'scommentsinthemanuscriptofThePhilosopher'sConfession,
andthereforecomesprobablyfromabouttheendof1677,asexplainedinnote14.OnLeibniz's
useofrequisita[requirements]asatermfornecessaryconditions,seeChapter4,section1.
41

Thistext,asGruasays(Gr259),isexceptional.ItisthesameshortpaperinwhichLeibnizdenied
thatchoosingthelessperfectwouldimplyanimperfectioninGod.Theinfiniteregressofvolitions,
andthewholeideaofwillingtowill,wereexplicitlyrejectedbyLeibnizataboutthesametime,as
wellasbothearlierandlater.Inanotherpaperprobablyfromtheearly1680shewrote,"Indeed
Godcannotwillvoluntarily;otherwisetherewouldbeawilltowill[andsoon]toinfinity"(
Gr289).InthelettertoWedderkopfandinThePhilosopher'sConfessionhehaddenied,with
explicitreferencetoGod,thatanyonewillswhattowill(AII,i,117/L147)orwillsbecausehewills
(AVI,iii,124).IntheNewEssaysLeibnizsays,"Wedonotwilltowill,butwewilltodo;andifwe
willedtowill,wewouldwilltowilltowill,andthatwouldgotoinfinity"(NE182).Herenothingis
saidexplicitlyaboutGod.ThereisanexplicitreferencetoGodintheTheodicy,however:"Itis,in
asense,anabuseoftermstosayhere:onecanwill,onewillstowill;powerisrelatedheretothe
actionsthatonewills"(T234).Thereare,itmustbegranted,twotextsthatsupporttheideathat
divinedecisions,consideredaspossible,arepartoftheobjectofotherdivinedecisions(C24),or
morevaguely,that"Godexecutesallreflexactsatonceandonceforall"(Gr345).Indeed,Leibniz
thoughtofpossibledivinedecisionsasinvolvedintheconceptsofpossiblecreaturesamongwhich
Godchooses,butinthesetextsitisnotstatedorsuggestedthatGod'sgeneraldecisiontodowhatis
bestistheobjectofapriordecision,northattheregressofdecisionsprovidesthereasonforthe
decisiontoact.Atanyrate,theinfiniteregressofvolitionsisclearlynotakeystoneofLeibniz's
positiononcontingency.Onthisandothergroundsthatwehavereviewed,itisfairtosaythatthe
viewthat'Godchooseswhatisbest'iscontingentmustnotberegardedasathesisofLeibniz's
philosophy,muchlessasabasisofoneofhisprincipalsolutionstotheproblemofcontingency.
2.6AnExceptionforExistence?
WearenowinapositiontodealwiththequestionwhetherLeibnizmeanttosolvetheproblemof
contingencybymakingexistenceanexceptiontotherulethatthepredicateofatrueproposition
mustbecontainedintheconceptofthesubject.Thereareseveralcompellingargumentsfora
negativeanswer.
1.
Leibnizsayssomethingthatlooksverymuchlikeanexplicitnegativeanswer,intheNewEssays:

Butwhenonesaysthatathingexists,orthatithasrealexistence,thisexistenceitselfis
thepredicatethatistosay,ithasaconceptlinkedwiththeideathatisinquestion,and
thereisaconnectionbetweenthesetwoconcepts.(NE358)64

2.
InmanyformulationsofhisconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruthLeibnizsaysexplicitlythatthe
conceptofthepredicateiscontainedintheconceptofthesubjectincontingentaswellasnecessary
truths(FC179/L263f.;LA
____________________
64
IamindebtedtoW.E.Abraham,"CompleteConcepts,"p.278,forcallingthisreferencetomy
attention.
42

56;C16/MP96;C519/L267f.;C272;GVII,199f.;Gr303/AG28).Inviewofthesestatements,it
seemsperversetosupposethatLeibnizmeanttoexplainthepossibilityofcontingencybymaking
anexceptiontothetheoryforthosepropositionsthatheregardedascontingent.
3.
Leibnizmadeanumberofattemptstoexplainhowexistenceiscontainedintheconceptsofthose
thingsthatexist.Theseattemptstypicallyinvolvesomeorallofthefollowingclaims.The
predicateofexistenceisinsomewayequivalentto"enteringintothemostperfectseriesofthings"
(C9)ortopleasingGod(C405).65Theanalysisofconceptswouldhavetobecarriedtoinfinity,
however,toprovetheexistenceofanycontingentthing(GI74;cf.Gr304f./AG29).The
underlyingidea,ofcourse,isthatexistenceiscontainedintheconceptsofexistingthings,not
directly,butbyvirtueofthefactorsthatdetermineGodtocreatethosethings.
4.
AsCouturatpointedout,"existentialpropositionsarenottheonlycontingentpropositions"for
Leibniz.66Couturatchoseanunfortunateexample:lawsofnature,whichareindeedcontingent,
butarealsoexistentialaccordingtoLeibniz,asCurleyhaspointedout.67Insections2.1and2.3of
thischapter,however,wehaveseenbetterexamplesofcontingentpropositionswhosetruth,
accordingtoLeibniz,doesnotdependonwhatexistsnamely,thepropositionsassertingthe
bestnessofthispossibleworld68andthecontingentconnectionswithinpossibleworlds.
5.
TheversionoftheproblemofcontingencythattroubledLeibnizmostpersistentlythroughouthis
lifedoesnotdependonhisconceptionofthenatureoftruth,anditcannotbesolvedbymakingthe
predicateofexistenceanexceptiontothatconception.Fortheproblemisthattheexistenceofall
actualthingsseemstofollownotjustfromtheirownconcepts,butfromtheconceptofGod,whose
existenceLeibnizalwaysregardedasabsolutelynecessary.Theprincipleofcharityfavorsan
interpretationaccordingtowhichaproblemsoimportantforLeibnizisaddressedbyhistheoriesof
contingency.

SomeofLeibniz'stextsmayseemtospeakontheothersideofthequestion,butIamnot
persuadedthattheyseriouslyunderminemyinterpretation.Oneisapassageneartheendofapaper
commonlyknownas"NecessaryandContingentTruths,"whereLeibnizsaysthat"thepossibility
orConceptofacreatedminddoesnotinvolveexistence"(C23/MP104).Thisstatement,however,
seemsflatlyinconsistentwithwhatheassertsatthebeginningofthesamepaperabout

____________________
65
FortheformerequivalenceseealsoGr325;B119f.;C405,360,376/P51,65f.;forthelatterseealso
GI73;onbothseeChapter6,section2.
66
Couturat,"OnLeibniz'sMetaphysics,"p.28.
67
Curley,"RootofContingency,"p.91.
68
Objectingtotherelevanceofthisevidence,Castaedaarguesthat"Leibnizmayhavehadbotha
coherentandexcitingmetaphysicaltheoryofcontingency,andaproblematictheologicalextension
ofit"(Castaeda,"Leibniz'sViewofContingentTruthintheLate1680's,"p.270).Butthe
contingencyofwhichworldisbestseemstobeastraightforwardconsequenceofLeibniz'sinfinite
analysistheoryofcontingency,ratherthanaproblematicextensionofit.Itdoesnothavethe
characteristicsoftheclearlyproblematictheologicalextensionsofhismetaphysicsthathewas
willingtoentertaininhislastyears(seeChapter10,section5.4);hedoesnotcharacterizeitas
"abovereason"orasinaccessibletohisusualphilosophicalapproaches.Leibnizcertainlydidnot
regardthetheologicalingeneralasproblematic,andhismetaphysicsispervasivelytheological.
43

existences,insayingthat"alltheknowledgeofpropositionsthatisinGod,whetheritbeofsimple
understanding,abouttheEssencesofthings,orofvisionabouttheexistencesofthings,ormiddle
knowledgeaboutconditionedexistences,69resultsimmediatelyfromtheperfectunderstandingof
eachtermthatcanbethesubjectorpredicateofanyproposition"(C17/MP96).Thebestconsistent
readingofthepaper,Ithink,isoneonwhichthecompleteconceptofanyexistentthingdoes
involveitsexistence,and"thepossibilityorConceptofacreatedmind"that"doesnotinvolve
existence"isunderstoodinanarrowsense,asdiscussedearlierinsection1.2.Thisreadingis
suggestedbythetheologicalcontextoftheproblematicstatement,whichisimmediatelypreceded
bythestatementthatGod"firstconsidersaMindaspossible,beforehedecidesthatitought
actuallytoexist"(C23/MP104).Thepossibility(orconcept)ofacreatedmindishereconsidered
asanalternativeforGod'schoice,andthereforeinabstractionfromthoseotherfactorsinGodthat
determineGod'schoiceamongthingsthatare"possibleinthemselves."Anditisbyvirtueofthose
factorsinGodthattheexistenceofanexistentcreaturefollowsfromitsconceptinthewider
sensethatis,fromitscompleteconcept.

Thispaperon"NecessaryandContingentTruths"containsimportantdevelopmentsoftheinfinite
analysistheoryofcontingency.Itisundated,anditswatermarkhasnotyetbeenconnectedwith
anyparticulardates(seeVE455).Butlikethepartsof"GeneralInquiries"devotedtothetheory(
GI6075,13037;dated1686),itseemstometohaveanexperimentalqualitynotpresentin
statementsofthetheoryfrom1689(FC17985/L26466,Gr303f./AG28f.).Onesignofits
experimentalcharacteristheintriguingpassageinwhichLeibnizsaysthat"Freeorintelligent
Substances"havetheprivilege"thattheyarenotboundtoanycertainsubordinateLawsofthe
universe,butactspontaneouslyfromtheirownpoweralone,asifbyasortofprivatemiracle,and
bylookingtosomefinalcausetheyinterrupttheconnectionandcourseofefficientcauses
operatingontheirwill"(C20/MP100).Underlyingthisstatementisthethoughtthatfreechoices
cannotbepredictedbyanylawsofnaturethatcanbeunderstoodbyafinitemind.Thisthoughtcan
besupportedbyreflectionsoninfiniteanalysis,andconnectswiththingsLeibnizsaysabout
miracleinDM16.Butspeakingoffreechoicesasroutinelyinterruptingtheconnectionofefficient
causesseemsquitecontrarytoLeibniz'susualviewsaboutthepreestablishedharmony,inwhich
finalcausesdonotdisturbtheorderofefficientcauses.AsearlyasJuly1686hewritestoArnauld
abouttheagreementofmindandbody,"eachonefollowingitslaws,andtheoneactingfreely,the
otherwithoutchoice,"andcontraststhiswiththechangesin"thelawsofbodies"andin"the
regularcourseofthoughtsofthesoul"thatareinvolvedintheoccasionalisthypothesis(LA57f.;cf.
LA74f.,93f.;E127f./L457f.;and,muchlater,G111,657).Ithereforethinkthat"Necessaryand
ContingentTruths"waswritteninafairlyearlyperiodof

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69
'Middleknowledge'signifiesGod'sknowledgeofcounterfactualconditionaltruths.Thetermwas
originatedbythesixteenthcenturyJesuittheologianLuisdeMolina,whosehighlycontroversial
theoryonthesubject,however,isinconsistentwiththeimplicationsofwhatLeibnizassertshere.
Cf.R.Adams,"MiddleKnowledgeandtheProblemofEvil."
44

thedevelopmentoftheinfiniteanalysistheory,notlaterthanJuly1686andperhapsconsiderably
earlier.70

Itcontainsapassage(C18/MP98)inwhichLeibniztreats'essential'and'existential'asequivalent,
respectively,to'necessary'and'contingent'.Itisnottheonlytextinwhichhedoesthis,soitis
possiblethatthesetextsrepresentavarietyofviews.Butwemustbecautiousaboutdrawing
metaphysicalimplicationsfromthisratherconventionalusage.71Twotextsmaybecitedas
evidencethat,inspeakingthisway,Leibnizdid'notnecessarilymeantoimplythatallcontingent
truthsdependonwhichfinitethingsactuallyexist.(Hedidofcoursethinkthatnonecessarytruths
dependontheexistenceofanybeingexceptGod.)

"Necessary[truths]areofEssences,contingent[truths]ofExistences"(Gr354),wroteLeibniz,
probablyinthemid1690s,withoutofferinganyexplanationofaspecialsenseof'essence'or
'existence'.72Butthisisinthesamesetofreadingnotesinwhichhestatesflatly,"Therearesome
indemonstrabletruthseveninpossiblethingsnamelyaboutcontingentthingsregardedas
possible"(Gr353).Iftheseindemonstrable,andhencecontingent,truthsare"of"existences,they
mustpresumablybe"of"merelypossibleexistencesassuch.
Fromthemid1680scomesevenclearerevidenceonthispoint,inatextinwhich"essential"is
equatedwith"necessary"and"existential"with"contingent"(Gr311).Herethesetermsareusedto
assertthat"notonlyessentialornecessary[truths]...butalsoexistential,sotospeak,or
contingent[truths]arecontainedinthiscompleteconceptofPeter[as]possible."Andsince"this
completeconcept"referstoonethatLeibnizhassaidGodunderstoodperfectly"evenbeforehe
decidedthatthisPeterwhoafterwardsdeniedoughttoexist,"the"existential"truthsmentioned
herecannotbeunderstoodasdependingontheactualexistenceofthecreaturestheyareabouta
pointperhapspartlyacknowledgedbythequalifier,'sotospeak[utitadicam]"attachedtotheterm
"existential"here.Correspondingtothisbroadsenseof'existential'isanarrowsenseof'essential',
andpresumablyalsoofessence'(cf.section2.3ofthischapter).Foronlyaportionofthetruths
containedinthecompleteconceptofPeteraresaidheretobe"essential."Incasethenarrowsense
of'essential'wasnotclearenoughfromthecontext,Leibnizaddedaqualifyingclausetooneofthe
statementsIhavequotedfromthistext:essentialtruthsare'those,namely,thatflowfrom
incompleteorspecificconcepts,andthereforearedemonstratedfromthe

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70
HeinrichSchepersproposed1678asitsapproximatedateinhispaper,"ZumProblemder
KontingenzbelLeibniz,"pp.344,350n;1686isfavoredbybothG.H.R.Parkinson(MP96)and
RobertSleigh("TruthandSufficientReasoninthePhilosophyofLeibniz,"p.210).Massimo
Mugnaiconsiders168486tobetheprobableperiodofcomposition("'Necessit0exhypothesi'e
analisiinfinitainLeibniz,"p.153).
71
Thedistinctionbetweenexistentialandessentialpropositionsplaysacentralroleinthe
interpretationofferedinBensonMates,PhilosophyofLeibniz.IhaverespondedtoMates
argumentsinareviewofhisbookinMind97(1988):299302.Thedistinctionisconcerned,inthe
firstinstance,withactualexistenceasenteringornotenteringintothetruthconditionsfor
categoricalpropositions,andIcannotseethatLeibnlzusedittoframeatheoryofcontingency,
thoughitdoesoccurinhiswritings.(Seenote46above.)
72
Asregards'essential',cf.Gr373,probablyofthesameperiodandsimilarlywithoutexplanation.
45

terms,insuchawaythatthecontraryimpliesacontradiction"(Gr311).Theimplicationisclear
thatnoteverytruthflowingfromanindividual'scompleteconceptisnecessary,or"essential"inthe
relevantsense.

AllinterpretersagreethatLeibnizalwaysbelievedthereisatleastonenecessaryexistentialtruth:
thatGodexists.Buthedoesnotnormallymentionthisasanexceptionwhenequatingexistential
withcontingentpropositions.73Thereis,Ithink,noreasontotakethese(usuallyrathercasual)
identificationsmorestrictlyintheotherdirectionasexcludingcontingentpropositionsthatarenot
existentialintheusualsensegiventhatLeibnizsaystherearesuchpropositions,aswehaveseen,
andthathismostfullydevelopedtheoryofcontingencyimpliesthereare.
3.LeibnizandPossibleWorldsSemantics

Ithasbeendiscoveredthatbybeginningwiththeideathatthepossibleiswhatistrueinsome
possibleworldandthenecessaryiswhatistrueinallpossibleworlds,andvaryingourassumptions
abouttherelationsofpossibleworldstoeachother,wecanobtainmodelsthatvalidatedifferent
systemsofmodallogic.Thisdiscoveryhasgivenbirthtopossibleworldssemanticsthe
interpretationofmodalnotionsintermsoftruthandfalsityin(orat)possibleworlds.Ithasshedso
muchlightonmodallogic,andhassoaffectedourinterestinthenotionofpossibleworlds,thatit
isespeciallynaturalforustoassumethatLeibnizalsoconceivedofnecessityastruthinallpossible
worldsandcontingencyastruthinsomebutnotallpossibleworlds.Itisnotatallclearthathedid,
however.

TheclosestIhaveseenhimcometoexpressingthisconceptionisinthepaperon"Necessaryand
ContingentTruths,"whichIhavearguedinsection2.6isnotlaterthan1686,wherehesaysthat
necessarytruths,"whichcanbedemonstratedbyanalysisofTerms...notonlywillobtainwhile
theWorldstands,butwouldstillhaveobtainedifGodhadcreatedtheWorldonadifferentplan
[aliaratione]"(C18/MP98).Thisissuggestive,butnotconclusive,foronanyreasonable
interpretationLeibnizregardsnoworldaspossibleinwhichsomethingdemonstrableisfalse(ifwe
overlooktheproblemaboutthedamnationoftheinnocentasdiscussedinsection2.2).Whatwe
wanttoknowiswhetherhethoughtthatallthetruthsthatdonotdependonwhichworldGod
createdarenecessary.In"NecessaryandContingentTruths"heatleastcomesclosetoholdingthat
theyare.Hesaysthatcontingenttruths,which"cannotbedemonstratedbyanyanalysis....not
onlyexpresswhatpertainstothepossibilityofthings,butalsowhatactuallyexists,orwouldexist
contingentlyoncertainconditions"74(C18/MP98).

____________________
73
Butcf.Gr386,whereanexplanationofthenecessityofeternaltruths,"becausethereitisnota
matterofexistence,butonlyofHypotheticalpropositions,"isimmediatelyfollowedbyjustthis
qualification:"Henceitmustbesaidthatnoabsolute[i.e.,unconditional]propositionisnecessary
exceptthatwhichfollowsfromthenatureofGod.CertainlynoBeingexistsbyitsownessenceor
necessarilyexceptGod."
74
InthiscontextLeibnizalsosaysthat"existentialorcontingent"truths"aretrueforacertaintime,"
andhegivesinterestingreasonsforthinkingitwouldtakeaninfiniteanalysistoestab
46

Eveninthesamepaper,however,Leibnizalsosayssomethinginconsistentwiththisview;thisis
onesignoftheexperimentalcharacterofthetext.Forthetextitselfexpressesthepointthatit
wouldtakeaninfinitecomparisonofpossibleworldstodeterminethereasonfortheexistenceof
theonethatisactual(C19/MP99).Fromthisonecaninfer,asLeibnizdidin1689(Gr305f./
AG30)thatitiscontingentthatthisisthebestofallpossibleworlds.Andthiswillbeacontingent
truthwhich"wouldstillhaveobtainedifGodhadcreatedtheWorldonadifferentplan."Ihave
arguedthatLeibniz'sinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingencyrequirestheretobesuchtruths.
ThefirststepindealingwiththisissueistodistinguishtwothingsLeibnizmaymeanby'possible
world'.Hemaymeanaworldwhoseconceptisnotdemonstrablyinconsistent,orhemaymeana
worldwhosebasicconcept(asIhaveputitinsection1.2)doesnotinvolve,demonstrablyor
otherwise,acontradictionorconceptualfalsehood.

ThefirstoftheseinterpretationsfitswithLeibniz'susualconceptionofnecessityintermsof
demonstrability,andindeedyieldsapossibleworldssemanticsforit.Giventheplausible
assumptionthatnotallconceptualtruthsaredemonstrable,theconceptualtruthanddemonstrability
conceptionsofnecessitydemanddifferentmodallogics.ThestrongsystemS5seemstobetheright
modallogicfortheconceptualtruthconceptionofnecessity.75ButthecharacteristicaxiomofS5,
'NpNNp'(ifnotnecessarilyp,thennecessarilynotnecessarilyp),isnotvalidonthe
demonstrabilityconceptionofnecessity.Forapropositionmaybeindemonstrablewithoutbeing
demonstrablyindemonstrable.(Inrejectingthisaxiom,itshouldbenoted,onerejectsthe
assumptionthatalltruthsaboutthepossibleassucharenecessary.)TheweakersystemS4seemsto
betherightsystemforthedemonstrabilityconceptionofnecessity.Itscharacteristicaxiom,
'NpNNp'(ifnecessarilyp,thennecessarilynecessarilyp),willbevalidunderthatconception,for
whatcanbedemonstratedcantherebybedemonstratedtobedemonstrable.

Bythesametoken,ifweassumethataworldw2ispossiblerelativetoaworldw1ifandonlyif
nothingistrueinw2whosefalsitycanbedemonstratedinw1,weobtaintheresultthatthe
relationofrelativepossibilityamongpossibleworldsisreflexiveandtransitivebutnot
symmetrical.Itisreflexive,ifwerestrictconsiderationtoworldsthatarepossible(thatis,possible
relativetotheactualworld),forLeibnizwillsurelyholdthat'Somethingistruewhichis
demonstrablyfalse'is(intheactualworld)demonstrablyfalse,butitmustbetrueinanyworldthat
isnotpossiblerelativetoitself.Thetransitivityoftherelationofrelativepossibilityisprovedas
follows.Supposeitisnottransitive.Thentheremustbeaworldw2whichispossiblerelativetoa
worldw1,andaworldw3whichispossiblerelativetow2butnottow1.Theremustbesome
propositionpwhichistrueinw3butwhosefalsitycanbedemonstratedinw1,thoughnotin

____________________
74
lishwhatisthestateofthingsatanygiventime.Butsurelynotallcontingentorexistentialtruths
havereferencetoaparticulartime.Forinstance,thetruththatthisworld,asawhole,isactual,does
not.Thefactthatnosuchexceptionisnotedinthistextisonemoresignofitsrough,experimental
character.
75
SeeR.Adams,"LogicalStructureofAnselm'sArguments,"pp.45f.,forabriefargumentonthis
point.
47

w2.Butthenthereisaproposition(thatpisnotdemonstrablyfalse)whichistrueinw2but
demonstrablyfalseinw1;itsfalsityisdemonstratedinw1bydemonstratingthefalsityofp.Sow
2isnotpossiblerelativetow1,contrarytothehypothesis,andtherelationofrelativepossibility
mustbetransitiveafterall.Itisnotsymmetrical,however.Forthereis,asLeibnizsupposes,atleast
onepropositionpwhichispossible,andactuallytrue,butnotdemonstrablypossible.Aworldin
whichitistruethatpisdemonstrablyfalsewillthereforebepossiblerelativetotheactualworld,
buttheactualworldwillnotbepossiblerelativetosuchaworld.

Itisknownthatarelationofrelativepossibilitythatisreflexiveandtransitivebutnotsymmetrical
istheprincipalfeaturethatasystemofpossibleworldsshouldhaveifitistoprovideasemantics
forS4butnotforS5.76Thusthepossibleworldssemanticsbasedonthedemonstrability
conceptionofpossibleworldsseemstofitthemodallogicsuggestedbythedemonstrability
conceptionofnecessity.

ButdoesLeibnizholdthisconceptionofpossibleworlds?CertainlyhedoesnotworkoutanS4
semantics;hedoesnotevenraisethequestionofarelationofrelativepossibilityamongpossible
worlds.Thecrucialquestioniswhetherheunderstands'possible'in'possibleworlds'intermsof
demonstrabilityandindemonstrability.

Heseemstoimplythathedoes,whenhesaysinMarch1698,"Thereareasmanypossibleworlds
asthereareseriesofthingsthatcanbethoughtupwhichdonotimplyacontradiction.Thisthesisis
identicalwithme,forIcallpossiblethatwhichdoesnotimplyacontradiction,andsointhissense
itcannotberefuted"(Gr390).1assumethat"doesnotimplyacontradiction"expressesaproof
theoreticalnotionhere,asitusuallydoesinLeibniz.OnthisinterpretationLeibnizhereletsa
consistent,univocaluseofmodaltermscarrytheprooftheoreticalnotionofpossibilityintohis
conceptionofpossibleworlds.

Ontheotherhand,thedemonstrabilityconceptionofpossibleworldshassomestrikinglyun
Leibnizianconsequences.First,apossibleindividualwillingeneralexistinmorethanonepossible
world.Leibnizholdsthatmanyofthepropertiescontainedinanindividual'scompleteconcept
cannotbedemonstratedfromtheconcept.Worldsinwhichtheindividuallacksvariousofthose
propertieswillthereforenotbedemonstrablyinconsistent.Second,eachactualindividualwillbe
compossiblewithindividualsofalmosteverypossiblesort,inthesenseofcoexistinginsome
possibleworldwithanindividualofthatsort.Forthecoexistenceofacertainactualindividualwith
mostpossiblesortsofindividualwillnotbedemonstrablyinconsistent.Third,therewillbe
possibleworldsinwhichdifferentworldswillbethebestpossible,forthebestnessofthisworldis
notdemonstrable.Fourth,therewillbepossibleworldsthathave(withoneexception)allthe
perfectionthattheactualworld(consideredaspossible)has,andmore.Therewillbe,forexample,
aworldasgoodastheactualworldinotherrespects,fromwhichthehorrorsoftheThirtyYears
Warareabsent.Leibnizsurelydidnotthinkitcouldbedemonstratedthattheworldwouldbeless
perfectwithouttheThirtyYearsWar.Theexception,theperfectionthattheactual

____________________
76
Kripke,"SemanticalAnalysisofModalLogicI."
48

worldhasbutthoseworldslack,isconceptualconsistency,aswemaycallthepropertyofnot
involving,notevenindemonstrably,acontradiction.
Leibnizneveracceptstheseconsequences.Indeed,heexplicitlyrejectstheideaofanindividual
existinginmorethanonepossibleworld(T414).77Andforhistheodicyandtheoryofcreationhe
needsmodalitiesquitedifferentfromthosegeneratedbythedemonstrabilityconceptionof
necessity.Forexample,hemustclaimthatGodcouldn'thavecreatedaworldasgoodastheactual
worldinotherrespectsbutlackingthehorrorsoftheThirtyYearsWar.This'couldn't'cannotbe
explainedintermsofdemonstrability.AndLeibnizcertainlydoesnotmeanthatGodwas
preventedbydivinegoodnessfromchoosingsuchaworld,havingjudgedthatthehorrorsofthe
ThirtyYearsWararebetterthanconceptualinconsistency.Rather,itisnotwithinGod'spowerto
createsuchaworld,becauseitisnotpossibleinitsownnature.

Theclaimthattwopossiblesubstancesarecompossible,likewise,issurelynotjusttheclaimthat
theyarenotdemonstrablyincompatible,inspiteofthefactthatLeibnizdefined"compossible"as
"thatwhichwithanotherdoesnotimplyacontradiction"(Gr325).Foritisthelackof
compossibilitythatkeepsadditionalexcellentsubstancesfromexistingintheactualworld(G
111,572f.,C534),buttheadditionofsuchsubstancesissurelynotdemonstrablyinconsistentwith
theconceptsofactualthings.

OnemaybetemptedtoaccuseLeibnizofcheatinginhistheodicybyusingmodalterms
equivocally.ThereisasenseinwhichGodcouldn'thavecreatedabetterworldthanthisone(itis
conceptuallyfalsethatthereissuchaworld),butinthatsenseGodalsocouldn'thavedone
anythingdifferentatall(itisconceptuallyfalsethatGoddoesanythingdifferent).Thereisalsoa
senseinwhichGodcouldhavedonesomethingdifferent(itisnotdemonstrablethatGoddoesnot,
say,omittocreategiraffes),butinthissenseGodcouldalsohavemadesomethingbetterthanthis
world(itisnotdemonstrablethatnopossiblealternativeisbetter).

Thereisyetanothersenseof'could'and'couldn't'availabletoLeibniz,however,inwhichhecan
say,withoutequivocation,bothofthethingshewantstosay.Godcouldhavedonesomething
different,inthesensethatonlythedivinegoodnesskeepsGodfromdoingso.ButGodcouldn't
havecreatedabetterworldthanthis,inthesensethatitisnotonlyGod'sgoodnessthatkeepsa
betteralternativefrombeingpossible.Wecouldsystematizethesemodalities(althoughLeibnizdid
not)byusing'Itispossiblethatp'tomeanroughlythatifitwerenotaconceptualtruththatGodis
perfectlygood,itwouldnotbeaconceptualfalsehoodthatp.78

Leibniz'schiefuseoftheimageryofpossibleworldsisatthosepointsinhistheoryofcreationthat
requirethislastsortofmodality."ThereareseveralpossibleUniverses,eachcollectionof
compossiblesmakingoneofthem"(G111,573).Thepossibleworldsarethealternativesamong
whichGodchooses,withonly

____________________
77
Ourinvestigationofthesenseinwhichhecanhavedonethis(andhenceouraccountofpossible
worlds)willnotbecompleteuntiltheendofChapter3,however.
78
Iassumeherethatacounterfactualconditionalwithaconceptuallyfalseantecedentneednotbe
vacuouslytrueorvacuouslyfalse.Ithinkthisassumptioncouldbejustifiedwithintheframework
ofLeibniz'sconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth.
49
thedivinegoodnesskeepingGodfromchoosingoneoftheworldsthatareinfactrejected.There
mustnotbeamongthemaworldasgoodinotherwaysastheactualworldbutlackingthehorrors
oftheThirtyYearsWar.Theconceptionofapossibleworldimpliedbythisimagery,whichmust
thereforebereckonedLeibniz'sprincipalconception,isnotthatofaworldthatisnotdemonstrably
inconsistent.Itis,rather,thatofaworldwhosebasicconceptdoesnotinvolve(demonstrablyor
otherwise)acontradictionorconceptualfalsehood,aworldwhosebasicconceptisconceptually
consistent.79

IfweadmittothebasicconceptsofworldsinformationabouteverythingexceptGod'sgoodness
andGod'schoiceamongworlds(seesection1.2),thisconceptionofpossibleworldsprobably
yieldsasatisfactorysemanticsfor'Itispossiblethatp',interpretedasmeaningthatifitwerenota
conceptualtruththatGodisperfectlygood,itwouldnotbeaconceptualfalsehoodthatp.Helpful
thoughitwouldbeinexplainingthetheoryofcreation,Leibnizdoesnotreallydevelopthis
interpretation,anddoesnotusuallyuse'itispossiblethat'inthissense.Hismainconceptionof
possibilityistheprooftheoreticalonethatcanbeanalyzedintermsofindemonstrabilityof
falsehood.ThusLeibniz'smainconceptionofpossibleworldsdoesnotprovideapossibleworlds
semanticsforhismainconceptionofpossibility.Ifweputthetwoconceptionstogether,wegetthe
resultthattherearepropositionswhicharepossiblebutarenottrueinanypossibleworld.'Itwould
bebestiftherewereneveranywars'issuchaproposition.'JudasexistswithoutbetrayingJesus'
maybeanother(cf.DM30).80

IdonotmeantosuggestthatLeibnizwasfullyawareofthediversityofsortsofmodalityatwork
inhisphilosophy.Hadhebeenconsciousofit,hewouldpresumablyhavearticulatedtherelevant
distinctionsmoreclearlyandavoidedsomeapparentinconsistencies.Hemightalsohaveexplored
therelationsbetweenthedifferentsortsofmodalityandthenotionofapossibleworld.Buthedid
not,anditisquitemisleadingtothinkofhimasagrandfatherofpossibleworldssemantics,given
thebadfitbetweenhisprincipalconceptionofpossibleworldsandhisprincipalmodalconcepts.81

4.OnLeibniz'sSincerity

OnnopointhasmoresuspicionofacleavagebetweenapublicandaprivateLeibnizianphilosophy
arisenthanontheproblemofcontingency.Leibniz'ssincerityintheTheodicyhasoftenbeen
impugned,andoftendefended.Themostspectacularchargeofduplicitywasoneoftheearliest,but
itisnotwidelyaccepted.In1728,twelveyearsaftertheevent,andafterLeibniz'sdeath,a

____________________
79
Cf.Schepers,"ZumProblemderKontingenzbetLeibniz,"pp.345f.
80
Whetheritisdependsonconsiderations,andpossiblefurtherrefinementsinthenotionofa
possibleworld,whichwillbetakenupattheendofChapter3.
81
ItshouldalsobenotedthatLeibnizwasnotuniqueinhisowntimeinusingthenotionofpossible
worlds.NicolasMalebranche,inhisTreatiseofNatureandGrace(1680),I,13(OMV,28),
speaksof"aninfinityofpossibleWorlds,"ofwhichGodchose"themostperfect,inrelationtothe
simplicityofthewaysnecessaryforitsproductionorforitsconservation."Iknowofnoevidence
thatMalebranchewasinfluencedonthispointbyLeibnizatthisearlydate.
50

Lutherantheologian,ChristopherMatthusPfaff,publishedanaccount(butnotthecompletetexts)
oflettersexchangedbetweenhimandLeibniz.HeclaimedthathehadsaidhethoughtLeibnizwas
beingplayfulintheTheodicy,pretendingtoopposeBayle'sskepticismwhilereallyconfirmingit,
andthatLeibnizreplied,inaletterof2May1716,"Youhavehitthenailonthehead.AndIam
amazedtherehasbeennoonehithertowhohassensedthatthisismygame.Foritisnotfor
philosophersalwaystotakethingsseriously.Inframinghypotheses,asyourightlypointout,they
tryouttheforceoftheirmentaltalents."82IfwebelievePfaff'sreport,wemaysuppose(asPfaff
didnot)thatLeibnizwasbeingironicorplayfulwithhim.83Inanyevent,itishardtoknowwhat
tomakeofLeibnizifhewasnotseriousinhisdefenseofthethesisthattheactualworldwas
chosenasthebestpossiblebyaperfectdeity.TheLeibnizianphilosophythathasheldtheinterest
ofposteritydependsinmostofitspartsonthatthesis,andLeibnizhasnotleftusevenasketchofa
philosophythatdoesnotdependonit.

Withregardtosubtlerdevelopmentsofhissystem,however,therecanstillbedoubtsabout
Leibniz'ssincerity,especiallyintheTheodicy.Itispartlybutnotentirelyvindicatedbytheresults
ofthepresentinvestigation.ItisemphaticallyclearintheTheodicy,asintherestofhiswork,that
Leibnizisacompatibilistandadeterminist.Thesolutionoftheproblemofcontingencythatis
mostclearlydevelopedintheTheodicy,thatnonactualthingsarepossibleinthemselvesevenif
theyarenotpossibleinrelationtoGod'swill,isonethatLeibnizalsoheld,andneverabandoned,in
hisprivatepapersfrom1673on.Itisasolutionthatimposesaminimumofqualificationonthe
necessityofallthings.

TheinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingencyispartlystatedintheTheodicy,in14oftheremarks
onKing:

Foronemaysayinawaythatthesetwoprinciples[ofcontradictionandsufficient
reason]arecontainedinthedefinitionofTrueandFalse.Nevertheless,wheninmaking
theanalysisofthetruththathasbeenproposedoneseesitdependingontruthswhose
contraryimpliesacontradiction,onemaysaythatitisabsolutelynecessary.Butwhen
inpushingtheanalysisasfarasonepleasesoneisneverabletoarriveatsuchelements
ofthegiventruth,onemustsaythatitiscontingent,andthatithasitsoriginfroma
prevailingreasonthatinclineswithoutnecessitating.(GVI,414)

Here,asinalettertoLouisBourguetin1715(GIII,582/L664),Leibnizsaysthatnecessarytruths
receiveafiniteanalysisandcontingenttruthsdonot,butwithoutstatingthatthisiswhat
contingencyconsistsin,orthattheconceptofthepredicateiscontainedintheconceptofthe
subjectevenincontingenttruths.84

____________________
82
Pfaff,"FragmentumEpistolae,"p.127
83
AsarguedinBlondel,Unenigmehistorique,pp.115.AccordingtoPfaff'sownaccount,atleast
oneofhiscontemporariestookthisview,andsomedoubtedtheaccuracyofPfaff'sreportof
Leibniz'sstatement.
84
0nlyslightlymorerevealing,Ithink,isatextwrittenquitelikelyabout1710forLeibniz'sownuse,
inwhichhesaysthatsomethingfollows"infallibly"but"notnecessarily;thatis,notinsuchaway
thatitcouldeverbedemonstratedthatthecontraryImpliesacontradiction,"andgivesasareason,
"becausetheanalysisgoestoinfinity"(RML412).
51

Wehaveseenthattheviewthat'Godchooseswhatisbest'iscontingent,aboutwhichLeibnizwas
veryhesitantinhisprivatepapers,seemstooccurinoneortwopassagesoftheTheodicy.This
mightbeduetosomedevelopmentofhisthought,butnosuchexplanationisplausibleforthe
Theodicy'sstrikingomissionofanymentionoftheviewthatitiscontingentthatthisworldisthe
best.Thelatterviewwaswellworkedout,affirmed,andneverrejectedinLeibniz'sprivatepapers;
anditisplausiblyinferredfromhisinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingency,whichheclearly
continuedtobelievewhenhewrotetheTheodicy.

Moreover,thefrequentandunelucidatedusethatthebookmakesoftheterms'moralnecessity',
'hypotheticalnecessity',and'Inclinewithoutnecessitating'leavesthereaderwithaless
necessitarianimpressionofLeibniz'sthoughtthanthesetermswouldleaveiftheywere
accompaniedbytheexplanationsoftheirmeaningthatarepresentedorsuggestedbyhislesspublic
writings.OneisnotreassuredaboutLeibniz'ssinceritywhenonereads,inaletterfromLeibnizto
BartholomewDesBossesdiscussingtheuseof'moralnecessity'intheTheodicy,thecommentthat
"ingeneralIshouldpreferthewordstobeinterpretedinsuchawaythatnothingbadsounding
follows"(GII,419f.).85

ThelackofcandorintheTheodicyisevident;themotivesforit,whetherpedagogicalorself
protective,arenot.ItisinterestingthatLeibnizhadwrittenonce,probablyin1676:

Metaphysicsshouldbewrittenwithaccuratedefinitionsanddemonstrations,but
nothingshouldbedemonstratedinitthatconflictstoomuchwithreceivedopinions.
Forthusthismetaphysicswillbeabletobereceived.Ifitisonceapproved,then
afterwards,ifanyexamineitmoreprofoundly,theywilldrawthenecessary
consequencesthemselves.(AVI,iii,573)

OneofthedifficultiesintheTheodicy,however,isthatsomanyofLeibniz's"accuratedefinitions"
areomittedthatonemustturntootherworkstofindthematerialnecessaryforamoreprofound
examination.

____________________
85
DesBosses,aRomanCatholic,waspreparingaLatintranslationofLeibnizTheodicy.Inthe
RomanCatholicChurchpropositionscouldbeofficiallycensuredas"badsounding[male
sonans],"whichisweakerthancondemningthemas"false";see,e.g.,Denzinger,Enchiridion,p.
370(following1340).
52

2
TheLogicofCounterfactualNonidentity
1.ProblemsofTransworldIdentity

AmongthethesesthatLeibnizsenttoAntoineArnauldinFebruary1686,theonethataroused
Arnauld'sinitialobjectionwasthefollowingstatement:

Sincetheindividualconceptofeachpersoncontainsonceforalleverythingthatwill
everhappentohim,oneseesinittheproofsaprioriorreasonsforthetruthofeach
event,orwhyonehasoccurredratherthananother.(LA12)

Allthepredicatesofanindividualsubstancearecontainedintheconceptofthatindividual,
accordingtoLeibniz.Thisthesisgivesrisetomanyquestionsabouttherelationofindividualsto
theirpredicates.Whyshouldthepredicatesbecontainedintheconceptoftheindividual,andnot
justintheindividualitself?WhydoesLeibnizinferfromtheconceptualcontainmentthesis,ashe
does(DM14),thatallthestatesofanindividualsubstancearecausedbypreviousstatesofthat
individualalone?Wewillcometothesequestions,inthecourseofthischapterandthenext,but
thepresentinvestigationisorganizedaroundanotherissue.Itisanissueofcounterfactualidentity;
Arnauldraiseditinthesewords:

SinceitisimpossiblethatIshouldnotalwayshaveremainedmyself,whetherIhad
marriedorlivedincelibacy,theindividualconceptofmyselfcontainedneitherofthese
twostates;justasitiswelltoinfer:thisblockofmarbleisthesamewhetheritbeat
restorbemoved;thereforeneitherrestnormotioniscontainedinitsindividual
concept.(LA30)

ArnauldaffirmstransworldorcounterfactualidentityasareasonforrejectingLeibniz'sconceptual
containmentthesis.Hedeniesthathisactualpredicateoflifelongcelibacyiscontainedinhis
individualconcept,onthegroundthatheisthesameindividualasonewhowould,undersome
possiblecircumstances,havemarried.Inhisresponse,asinanumberofotherplacesinhis
writings,LeibnizmadeclearthathedidnotacceptArnauld'sassumptionofcounterfactualidentity.
Heheldthatnoactualindividualcreaturewouldhaveexistedifanythingatallhadgonedifferently
fromthewaythingsgointheactualworldthatifArnauld,forexample,hadmarried,hewouldnot
havebeenArnauld[ormoreprecisely,thatanyonewhogotmarriedwouldnothavebeenArnauld
(cf.

53
Gr358)].WhydidLeibnizholdthis?Thatisthecentralquestionofthischapterandthenext.

Asittouchesonanissuethatisverymuchalivetoday,thisaspectofLeibniz'sphilosophyhas
1Inrecentdiscussionstheissuehasbeencouched
receivedmuchattentionfromrecentinterpreters.
intermsoftransworldidentity.Weaskabouttheidentityornonidentityofindividualsindifferent
possibleworlds;thisconceptualapparatusaffordsconvenientwaysofmakingsuchissuesprecise.
Leibnizhimselfcasttheissueinverysimilartermsatleastonce(T414).Atthesametime,we
shouldnotethathenormallyusedcounterfactualconditionalstoframetheissueratherthanputting
itintermsofpossibleworlds.Thisisimportantbecausecounterfactualconditionalshaveawell
knownrelativitytocontextwhichmaybelostfromviewinthinkingintermsofpossibleworlds.I
thinkwecansafelyusetheapparatusofpossibleworldsindealingwiththerelativelyformal
considerationsthatwilloccupyusinthischapter.Butthemoremetaphysicalargumentsstudiedin
Chapter3willleadmetoconcludeintheendthatLeibnizisprobablycommittedtoasweeping
denialoftransworldidentityonlyunderanunderstandingof'possibleworld'thatdiffersfromour
usualpresentunderstandingsevenmorewidelythanIsuggestedinChapter1,section3.

Attheoutset,weshouldnoteanimportantdifferencebetweenLeibnizandpresentday
philosopherswhoareinterestedintransworldidentity.Forthelatter,talkaboutpossibleworlds
servestoexplicatethestructure,ifnotthebasis,oflogicalpossibilityandnecessity.Whatis
possibleiswhatistruein(orat)somepossibleworld;whatisnecessaryiswhatistruein(orat)all
possibleworlds.Fromthispointofview,thedenialoftransworldidentityseemstoentailthatno
actualindividualcouldpossiblyhavehaddifferentpropertiesfromthoseitactuallyhas.Tosaythat
Caesar,forexample,couldhaveturnedbackfromtheRubiconistosaythatthereisapossible
worldinwhichhedoes,andthatobviouslymustbeapossibleworldinwhichheexists.Butifthere
isnotransworldidentity,thenCaesarexistsonlyintheactualworld,inwhichhecrossesthe
Rubicon.Soitseemstofollowthathecouldnothaveturnedback.Leibnizemphaticallyrejectsthis
conclusion,however.Muchof13ofhisDiscourseonMetaphysicsisdevotedtodevelopingthe
thesisthat,whilethecrossingoftheRubiconiscontainedintheindividualconceptofJulius
Caesar,itfollows"thatitwasreasonableandconsequentlyassuredthatthatwouldhappen,butnot
thatitisnecessaryinitself,northatthecontraryimpliesacontradiction."

DavidLewishasdevelopedhiswellknown"counterparttheory"asawayofrejectingtransworld
identitywithoutdenyingthatwecouldhavehadsomewhatdifferentpropertiesfromthosewe
actuallyhave.AccordingtoLewis,noindividualexistsinmorethanonepossibleworld,butthere
isa"counterpartrelation"thatobtainsamongsufficientlysimilarindividualsindifferentpossible
worlds.Yourcounterpartsare"peopleyoumighthavebeen,"sotospeak.Tosaythatitwouldhave
beenpossibleforyoutohavedoneacertainthingthatyoudidnotdoistosaythatthereisa
possibleworldinwhichacounterpartof

____________________
1
SeeMates,"IndividualsandModalityinthePhilosophyofLeibniz";Mondadori,"Leibnizandthe
DoctrineofInterWorldIdentity,""Reference,Essentialism,andModalityinLeibniz's
Metaphysics,"and"UnderstandingSuperessentialism";M.Wilson,"PossibleGods";Mates,
PhilosophyofLeibniz,ch.8;Sleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,ch.4.
54
2Severalrecentinterpreters
yoursdoesit. 3havepointedoutthatLeibnizhasauseofpropernames
thatsuggestssomethinglikeLewis'scounterparttheory.Hespeaks,forexample,of"possible
Adams"intheplural,meaning"possiblepersons,differentfromeachother,whofit"ageneral
descriptionconsistingofapartofthepredicatesofthefirstmanintheactualworld(LA41f.;cf.
LA20).

MargaretWilsonhasarguedconvincingly, 4however,thatitisamistaketoascribetoLeibniza
counterparttheoreticalaccountofpossibilityandnecessitydereintermsofalternativepossible
Adams,alternativepossibleCaesars,alternativepossibleArnaulds,andsoforth.Leibniznever(so
farasIknow)givessuchanaccount.Forhimtodoso,asWilsonpointsout,wouldbeinconsistent
withhisconceptionofGod'sfreedom.ForLeibnizholdsthatthereareinfinitelymanypossible
worldsthatGodcouldpossiblyhavecreated,andheneverspeaksofalternative"possibleGods"
whocouldhavecreatedthedifferentworlds.Heseemstobecommitted,notonlybythissilence,
butalsobythedoctrineofGod'snecessaryexistence,totheviewthatitwouldhavebeenthesame
Godthatcreatedwhateverpossibleworldwascreated.Inotherwords,Leibnizseemstohave
acceptedtransworldidentityforGodwhilerejectingitforeveryotherindividual.

TheseapparentinconsistenciescanberemovedbyunderstandingLeibnizianpossibleworldsasI
proposedinChapter1.IarguedtherethatLeibniz'sprincipalconceptionofpossibleworldscanbe
capturedbysayingthatapossibleworldisaworldthatGodcouldhavecreatedwereitnotforthe
goodnessthatispartofthedivinenature.ThisistheconceptiononwhichLeibnizdependsinhis
theodicyandhisaccountofcreation.Heiscommittedtotheviewthatthechoiceofthisworldthat
Godhasactuallycreated,andGod'snotcreatinganyotherpossibleworld,arecontainedinthe
conceptofGod.ButitispreciselybecausethisistheworldthatGodwouldfindtobebest,in
comparingallpossibleworlds,thatthesechoicesfollowfromGod'sessentialwisdomand
goodness.OneofLeibniz'smainconcernsinhisthinkingaboutpossibleworldsistomaintainthe
realityofGod'schoice.Andthecruxofthismatter,asLeibnizperceivedit,isthatGod(oneand
thesameGod,presumably)shouldhavehadapluralityofinternallyconsistentworldstochoose
5WhichworldGodchoosesisdeterminedbythedivinewisdomandgoodness,in
from.
conjunctionwiththevalueoftheworlds,andinthatwayfollowsfromtheconceptofGod.Butthe
worldsarerealalternativesforGodinthatGodcouldhavechosenanyoneofthemwereitnotfor
thedivinegoodness.

ThisenablesustounderstandwhyLeibnizallowedGodtohavetransworldidentity.Heisprepared
tosaythatthesameindividualGodcouldhavebeenthecreatorofdifferentpossibleworlds
becausethesenseinwhichGod"could"haveisthatwereitnotforGod'swisdomandgoodness,or
wereitnotforthoseworlds'inferiority,GodcouldhavenotthatGod'screatingthemwouldhave
beenperfectlyconsistentwiththedivinenature.Butthisverysameconceptionofthesense

____________________
2
Lewis,"CounterpartTheoryandQuantifiedModalLogic."
3
EspeciallyMondadori,"Reference,Essentialism,andModalityinLeibniz'sMetaphysics,"pp.
94101.
4
M.Wilson,"PossibleGods."
5
SeeChapter1,section1.4.
55

inwhichGodcouldhavecreatedadifferentworldrequiresthatnocreatureoccurinanypossible
worldinwhichsomethingoccurswhichiscontrarytothenatureofthatcreature(consideredapart
fromthereasonsforGod'schoiceamongworlds).Forthenitwouldnotbebecauseofits
inferiority,andGod'swisdomandgoodness,butbecauseofaninternalconceptualinconsistencyin
thatworld,thatGodcouldnotcreateit.(Bya"conceptuallyinconsistent"propositionImeanone
whosenegationiscontainedintheconceptofitssubject,whetherornotanyfiniteanalysisor
demonstrationwouldrenderthatcontainmentexplicit.Aconceptuallyinconsistentpropositionmay
thereforebepossibleintheLeibniziansense,explainedinChapter1,ofnotbeingdemonstrably
false.)

ThereismuchmoretobesaidaboutLeibniz'sreasonsfordenyingtransworldorcounterfactual
identitytocreatures.AsWilsonhasremarked,"weknowwhatuseLeibnizwantstomakeof"this
doctrine,theologically:"HewantstouseitasabasisfordenyingthatGodisresponsiblefora
createdindividual'smisfortunesorbadchoices,sincethatindividualcouldn'thaveexistedunless
hemadethosechoicesandexperiencedwhateverheinfactexperiences." 6LeibnizsaysthatGod
"didnotmakeSextuswicked....Allhedidwasgranthimexistence,whichhiswisdomcouldnot
refusetotheworldinwhichheisincluded"(T416).Leibnizthoughtthatthisentitledhimtohold
thatevilisnotcausedbyGod,butbythelimitationsinherentintheconceptsofthecreaturesthatit
wasbest,onthewhole,forGodtocreate(DM30,T20).Healsothoughtitprovidesananswerto
complaintsthatindividualsmightbetemptedtomakeagainstGod:"Youwillinsistthatyoucan
complain,whydidGodnotgiveyoumorestrength.Ireply:ifhehaddonethat,youwouldnotbe,
forhewouldhaveproducednotyoubutanothercreature"(Gr327;cf.AVl,iii,148).7

ThesetheologicalmotivesareimportantforunderstandingLeibniz'sdenialofcounterfactual
identity,but,asWilsonsuggests,heundoubtedlythoughthecouldgiveotherreasonsforit.Twoof
themwilldetainusonlybriefly.AparticularlybadargumentisfoundinaletterthatLeibnizsentto
ArnauldinJuly1686,butismissing(whetherasaresultofalatercorrection,Idonotknow)from
thecopyretainedbyLeibnizatHannover.RespondingtoArnauld'sclaim,asformulatedby
Leibniz,"IfindclearlyintheindividualconceptthatIhaveofmyselfthatIshallbemyselfwhether
ornotItakethetripthatIhaveplanned"(LA52),Leibnizsays:

IfitiscertainthatAisB,whateverisnotAisnotBeither.SoifAsignifiesMe,andB
signifiestheonewhowilltakethistrip,itcanbeconcludedthatwhoeverwillnottake
thistripisnotme;andthisconclusioncanbedrawnfromthecertitudealoneofmy
8
futuretrip,withouthavingtoimputeittothepropositioninquestion.(RL39)

____________________
6
M.Wilson,"PossibleGods,"p.729.AswillbeclearfromChapter3,IagreewithWilson's
statementonlysubjecttosomequalificationsofthesenseof"couldn't"init.
7
IhavediscussedthisreplyatsomelengthinR.Adams,"Existence,SelfInterest,andtheProblem
ofEvil."
8
Theconcluding"without..."phraseinthispassageisobscure.Withoutimputingwhattowhat
proposition?MyguessisthatLeibniz'smeaningwasthattheconclusioncanbedrawnonthe
groundsstatedinthispassagewithoutimputingcertainty,asapremise,toanythingassweepingas
thepredicatecontainmenttheoryoftruth.
56

Leibnizseemstobearguingherethatacontradictionwouldbeinvolvedincounterfactualidentity
ofanindividual,onthegroundthatI,whoamgoingtotakeacertaintrip,cannotalsohavethe
propertyofnottakingthattrip.ButofcoursethequestionisnotwhetherIcouldalsohavethe
propertyofnottakingthetrip,butwhetherIcouldhavehadthatpropertyinsteadofmyactual
propertyoftakingthetrip.

Adifferentargumentissuggestedbythestatement,"Itfollowsalsothatitwouldnothavebeenour
Adam,butanother,ifhehadhadotherevents,fornothingpreventsusfromsayingthatitwouldbe
another.Henceitisanother"(LA42).ThislookslikeanappealtothePrincipleofSufficient
Reason:thereisnocompellingreasontosayitwouldbethesameindividualifdifferentevents
happenedtohim;therefore,itwouldnotbethesameindividual.Thisisaweakargument.Itleaps
overvaststretchesofdisputedterritory.Arnauldwasatleastinitiallyinclinedtosay,forexample,
thatourordinaryconceptionofapersonkeepsusfromsayingitwouldhavebeenanotherAdamif
hehadneversinned.Onewonders,moreover,whethertheargumentdoesnotcutbothways.As
Wilsonsays,"Thequestionpresentsitselfinsistently:whatpreventsusfromdenyingitwouldbea
differentAdamifcircumstanceshadbeendifferent...?"9Woulditbeanyeasiertofinda
sufficientreasonfordenyingcounterfactualidentitythanforaffirmingit?Leibnizseemstoassume
herethatpresumptionfavorsnonidentitythatidentityneedstobeexplainedinawaythat
distinctnessdoesnot,andhencethatthereismoreneedofreasonsforaffirmingthanfordenying
identity.Perhapsthatiscorrect.Ithinkitisnotwithoutplausibilityinsomecases.Butnotseeing
howLeibnizwoulddefendit,Iwillpassontootherarguments.

2.TheConceptualContainmentTheoryofTruth

Itisnaturaltoturnnexttotheargumentthathasdrawnthemostdiscussion.

Finally[hewrotetoArnauld]Ihavegivenadecisivereason,whichinmyopinionranks
asademonstration;itisthatalways,ineverytrueaffirmativeproposition,necessaryor
contingent,universalorsingular,theconceptofthepredicateisincludedinsomeway
inthatofthesubject,praedicatuminestsubjecto[thepredicateinheresinthesubject];
orelseIdonotknowwhattruthis.(LA56)

ThisistheargumentbywhichArnauldconfessedhimselfespeciallyimpressedwhenhegaveup
thedebatewithLeibnizaboutindividualconcepts(LA64).Weshallconsiderwhatisthetheoryof
truthtowhichLeibnizhereappeals,whatwerehisreasonsforholdingit,andwhetheritdoesentail
hisdenialoftransworldorcounterfactualidentity.
AsusuallystatedbyLeibniz,theconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruthappliestocategorical
propositionsthatis,topropositionsofsubjectpredicateform.Hesometimesapplieditto
conditionalpropositions,holdingthattheyaretrueifandonlyiftheconsequentiscontainedinthe
antecedent(e.g.,C401);

____________________
9
M.Wilson,"PossibleGods,"p.729.
57

butthatneednotconcernushere.Thesixtraditionaltypesofcategoricalproposition,withan
exampleofeach,are:

universalaffirmative:
Allmenaremarried.
universalnegative:
Nomanismarried.
particularaffirmative:
Somemanismarried.
particularnegative:
Somemanisnotmarried.
singularaffirmative:
Arnauldismarried.
singularnegative:
Arnauldisnotmarried.
Onlytwoofthesetypes,theuniversalandsingularaffirmatives,arementionedintheformulation
ofthetheorythatIhavequoted(asalsoinC16f.,519/MP96,L268).Thisisnoaccident,for
Leibnizappliesthetheorymorestraightforwardlytothesetypesthantotheotherfour.
Nevertheless,itisclearthathesometimesexpressesitinamoresweepingform,claimingthatin
everytrueproposition,withoutrestrictionastotype,theconceptofthepredicateiscontainedinthe
conceptofthesubject(DM8;GI132).

TheconceptualcontainmenttheoryiscloselyassociatedwithLeibniz'spreferenceforwhatis
nowadayscalledan"intensional"asopposedtoan"extensional"interpretationofthecategorical
propositions.(Perhapsinsomesenseitisthatpreference.)Roughly,anextensionalinterpretationis
onethattreatsthetruthorfalsityofpropositionsasdependingonrelationsamongtheextensionsof
theterms,wheretheextensionofatermistheclassofthingsthatsatisfyit,orwhichit
characterizes.10Anintensionalinterpretationisonethattreatsthetruthorfalsityofpropositionsas
dependingonrelationsamongtheintensionsthatis,theconceptsoftheirterms.

SinceLeibniz'sdiscussionpartner,Arnauld,wascoauthorofafamouslogictext,thePortRoyal
Logic,itisofinteresttonotethatasimilardistinctionismadeinthatbookbetweenthe
comprehension[comprhension]andtheextension[tendueorextension]ofanidea.The
comprehensionofanideaconsistsof"theattributeswhichitincludesinitself,andwhichcannotbe
takenawayfromitwithoutdestroyingit."Theextensionofanideaconsistsof"thesubjectswith
whichthatideaagrees,"orwhichcontainit.11Theextensionofageneralterm,however,maybe
viewedinthePortRoyalLogicasconstitutedbyboththespeciesandtheindividualsthatfallunder
it.Bothrelationsofthecomprehensionsoftermsandrelationsoftheextensionsoftermsareused
inthePortRoyalLogicinjustifyingthebasicrulesoftraditionallogic.12

ScholarshavenotedthatLeibnizworkedoutquiteavarietyofbothintensionalandextensional
treatmentsofthelogicofpredicates,andthathepreferredtheintensionalapproach.13Forthesake
ofbrevity,Iwillabstractsomewhatfrom

____________________
10
SeeRailliKauppi,berdieleibnizscheLogik,pp.25456,foracomparisonofLeibnizianand
modernconceptionsofclasses.
11
ArnauldandNicole,PortRoyalLogic,1,6;11.17.
12
ArnauldandNicole,PortRoyalLogic,11,1720.
13
TheinterpretertowhomIowethemostonthissubjectisKauppi.Thewholeofherexcellentbook,
berdieleibnizscheLogik,isastudyoftheintensionalandextensionalapproachesinLeibniz's
logic.Sheseemstomecorrectinherreply(pp.210,251f.)tothechargeofCouturatthatLeibniz
oughttohavepreferredtheextensionalinterpretation.(SeeCouturat,LalogiquedeLeibniz,pp.
1932.)
58

thisvarietyanddiscussonlytheoneintensionalandtheoneextensionalinterpretationthataremost
closelyrelatedtothecontroversybetweenLeibnizandArnauld.Leibnizdidnothavefixed
terminologycorrespondingto'intensional'and'extensional';soIwillusethesemoremodernterms.
Hedistinguishedthetwoprincipaltypesoftreatmentvariouslyasintermsofideas[secundum
ideasorperideas]ontheonehandandintermsofinstances[perexemplasubjecta]orindividuals
belongingtotheterms[perindividuisterminorum]ontheotherhand(C300;GVII,215/P119f.;
cf.C53/P20).InLeibniz,unlikethePortRoyalLogic,theextensionaltreatmentisalmostalways
intermsoftheindividuals,notthespecies,thatfallunderthegeneralterms.14

Thecontrastbetweenthetwointerpretationsiseasiestinthecaseofuniversalaffirmative
propositions.Asanexample,taketheproposition,'Allgoldismetal'.Extensionallyinterpreted,it
meansthattheextensionof'gold'iscontainedintheextensionof'metal':theclassofgoldthingsis
containedorincludedintheclassofmetalthings.Intensionallyinterpreted,itmeansthatthe
conceptofmetaliscontainedintheconceptofgold.Extensionally,thesubjectiscontainedinthe
predicateinthistypeofproposition,ifthepropositionistrue.Intensionally,thepredicateis
containedinthesubject.Leibniznotedthis"inversion"ofthecontainmentrelation,contrastinghis
ownintensionalinterpretationwiththeextensionalinterpretationof"theSchools,"who

saythatmetaliswiderthangold,andifwewishedtoenumeratetheindividualsofgold
ontheonehandandtheindividualsofmetalontheother,thelatterwouldcertainlybe
morethantheformer,whichwillthereforebecontainedinthelatterasapartinthe
whole.(C53/P20)

'Somemetalisgold'isaparticularaffirmativeproposition.Extensionallyinterpreted,itmeansthat
theextensionof'metal'intersectstheextensionof'gold':theclassofmetalthingsandtheclassof
goldthingshaveatleastonememberincommon.Theintensionalinterpretationofparticular
affirmativesislessobvious.Leibnizwantstosaythatinthesepropositions,too,"theconceptofthe
predicateiscontainedinsomewayintheconceptofthesubject"butinwhatway?Itdoesnot
seemtobetruethattheconceptofgoldisincludedintheconceptofmetal.Forsomethingcanbe
metalwithoutbeinggold.

Leibniz'ssolutiontothisproblemisthat"inaparticularaffirmativepropositionitisenoughthatthe
thingshouldfollowwhensomethingisadded."Hegivesanexampletoshowwhatsortofaddition
hemeans:"althoughmetaldoesnotbyitselfcontaingold,neverthelesssomemetal,withan
additionorspecification(forexample,thatwhichmakesupthegreaterpartofaHungarianducat)
isofsuchanatureastoinvolvethenatureofgold"(C51/P19).Thischoiceofanexampleisnota
happyone.Foritseemsdoubtfulthattheconceptofgoldiscontainedintheconceptofmetalthat
makesupthegreaterpartofaHungarianducat.

Leibnizgivesabetterexampleelsewhere,suggestingthat'Somemanisalaugher'couldbe
understoodas'Alaughermanisalaugher.'Herethe"addition"ofthespecification'laugher'tothe
conceptofmanyieldsasubjectcon

____________________
14
GVII,244/P141seemstopresentanexception,asnoticedbyKauppi,berdieleibnizscheLogik,
p.43.
59

cept(oflaugherman)whichmanifestlydoescontainthepredicateofbeingalaugher.Itmight
seemthatthismethodofintensionalinterpretationhastheunacceptableresultthatallparticular
affirmativesturnouttobetrue,sincewecanalways"add"thepredicateconcepttothesubject
concept.ButLeibnizdeniesthatwecanalwaysmakesuchanaddition.Thequalifiedsubject
conceptresultingfromtheadditionmustbeconsistentinordertoverifyaparticularaffirmative
proposition,onhisinterpretation.Thus,hesaysthat"alaugherstonewouldnotbealaughersince
alaugherstoneinvolvesacontradiction"(GVII,214/P118).Intensionallyinterpreted,therefore,
'SomeAisB'meansthattheconceptofA,withsomeconsistentaddition,includestheconceptof
B.

Different(thoughequivalent)treatmentsofthenegativepropositionsarefoundinLeibniz.Hesays
that"negativepropositionsmerelycontradicttheaffirmatives,andassertthattheyarefalse."A
particularnegativedoesnothingbutdenyauniversalaffirmative,and"auniversalnegative
propositionmerelycontradictsaparticularaffirmative"(C52/P19f.).Thistreatmentofthe
negativepropositions,asnegationsoftheaffirmatives,can,ofcourse,beappliedtoboththe
intensionalandtheextensionalinterpretations.Sincetheparticularaffirmative'SomeAisB',
intensionallyinterpreted,means'TheconceptofA,withsomeconsistentaddition,containsthe
conceptofB',theuniversalnegative,'NoAisB',willmean'TheconceptofA,withanyconsistent
addition,doesnotcontaintheconceptofB'.Inthistreatmentnegativepropositionsareviewedas
casesofexclusionratherthaninclusionofconcepts,andLeibnizcommonlystatestheconceptual
containmenttheoryoftruthaccordingly,asapplyingonlytoaffirmativepropositions(e.g.,LA56;
C519/L268;GVII,208/P112).

Amorenaturalandperspicuousintensionalinterpretationofthenegativepropositionsresultsif
theyareformedbynegatingthepredicateintheaffirmativepropositionofthesamequantity,rather
thanbynegatingtheoppositeaffirmativeproposition."InaNegativeProposition,whenwedeny
thatapredicateisinthesubjectinthiswaythatIhavesaid,bythatveryactweaffirmthatthe
negationofthepredicate,oratermthatiscontradictorytothepredicate,isinthesubject"(C
86/AG11).Inthisapproach,theuniversalnegative,'NoAisB',means'TheconceptofAcontains
theconceptofnotB'.Thisrendersthenegativepropositionasacaseofconceptinclusionrather
thanexclusion,thoughtheconceptincludedisthenegationoftheonetraditionallyidentifiedasthe
predicate"term"oftheproposition,ratherthanthatconceptitself.InthepaperfromwhichIhave
citedthisapproach,accordingly,Leibnizcrossedouttheword"affirmative"fromthestatementthat
"Ineveryaffirmativeproposition...thenotionofthepredicateisinvolvedinthenotionofthe
subject"(C85/AG11).Ananalogoustreatmentcanbeappliedtotheextensionalinterpretation.

Iusethetraditionalsquareofoppositiontosummarize(1)theextensionaland(2)theintensional
interpretationoftheuniversalandparticularpropositions,asfollows:

AllAisB.
NoAisB.
(1)TheclassofBcontains
theclassofA.
(1)TheclassofnotBcontains
theclassofA.
(2)TheconceptofAcontains
theconceptofB.
(2)TheconceptofAcontains
theconceptofnotB.
60

SomeAisB.
SomeAisnotB.
(1)TheclassofBintersects
theclassofA.
(1)TheclassofnotBintersects
theclassofA.
(2)TheconceptofA,withsome
consistentaddition,contains
theconceptofB.
(2)TheconceptofA,withsome
consistentaddition,contains
theconceptofnotB.

Withregardtouniversalandparticularcategoricalpropositionsatleast,theintensional
interpretationissubstantiallyequivalenttotheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth.

Theintensionalinterpretationofsingularpropositions,however,isbothmoreproblematicand
morerelevanttoourpresentinvestigation.Atthispointitwillbehelpfultotakeupsome
terminologyfromtheLeibnizArnauldcorrespondence.ArnauldagreedwithLeibnizthatthereisa
completeconceptwhichGodformsofeveryindividualandwhichcontainsalloftheindividual's
predicateseverythingthatwilleverhappentothatindividual.Thatmuchclearlyfollowsfromthe
doctrineofdivineomnisciencethatwascommonpropertytothetwothinkers.Theyagreedthat
completeconceptsofindividualsareknownonlytoGod,nottous;wehavetothinkofindividuals
throughincompleteconcepts.Theyalsospokeofanindividualconceptofeachindividual,whichis
minimallycharacterizedbyArnauldinthefollowingwords:

ItseemstomethatIoughttoregardascontainedintheindividualconceptofmeonly
whatissuchthatIwouldnolongerbemeifitwerenotinme;andthateverythingthat
isonthecontrarysuchthatitcouldbeinmeornotbeinme,withoutmyceasingtobe
me,cannotbeconsideredasbeingcontainedinmyindividualconcept.(LA30f.)

Leibnizmaintainedthattheindividualconceptofeverycreatedindividualisitscompleteconcept.
Arnaulddisputedthis,atleastpartlyonthegroundthatitseemedtoimplythedenialof
counterfactualidentity,foritfollowsfromthedefinitionofanindividualconceptthatIcouldnot
bemeifIlackedanypredicatecontainedinmyindividualconcept.Soifmycompleteconceptis
myindividualconcept,itseemstofollowthatIcouldnotbemeifIlackedanyofmyactual
predicates.

InthisdiscussionLeibniztakesthesubjectconceptofasingularpropositiontobeanindividual
conceptandseemstogivesuchpropositionsanintensionaltreatmentofthesamesortasuniversal
propositions.15Forinstance,'Arnauldismarried'wouldmeanthattheconceptofbeingmarriedis
containedintheindividualconceptofArnauld,whilethetruth,'Arnauldisnotmarried',meansthat
theconceptofnotbeingmarriediscontainedinArnauld'sindividualconcept.

xisF.
xisnotF.
Theindividualconceptofx
Theindividualconceptofx
containstheconceptofF.
containstheconceptofnotF.
Thequestionnaturallyarises,however,whysingularpropositionsshouldnotbetreatedinthesame
wayasparticularratherthanuniversalpropositions.Leibniz'sintensionalinterpretationdemandsof
particularpropositionsonlythattheconceptofthesubjectwithsomeconsistentadditioncontain
theconceptof

____________________
15
Cf.ArnauldandNicole,PortRoyalLogic,II,3.
61
thepredicate(orofthepredicate'snegation).Whyshouldmorebedemandedofsingular
propositions?Whyshouldn't'Arnauldismarried'meanthattheindividualconceptofArnauld,
withsomeconsistentaddition,containstheconceptofbeingmarried?Andwhywouldn'tArnauld
becorrectinsayingthattheconceptofmarriedArnauldishisindividualconceptwithaconsistent
addition?

ThesequestionsappearevenmorepressingwhenwerecallthatforLeibnizanegativeproposition
isthecontradictoryofthesingularaffirmative(C52/P19f.).Now,supposethesingularaffirmative
istreatedonthemodeloftheuniversalaffirmativeandmeansthattheindividualconceptofthe
subjectcontainstheconceptofthepredicate.Thenitsnegationwillbetreatedasanalogoustoa
particularnegative,whichisthecontradictoryofauniversalaffirmative,andwillmeanthatthe
individualconceptofthesubject,withsomeconsistentaddition,containsthecomplementofthe
conceptofthepredicate.Thus'Arnauldisnotmarried'willmeanthatnottheindividualconceptof
Arnauld,butthatconceptwithsomeconsistentaddition(say,theconceptofcelibateArnauld),
containstheconceptofnotbeingmarried.

Suppose,ontheotherhand,thatthesingularaffirmativeistreatedonthemodeloftheparticular
affirmativeandmeansthattheindividualconceptofthesubject,withsomeconsistentaddition,
containstheconceptofthepredicate.Inthatcaseitsnegation,byanalogywiththeuniversal
negative,mustmeanthattheindividualconceptofthesubject,assuch,containsthenegationofthe
conceptofthepredicate.Onthisreading,'Arnauldisnotmarried'willmeanthattheindividual
conceptofArnaulditselfcontainstheconceptofnotbeingmarried.

Leibnizianprinciplesthusseemtogenerateacompletenewsquareofopposition,withfourtypesof
proposition,outofthetwooriginaltypesofsingularproposition:

xisF.
xisnotF.
Theindividualconceptofx
Theindividualconceptofx
containstheconceptofF.
containstheconceptofF.
xisF.
xisnotF.
Theindividualconceptofx
Theindividualconceptofx,
withsomeconsistentaddition,
withsomeconsistentaddition,
containstheconceptofnotF.
containstheconceptofnotF.
Inthissquare,asinthetraditionalsquareofuniversalandparticularpropositions,thediagonally
oppositepropositionsaremutuallycontradictory.Allthelogicalrelationshipsofthesquareof
oppositionarereproduced.

Thisisastrangeresult.Leibnizcertainlywantstohavetwointensionaltypesofsingular
propositioninsteadoffour.Yetanychoiceofonlytwooutofthefourtypesinthesquareseemsto
runsomeriskofbeingarbitrary.Leibnizhimselfseemsinclinedtochoosethetoptwotypesinthe
square,thetwothatcorrespondtouniversalpropositions.Thereisaseriousobjectiontothat
choice,however,inthatthosetwotypesarenotcontradictoriesbutcontraries,whichcanbothbe
falsetogether.Ontheotherhand,ifherefusedtochoose,hewouldbeleftwithfourtypesof
singularproposition,andwouldhavetoregardthetwoordinaryformsofsingularproposition('xis
F'and'xisnotF')asambiguouswhichalsoseemsundesirable.

62

WedonothavetoguesswhatLeibniz'ssolutiontothisproblemwouldbe,foraconsiderablepart
oftheproblemoccurredtohimandwasdiscussedbyhim.

SomeLogicaldifficultiesworthsolvinghaveoccurred[tome].Howdoesitcomeabout
thatoppositionworksin[thecaseof]thesingular[propositions],'TheApostlePeterisa
soldier'and'TheApostlePeterisnotasoldier',whereasotherwiseauniversal
affirmativeandaparticularnegativeareopposed?Shallwesaythatasingular
[proposition]isequivalenttoauniversalandtoaparticular?That'sright....Forsome
ApostlePeterandeveryApostlePetercoincide,sincethetermissingular.(GVII,211/
P115)

HereLeibnizseesthatthereisaproblemabouttreatingthesingularnegativeasthecontradictoryof
thesingularaffirmative,andthattheproblemarisesfromthepossibilityofinterpretingthesingular
propositionseitherasanalogoustouniversalpropositionsorasanalogoustoparticular
propositions.Hissolutionistoinsistthatthetwointerpretationsofeachsingularpropositionare
equivalent,"coincide,"andsocollapseintoone.

Buthowisthatequivalencepossible,withintheframeworkofaLeibnizianintensional
interpretation?Inspectionoftheapparentsquareofoppositionforsingularpropositionswillshow
thatthereductionofthefourtypestothetwodesiredtypesrequiresthattheindividualconceptofx
withanyconsistentadditionbeequivalenttotheindividualconceptofx.Thisrequirementwillbe
satisfiedifandonlyifthereisnopredicatenotalreadycontainedintheindividualconceptofx
whichcanconsistentlybeaddedtoit.Whatisrequired,inotherwords,ispreciselythatthe
individualconceptofxbeacompleteconcept.16Foracompleteconcept,asweshallseeinsection
6,isonetowhichnonewpredicatecanconsistentlybeadded.

3.ActualityintheConceptualContainmentTheory

Leibnizsaysthat,asopposedtoanextensionalcalculusbasedonrelationsofclassesofindividuals,
"Ihavepreferredtoconsideruniversalconcepts,orideas,andtheircombinations,becausetheydo
notdependontheexistenceofindividuals"(C53/P20).Ithinkwecanguesswhattheadvantageis
thatLeibnizthusclaimsfortheintensionalinterpretation.Therearewellknowndifficultiesin
maintainingthevalidityofthetraditionalinferencesinthesquareofopposition,underan
extensionalinterpretation,ifthesubjectorthepredicateconcept(oroneoftheircomplements)has
anemptyextension,becauseofthewayinwhichthetruthofthepropositions,extensionally
interpreted,dependsontheexistenceofindividualssatisfying(ornotsatisfying)theconcepts.
Leibnizcouldjustifyallthetraditionalinferences,underhisintensionalinterpretation,without
assuminganythingabouttheactualexistenceofindividuals,butassumingonlythatthesubjectand
predicateconcepts(andtheircomplements)areconsistent(andhencepossiblyexemplified).

____________________
16
Theconnectionofthissolutionwiththedoctrinethatindividualconceptsarecompleteisnotedby
Kauppi,berdieleibnizscheLogik,p.213.
63

Fromanotherpointofview,however,thetactthatunderanintensionalinterpretation,thetruthof
thecategoricalpropositionsdoesnotdependontheexistenceofindividualscanbeseenasaserious
disadvantage.Manyofthepropositionstobeinterpretedarenormallyunderstoodtobeaboutthe
universeofactuallyexistingthingsinsuchawaythattheirtruthorfalsityoughttodependonthe
existenceofindividuals.Fromthestandpointofcommonsense,itmaybeimplausibletosay(asthe
usualextensionalinterpretationdoes)that'Allcentaursaremadeofmetal'istrueifnocentaurs
exist,butitisatleastasimplausibletosay(inaccordancewiththeintensionalinterpretation)that
'Somedogsaregreen'istrueiftheconceptofagreendogisconsistent.

Leibnizwillnotbespeechlessinthefaceofthisproblem.Hehadamethodfordealingwithit.If
'Somepioushumanbeingispoor'meansthatpovertyofapioushumanbeingisnotjustpossible
butactual,Leibnizwillstateitas'Apoorpioushumanbeingisexistent',where'existent'means
existingintheactualworld(C27073).Intensionallyinterpreted,thisyields'Theconceptofapoor
pioushumanbeing,withsomeconsistentaddition,containstheconceptofexistingintheactual
world.'Herewemustthinkmoreaboutwhatismeantby'consistentaddition'.Doesitmean(1)an
additionthatcouldbemadewithoutengenderingademonstrableinconsistencythatis,an
inconsistencythatcouldbeprovedbyafiniteanalysis?Ordoesitmean(2)anadditionthatwould
notresultinanyconceptualinconsistencyatall?Orperhaps(3)anadditionthatwouldnotresultin
anyconceptualinconsistencyinthebasicconcept17ofapossibleworldinwhichtheamplifed
conceptwouldbeexemplified?Thefirstofthesecannotbewhatismeant.Fortheinterpretationis
intendedtoapplytocontingentpropositions,whichitwouldtakeaninfiniteanalysistoproveor
disprove(cf.C272).Indeed,'Apoorpioushumanbeingisexistent'issuchaproposition.And
whilethethirdsense,invokingbasicconceptsofworlds,maybewhatismeantinsomecontexts,I
thinkthesecondsensemustbeintendedwhere'existent'isbeingtreatedasapredicate,sinceone
mustgooutsidethebasicconceptofanypossibleworldtodeterminewhichworldisactual.

Interpretedwiththissortofexistentialimport,'Somepioushumanbeingispoor'willbetrueifand
onlyiftheconceptofexistingintheactualworldcanbeaddedtotheconceptofapoorpious
humanbeingwithoutgeneratinganyconceptualinconsistency.Andthatwillbetrueifandonlyifa
poorpioushumanbeingexistsinthebestofallpossibleworlds.Forgiventhenecessaryexistence
ofaGodofperfectwisdom,power,andgoodness,aconceptualinconsistencyisinvolvedinthe
actualityofanyworldbutthebest.ThisinterpretationisborneoutbyLeibniz'seffortstodefine
'existence'and'existent'intermsofenteringintothemostperfectseriesofthings,orbeing
compatiblewithmorethingsthananythingincompatiblewithitis,orbeingpleasingtoGod.18As
definitions,theseareproblematic,butitisclearthatLeibniz'sintensionalinterpretationof
propositionsintendedtobeaboutthewaythingsactuallyarewillworkonlyontheassumptionthat
theconceptofexistingintheactualworldandtheconceptofexistinginthebestofallpossible
worldscanbeadded,withoutanyconceptualinconsistency,toexactlythesameconcepts.

____________________
17
ThisterminologyisintroducedandexplainedinChapter1,section1.2.
18
C9,360,376,405/P51,65f.;cf.Gr325andChapter6,section2inthisvolume.
64

Universalpropositionscanbetreatedinananalogousway.Forexample,if'Everyhumanbeing
sins'meansnotthatsinlessnessisconceptuallyinconsistentwithhumanity,butonlythatsinis
actuallyuniversalamonghumanbeings,itcanberenderedas'Theconceptofahumanbeingthat
doesnotsincontainstheconceptofnotexistingintheactualworld'(cf.C271).Asforsingular
propositions,'Arnauldis(actually)celibate'canpresumablyberenderedas'Theconceptof
celibateArnauldcontainstheconceptofexistingintheactualworld'whichwillbetrueifandonly
ifArnauldexists,andiscelibate,inthebestofallpossibleworlds.

4.AnAntiSemanticalTheoryofTruth

Leibnizheldaveryaustereviewofconceptualcontainment.Hethoughtthatalltruepropositions
areeither"identities"orreducibleby(aperhapsinfinite)analysisoftermstoidentities.Among
categoricalpropositions,identitieshavesuchformsas'AisA','AisnotnonA',and'ABisA'(
C518,369/L267,P59).Reductionbyanalysisoftermsproceedsbytheuseofdefinitions,orby
substitutionof(morecomplex)equivalenttermsfortheoriginaltermsoftheproposition(see
C518,68/L267;GVII,44).Itakeitfromthisthatintruthsthatarenotexplicitlyidentical,
conceptualcontainmentissupposedtobebasedonaformal(thoughperhapsnotfinite)logical
constructionofthetermsofthepropositionoutofsimplerconcepts.Andthisconstruction,atleast
insofarasitisrelevanttothetruthoftheproposition,proceedsbythesimplelogicaloperationsof
conjunctionandnegation.

Leibnizdoesspeakofother"simpleparticlesorprimitivesyncategorematicterms,"suchas'in'(
C358/P49),whichplayapartinthecompositionofconcepts,butconceptualcontainmentand
exclusionseemalwaystoturnonconjunctionandnegation.Ifapredicateiscontainedinasubject
concept,itisbecausetheyareidenticalorthesubjectconceptisaconjunctiononeofwhose
conjunctsisidenticalwiththepredicate.Ifthesubjectexcludesthepredicate,thatisbecauseitis
thenegationofthepredicate(orviceversa),orbecausethesubjectorpredicateorbothare
conjunctionsofconceptsandoneofthemis,orincludesasaconjunct,aconceptthatisthe
negationoftheotherorofoneoftheother'sconjuncts.Leibniz'sgeneralstatementsofhistheoryof
conceptualcontainmentseemnottoallowforanyotherrelationofimplicationorinconsistency
betweenconceptsthanthese.

Thismaynotbeconsistentwithallhisapplicationsofthetheory.19Forinstance,Ihavearguedin
section3thatactualexistenceiscontainedintheconceptsofthosethingsthatactuallyexist,on
Leibniz'sview,byvirtueoftheirbelongingtothebestofallpossibleworlds.Butistherelationof
betterthanbetweenpossibleworldsreducibletopurelysyntacticalrelationsamongconcepts?
PerhapsLeibnizthoughtso,butit'sfarfromobviousthatitisso,andhehasnotleftusany
demonstrationthatitis.Hehasleftusgeneralstatements,however,thatseemtoimplyapurely
syntacticaltheoryoftruth.

____________________
19
IamindebtedtoMarianneKooijforpressingmeonthispoint.SimilarissueswillariseinChapters
5and6.
65

LeibnizmaybecontrastedwithDescartesonthispoint.InhisearlyRulesfortheDirectionofthe
Mind,Descartesheldthatweareacquaintedwithanumberof"simplenatures,"whichcannotbe
analyzedintoanythingsimpler.Inspiteoftheirsimplicity,hethoughtthesenaturesmayhavea
necessaryconnectionwitheachother;onemaybe

soimpliedintheconceptofanother,bysomeconfusedreason,thatwecannotconceive
eitherdistinctlyifwejudgethattheyareseparatedfromeachother.Itisinthiswaythat
shapeisconjoinedwithextension,motionwithdurationortime,andsoon,becauseit
isimpossibletoconceiveofashapethathasnoextensionatall,oramotionthathasno
durationatall.(ATX,421)

DescartescouldnotexplaintheseimplicationsinthewayproposedbyLeibniz,forDescartes
maintainedthatshape,extension,motion,anddurationaresimpleandexplicitlydeniedthatthey
canbeanalyzed.Hecouldnot,therefore,regardthemasconjunctionsofsimplerproperties.In
otherwords,Descartessupposedthatthereareprimitivenecessaryimplicationsbetweenconcepts,
whicharenottobeexplainedbystructuresofconjunctionandnegationwithintheconcepts.He
waslessexplicitaboutprimitiveinconsistenciesbetweenconcepts,buthedidsaythatthesimple
naturescanbesortedintothosethatareascribedtotheintellect,thosethatareascribedtobodies,
andthosethatareascribedtoboth(ATX,419).Implicitinthisdivision,Ithink,istheassumption
thatthereissomesortofnecessaryincompatibilitybetweenthepurelyintellectualandthepurely
materialnatures,eventhoughtheyaresimple.Knowledgeanddoubt,forinstance,cannothavea
shape.

Descartes'spositionisplausible.Ifthereareanysimpleconcepts,Ishouldthinkthereprobablyare
primitiveimplicationsandinconsistenciesbetweenthem.Leibnizwillhavenoneofit,however.He
maintainsanaccountofconceptualimplicationandinconsistencythatisanancestoroftheattempt
toexplainalllogicalnecessityandalllogicalimplicationintermsofanalyticity.Oneplaceinhis
philosophywheresomethinghangsonthisisinhisversionoftheontologicalproofoftheexistence
ofGod.Earlyandlatehegivesanargument(discussedinChapters5and6inthisvolume)forthe
possibilityofGod'sexistencethatpresupposesthatconceptualinconsistencycannotariseexceptby
aconjunctionofconceptsinwhichoneconceptisanegationoftheother.

Theconsequenceofdefiningtruthintermsofconceptualcontainment,soformallyunderstood,isa
radicallyantisemanticaltheoryoftruth.Thatis,itisatheoryinwhichthetruthorfalsityofa
propositiondoesnotdependatallonwhatobjects,orevenwhatproperties,arerepresentedbythe
simpleconceptsthatenterintotheproposition.Truthorfalsitydependsonlyonthelogical
structureofthepropositionandtheinternallogicalstructureofitsconcepts.Inthissense,truthis
notasemanticalbutapurelysyntacticalpropertyofpropositions,accordingtoLeibniz'stheory.

Thepointisunderlinedbytwoconsequencesthatfollowfromthetheory,althoughLeibnizmaynot
haverecognizedthem.First,suppose,asLeibnizdid,thatallconceptsareultimatelycomposedof
simpleconcepts.ItfollowsfromLeibniz'stheorythatGoddoesnotneedtoknowwhatsimple
conceptsareinvolvedinapropositionP,orwhatpropertiesarerepresentedbythesimple

66

conceptsinP,inordertoknowwhetherPistrueorfalse.Godhasonlytoknowthelogical
structureofPinordertoknowwhetherPistrue.Suppose,forexample,thatGodintuitsa
representationofacompleteanalysisofP,inwhicheachsimpleconceptisrepresentedconsistently
anduniquelybyasymbol.Godcouldknowwhethertherepresentedpropositionistrueorfalse
withoutknowingwhatthesymbolsstandfor.Ofcourse,LeibnizwouldinsistthatGoddoesknow
whatsimpleconceptsareinvolvedineveryproposition(andwhatpropertiestheyrepresent,ifthat
isdifferent);butGod'sknowledgeofthetruthandfalsityofpropositionsdoesnotdependonthat.

Second,ifLeibniz'stheoryoftruthiscorrect,theactualworldisperfectlysymmetricalwithrespect
tosimpleconcepts.TakeanytruepropositionP.SupposeAisacompleteanalysisofP;perhapsA
isinfinitelycomplex.AndletFandGbetwosimpleconceptsoccurringinA.Nowconsiderthe
propositionQformedbyinterchangingFandGatalloftheiroccurrencesinA.Itfollowsfrom
Leibniz'stheorythatQistrueifPis,because,whenfullyanalyzed,theyhaveexactlythesame
logicalstructure,andthereforeQ'ssubjectconceptwillcontainQ'spredicateifandonlyifP's
subjectconceptcontainsP'spredicate.

ThisisnottosaythatthereisnoplaceinLeibniz'sphilosophyforasemanticsthatis,foratheory
ofhowthoughtand/orlanguagerepresentthingsdistinctfromthemselves.Onthecontrary,Leibniz
believedthateachofushasinfinitelymanythoughtsthat"express,"andconstitute"perceptions
of,"thingsoutsideourownminds,andhedevotedalotofattentiontothisrelation,whichis,ina
broadsense,asemanticalrelation.Itisjustthatinhisphilosophythetruthandfalsityof
propositionsaredeterminedindependentlyofthissemanticalrelation(orperhapsmoreaccurately,
priortoit).Thismakesitallthemoredifficulttoanswerthequestiontowhichweturnnext.

5.WhyDidLeibnizHoldtheConceptualContainmentTheory?

Clearly,theconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruthisanextraordinarydoctrine.WhydidLeibniz
believeit?Hesawsomeadvantagesforformallogicinanintensionalinterpretationofthelogicof
predicates,butthoseformalconsiderationsareinconclusive,andLeibnizknewit.20RobertSleigh
hasproposed"Leibniz'sefforttoexplainpossibleindividuals,possibleworlds,andcreationin
termsofGodandhisconcepts"asthesourceoftheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth.21Iam
surethatLeibniz'sdoctrineofcreationisatleastamajorpartofthesourceoftheconceptual
containmenttheory.Specifically,IdonotbelieveLeibnizwouldhaveadoptedtheconceptual
containmenttheoryoftruthhaditnotbeenforhisprioradherencetoaformofthePrincipleof
SufficientReasonthatmakeseverytruthfollow,insomesense,fromthenecessaryexistenceand
natureofGod.

Intheworksofthe1680sandlater,LeibnizsometimesproposesaderivationofthePrincipleof
SufficientReasonfromtheconceptualcontainmenttheory

____________________
20
SeeespeciallyKauppi,berdieleibnizscheLogik,pp.24752.
21
Sleigh,"TruthandSufficientReasoninthePhilosophyofLeibniz,"p.236.
67

oftruth(C519/L268;cf.Tk14).LouisCouturatevenheldthatLeibnizidentifiedtheprinciple
withthetheory.22ButitisnotplausibletosupposethatLeibnizacceptedthePrincipleof
SufficientReasonbecausehebelievedtheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth.Theprinciple
wasoneofhisfirstmetaphysicalcommitments.Inhisletterof1671toMagnusWedderkopfandin
ThePhilosopher'sConfessionofayearortwolaterweseetheyoungLeibnizwrestlingwiththe
apparentlydeterministicimplicationsoftheprinciple,buttheconceptualcontainmenttheoryof
truthmakesnoappearancethere(AII,i,117f./L146f.;AVI,iii,11549).Intheearly1670sLeibniz
evenwroteoutaproofofthePrincipleofSufficientReasonthatisnotbasedonanytheoryoftruth,
butonhisconceptionofa"requirement[requisitum":23

Proposition:Nothingiswithoutareason,orwhateverishasasufficientreason.

Definition1.Asufficientreasonisthatwhichissuchthatifitispositedthethingis.

Definition2.Arequirementisthatwhichissuchthatifitisnotpositedthethingisnot.

Demonstration:Whateveris,hasall[its]requirements.Forifone[ofthem]isnot
positedthethingisnotbydef.2.

Ifall[its]requirementsareposited,thethingis.Forifitisnot,itwillbekeptfrom
beingbythelackofsomething,thatis,arequirement.

ThereforealltheRequirementsareasufficientreasonbydef.1.

Thereforewhateverishasasufficientreason.

Q.E.D.(AVI,ii,483)

Thecrucialpremiseoftheproofisthatnothingcanfailtoexistexceptforlackofarequirement
(i.e.,anecessarycondition)ofitsexistence.Thisseemstobegthequestion,sinceanyonewho
deniesthePrincipleofSufficientReasonwillsupposethatwhenallthenecessaryconditionsofa
thing'sexistencearegiven,theremightstillremainbothapossibilityofitsexistinganda
possibilityofitsnotexistingunlesstriviallynecessaryconditions(suchasthething'sexistence
itself)areincludedhereamongitsrequirements,inwhichcasethesumoftherequirementswill
constituteasufficientreasononlyinaveryuninterestingsenseof'reason'.Leibnizclearlylikedthis
argument,however.ItisrepeatedinThePhilosopher'sConfession(AVI,iii,118)andseemsto
cometomuchbrieferexpressionin1716inLeibniz'slastlettertoSamuelClarke(LCV,18).

ThusLeibnizwouldhavebelievedinthePrincipleofSufficientReasonevenifhehadnever
thoughtoftheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth.Butthetheorydoesprovideanexplanation
ofhowthereisasufficientreasonforeverytruth.Forinanytruepropositionthewayinwhichthe
predicateiscontainedintheconceptofthesubject,withorwithoutinvolvementofGod'schoiceof
thebest,willexpressthereasonforthattruth.Ithinkthatisthepointofthepas

____________________
22
Couturat,"OnLeibniz'sMetaphysics,"pp.20f.
23
Formoreonthisconception,seeChapter4,section1.
68

sagesinwhichLeibnizseemstoderivethePrincipleofSufficientReasonfromthetheory.24

Perhapsthetheorywaspracticallyforcedonhimbyhiscommitmenttotheprinciple.Hemayhave
beenunabletoseeanyreasonassufficientthatwasnotgroundedinconceptualrelations.Thatis
nottheonlywayinwhichthePrincipleofSufficientReasoncanbeunderstood,butitisoneway.
Historically,themostimportantalternative,Ithink,istosupposethatthedecisionofafreewillcan
constituteasufficientreasonforatruththatdoesnotfollowfromconcepts,butLeibnizfirmly
rejectedthisviewwhenitwasproposedtohimbyClarke(LCIII,2;IV,12).25

LeibnizpresentedhisconceptualcontainmenttheorytoArnauld,however,notasaconsequenceof
thePrincipleofSufficientReason,butasananalysisofthenotionoftruth.Apartfromthetheory,
hesays,"Idonotknowwhattruthis"(LA56).Sowestillwantanexplanationofwhyhethought
thetheoryisrequiredforanunderstandingofthenotionoftruth.Andthefirstquestionthatwill
occurtomostofusinthisconnectionis,Whydidn'tLeibnizdefinethetruthofpropositionsin
termsoftheircorrespondencewithfacts?Afterall,asInotedattheendofsection4,Leibnizdid
believethatourconceptsandtruebeliefsexpressthingsdistinctfromus.

SomeremarksofMichaelDummettaboutFregemayshedlightonthisaspectofLeibniz'sthought:

Frege,althougharealist,didnotbelieveinthecorrespondencetheoryoftruth....The
truthofa(complete)sentenceorofthethoughtwhichitexpressesisnotrelational:
thereisnoquestionofourhavingfirsttodiscoverthestateofaffairswhichthe
sentenceisintendedtodescribe,andthentocomparethesentencewithittosee
whetherornotitcorresponds;thesentenceissimplytrueorfalsewithout
qualifications.Facts,inFrege'sontology,arenotfurtherconstituentsofreality,...
alongsideobjects,truthvalues,concepts,relations,andfunctions.Theyare,rather,to
beidentifiedwithtruethoughts.26

MuchofwhatDummettsayshereaboutFregecouldalsobesaidaboutLeibniz.Factshaveno
moreindependentaplaceinLeibniz'sontologythaninFrege's.Thisworld,forLeibniz,isthe
totalityof(finite)things,notoffacts.Itisvirtuallydefinedasaggregatumrerumfinitarum[the
aggregateoffinitethings](GVII,302/L486).Ifrealityiscomposedofthingsratherthanoffacts,it
fallsprimarilytoconceptsratherthantopropositionstocorrespondwithreality,foritisconcepts
thatexpress(orfailtoexpress)things.ThatmaybewhyitwasnaturalforLeibniztothinkofa
propositionasacomplexofconceptsortermsaconceptionofthepropositionforwhichtherewas
alsoprecedentinmedievallogic.And,giventhatwhatoneisdoinginframingorassertinga
propositionisconnectingconceptsortermsinacertainway,therealist'sdemandthateverytruth
shouldhave"somefoundationinthenatureofthings"(DM8)naturallycomestoexpressionasa
demandthatthereshouldbe"somerealconnection

____________________
24
Forasimilarverdict,seeBrody,"Leibniz'sMetaphysicalLogic,"pp.53f.
25
Leibnizisrespondingto1ofClarke'ssecondletterand2ofClarke'sthirdletter(seeG
VII,359f.,363,367,371f.).Cf.Rowe,CosmologicalArgument,Ch.2,andR.Adams,reviewof
Rowe.
26
Dummett,Frege:PhilosophyofLanguage,p.442.
69

between"thetermsofthepropositionthatistrue(GVII,300/L226;cf.C518f./L267f.,LA56).

Whathasjustbeensaidisindeedimportantforanappreciationoftheconceptualframeworkin
whichLeibnizsawtheissue,buttheobjectionthatwasraisedintermsofacorrespondencetheory
oftruthcanstillberaisedinthesenewterms.Atleastforpropositionsaboutactualthings,wemay
ask,Whycan'ttherealconnectionbetweenthetermsofthepropositionbeacontainmentofthe
predicateintheconcretethingtowhichthesubjectconceptcorresponds?Isn'tthatindeedthe
normalunderstandingoftheAristotelianformulapraedicatuminestsubjecto[thepredicateinheres
inthesubject]towhichLeibnizsooftenappeals?Whymustthepredicatebecontainedinthe
conceptofthesubject?

PrecedentshavebeensoughtforLeibniz'stheory.Leibnizhimselfinseveralplacesascribesto
Aristotletheviewthatthepredicateofatruepropositioninheresinthesubject.27Sometimesthat
theoreticallyambiguousclaimisallthatheascribestoAristotle(GI16,132).Butatleastoncehe
saysthat"Aristotleobserved"that"thenatureoftruthuniversallyconsistsin"thisinherence(
C518f./L267).AndatleastonceheseemstoascribetoAristotlethethoughtthattheinherenceisa
conceptualcontainment.ContrastingAristotle'swayofstatingpropositionsas'BisinA',insteadof
theordinary'AisB',Leibnizsaysthat"thepopularwayofstating[propositions]regardsratherthe
individuals,butAristotle'shasmoreregardtotheideasoruniversals"(NE486).
Descartescouldbereadasassertingtheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruthwhenheproposes
thefollowingdefinition:"Whenwesaythatsomethingiscontainedinthenatureorconceptofa
thing,itisthesameasifwehadsaidthatitistrueofthatthingorcanbeaffirmedofit"(AT
VII,162).Butitseemstobethecontainment,ratherthantruth,thatDescartesisdefininghere.And
CharlesJarretthaspointedoutthatwhileDescartesiscommittedbyhisargumenttotheinference
fromconceptualcontainmenttotruth,hedoesnotexplicitlyendorsetheinferencefromtruthto
conceptualcontainment.28

ThePortRoyalLogic,whichwaslargelyArnauld'swork,seemstoholdtheviewthatthepredicate
ofatruepropositioniscontainedintheconcretesubject,withoutimplyingthatitiscontainedin
theconceptofthesubject.Itstates,forexample,that"itistruethatlionsareallanimals,thatisto
say,thateachoneofthelionsincludestheideaofanimal."29Thisstatementpresentsaneasy
targetforLeibniz.Forhowdoesanindividual,concretelionincludetheideaofanimal?
Presumablylionsdonotconceiveorunderstandtheideaofanimal.Andwewhodohavetheidea
inthesenseofconceivingorunderstandingitarenotanimalsbecauseweconceiveorunderstand
it;wealsounderstandtheideaoflion,butarenotthereforelions.Iflionsareanimalsbecausethe
ideaofanimaliscontainedinsomething,theideaorconceptoflionseemstobethelikeliest

____________________
27
IntheirtranslationofNE486,PeterRemnantandJonathanBennettsuggestPriorAnalyticsI,
25b32,asapossiblesourceinAristotleforthisview.ButIdonotwishheretoenterintoany
discussionoftheinterpretationofAristotle.
28
Jarrett,"LeibnizonTruthandContingency,"pp.88f.;citedbySleigh,"TruthandSufficient
ReasoninthePhilosophyofLeibniz,"p.234.
29
ArnauldandNicole,PortRoyalLogic,II,17.
70

container.Andindeedtheconceptofliondoesintherelevantsenseincludetheconceptofanimal.

Butiflionsareanimalsbyvirtueofcontainingsomethingotherthantheideaofanimal,what
woulditbe?Twocandidatescometomind.First,coulditbetheuniversalproperty,animality?
Likeotherearlymodernphilosophers,LeibnizwasnoPlatonistaboutuniversals.Theonly
universalsherecognizedwereconceptsand"possibilitiesinresemblances"(NE323f.).30And
sincehethoughtthatrelationsbetweensubstancesexistonlyinthemind,hewouldhavetosaythat
alion'sresemblancetootheranimalsiscontained,strictlyspeaking,intheconceptthatamind
formsoflionsbycomparingthemwithotheranimals,ratherthaninthelionitself.

Second,thereare,ofcourse,concreteparticularanimals;andifidentitycanberegardedasa
(degenerate)caseofcontainment,wecouldsaythateachofthelionscontainsananimalnamely,
itself.ButLeibnizmightwellhavethoughtthistoodegenerateacaseofcontainmenttosatisfyhis
beliefthatpredicationshouldbeexplainedintermsofcontainment.Theseconsiderationsmayalso
besomepartoftheexplanationofArnauld'sreadyapprovalofLeibniz'sconceptualcontainment
theoryoftruth.

Thesearetechnicalities,however,andweoughtnottolaytoomuchweightonthem.IfLeibnizhad
wantedtoavoidtheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth,hecouldhavesaidthat(atleastin
somecases)therealconnectionbetweenthetermsofanaffirmativepropositiononwhichitstruth
dependsisthatitspredicatecorrespondswith,orexpresses,theconcreteindividualthingsthatits
subjectconceptcorrespondswithorexpresses(orsomeofthem,ifthepropositionisparticular).
Besideswhich,weshallinthenextchaptershowthatthecontainmentofpredicatesinconcrete
individualsubstanceswasnotforLeibnizarejectedalternativetotheconceptualcontainment
theoryoftruth;thereisasenseinwhichhewouldaffirmitasaconcomitantofthetheory.Infact,I
believeitwaslargelybecauseofhisviewsaboutthestructureofconcreteindividualsubstances
thathefounditplausibletoincludealltheirpredicatesintheirconcepts.

6.ConceptualContainmentandTransworldIdentity

Beforetakinguptheseconsiderationsaboutthestructureofindividualsubstances,however,Iwant
topointoutanimportantflawintheargumentagainsttransworldidentityfromtheconceptual
containmenttheoryoftruth.LeibnizandArnauldappeartohaveassumedthatthedenialof
transworldorcounterfactualidentityfollowsfromLeibniz'stheoryoftruth.Thisisanatural
assumptiontomake,butitisincorrect.Thetwodoctrinesarelogicallyindependent:neitherentails
theother.

Letusnotefirstthatthedenialoftransworldidentitydoesnotentailthefullconceptual
containmenttheoryoftruth.Ifeachpossibleindividualexistsinonlyonepossibleworld,Ithinkit
doesfollowthattheconceptofeachpossibleindi

____________________
30
Leibniz'sviewsabouttheontologyoflogicarediscussedmorefullyinChapter7.
71

vidualcontains(insomerelevantsense)itswholehistoryintheonepossibleworldinwhichit
occurs.Butitdoesnotfollowthattheconceptofeachpossibleindividualcontainsananswertothe
questionwhetherthatindividual(actually)existsorwhetheritspossibleworldisactual.Forthere
wouldbenoinconsistencyindenyingtransworldidentity(inagreementwithLeibniz)while
holdingavoluntaristicviewofcreation(insharpdisagreementwithLeibniz).Insucha
voluntaristicdoctrineitwouldbeheldthatGodcouldcreateaninferiorworld(indeed,anyworldat
all)withoutdoinganythingconceptuallyinconsistent;andhencethatnoanswertothequestion
whichpossibleworldisactual,orwhichpossiblecreaturesexists,iscontainedinanyconcepts.So
farasIcansee,thatisperfectlycompatiblewiththeclaimthateachpossiblecreatureexistsin
exactlyonepossibleworld.ButitisnotconsistentwithLeibniz'sconceptualcontainmenttheoryof
truth,whichisexplicitlyappliedtoallpropositions,includingexistentialpropositions(asIhave
arguedinChapter1,section2.6).

Moreimportantforourpresentpurposeisthefactthatthedenialoftransworldidentitydoesnot
followfromtheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth.Ishalltrytoestablishthisfactbysketching
aviewinwhichboththeconceptualcontainmenttheoryandthetransworldidentityofindividuals
areaffirmed.ThisviewstartswithLeibniz'sthesisthatindividualconceptsarecompleteconcepts.
Completenesscanbeunderstoodhereasapurelylogicalpropertyofconcepts."Anindividualor
completeterm"maybedefinedasonetowhichitis"superfluous"toaddanyotherterm
whatsoever(GI7172).31Acompleteconcept,inotherwords,isonetowhichnopredicatenot
alreadycontainedinitcanbeadded(withoutconceptualinconsistency).Orwhatcomestothe
samething,itisaconceptthatcontainsonememberofeverypairofmutuallycontradictory
predicates.Suchaconceptobviouslywillcontainallthepredicatesofanythingthatsatisfiesit.

Completenessisaveryinterestingpropertyofconceptsfromalogicalpointofview.Thepartof
logicthatconcernsushereisthelogicofpredicates.Leibnizthoughtofallconceptsasgenerated,
principallybyconjunctionandnegation,frompredicatesthatareabsolutelysimple.Inthis
generationtwotypesofconceptsaredistinguishedfromallothers:theextremecasesofsimplicity
andcomplexity.BothtypesareassociatedwithdistinguishedfeaturesofLeibniz'smetaphysics.At
oneextreme,heassociatedtheabsolutelysimpleconceptswithGod,identifyingthemwiththe
definitiveattributesofGod(AVI,iii,578f./L167f.).32Attheotherextremearethecomplete
concepts,whicharereachedbyconjoiningmoreandmorepredicatesuntilnonewpredicatecanbe
addedwithoutsomeconceptualinconsistency;thesecompleteconceptsareassociatedwith
individuals.Indeed,Leibnizusestheideaofcompletenesstoprovideapurelylogical
characterizationofindividualsubstance.Hevirtuallydefinesanindividualsubstanceasathing
whosedefinitiveconceptiscomplete(DM8;cf.GI71).

Whatarethepredicateswithrespecttowhichindividualconceptsarecomplete?Thatis,whatare
thepredicateswithrespecttowhichanindividualconcept,accordingtoLeibniz,containsone
memberofeverymutuallycontradic

____________________
31
Cf.Kauppi,berdieleibnizscheLogik,pp.168,231.
32
ThispointisdiscussedmorefullyinChapter4.
72

torypair?DoestheindividualconceptofLeibniz,forinstance,containexactlyoneofthe
predicates'morethanonemetertall'and'notmorethanonemetertall'?Apparentlynot,forLeibniz
waslessthanonemetertallin1647andmorethanonemetertallin1670.Forthisreason,perhaps
thepredicateswithrespecttowhichLeibnizianindividualconceptsarecompletemustingeneralbe
indexedtotimes,asproposedin1972byBensonMates.33

Matespointsout,however,thatwemustbecarefulaboutthesortofindexingtobeascribedto
Leibniz.HearguespersuasivelythatLeibnizsawthefundamentalattributesofthingsastemporally
unqualified,andthereforewouldnotwishtoseereferencestotimessimplyincorporatedinthe
propertiesfromwhichindividualconceptsareconstructed.Inamorerecenttreatmentofthesubject
Matesproposesasolutionthat,ineffect,incorporatestimereferencesinthesubjectratherthanthe
predicate.Thus,insteadofsayingthatthecompleteconceptofAlexandertheGreatcontainsthe
predicate,'kingin335B.C.',MateswillnowhaveLeibnizsaythat"any335B.C.stageof
AlexandertheGreat...contains...theattributeKing."34Butreplacingenduringsubstanceswith
theirmomentarystagesastheprimarysubjectsofpropertiesisascontrarytoLeibniz'swayof
speakingasimposingatemporalqualificationontheproperties.Iaminclinedthereforetothinkthe
bestsolutionwouldassignatimeindextothecopulabywhichthepredicateisattachedtothe
subject.Neither'AisBt'nor'AtisB',but'AistB',wouldexpressthedeepstructureofatypical
Leibnizianpredication.

Howeverthedetailsareworkedout,inconsistencywillbeavoidedbysayingthattheindividual
conceptofLeibnizcontainsinsomewaythepredicates'morethanonemetertall'and'notmore
thanonemetertall',butonlywithrespecttodifferenttimes.Inawaythatisintendedtobeneutral
amongthedifferentwaysinwhichthetimeindexcouldattachtothestructureofapredication,we
maysaythatitiswithrespectto"timeindexedpredications"thataLeibnizianindividualconceptis
complete.Andthatistheimportantpointforourpresentpurpose.For,asMatesalsopointsout:

IfLeibnizconsidered[anindividual]conceptascontainingatimeparameter,itishard
toseewhyhedidnotalsobuildinaparameterrelatingtothedifferentpossibleworlds.
ThusthecompleteindividualconceptofAdamwouldnotonlyindicatewhatattributes
hehadatwhattime,butwhatattributesatwhattime(orothertimelikerelation)in
whatworld.

Inthisway,Matessuggests,Leibnizcouldaccepttransworldidentity

andyetcouldretaintheprinciplesoimportanttohimthateveryindividualconcept
involvesallthatwouldeverhappentoacorrespondingindividualandreflectsallthe
otherindividualconceptsthatarecompossiblewithit.35

Inotherwords,theindividualconceptofanindividualthatexistsinmorethanonepossibleworld
couldbecompletecompletewithrespecttoworldindexedpredications.

____________________
33
Mates,"IndividualsandModalityinthePhilosophyofLeibniz,"pp.108f.
34
Mates,PhilosophyofLeibniz,pp.88f.
35
Mates,"IndividualsandModalityinthePhilosophyofLeibniz,"p.109.
73

CompletenesswithrespecttoworldindexedpredicationsisnotinitselfenoughforLeibniz's
conceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth.ForiftheindividualconceptofArnauldcontainsbothof
thepredications'Arnauldis(atsometimeinsomepossibleworld)married'and'Arnauldis(atall
timesinsomepossibleworld)celibate',theconceptualcontainmenttheorywillrequirethatthe
individualconceptofArnauldalsocontainananswertothequestionwhethertheactualworldis
oneinwhichArnauldissometimesmarriedoralwayscelibate.Andtheworldindexedpredications
donotdirectlytellusthat.ThesolutiontothisproblemwouldbeeasyforLeibniz,however.Itis
essentiallythesameashissolutiontotheproblemofaccountingforactualexistenceandactual
nonexistenceintermsofconceptualcontainment.OntheviewsuggestedbyMatestherewouldbe
nointernalconceptualinconsistencyinapossibleworldinwhichArnauldmarries,butLeibniz
couldstillsaythattherewouldbeanexternalconceptualinconsistencyinGod'sactualizingit,
becauseitisaninferiorworld.Thepredicationofactualmarriageisthereforenotcontainedin
Arnauld'sindividualconcept,whichcontainsratherthepredicationofactualperpetualcelibacy,
becauseitcontainsahistoryofperpetualcelibacyforArnauld,notastheonlypossiblehistoryfor
him,notastheonlyhistoryinwhichhewouldstrictlybehimself,butasthehistorythatisindexed
totheworldthatisinfactthebestofallpossibleworlds.36Thusactualcelibacyandactual
existencewouldbecontainedinArnauld'sindividualconceptinexactlythesameway.

Thusworldindexedpredicationwouldseemabletoaccountforthosecounterfactualidentitiesthat
Leibnizmostclearlymeanstodeny.Sinceanaccountoftransworldorcounterfactualidentityin
termsofworldindexedpredicationscansatisfytheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruthinthis
way,thetheorydoesnotrequireadenialoftransworldorcounterfactualidentity.Therejectionof
counterfactualidentity,liketheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruthitself,doesnotseem
adequatelysupportedbythemoreabstractlylogicalreasonsthatLeibnizprovides.

____________________
36
ThissolutiondoesrequirearevisionofArnauld'sdefinition(orpartialdefinition)of'Individual
concept'(LA30f.,quotedinsection2ofthischapter).Inthissolutionthepredicationofperpetual
celibacy(i.e.,ofactualperpetualcelibacy)issupposedtobecontainedinArnauld'sindividual
concept,althoughtherearepossibleworldsinwhichArnauldwouldnotbeperpetuallycelibateand
wouldstillbehimself.WhatremainstrueinthissolutionisthatnothingiscontainedinArnauld's
individualconcept,independentlyofthequestionwhichworldwouldbechosenbyGodasthebest
possible,exceptpredicatessuchthatArnauldwouldnotbehimselfiftheywerenottrueofhim.
74

3
TheMetaphysicsofCounterfactualNonidentity
TherichlydeservedprestigeofBertrandRussell'sandLouisCouturat'sworksonLeibnizseta
fashionoftryingtoseehisphilosophyasprincipallyderivedfromhislogicandphilosophyof
logic.MuchinLeibniz'sownworkseemstoinvitethisapproach.Butthedeductiveorderinwhich
Leibnizpresentshisdoctrines,especiallyinhiswritingsofthe1680s,ismisleading.Anadequate
foundationofthesystemorevenafullyadequateexplanationofhishavinghelditcannotbe
foundinhisphilosophyoflogic.Wehavetoturntohislessformalviews,notonlyaboutGodand
creation,butalsoaboutcausationandperception,inordertounderstandthemotivationforhis
philosophyoflogic,whichwasasmuchshapedbythemastheybyit. 1Inparticular,itisclearthat
hefoundinhisviewsaboutcausationandperceptionreasonsfordenyingtransworldor
counterfactualidentity.
TryingtorespondtothecommonsenseappealofAntoineArnauld'saffirmationofcounterfactual
identity,Leibnizwrote:

ItseemstousindeedthatthisblockofmarblebroughtfromGenoawouldhavebeen
exactlythesameifithadbeenleftthere,becauseoursensesmakeusjudgeonly
superficially,butatbottombecauseoftheconnectionofthingsthewholeuniversewith
2partswouldbeentirelydifferent,andwouldhavebeenanother[universe]from
allits
thebeginning,iftheleastthinginitwentotherwisethanitdoes.(LA42)

Thispassagedoesnotpresentafullyarticulatedargument.ButItakeitLeibnizmeansthatifwe
combinedourordinaryconceptionsofindividualityandindividualidentitywithacorrect
understandingoftheconnectionsofthings,wewouldnotmakethe"superficial"judgmentsof
counterfactualidentitythatcommonsenseinfactmakes,butwouldconcludethatnoactual
individualwouldexistiftheuniversehaddifferedfromtheactualworldinrespectof"theleast
thing."

Ifweputthematterintermsofpossibleworlds,wemaysaythatLeibniz'sargumentfindsatarget
inArnauld,ifArnauld'sbeliefthathecouldhavebeenmarriedandwouldstillhavebeenhimselfis
basedontheassumptionthat

____________________
1
Cf.Mondadori,"Leibnizian'Circle'."
2
HereIcorrectGerhardt'sreading,nos(GII,42),toses,inaccordancewithLeRoy,109.
75

(1)Insomepossibleworld,w,thereexistsamanwhosecharacteristicsandhistoryareexactlylike
thoseofAntoineArnauldintheactualworlduntilsometimeatwhich,inw,themanmarries.

Leibnizseemstobedenying(1)andalsocommittinghimselfto

(2)Therearenotwopossibleworldsthatarequalitativelyidenticalbeforeacertaintimebut
differentthereafter.

and

(3)Noindividualsubstancesin(qualitatively)differentpossibleworldsareexactlyalike,
qualitatively,duringaninitialportionoftheirhistories.

Leibnizstillseemstobecommittedto(3)twentyfouryearslaterintheTheodicy,wherehesays
thatamongthosepossibleworldsthat"differfromtheactualworldonlyinoneparticularthingand
itsconsequences"thereareworlds

inwhichwillbefound,notexactlythesameSextusthatyouhaveseen[intheactual
world](thatisimpossible;healwayscarrieswithhimwhathewillbe),butsimilar
Sextuses,whowillhaveeverythingthatyoualreadyknowoftherealSextus,butnot
everythingthatisalreadyinhimwithoutbeingnoticed,norconsequentlyeverything
thatwillyethappentohim.(T414,myitalics)

Itfollowsfrom(3)thatanArnauldwhomarried,inanotherpossibleworld,musthavehadthere,
fromtheverybeginningofhisexistence,differentcharacteristicsfromthoseoftheactualArnauld.
Leibnizevidentlythinksthatthosedifferenceswouldbesufficientgroundsfordenyingtransworld
identity.Thisisnottheplacetodiscussatlengthwhethertransworldidentitymustindeedbe
deniedif(3)isacceptedand(1)isrejected.IthinkLeibniz'sinferenceatthispointisatleast
plausible.Ourstrongestintuitionsoftransworldidentityareofindividualidentityinalternative
possiblecontinuationsofthehistoryofaworldthatis,inalternativepossiblecontinuationsof
exactlythesamehistory,oftheworldandoftheindividual,untilthetimeatwhichthealternatives
diverge.Aconvincingargumentagainstthepossibilityofsuchalternativecontinuationsofthe
samehistorywouldgreatlyweakentheintuitivesupportfortransworldidentity,inmyopinion.

ButdoesLeibnizhaveaconvincingargumentagainstthatpossibility?Heseemstorejectit
"becauseoftheconnectionofthings."Butthe"connection"referredtoispresumablyafeatureof
theactualworldthelawsororderinaccordancewithwhicheveryactualeventhasalwaysbeen
prefiguredinitscausesandwillalwaysberecordedinitseffects,asLeibnizbelieves.Whycouldn't
someotherpossibleworld,byvirtueofadifferenceinitslaws,orbyamiracle,diverge
qualitativelyfromtheactualworldonlyafteracertaintime?Andwhywouldn'tthatpermit
transworldidentity?Ourtaskinthischapteristoinvestigatethesequestions,consideringhow
individualsubstanceisrelatedtolawsofnature(section1)andtothepossibilityofmiracle(section
2).Then,insection3,weshallconsidertheextenttowhichthe"connectionofthings"referredto
hereistobe

76

understoodintermsofperception.Intheend,insection4,IwillconcludethatLeibniz'sphilosophy
supportsproposition(3)onlyunderanunderstandingof'possibleworld'thatdiffersmorewidely
frompresentdayunderstandingsthanwesawhimtodifferinChapter1.

1.SubstanceandLaw

Tothequestionofwhytherecouldn'tbeapossibleworldthatisjustliketheactualworldupto
sometimebutdivergesqualitativelythereafterduetosomedifferenceinthelawsofthatpossible
world,I,thinkLeibnizwouldreplythatanydifferenceinthelawsoftheuniversewouldimplya
qualitativedifferencebetweenthepossibleworldsfromtheverybeginningindeed,thatitwould
implyaqualitativedifferenceineveryindividualsubstancefromtheverybeginning.Thisis
connectedwithLeibniz'sviewsabouttranstemporalidentity.Almostimmediatelyafterthepassage
IhavequotedaboutthemarblefromGenoa,Leibnizgoesontosay:

Since,then,onesupposes...thatitisIwhosubsistduringthetimeABandwhoam
theninParis,andthatitisstillIwhosubsistduringthetimeBCandwhoamthenin
Germany,theremustnecessarilybeareasonthatmakesittruetosaythatweendure
thatistosay,thatI,whohavebeeninParis,amnowinGermany.Forifthereisno
[reason],onewouldhaveasmuchrighttosayitissomeoneelse.Itistruethatmyinner
experiencehasconvincedmeaposterioriofthisidenticalness,buttheremustalsobea
[reason]apriori.(LA43)

Theunsupportedassertionthattheremustbeareasonapriorimaystrikeusatfirstasmerelya
questionbeggingassertionthatthereasonmustbeconceptualcontainment,butIthinkthatisan
anachronisticreadingofthetext.Leibnizdoesnotusuallyuse'apriori'intheepistemologicalsense
towhichwehavebecomeaccustomedsinceKant,butinitsolder,originalsense,inwhichareason
aprioriisanargumentfromthecausesratherthantheeffectsofthefacttobeproved(asexplained
intheappendixtothischapter).ForLeibnizaproofaprioriexplainsthefactproved;aproofa
posterioridoesnot.Thatisthecrucialdifferencebetweenthem.HereLeibnizissayingthatthere
mustbeareasonthatexplainswhydifferentstatesatdifferenttimesshouldbesaidtobelongtothe
samesubstance.Inotherwords,heissayingthattheremustbeareasonthatexplainshisown
identitythroughtime;hedoesnotthinkthatsuchidentitycanbeaninexplicableprimitive.

Itsexplanationistobesoughtinaconceptualcontainment,accordingtoLeibniz.

Nowitisnotpossibletofindanother[reasonforthisidenticalness]exceptthatmy
attributesoftheprecedingtimeandstate,aswellasmyattributesofthefollowingtime
andstate,arepredicatesofoneandthesamesubject,insunteidemsubjecto[theyarein
thesamesubject].Nowwhatisittosaythatthepredicateisinthesubject,exceptthat
theconceptofthepredicateisincludedinsomewayintheconceptofthesubject?And
since,fromthetimeIbegantobe,itcouldbesaidtrulyaboutmethatthisorthatwould
happentome,it

77

mustbeacknowledgedthatthesepredicateswerelawsincludedinthesubjectorinmy
completeconceptwhichmakeswhatiscalledme,whichisthefoundationofthe
connectionofallmydifferentstatesandwhichGodknewperfectlyfromalleternity.(
3
LA43)

WemaywonderwhyLeibnizthoughtthattheinclusionofearlierandlaterstatesinasingle
conceptispeculiarlyapttoexplainatranstemporalidentity.Surelyhedidnotsupposethata
conceptarbitrarilyframedtoincludepartsofhisownyouthandtheoldageofArnauldcould
groundthetranstemporalidentityofanindividualaswellashisownidentitythroughtimeis
groundedbyhisindividualconcept.Whatisit,then,aboutindividualconceptsthatfitsthemto
explaintranstemporalidentity?

Theanswertothisquestionistobefoundintheclaimthat"thesepredicateswerelawsincludedin
thesubjectorinmycompleteconcept...whichisthefoundationoftheconnectionofallmy
differentstates."Ithinkthelawshereareconceivedascausallaws,andasfoundingaconnection
ofsuccessivestates,notonlyinthoughtbutalsoinreality.Thegreatestthreattoourunderstanding
ofthispartofLeibniz'sphilosophyisaprejudicethatmayhaveitshistoricalrootsinLockeand
Humeanassumptionthatconceptualconnectionscannotalsobecausalconnections,thatthey
imposenecessityonlyonourthought,andcannotexplainwhyanythingoccursinreality.Leibniz
certainlydidnotmakethisassumption,asisclearfromhisconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth
andhisuseofittoexplainthePrincipleofSufficientReason.Leibnizthoughtthatconceptual
connectionsarepreciselywhatdoultimatelyexplaintheexistenceofallrealthingsandthe
occurrenceofallrealevents.

Thecoalescenceofconceptualandcausalconnectionsismostmarkedinthenotionofsubstantial
formthatplaysacentralroleinLeibniz'smaturephilosophy.ForLeibnizasforAristotle,a
substance'sformiscloselyrelatedtothedefinitionorconceptofthesubstance;wemaythinkofthe
form,perhaps,asaconcreteexpressionoftheindividualconceptofthesubstance.Atthesame
time,formsarerealcausesofactualeffects;Leibnizidentifiesthesubstantialformwiththe
4Leibnizbringstheseideastogetherinthefollowing
primitiveactiveforceofthesubstance.
passagefromanimportanttextthatmayhavebeenwrittenduringtheperiodoftheLeibniz
Arnauldcorrespondence.

Forthenatureofanindividualsubstanceissuchthatithasacompleteconcept,in
whichallthepredicatesofthesamesubjectareinvolved....Butsinceallthingshave
transactions[commercium]withotherthings,eitherdirectlyorindirectly,itfollowsthat
thenatureofeverysubstanceissuchthatbyitsforceofactingandbeingactedon,that
isbytheseriesofitsimmanentoperations,itexpressesthewholeuniverse.Andthis
principleofactions,orprimitiveforceofacting,fromwhichaseriesofvariousstates
follows,istheformofthesubstance.(GVII,316f./MP84f.)

____________________
3
ThisandthepreviouslongquotationarefromapreliminarydraftofLeibniz'sletterof14July1686
toArnauld.Intheletteritselftheargumentislessfullydevelopedonthepointsthatmostconcern
ushere,butitissupplementedwithalinktoLeibniz'scritiqueofCartesianviewsaboutextended
substance(LA53f.;cf.Sleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,p.126f.).
4
Leibniz'sconceptionofsubstantialformisexpoundedmuchmorefullyinChapter11,section1.
78

Thereisineachindividualsubstance,Leibnizbelieves,aprimitiveforcethathecallsasubstantial
form,ortheformofthesubstance.Andthisformissocloselyconnectedwiththeindividual
conceptofthesubstancethatLeibnizthinksitselfevidentlyvalidtoinferfromthecompletenessof
theconcepttothesufficiencyoftheformorforceforthegenerationofacompleteexpressionof
theuniverse.Therearetwopointscallingfordiscussionhere:theconnectionbetweenformand
conceptandtheconnectionofidentitywithformasforce.

1.Theconnectionbetweenformandconceptissignaledin10oftheDiscourseonMetaphysics,
whereLeibnizarguesthatthereissomethingrightabouttheAristotelianideaofsubstantialforms.
Forimmediatelyafterhavingintroducedthedoctrineofthecompletenessoftheconceptofeach
individualsubstance(DM8),anddrawnfromittheconsequencethat"eachindividualsubstance
expressesthewholeuniverseinitsownway"(DM9),Leibnizstatesthatancientandmedieval
philosophers"hadsomeknowledgeofwhatwehavejustsaid,andthatiswhatledthemto
introduceandmaintainthesubstantialformsthataresomuchcriticizedtoday"(DM10). 5C.D.
Broadarguedthatsuchconsequencesasthecausalindependenceandexpressivecompletenessof
eachsubstancecouldnotfollowfromtheconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruthorthecomplete
concepttheoryofsubstancewithouttheadditionofanindependentpremisetotheeffectthatthere
isintheconcreteactualsubstancewhatBroadcalledan"ontologicalcorrelate"oftheconceptof
6Whydidn'tLeibnizseeanyneedtoarticulateaseparatepremiseofthatsort?The
thesubstance.
answerprobablyliesinthecloseconnectionofformandconceptinhismind.Thesubstantialform
isthe"ontologicalcorrelate,"asBroadputit,oftheconceptofthesubstance:"Itwillbeinsisted
that[JuliusCaesar's]natureorformcorrespondsto"hisindividual(andcomplete)concept.Leibniz
doesnotrejectthisassumption,thoughhecombatsanobjectionthatisbasedonit(DM13).He
tookforgrantedthatthedefinitiveconcept(God'sconcept)ofasubstancewouldrepresentits
internalcausalstructure,its"natureorform,"ashisAristotelianidealof"real"and"causal"
definition(DM24;GIV,424f./L293)wouldleadonetoexpect.Forthisreason,thecontainmentof
Adam'ssininAdam'sindividualconceptisnotexactlyanalternativetothecontainmentofthesin
inAdamhimself.ForifAdam'sindividualconceptrepresentsAdam'sinternalcausalstructure,
whateverfollowsfromtheonefollowsfromtheother,also.

2.ThereareseveralplacesinhislaterwritingswhereLeibnizseemstoexplainthetranstemporal
identityofasubstanceintermsof"theperpetuallawwhichmakesthesequenceofperceptionsthat
areallottedtoit"andinwhich"itsindividualityconsists"[T291(1710)].In1698hewroteof"that
lawoftheorderthatmakestheindividualityofeachparticularsubstance"(GIV,518/L493).7
"Thatthereisacertainpersistinglawwhichinvolvesthefuturestatesofthatwhichweconceiveas
thesame:thatiswhatIsayconstitutesthesamesubstance"

____________________
5
TherelevanceofDM10totheconceptualcontainmenttheoryhasbeenoverlookedbymany
interpreters.ItisrightlyemphasizedinGarber,"LeibnizandtheFoundationsofPhysics,"pp.
6062.
6
Broad,Leibniz:AnIntroductionp.24f.
7
IowethisreferencetoSleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,p.129.
79

8Successivemomentarystatesbelongtothesameindividualsubstance,
[GII,264/L535(1704)].
accordingtoLeibniz,ifandonlyiftheyareproducedbythesamepersistingindividuallaw.

Nowifwethinkofcausallawsasabstractobjects,wemightthinkthatthesamelawcouldbe
responsibleforthesequenceofstatesofseveraldifferentindividualsubstances.ButLeibniz
evidentlyhassomethingelseinmind.AsLouisLoebhaspointedout,Leibniz'scriterionoftrans
temporalidentitydependsonhisdenialofcausalinteractionbetweencreatedsubstances. 9The
successionofstatesofeachindividualsubstance,ormonad,formsanisolatedcausalseries,sothat
twostatesoccurringatdifferenttimesbelongtothesameindividualsubstanceifandonlyifthe
earlierisacauseofthelater:"Perceptionistheoperationpropertothesoul,andthenexusof
perceptions,accordingtowhichsubsequentonesarederivedfromtheprecedingones,makesthe
unityoftheperceiver"[GII,372/L599(1709)].

The"law"or"nexus"thatconstitutestheunitythroughtimeofanindividualsubstanceisfor
Leibniznotmerelyaformulathatdescribestheseriesofstates.Itisratherasubstantialform,
concretelyrealizedinthesubstanceateverymomentofitsexistence.Aswehaveseen,Leibniz
identifiedthissubstantialformwitha"primitiveforceofacting."Theconceptofforcehasacentral
metaphysicalroleinLeibniz'sthought."Theverysubstanceofthingsconsistsintheforceofacting
andbeingactedon,"andthereforeadenialof"lastingforce"tocreatedthings,reservingittoGod
alone,comestothesamethingasSpinoza's"doctrineofmostevilrepute,"that"Godisthevery
natureorsubstanceofallthings"(GIV,508f./L502;cf.RML421,LA133,GIV,594).Theforcethat
constitutestheverysubstanceofthingsis"primitiveforce,"andLeibnizlinksitwithlaw.Primitive
forces,LeibnizwrotetoBurcherDeVolderin1704or1705,are"internaltendenciesofsimple
substances,bywhichaccordingtoacertainlawoftheirnaturetheypassfromperceptionto
perception"(GII,275/AG181).Theprimitiveforcescanevenbeidentifiedwithlaws:"the
primitiveforceisasitwerethelawoftheseries"ofsuccessivestatesofanenduringthing(G
II,262/L533).This"lawoftheseries"issurelyalsothe"persistinglaw"thatconstitutesthe
transtemporalidentityofanindividualsubstance(GII,264/L535),andalsothe"lawsincludedin
the...completeconcept"(LA43).Thislicensesinferencesfromthecontentsoftheconceptofa
substancetoconcreteforcesortendenciesinthesubstanceitself.

Webeganthissectionofourinvestigationwiththequestion,Whycouldn'ttherebeapossible
worldthatisjustliketheactualworlduptosometimebutdivergesqualitativelythereafter,dueto
somedifferenceinthelawsofthatpossibleworld?Ithinkwearenowinapositiontoseethat
Leibnizrejectsan

____________________
8
ThesewordsarepartofapassagethatisbracketedinLeibniz'smanuscript(asIhaveverifiedona
photocopyofthemanuscript),andwhichwaspresumablynotsenttoDeVolder,probablybecause
itdealtwithaquestionthatLeibnizpreferred,onreflection,nottoraisewithhiscorrespondentat
thispoint.Butthestatementisnotcrossedout,andthereareenoughsimilartextstoremoveany
doubtthatLeibnizdidindeedholdtheviewexpressedhere.Forotherpassages,andagood
discussion,seeLoeb,FromDescartestoHume,pp.31719.
9
Loeb,FromDescartestoHume,pp.31719.
80

assumptionthatgivesrisetothatquestion.Herejectstheassumptionthatcausallawsandrelations
areimposedfromtheoutsideonindividualsthatarecausallyneutralintheirindividualnatures(G
IV,507,584/L500).CausalpowersorforcesareprimitivefeaturesofrealityasLeibnizconceivesof
it;theyarenottobeanalyzedintermsofcausallyneutralstatesplusextrinsiclaws.Leibnizthinks
thatthelawsareinternaltoindividualsubstancesandthattheyarepermanentandunchanging
throughoutthesubstance'shistory,constitutingtheformofthesubstance.Inapossibleworldthat
haddifferentlawsfromtheactualworld,therefore,everyindividualsubstanceaffectedbythe
difference(thatis,allindividualsubstances)mustalwayshavebeenconstitutedbya"primitive
force"thatisqualitativelydifferentfromthatwhichconstitutesthecorrespondingindividualinthe
actualworld.Inthatrespect,theindividualsofthatotherworlddifferqualitativelyfromtheiractual
counterparts,fromthebeginningoftheirexistence.Theyhavedifferentsubstantialforms.Leibniz
couldplausiblyclaimthatsobasicadifferenceisenoughtoruleouttransworldidentityandmake
themdistinctpossibleindividuals.

2.SubstanceandMiracle

Section1dealtwithonewayinwhichitmightbesupposedthattwopossibleworldscouldbe
qualitativelyidenticalbeforeacertaintimebutthendiverge.IhavearguedthatLeibnizmayhave
rejecteddifferenceinthelawsofthetwoworldsasabasisforsuchdivergenceonthegroundthat,
inhisopinion,adifferenceinthelawsimpliesaqualitativedifferenceintheindividualsubstances
ofthetwoworldsfromtheverybeginningoftheirexistenceaqualitativedifferenceinthe
substantialformsorprimitiveforcesofthesubstances.ButwemustalsoconsiderwhyLeibniz
shouldnothavethoughtthattwopossibleworldswiththesamelawscoulddifferqualitativelyonly
afteracertaintime.Shouldn'tanomnipotentGodbeabletosuspendtheoperationofanylawor
createdforceandworkamiracleforwhichtherewasnopreparationinthepreviousqualitative
historyoftheworld?Ifso,won'ttherebeapossibleworldinwhichsuchamiraclehappens,and
another,justlikeitbeforethemiracle,inwhichthemiracledoesnothappen?

AdmittingthatGodcould,byamiracle,preventAntoineArnauld'ssubstantialformorprimitive
forcefromhavingitsnaturaleffectoflifelongcelibacywouldunderminethecaseIhavebeen
developingfordenyingArnauld'scounterfactualidentitywithapossiblymarriedman.Itiseasy
enoughtoseewhyLeibnizwouldthinkthatamanwhosesubstantialformwasqualitatively
differentfromthebeginningofhisexistencewouldnotbeidenticalwithArnauld,butwhywoulda
miracleprecludecounterfactualidentity?Supposethereisapossibleworld,w,whosehistoryis
exactlylikethatoftheactualworldupto1632.Inw,ofcourse,thereisamana,bornin1612,who
isqualitativelyidenticalwiththeactualAntoineArnauldforthefirsttwentyyearsofhislife.In
particular,theprimitiveforcethatahasinwisqualitativelyidenticalwiththeprimitiveforcethat
Arnauldhasintheactualworld,andwouldhavelifelongcelibacyas

81

itsnaturaleffect.Butwearetosupposethatinw,amarriesin1632asaresultofamiraclethat
preventsa'sprimitiveforcefromhavingitsnaturaleffect.Theoccurrenceofonesuchmiracledoes
not,initself,seemtomeaplausiblereasonfordenyingthatacouldbe,inw,numericallythesame
personastheactualAntoineArnauld.Leibnizcouldsupporthisrejectionoftransworldidentity
moreeasilyifhedeniedthatthereisanysuchpossibleworldasw.Butwouldhiscommitmentto
divineomnipotencepermithimtodenyit?

ThetraditionofChristianAristotelianism,towhichbroadlyspeakingLeibniz'sviewsoncausality
belong,hadlimited,morethanmanymodernswould,thedependenceofcausalityonGod'swill.
Manymedievalphilosophersheld,forexample,thatGodcouldchoosetocreateornotcreatefire,
but,havingdeterminedtocreatefire,Godcouldnotwithholdthe(causal)powerofheatingfrom
thefirethatwouldexist,becausethispowerisessentialtofire.ThesepredecessorsofLeibniz
wouldgenerallyhavesaid,however,thatonceGodhascreatedasubstancewithcertaincausal
powers,Godcouldmiraculouslysuspendorobstructthosepowers,orpreventthemfromoperating
(becausetheactualoperationofthepowersisnotessentialtothecreature),andcouldequally
refrainfromdoinganysuchmiracle.Alternatively,Godcouldmiraculouslyannihilatethecreature.

God'smiraculouspowersaresoimportanttoChristianorthodoxythatitwouldhavebeendifficult
forLeibniztodenythem.Wearenotsurprisedtofindhimsayingthat"thelawsofnatureare
subjecttothedispensationoftheLegislator"andthat"Godcandispensecreaturesfromthelaws
thathehasprescribedforthem,andproduceinthemwhattheirnaturedoesnothold,indoinga
Miracle"(Tpd3).Weshallhavetoseeinwhatsensehecanhaveacceptedthis.

Thisquestionwillleadusintoafairlylengthydiscussion.Wewillbegininsection2.1witha
featureofLeibniz'ssystemthatseemstofavorinterpretingmiraclesassomehowcausedbythe
primitiveforcesinherentincreatures.Wewillgooninsections2.22.3toconsidersomeof
Leibniz'sexplicitdiscussionsofthemiraculous.Inthesetexts,however,Leibnizmainlydiscusses
whatmiraclesare,notwhattheycouldbe.Suchtextsareobviouslyrelevanttoourinvestigation.
Onanyinterestinginterpretation,Leibniz'sargumentabouttheGenoeseblockofmarblerequires
certainlimitsonthetypesofmiraclesthatactuallyoccur.Thequestionwhatlimits,ifany,Leibniz
wouldimposeonthetypesofmiraclesthatGodcouldperform,whichwillbetakenupinsection
2.4,isobviouslyimportant,too,andmoredifficulttoanswer.Nonetheless,Ibelievewewillbe
ableeventually,insection4,toarriveatasatisfactoryinterpretation.

2.1TheKingdomofNatureandtheKingdomofGrace

Howevertheyhappen,suchmiraclesasactuallyoccurintheLeibnizianuniversearetheretoserve
theaimsofwhatLeibnizcalled"thekingdomofgrace,"inwhichGodisrelatedtorational
creatures,notonlyastheirarchitectandmaker,butalso,morepersonally,asajustandbenevolent
monarch(DM36,T247,Mon8790).TheproblemaboutthenatureofmiraclesisforLeibnizapart
ofamoregeneralproblemabouttherelationofthekingdomofgracetotheking

82

domofnature.Andhedevelopedasolutiontothatmoregeneralproblem,intermsofpre
establishedharmony.

Hisfamoustheoryofpreestablishedharmonyoperatesonseverallevels.Atthedeepestlevelthere
isaharmonybetweentheperceptionsofdifferentmonads.Thereisalsoaharmonybetweenbody
andsoul,whichcanalsobeseenasaharmonybetweendiversecausalsystemsbetweenthe
kingdomof"efficientcauses,"asystemofmechanicalcausationoperatinginthephenomenal,
corporealworld,andthekingdomof"finalcauses,"asystemofteleologicalcausationoperating
withinthemonads.Atthehighestlevelthereisaharmonybetween"thePhysicalkingdomof
Nature,"comprehendingthe"twoNaturalKingdoms"ofefficientandfinalcauses,"andtheMoral
kingdomofGrace,thatistosaybetweenGodconsideredasArchitectoftheMachineofthe
universe,andGodconsideredasMonarchofthedivinecityofMinds"(Mon87).

ThishighestlevelofharmonyaddressesacrucialproblemforLeibniz'stheodicy.IntheDiscourse
onMetaphysicsthemostgeneralstandardofperfectiongoverningGod'schoiceamongpossible
worldsappearstobemetaphysical:a"balance"between"simplicityofthewaysofGod"thatis,of
lawsand"variety,richness,orabundance"inthecreaturesproduced(DM5).Suchmetaphysical
perfectionisoflimitedrelevance,however,tothereligiousproblemofevil,whichiscentrally
concernedwithGod'smoralgoodness,God'sgoodnesstocreatedpersons.Forwhatistoguarantee
thatamachineofnature,producingtherichestvarietyofbeingsinaccordancewiththesimplest
laws,willnotjustgrindcreatedpersonstomincemeat,regardlessofanyvirtuetheymaypossess?
10

ThisproblemarisesquiteclearlyinNicolasMalebrancheTreatiseonNatureandGraceandrelated
works,whichLeibnizcertainlyhadinmindwhenwritingtheDiscourse.Thephrase,"the
simplicityofthewaysofGod,"whichLeibnizusesintheDiscourse,isusedrepeatedlyby
MalebranchetosignifywhatheregardsasamostimportantcriterionoftheperfectionofGod's
actionincreatingandgoverningtheworld.ItwouldbeunworthyofGod'swisdom,Malebranche
holds,tocompromisethesimplicityofGod'swaysbymakingalotofmiraculousexceptionstothe
lawsofnaturetopreventparticularevils.Malebrancheaffirmedan"orderofgrace"aswellasan
"orderofnature,"butinsistedthatGodoperatesbyuniversallaws,avoidingfrequentmiraculous
exceptionstothem,inbothorders.ThisregardforuniversallawsexplainsGod'spermissionof
manyevils."Godoughtnottodisturbtheorderandsimplicityofhiswaystopreventabirthdefect
[unmonstre],asterility,aninjustice"(OMVI,40).Moredrasticallystill,"ifGodhaspermittedsin,
andiftherearesomanypeopledamned,itisnotthatGoddoesnotlovehisworks[sonouvrage],
butthat,asheshould,heloveshiswisdominfinitelymorethanhisworks."11Thestatementthat
Godloveshiswisdommorethanhisworks,orevenexplicitly"thatheloveshiswisdommorethan
hisWorks,morethanhumanbeings,andthatheoughtnottodisturbtheorderandsimplicityofhis
waysinorderto

____________________
10
Itisperhapsworthnotingherethattheproblemofassuringaharmonybetweennaturalandmoral
ordersispreciselywhatleadstothepostulationofadeityinKant'smoraltheology.
11
OMVIII,684.Thistextwaspublishedin1686,theyeartheDiscoursewaswritten.Alltheother
textsofMalebrancheIciteinthisparagraphwerepublishedby1685.
83

provideforourneeds"(OMVI,35f.),isalmostarefraininMalebranche'swritingsonthissublect.
12

Leibnizevidentlywishedtobemorereassuringonthissubject.AlreadyintheDiscoursehe
insistedthat"itisnottobedoubtedthatthehappinessofmindsisGod'sprincipalend,andthathe
putsitintoeffectasmuchasthegeneralharmonypermits"andindeedthatGodhassoordered
thingsthatmindsendureasmindsforever,andthattheywillbeperfectlyhappyprovidedonlythat
theyloveGodwithasincereandseriousgoodwill(DM5,36).ButintheDiscourseLeibnizoffers
noveryclearexplanationofhowthis"moral"purposeofGod'sfitstogetherwiththemoregeneral
metaphysicalcriterionofperfection,exceptthatheobservesthatmindsarecapableofmore
perfectionthanotherbeings,andinterferelesswithotherbeings,andthuspresumablycontribute
moretotheperfectionoftheuniverse(DM36,5)andmorestill,inproportionastheyarehappy,
sinceLeibnizunderstandspleasureandhappinessasperceptionofperfection(DM15).

InboththeTheodicyandtheMonadology,however,Leibnizholdsthatthereisapreestablished
harmonybetweenthemoralorderandthemetaphysicalperfectionofthenaturalorder.Whatis
importantaboutthisforourpresentpurposeisthatitimpliesthatthebestpossibleworldisonein
whichtheaimsofthekingdomofgracearerealizedbytheworkingsofthekingdomofnature,and
thusbynaturalobjectsoperatingaccordingtotheirowninherentlaws,withoutdivineinterference.
Thus,havingintroducedtheharmonybetweenthekingdomsofnatureandofgraceinthe
Monadology,Leibnizcontinues:

ThisHarmonymakesthingsleadtogracebytheverywaysofnature,and[bringsit
about]thatthisglobe,forexample,mustbedestroyedandrepairedbynaturalwaysat
themomentswhenthegovernmentofmindsdemandsit,forthepunishmentofsome
andtherewardofothers.(Mon88)

AndintheTheodicyLeibnizwritesthat

thereisreasontojudge,followingtheparallelismofthetwokingdoms,thatoffinal
causesandthatofefficientcauses,thatGodhasestablishedintheuniversea
connectionbetweenthepenaltyorrewardandthebadorgoodaction,insuchaway
thattheformerisalwaysattractedbythesecond,andthatvirtueandvicegettheir
rewardandpunishmentinconsequenceofthenaturalcourseofthings,whichcontains
yetanotherspeciesofpreestablishedharmonythanthatwhichappearsinthe
commerceofthesoulandthebody.(T74)

Similarly,LeibnizobjectstoPierreBayle'sapparentbeliefthat"Godcouldbetterhaveattainedhis
endinthekingdomofGraceifhewerenotattachedtotheselaws[ofthekingdomofnature],ifhe
haddispensedhimselfmoreoftenfromfollowingthem,orevenifhehadmadeothers"(T340).
BaylehadwrittensarcasticallyofaGodwho"wouldprefertoletthewholehumanraceperish
ratherthantosuffersomeatomstogofasterorslowerthanthegenerallaws

____________________
12
Inadditiontothetextsalreadycited,seeMalebrancheTreatiseofNatureandGrace,I,43(first
publishedin1680),theAdditionsto1,23,39,47,56(1684),and23and26ofthethird
claircissement(1683)(OMV,49f.,37,47f.,52f.,5860,184196);alsoMalebranche'sresponsesto
Arnauld'scriticisms,OMVII,533,555f.(1685).(TheAdditionsandthirdclaircissementarenot
includedinRileytranslationoftheTreatise.)
84

demand";he"wouldnothavemadethisoppositionifhehadbeeninformedofthesystemof
generalharmonythatIconceive,"Leibnizsays,"whichimplies...thatmatterisdisposedinsucha
waythatthelawsofmotionservethebestgovernmentofminds,andthatconsequentlyitwillturn
outthathehasobtainedthemostgoodthatispossible,providedthatmetaphysical,physical,and
moralgoodsarecountedtogether"(T247).Theconcludingprovisoremindsus,ofcourse,that
Leibnizdoesallowthatthebestpossibleworldmaybeoneinwhichthehappinessofrational
creaturesiscompromisedtosomedegreeforthesakeofmorephysicalormetaphysicalgoods(cf.
T118),thoughhedoesnotstressthispointasharshlyasMalebranchedid.

ThesestatementsdonotabsolutelyexcludemiraclesinwhichGodwouldbringsomethingabout
thatdidnotfollowfromthesubstantialformsandpreviousstatesofcreatures,buttheyarenot
favorabletobeliefinsuchmiracles.Forthepurposeofmiraclesistoadvancetheaimsofthe
kingdomofgrace,butwhatLeibnizsaysintheTheodicyandtheMonadologyaboutthegeneral
relationshipbetweenthekingdomofgraceandthekingdomofnatureindicatesthattheaimsofthe
kingdomofgraceareachievedbyapreestablishedharmonybetweenthetwokingdomsratherthan
bydivineinterventionthatbypassestheactiveprinciplesofthekingdomofnature.Wemuststill
consider,however,whatLeibnizactuallyassertsaboutmiracles.

2.2"Essence"and"Nature"

ThepossibilityandnatureofmiracleswasasensitiveissueforLeibniz.Itengageshisattentionin
severalsectionsoftheDiscourseonMetaphysics,whereheexplicitlyasks"howitispossiblefor
Godsometimestoinfluencehumanbeingsorothersubstancesbyanextraordinaryormiraculous
concurrence,sinceitseemsthatnothingextraordinaryorsupernaturalcanhappentothem,given
thatalltheireventsareonlyconsequencesoftheirnature"(DM16).Hisreplydependsona
distinctionbetweentwotypesoflaw.Miracles"arealwaysinconformitywiththeuniversallawof
thegeneralorder"(DM16),butnotwithcertain"subordinatemaximsorlawsofnature"(DM17;
cf.DM67).Thesameview,whichwemustnowexaminemoreclosely,isstatedbrieflywhen
LeibnizintroducesthesubjectofmiraclesinhiscorrespondencewithArnauld(LA51).

Theuniversallawofthegeneralorderisalawthatgovernsthemutualrelationsofabsolutelyall
substancesandeventsintheuniverse.Bydefinition,itiswithoutexception;anylawtowhichthere
isanexceptionisnotuniversalintherelevantsense.Leibnizclaimedthatwecanseethatevery
possibleworldhasanorderofthissort.Heappealedtogeometricalexamples.Nomatterwhatsort
oflineisdrawn,hesays,

itispossibletofindaconceptorrule,orequationcommontoallthepointsofthatline,
invirtueofwhich[its]changes[ofdirection]mustoccur....Thusitcanbesaidthatin
whateverwayGodhadcreatedtheworld,itwouldalwayshavebeenregularandina
certaingeneralorder.ButGodhaschosentheonethatisthemostperfect,thatistosay,
theonethatisatthesametimethesimplestinhypothesesandtherichestin
phenomena.(DM6;cf.GVII,312/MP78f.)

85

Leibnizregardeditasarathertriviallynecessarytruth,therefore,thattheuniverseisorderedbya
universallawtowhichtherearenoexceptionsnotevenmiraculousexceptions.

Thegeneralorderoftheactualworld,however,cannotbecomprehendedbyanycreatedmind(
DM16).(Howthatisconsistentwiththepreeminentsimplicityoftheactualgeneralorder,Leibniz
doesnotexplain,sofarasIamaware.)Ontheotherhand,"everythingthatiscallednatural
dependsonthelessgeneralmaximsthatcreaturescancomprehend"(DM16;cf.NE65,GIII,353).
Theselessgeneralmaximsincludethe"lawsofnature"thathumansciencecaninprinciple
discover.Andtherecanbeexceptionstothem.Indeed,Leibnizholdsthatmiraclesaresuch
exceptions.HisstatingthecontrastintermsofwhatiscomprehensibleonlytoGod,andnottoany
createdmind,certainlysuggeststhatLeibnizthinksofthegeneralorderasinfinitelycomplexand
ofthenaturallawsasonlyfinitelycomplex.Thenaturallawsareonlyfinitelyunderstandable,
however,notfinitelydemonstrable,fortheycanhaveexceptions,andhenceareneithernecessary
nordemonstrable.

Forourpresentpurpose,themostimportantquestionhereishowthesetwotypesoflawarerelated
tothesubstantialformthatconstitutesacreatedsubstance.Iftheuniversallawofthegeneralorder
isincorporatedinthesubstantialformofaparticularsubstancetowhichamiracleisnotgoingto
happen,thenthatsubstancewouldhavetohavehadaqualitativelydifferentsubstantialformor
primitiveforceifamiracleweregoingtohappentoit,andtwopossibleworldscouldnomore
differwithrespecttomiraclesthanwithrespecttolawswithoutdifferingqualitativelyfromthe
beginning.Butifitisonlythelawsofnaturethatareincorporatedinthesubstantialformsof
individualsubstances,thentwopossiblehistoriesofasubstancecouldbequalitativelythesameup
toacertaintime,proceedingfromthesamesubstantialformorprimitiveforce,andcouldthen
divergebyamiracle,whichwouldrequireGodtointerferewiththeoperationoftheprimitiveforce
inoneofthehistories.

SofarasIknow,Leibnizdoesnotdirectlyanswerthisquestionaboutsubstantialforms.Buthe
doesproposeintheDiscourseonMetaphysicsadistinctionbetweenthe"essence"andthe"nature"
ofanindividualsubstance,correspondingtothedistinctionbetweenthetwotypesoflaw.

Thatcouldbecalledouressence13whichincludesallthatweexpress,andasit
expressesourunionwithGodhimself,ithasnolimitsandnothinggoesbeyondit.But
thatwhichislimitedinuscanbecalledournatureorourpower[puissance],andinthis
regardthatwhichgoesbeyondthenaturesofallcreatedsubstancesissupernatural.(
DM16)14

____________________
13
0nthefirstdraft,butnotonthemorefinishedsurvivingcopies,Leibnizaddedherethewords"or
idea."
14
Leibnizwasnotalwaysloyaltothisterminologicaldistinction.Inadraftforaletterof8December
1686toArnauld,the"concept,idea,essence,"and"nature"ofanindividualsubstancearetreatedas
equivalentandascontaining"everythingthatistohappentoit"(LA68f.)a"lowwatermark"for
thedistinction,asremarkedinSleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,p.79.AtNE433Leibnizsuggestsa
similar(butperhapsnotexactlythesame)distinctionbetweenthe"essential"andthe"natural,"but
healsoseemssomewhatwillingtouse'essential'morebroadly,tocovertheterritoryofthemerely
naturalaswellasthatofthestrictlyexceptionless.
86
Twointerpretationsofthispassagearepossible.Inthefirst,itisthe"natureorpower"thathere
correspondstothesubstantialform.Itisacausalforceintheconcretesubstance,butthe"essence"
isonlyanideainthemindofGod.Itisonlythesubordinatelawsofnaturethatareincorporatedin
concretesubstances.Inthesecondinterpretation,itisthe"essence"thatherecorrespondstothe
substantialform.ItisnotonlyanideainthemindofGod,butalsoacausalforceintheconcrete
substance,whichthusincorporatestheuniversallawofthegeneralorder.Ibelievethesecond
interpretationistobepreferred,atleastasanunderstandingofthepredominanttendencyof
Leibniz'sthought,butthereisacasetobemadeforthefirstinterpretation,andwewillbeginwith
it.

2.2.1SubstantialFormas"Nature"

GroundsforthefirstinterpretationmightbesoughtinLeibniz'sinsistencethatlaterstatesoffree
creatures(Caesar'scrossingtheRubicon,forexample)areonlycontingentlyconnectedwiththeir
earlierstates(DM13;cf.Gr384).ButthishardlycommitsLeibniztodenyingthattheearlierstates
containthelawofthegeneralorderfromwhichthelaterstatesfollow,sincehecertainlythought
thatthecompleteconceptofafreecreatureinsomesensecontainsthelawsfromwhichitsactions
follow,butstillmaintainedthattheconnectionbetweentheconceptandtheactionsiscontingent(
DM13).Ifthisisunderstoodintermsoftheinfiniteanalysisconceptionofcontingency,thereisno
reasonwhyfreeactionscouldnotflowcontingentlyfromaninfinitelycomplexlawofthegeneral
orderincorporatedinthesubstantialformoftheagent.Leibnizcertainlythoughtthattheconcrete
causalstructuresofcreatedsubstancesmustbeinfinitelycomplexinordertomirrorthecomplexity
ofthewholeuniverse.

AdetailinthisdiscussionthatmightsupportthefirstinterpretationisthatLeibnizsuggestsitcould
besaidindefenseofCaesar'sfreedomthattheactionscontainedinhiscompleteconcept"belongto
himonlybecauseGodknowseverything."AndtothecounterobservationthatCaesar's"natureor
formcorrespondsto"hiscompleteconcept,Leibnizsays,"Icouldrespondbytheexampleoffuture
contingents,fortheyhavenorealityexceptintheunderstandingandwillofGod"(DM13).This
certainlywouldfitwiththeviewthatthe"essence"thatcontainsallofCaesar'sactsisonlyanidea
inthemindofGod,andthatwhatisconcretelyexpressedinCaesar'ssubstantialformissomething
lesscomprehensive.ButIdoubtthataheavyweightofinterpretationshouldbelaidonthese
arguments,forLeibnizlaysthemasideasnot"satisfy[ing]thedifficulties"(DM13).

ThestrongestevidenceIhavefoundforthefirstinterpretationisinaletterofApril1687to
Arnauld,aletterwhichsurelymusthaveleftArnauldthinkingthatLeibnizbelievedinmiracles
andhelpsofgrace("extraordinaryconcurrencesofGod")thatarenotproducedbyanythingin
creatures.Intheend,IaminclinedtothinkthatLeibnizmeanttobe(misleadingly)noncommittal,
assertingnothingaboutextraordinaryconcurrence,whenhewroteinthisletter,"Settingaside
extraordinaryconcurrence,[God's]ordinaryconcurrenceconsistsonlyinconservingthesubstance
itselfinconformitywithitspreviousstateandthechangesthat[thatstate]holds"(LA91f.).A
readermightbepardoned,however,fortak

87

ingLeibniztomeanthatinmetaphysicalrigor,Goddoessomethingmorethanconservea
substancewhenitisanobjectofGod'sextraordinaryconcurrence.Asimilarimplicationmight
easilybedrawnwhenLeibniz,inthesameletter,assertingthat"theactionsofmindschange
nothingatallinthenatureofbodies,norbodiesinthatofminds,"addsthat"Godchangesnothing
there[i.e.,intheirnature]ontheiroccasion,exceptwhenheworksamiracle"(LA93).The
implicationthatmiraclesinvolvesomethingmorethanconservationofcreatedsubstancesseems
evenmorestronglysupportedbyapassagewrittenfortheletterthatLeibnizdidnotsendArnauld,
butstruckoutevenonhisowncopy.ThereheinvokedtheScholasticdistinctionbetween
immanent(intrasubstantial)andtranseunt(intersubstantial)causation,and"claimedthat,in
metaphysicalrigor,transeuntcausationisrestrictedtoGod'soperationsandcomesinthreeforms:
creation,conservativecausation,andtheproductionofmiracles."15

Whatisespeciallystriking,however,aboutthetreatmentofmiracleintheletteristhatLeibniz
offersanexplicitcriterionofthemiraculous:

Iadmitthattheauthorsofoccasionalcauseswillbeabletogiveanotherdefinitionof
theterm,butitseemsthataccordingtousageamiraclediffersinternallyandbythe
substanceoftheactfromanordinaryaction,andnotbyanexternalaccidentoffrequent
repetition;andthatstrictlyspeakingGodworksamiraclewhenhedoesathingthat
surpassestheforcesthathehasgiventocreaturesandconservesinthem.(LA93)

Inreadingthisdefinition,weshouldbearinmindthatLeibnizandArnauldbothattacked
occasionalismonthesubjectofmiracles,butfromquitedifferentdirections.Leibnizrepeatedly
accusedtheoccasionalistsofimplyingthatalleventsinnaturearemiraculous(e.g.,LA57f.).
Occasionalistswouldnotadmitthis;Malebrancheheldthatmosteventsinnaturearenot
miraculousbecauseGodproducesthemnotbyparticularbutbygeneralvolitions(forinstance,not
bywillingthatIseeredonthisoccasion,butbywillingthatallhumanmindsshallseeredwhen
theirbodiesareaffectedinacertainway,inwhichminehappensnowtobeaffected).Leibnizhere
suggeststhatthisleavestheoccasionalistswithtoosuperficialaconceptionofmiracle.His
commentsaccuratelyreflectafundamentaldifferencebetweenhimandMalebranche,whichisthat
Leibnizrecognizescreatedsubstancesastruecauses,whereasMalebrancheacceptsonlyGodasa
truecause.LeibnizproposesacriterionofthemiraculousthatdoesleaveMalebranchewithtoo
manymiracles.

ItthreatenstoleaveLeibnizhimselfwithtoofewmiracles,however.Thisisaseriousmatterinhis
correspondencewithArnauld,whoalreadyfearedthatMalebranchewouldendupnotwithtoo
manymiracles,butwithnoneorwithmiraclesinadequatelydistinguishedfromGod'sordinary
activity(RML21922).Leibnizwillendupwithnomiracles,byhisowncriterion,unlesshethinks
thatGodsometimesdoestocreaturesthingsthat"surpasstheforcesthathehasgivento"them.
ThisletterclearlyimpliesthatLeibnizdidthinkthat,anditwasatbestdisingenuousifhereally
thoughtthatthereisineachcreatedsubstanceacausalstructurethatproducesallitsstates,
miraculousaswellasordinary.

____________________
15
IquotefromthedescriptionofthispassageinSleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,p.134.
88
2.2.2SubstantialFormas"Essence"
IthinkthereisagoodcaseforsupposingthatLeibnizwasdisingenuousinjustthiswayandthatby
'forces',asascribedtocreaturesinthisletter,and'natureorpower'inDM16,hemeansonlyapart
oftheprimitiveforceortotalcausalstructureinherentinacreatedsubstance.Thisisstrongly
suggestedinDM16:

Ifweincludeinournatureeverythingthatitexpresses,nothingissupernaturaltoit,for
itextendstoeverything,sinceaneffectalwaysexpressesitscauseandGodisthetrue
causeofsubstances.Butasthatwhichournatureexpressesmoreperfectlybelongstoit
inaspecialway,sinceitisinthatthatitspowerconsists,andsince[itspower]is
limited,asIhavejustexplained,thereareplentyofthingsthatsurpasstheforcesofour
nature,andeventhoseofalllimitednatures.Consequently,inordertospeakmore
clearly,IsaythatmiraclesandextraordinaryconcurrencesofGodhavethispeculiarity,
thattheycannotbeforeseenbythereasoningofanycreatedmind,howeverenlightened
itmightbe,becausethedistinctcomprehensionofthegeneralordersurpassesthemall.

Therearethreepointstobenotedinthispassage.
1.
The"effect"ofwhichLeibnizsaysherethatitexpressesGodasitscause,andthereforeexpresses
everything,issurelynotjustanideainGod'smind,butaconcretestructureinthesubstancesof
which"Godisthetruecause."ThisagreeswiththefactthatLeibnizispreparedtosay,notmerely
ofanindividualconcept,butof"eachindividualsubstance,"thatinexpressingthewholeuniverse
"itexpressesalsotheaforesaidmiracles"(LA40f.).The"nature"construedbroadlyasincluding
everythingexpressedbythesubstanceisclearlythesameas"ouressence,whichincludesallthat
weexpress"(DM16),anditcanbeidentifiedwithwhatLeibnizcalls"primitiveforce"or
"substantialform,"ifthistalkaboutcreatedsubstancesexpressingevenmiraclesistobebelieved.
2.
The"power"ofournatureconsistsonlyin"thatwhichournatureexpressesmoreperfectly."What
Leibnizhas"justexplained"(inDM15)aboutthelimitedpoweroffinitesubstancesisthat
"practical"talkaboutsuchsubstances"acting"oneachother,andthusexercising"power,"canbe
understoodintermsofdifferencesinhowwelleachsubstance"expresses"whatisgoingon.The
formsinwhichthisrecurrentLeibniziantheme16isdevelopedinDM15,however,seemtometo
shedlesslightonDM16thandoesLeibniz'slaterstatementthatasubstanceis"activeinsofaras
whatisdistinctlyknowninitservestogiveareasonforwhathappensinanother,andpassive
insofarasthereasonforwhathappensinitisfoundinwhatisdistinctlyknowninanother"(
Mon52).Nowifsomethinghappensinacreatedsubstancemiraculously,inawaythatdoesnot
agreewiththelawsofnaturethatfinitemindscanunderstand,thereasonforthateventwill
presumablybevastlylessdistinctly"knownin"thatsubstance(thatis,itcanmuchlesseasilybe
readoffthepreviousstatesofthesubstance)thanifitwereproducedinaccordancewiththoselaws
ofnature.
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16
TheideaisnotoriginalwithLeibniz,sofarasIcanjudge.Somethingveryclosetoitisfoundin
Spinoza(Ethics,III,def.2).LeibnizdidnotacknowledgeintellectualdebtstoSpinoza,thoughhe
wasgenerallyeagertoacknowledgesuchdebtstopredecessors(evenunfashionableones,suchas
theScholastics)whowerenotregardedasheretics.
89
Thiswillbeareasonforsayingthatinthemiraculouseventthesubstanceisneitheractivenor
exercisinganypower,andthattheeventexceedsanythingithasthe"power"toproduceeven
though,inmetaphysicalrigor,themiraculousstatesofthesubstanceareproducedbythesubstance
itselfinaccordancewiththeuniversallawofthegeneralorderthatisincludedinthe"essence"to
whichGodhasgivenconcreteexpressioninthe"form"ofthatsubstance.

ThisinterpretationofDM16issupportedbythefactthatinthesummaryofDM16thatLeibniz
senttoArnauldinFebruary1686,"ournature,"whoseforcesaresurpassedby"theextraordinary
concurrenceofGod,"isequatedwith"ourdistinctexpression,whichisfiniteandfollowscertain
subordinatemaxims"(LA13).Similarly,whenLeibnizimpliestoArnauldthatGodsometimes
"doesathingthatsurpassestheforcesthathehasgiventocreatures,"hemayhavemeantonlythat
Godsometimesdoesathingthatisnotdistinctlyexpressed(inadvance)bycreaturesbecauseit
doesnotagreewiththelawsofnaturethatfinitemindscangraspthoughhecanhardlyhave
expectedArnauldtounderstandhiminthissense.Thus,whenLeibniz'slettercarriesastrong
suggestionthatinmiraclesGodchangessomethinginthe"nature"ofcreatedsubstances,hemay
bethinkingonlyofchangesin(orexceptionsto)thesubordinatelawsthatareintelligibletous.

3.TheinabilityofcreatedmindstoforeseemiraclesandextraordinaryconcurrencesofGod,orto
understandtheorderonwhichtheydepend,playsacentralroleinthisinterpretation.Itisapoint
thatisoftenemphasizedinLeibniz'sdiscussionsofmiracle.17Thereasonwecannotforesee
miraclesisthattheorderonwhichtheydependistoocomplexforustograsp.Accordingly,
Leibnizsometimesindicatesthatmiraclesaredistinguishedfromnonmiraculouseventsbytheirnot
havingsimpleexplanations.InthecopyhekeptofhisApril1687lettertoArnauld,immediately
afterthedefinitionofmiraclethatIhavequoted,LeibnizsaysthatifGoddecreedthatanybody
swunginacircleinaslingshouldalwayscontinueincircularmotionwhenreleasedfromthesling,
"withoutbeingpushedorrestrained"byanyotherbody,thiswouldbeamiracleeventhoughit
happenedregularly,"sincethismotioncannotbeexplainedbysomethingsimpler"(LA93).

Thesimplicityofexplanationsplaysaparticularlydecisivepartinthediscussionofmiraclesina
draftLeibnizwrotein1702forareplytoFranoisLamy,anoccasionalistcriticofthesystemof
preestablishedharmony.HereLeibnizrepeatshisobjectionthatifGodisthesolecauseofnatural
eventsandtheeventsproducedarenaturalwheneverGodactsaccordingtogenerallaws,then
naturaleventswilldifferfrommiraclesonlybyanexternalaccidentoffrequentrepetition.

Thenaturalandthemiraculouswouldnotdifferinthemselves,butonlybytheexternal
denomination(denominationeextrinsica)takenfromtheantecedentsand
consequences.Forwhatisprecededandfollowedby[events]likeitwouldbenatural,
andwhatisnotsuchwouldbeamiracle.

Butingoingontoexplainthat"thereisanessentialdifferencebetweenthenaturalandthe
miraculous,"whatLeibnizemphasizesisthat"noteverysortofruleor

____________________
17
SeeRML203(1685),C508(17024),GIII,353(1704).
90

lawisfittomakealawofnature."Forexample,ifGodestablishedarulethataplanetshould
alwaysmoveinanellipticalorbit,withoutanymechanicalactionofotherbodiestokeepitspath
elliptical,

Godwouldhaveestablishedaperpetualmiracle,and...itcouldnotbesaidthatthe
Planetwouldgothatwayinvirtueofitsnatureorfollowingnaturallaws,sinceitisnot
possible...togiveareasonforsuchaphenomenon,whichwouldneed[tobegiven],
however,becausethat[elliptical]motioniscomposite,hencethereasonmustcome
fromsimplermotions.

Whereas,ifthecompositemotioniscausedbysimplermotionsofotherbodies,"thenitwillbein
thesesimplerreasonsthatthenatureofthethingwillconsist"(GIV,587f.).18Inshort,the
essential,internaldistinctionofthemiraculousfromthenaturalseemsheretodependonthe
simplicityoftheexplanations,orsystemoflaws,inaccordancewithwhichnaturaleventsare
produced.AndthatiscertainlyconsistentwithLeibniz'sthinkingthattheuniversallawofthe
generalorder,towhichevenmiraclesconform,andwhichisnotsosimple,isconcretelyexpressed
inthesubstantialformofeverycreatedsubstance.

Asimilarinterpretationcanbegiventoanotherdocumentwhichotherwisewouldseemtosupport
anoppositeinterpretationofDM16.MaterialrathersimilartoLeibniz'sletterofApril1687to
ArnauldcanbefoundincorrespondencebetweenLeibnizandhispatroness,theDuchess(later
Electress)Sophia,in1691.ShehadwrittentohimaboutayoungprophetessinLneburgwho
claimedtoreceivedictationfromChristandhadapparentlybeenabletorespondpertinentlyin
GermantoquestionspresentedtoherinEnglishinasealedpaperwhichshedidnotopen(A
I,vii,2931).Leibnizrespondedthathewas"thoroughlypersuadedthatthereisnothingbut[what
is]naturalinallthat,andthattheremustbesomeembellishmentintheaffairofthesealednotein
English."Suchapersonshowsthesurprisingresourcesofthehumanmind,andshouldnotbe
persecutedorreformed,butpreservedasamuseumpiece[piecedecabinet],thoughhealso
thought"onewoulddowellnottoputtheyoungladyprophetesstothetestofsealednotesany
more"(AI,vii,33,40).Leibnizwentontosay,however,that"thegreatProphets,thatistosay,
thosewhocanteachusthedetailsofthefuture,musthavesupernaturalgraces.Anditisimpossible
thatalimitedmind,howeverpenetrating,couldsucceedatthat"becauseofthe"infinityofcauses"
onwhicheachfutureeventdepends(AI,vii,35).

Sophiadidnottakeupthesecommentsaboutthesupernatural,butendedasubsequentletterabout
thecasewiththebluntandsweepinglynaturalisticremark,"whateveritmaybe,itisalwaysavery
strangeeffectofnature,forIcomprehendnothingthatsurpassesnature.Ibelievethateverything
thathappensisnatural,evenwhenwedonotknowthecauseofit"(AI,vii,44).Inhisnextletter
Leibnizcommentedonthisstatementasa"pointofimportance":

Thatisverysolid,provideditisexplainedcorrectly.Itisverytrue,then,that
everythingthatisdoneisalwaysnaturaltotheonethatdoesit,ortotheonethataidsin
doingit.ThuswhatahumanbeingdoeswiththeaidofGod,ifitisnotentirelynatural
tothehumanbeing,willatleastbenaturaltoGod,

____________________
18
Foraverysimilardiscussionofthemiraculous,directedagainstoccasionalism,seeGIV,520f./
L494f.
91

inasmuchasheaidsinit;anditcannotsurpassthedivinenature,norconsequentlyall
natureingeneral.ButpopularlywhenNatureisspokenof,thatoffinitesubstancesis
understood,andinthissenseitisnotimpossiblefortheretobesomethingsupernatural,
whichsurpassestheforceofeverycreatedbeing.Itiswhenaneventcannotbe
explainedbythelawsofmovementofbodies,orbyothersimilarrulesthatarenoticed
infinitesubstances.AndIhaveshowninanearlierletterthatoneencountersthatevery
timeonefindsasuccessionoftruepropheciesthatgointodetail.Itistruethattheyare
rare,likeallothersupernaturalthings.(AI,vii,46f.)

ItmaybehardertoseeLeibnizasdisingenuousherethaninwritingtoArnauld.Sophiawasa
trustedfriend;moreover,Leibnizwouldhavebeenmoreinagreementwithherifhehadtakena
lesssupernaturalistlineherethoughintheseventeenthcenturyitwasdoubtlesssaferingeneralto
bemoreorthodox(andonthispointmoresupernaturalist)thanone'spatrons,ratherthanlessso.

Itisstriking,however,thatLeibnizechoesthelanguageofDM16,speakingofwhat"surpassesthe
forceofeverycreatedbeing,"andthatheequatesthemiraculouswithwhatisinexplicableinterms
oflaws"thatarenoticed[seremarquent]infinitesubstances."Thelawsthatarenoticedin
creaturesarepresumablythesimplerlaws,whichtheyexpressmoredistinctly.Thissuggeststhat
thedistinctionbetweenthenaturalandthemiraculousisbeingdrawnhereintermsofthe
simplicityorcomplexityofthelaws,ratherthanwheretheyareexpressedwhichleavesopenthe
possibilitythatLeibnizisindeedthinkingofthecomplexbutexceptionlesslawthatgrounds
miraclesasexpressedintheformsorprimitiveforcesofcreatedsubstances.Hemayhaveleftthat
unsaidwithSophiasimplybecausehedidnotgenerallyexpoundhissubtlestmetaphysicalthoughts
toher.

Oneapparentconsequenceofthisinterpretationofthedifferencebetweenthenaturalandthe
miraculousisthatthefreeactionsofcreatureswillbemiraculous.ForLeibnizcertainlythought
thatfreeactions"cannotbeforeseenbythereasoningofanycreatedmind"becauseofthe
complexityoftheorderonwhichtheydepend.Leibnizmadethispointhimself:

ButindeedFreeorintelligentSubstanceshavesomethinggreaterandmoreremarkable,
inacertainimitationofGod:thattheyarenotboundtoanycertainsubordinateLawsof
theuniverse,butactspontaneouslyfromtheirownpoweralone,asifbyasortof
privatemiracle....Andthisistrueinasmuchasnocreatureisaknowerofheartsthat
canpredictwithcertaintywhatsomeMindisgoingtochooseinaccordancewiththe
lawsofnature.(C20/MP100)

Thisisanexceptionaltext,inpartbecauseitalsosaysthatfreeagents"interrupttheconnectionand
courseofefficientcausesoperatingontheirwill"somethingthatseemsquitecontrarytoLeibniz's
usualviews,asexpressed,forexample,inhisletterofApril1687toArnauld(LA93f.).19Buteven
asidefromthat,whichmaybejustalapse,IknowofnoothertextinwhichLeibnizassimilates
freeactionstomiracles,anditmaybethattheassimilationdidnotusuallyseemwelcometohim.

____________________
19
SeealsoChapter1,section2.6,whereItakethispointasevidenceofacomparativelyearlydate
(beforeJuly1686)forC1624.
92

Despiteanyproblemsonthispoint,anddespitesuchtextualevidenceaswehaveseenontheother
side,IthinkthetenorofLeibniz'sphilosophyingeneralfavorstheviewthatthewholeuniversal
lawofthegeneralorderisincorporatedinthesubstantialformorconcretecausalstructureofeach
createdsubstance.20ItisinterestinginthisconnectionthatintheTheodicy,havingsuggestedthat
thoughoursoulspreexistedourbirthashumanbeings,itmayhaverequiredaspecialor
extraordinaryoperationofGodtoelevatethemfrommeresentiencetorationality(T91),Leibniz
addsthat"Iwouldprefertodowithoutmiracleinthegenerationofthehumanbeing,asinthatof
otheranimals,"whichcanbedoneifwesupposethat"thosesoulsalonethataredestinedtoattain
onedaytohumannaturecontainthereasonthatwillappearthereoneday"(T391)presumably
implyingthattheeffectofextraordinarydivineactionshouldhavebeenincorporatedinthesesouls
fromthebeginning.

Onefurtherargumentforthisinterpretationisthefollowing.AccordingtoLeibniz,wenotonly
ourconcepts,butalsoweconcretelyexpressthewholeuniverse,includingallthemiraclesthat
occurinit(LA40f.).Howdoweexpressit?Byvirtueofoursubstantialformorprimitiveforce,
fromwhichalwaysproceedperceptionsofthewholeuniverse,theperceptionsbeingproducedby
lawsthatexpressthelawsbywhichtheeventsperceivedareproduced.Butifoursubstantialform
expressedonlythelawsofnatureandnotthewholelawofthegeneralorderoftheuniverse,then
perceptionsofmiracles,whicharenotproducedbythelawsofnature,willnotfollowfromour
substantialform.Doesthedivine"clockmaker"havetointerveneineachofusateveryinstantto
causeustoperceivethemiraclesthatoccurintheuniverse?OrdoesGodadjustusallonlyonce,
whenthemiracleoccurs,inwhichcaseourperceptionsafterthemiracledonotperfectlyagreeor
harmonizewiththosebefore?Eachoftheseconsequenceswouldcertainlybeunpalatableto
Leibniz.

Leibnizhimselfpointsoutsimilarproblems.AllowingtoBartholomewDesBossesthat"Godcould
createinfinitelymanynewMonads,"Leibnizaddsthat"itshouldbethoughtthattheoldmonads
werealreadysoorderedbyGodfromthebeginning,whenhecreatedthem,thattheirphenomena
correspondedformerlytothemonadthatwasstilltobecreated;unlesswepreferGodtochangeall
theothermonadsbyamiracle,whenhecreatesanewone,soastoaccommodatethemtothenew
one,whichislesslikely"(GII,371/L598).Anotherpertinenttextisacurioussectionofthe
TheodicywhereLeibnizsuggeststhatthemiracleofCana(John2:111)mayhavebeenworked
"bytheministryofsomeinvisiblesubstances,suchastheangels,astheRev.Fatherde
Malebranchealsoholds,"21ratherthanbyadirectdivineinterventioninnature.

____________________
20
ThereisatextinwhichLeibnizexplicitlyraisesthequestionwhether"preciselythefuturityitself
ofanaction...isanintrinsicdenominationorarealaffectioninthewill?"(Gr387)Anansweris
notgivenunambiguously,andthetextispublishedbyGruainamanifestlyimperfectstateof
preservation,butIthinkthedocumentpredominantlysupportstheanswerthatthefuturityofthe
actionissomehowinthenatureofthecreature,notonlyinGod.Aninterestingpieceofevidence
includedinthetextisthatefficaciousgrace,whichobviouslymightberegardedasadivine
interventioninhumanlives,ishereidentifiedbyLeibnizasa"createdentityorreality,"whichis
presumablyarealcauseintheconcretecreatedperson,notonlyinGod.
21
SeeRobinet,Systmeetexistencedlansl'oeuvredeMalebranche,p.112,onthedevelopmentof
thisthemeinthethoughtofMalebranche.
93

HoweverifthechangingofwaterintowineatCanawereamiracleofthefirstrank,
Godwouldhavechangedtherebythewholecourseoftheuniverse,becauseofthe
connectionofbodies;orelsehewouldhavebeenobligedtoobstructthatconnection,
miraculouslyagain,andtomakethebodiesnotinvolvedinthemiracletoactasifno
miraclehadhappened;andafterthemiraclewasover,hewouldhavehadtorestore
everything,eveninthebodiesthatwereinvolved,tothestateitwouldhavereached
withoutthemiracle,afterwhicheverythingwouldbereturnedtoitsoriginalchannel.
Thusthismiracledemandedmorethanitseemedto.(T249)

2.3"MiraclesoftheFirstRank":Creation,Conservation,Incarnation,
Annihilation

ThepassagejustquotedisoneofagroupoftextsfromthelastyearsofLeibniz'slife,inwhichhe
speakssomewhatdifferentlyaboutmiraclesbutdrawsthelinebetweendivineandcreaturelyaction
exactlywhere(inmyopinion)hisfundamentalprinciplesrequireittobedrawn.Itisonly"miracles
ofthefirstrank"(cf.LCV,117)thatinvolvenocausalagencyofcreatures."Thechangingofwater
intowinecouldbeamiracleofthat[inferior]species"thatangelsmightbenaturallyabletodo.
"Butcreation,incarnation,andsomeotheractionsofGodsurpassalltheforceofcreatures,andare
trulymiracles,orevenmysteries"(T249;cf.Tpd23).

OftheprincipalactionsthatarereservedtoGodonthisview,creationhasthelargestrolein
Leibniz'smetaphysics,andclaimsthemostdiscussionhere.Creation(understoodbroadly)is
productionoftheexistenceofafinitebeing.Itisamiracleinthemetaphysicallystrongsensethat
nocauseoftheexistenceofanycreatureistobefoundinthatcreature(sinceonlyGodexistsper
se),orinanyothercreature(sincethecausalefficacyofcreatedsubstances,accordingtoLeibniz,
ispurelyimmanent,anddoesnotextendbeyondtheirowninternalstates).ButGod'scausingthe
existenceofcreaturesseemstoconstitutenointerruptionintheorderofnature.Solongaseach
creature,throughitssubstantialform,causesallitsownstates,God'scausingitsexistence,
includingtheexistenceofitssubstantialform,doesnotcontributetoanywayinwhichan
individualcreatedsubstancecouldhaveexistedwithoutsomeofthestatesthatitssubstantialform
wouldnaturallyproduce.

Thisintegrationofcreationwiththecausalroleofcreatedsubstantialformsistooeasy,however.It
suggeststhat,giventheexistenceofacreaturewithitssubstantialformproducedbyGod,the
creatureitselfcausesallitsownstates,sothatnothingmorethantheexistenceofthecreaturehas
tobesuppliedbyGod.ButthereareprominenttextsinwhichLeibnizappearstorejectthatview.
Hisactualviewsaboutcreationarecomplexandsubtle,difficulttodiscernandnoteasily
reconciledwithhisbeliefinthecausalagencyofthesubstantialformsofcreatures.

TheviewofDuranddeSt.Pouralnandothers,that"theconcurrenceofGodwiththecreature(I
meanphysicalconcurrence)isonlygeneralandmediate,andthatGodcreatessubstancesandgives
themtheforcethattheyneed,andthatafterthatheletsthemact,anddoesnothingbutconserve
them,withouthelping

94

themintheiractions"ismentionedbyLeibnizonlytoberejectedasprovidinganinadequate
accountoftheconservationofcreaturesbyGod(T27).

Godistheconserverofallthings.Thatis,thingsarenotonlyproducedbyGodwhen
theybegintoexist,buttheyalsowouldnotcontinuetoexistunlessacertaincontinuous
actionofGodterminatedinthem,onthecessationofwhichtheythemselveswouldalso
cease.(Gr307)

And"thisdependenceobtains,notonlywithregardtosubstance,butalsotoaction"(T27;cf.
Gr381,RML490)."Godconcursintheactionsofthings,insofarasthereissomethingofperfection
intheactions";indeed,God'sconcurrence"isdirectednotonlytotheexistenceandactsofathing,
buteventothemodeandqualitiesofexistence,insofarasthereissomethingofperfectioninthem"
(GVI,440).

Conservationfallsundertheheadingofcreation,understoodbroadly,andLeibnizispreparedto
speakofconservation,withsuitableexplanations,as"continuous[orcontinued]creation"(Gr330;
T27,38285).22"Forthedependencebeingasgreatinthesequelasinthebeginning,theextrinsic
denomination,ofbeingnewornot,doesnotchangeitsnature"(T385).Alternatively,'creation'can
beunderstoodinanarrowersense,assignifyingthebeginningofthedivineproductiveactivity
that,initslaterstages,iscalled"conservation"(Gr307).Ifweunderstandcreationinthenarrower
sense,anddistinguishconservationfromit,thenconservationwillbeasmuchamiracleofthefirst
rankascreation."Forthedependence[ofcreaturesonGod]beingasgreatinthesequelasinthe
beginning,"conservationexceedsalltheforceofcreaturesasmuchas(initial)creationdoes.
Indeed,conservationistheaspectofcreation(inthebroadsense)thathasthemostimplicationsfor
therelationofGod'sactivitytothatofcreatures.

ThethesisassertedbyLeibnizthatGodinconservingcreaturescontinuallyproducestheiractions
aswellastheirsubstancecouldseemtoleadtotheoccasionalistconclusionthatGodistheonly
agent.AndifGodistheonlyagent,thenofcoursethewholeargumenttyingallofacreated
substance'sstatestoitsidentitybywayoftheirproductionbyitssubstantialformfallsbythe
wayside.ButLeibnizwillnotaccepttheoccasionalistconclusion.

Igrantinsomeway...thatGodcontinuallyproducesallthatisrealincreatures.ButI
holdthatindoingithealsocontinuallyproducesorconservesinusthatenergyor
activitywhichaccordingtomeconstitutesthenatureofsubstanceandthesourceofits
modifications.AndsoIdonotgrantthatGodaloneactsinsubstances,oralonecauses
theirchanges,andIbelievethatthatwouldbetomakethecreaturestotallyfutileand
useless.(GIV,588f.)

ThefirstsentenceofDM8indicatesthatLeibnizwantedtofindamiddlewaybetweenthe
occasionalismofMalebrancheandtheratherdeisticpositionofDurand,andthathethoughtitno
easytask:"ItisratherdifficulttodistinguishtheactionsofGodfromthoseofcreatures;forthere
aresomewhobelieve

____________________
22
SeealsoDM14,whereLeibnizsaysthat"createdsubstancesdependonGod,whoconservesthem
andwho,indeed,producesthemcontinuallybyakindofemanationasweproduceourthoughts."
Gr330datesverylikelyfromtheearly1690s(VE451).
95

thatGoddoeseverything,[and]othersimaginethathedoesnothingbutconservetheforcethathe
hasgiventocreatures."Malebranchewouldarguethatthereisnomiddlewayhere,andthat
occasionalismfollowsfromtheconceptionofconservationascontinuedcreation.23Howdid
Leibnizthinkhecouldescapebetweenthehornsofthisdilemma?

RobertSleigh,inanilluminatingdiscussionofthisproblem,suggeststhat"Leibniz'smature
position"istobefoundinhisclaimthat"theperfectionthatisintheactionofthecreaturecomes
fromGod,butthatthelimitationsthatarefoundthereareaconsequenceoftheoriginallimitation
andoftheprecedinglimitationsthathaveoccurredinthecreature"(GVI,348),24orinSleigh's
words,that"Godproduceswhatthereisofperfectioninthestatesofcreatures;creaturesproduce
whateverthereisoflimitationintheirownstates."25ThereisnodoubtthatLeibnizmadethis
claim,anditsintendedfunctioninhistheodicy,asawayofavoidingtheconclusionthatGodisthe
authorofsinsandotherevils,isexplicit(T30)andobvious.

Asametaphysicalmiddlewaybetweenoccasionalismanddeism,however,itseemstomeless
promising.ItsfundamentaldisadvantageisthatitseemstocompetewithLeibniz'sstrategyfor
distinguishingbetweenactivityandpassivitywithincreatedsubstances.Leibnizclassifieda
substanceasactiveinanyeventinwhichit"passestoagreaterdegreeofperfection,"andpassive
inanyeventinwhichit"passestoalesserdegree"ofperfection(DM15).Identifyingsubstantial
formwithprimitiveactiveforce,andprimarymatterwithprimitivepassiveforce,hetherefore
treatstheformerasatendencytoperfection,ordistinctperception,andthelatterasatendencyto
imperfectionorlimitation,orconfusedperception.26ButifGod'sconservingactivityproduces
directlyalltheperfectioninthestatesofcreatures,insuchawaythatcreaturesproduceonlythe
imperfectionoftheirstates,theconclusioniscloseathandthatGod'sistheonlyactiveforceand
thatcreatureshaveonlypassiveforce.Thatmaybeenoughtoavoidtheoccasionalistconclusion
thatcreaturesarenotrealcausesatall,butitseemsquiteinconsistentwithLeibniz'stheoryof
createdsubstantialformsasactiveforces.

Theremustbesomethinginthereasoningleadingtothisconclusionthatisoutofkeepingwith
Leibniz'sintentionsinattributingallandonlytheperfectionincreaturestothedivineagency.For
thatattributionisfollowed,intheTheodicy,bypassagesimplyingthatallthe"accidents"or
"qualities"ofcreatedsubstancesareproducedbythecreaturesthemselves.

Theproductionofmodificationshasneverbeencalledcreation....Godproduces
substancesfromnothing,andthesubstancesproduceaccidentsbythechangesoftheir
limits....ImaintainthatallSouls,Entelechiesorprimitiveforces,substantialforms,
simplesubstances,orMonads,bywhatevername

____________________
23
NicolasMalebranche,EntretienssurlaMtaphsique(1688),VII,vixi(OMXII,15563).
24
P.390inHuggardEnglishtranslationoftheTheodicy.
25
Sleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,p.185.Sleighcitesseveralothertextsforthisposition.Ashenotes
(p.184),ThomasAquinastakesaverysimilarpositioninhisSummacontraGentiles,book3,ch.
71.IammuchindebtedtoSleigh'sdiscussion,andalsototheexcellentdiscussioninRobinet,
Architectoniquedisjonctive,pp.41842.
26
ThisaspectofthetheoryofformandmatterisdiscussedatlengthinChapters1113.
96

onemaycallthem,cannotbebornnaturally,norperish.AndIconceiveofqualitiesor
derivativeforces,orwhatarecalledaccidentalforms,asmodificationsoftheprimitive
Entelechy,justasshapesaremodificationsofmatter.(T39596)

"TheprimitiveEntelechy"hereisclearlythesoul,substantialform,orprimitiveactiveforce,27and
itsaccidentsorqualitiesareincluded,alongwiththoseofmatter,amongthe"modifications"that
donotrequirecreationbutareproducedbythecreatedsubstancesthemselves.Thecharacterization
ofmodifications,assuch,intermsoflimitsandchangesoflimitsseemsintendedtoaccommodate
theseclaimstothethesisthatcreaturesproduceinthemselvesonlylimitation.ButIconfessthatI
stilldonotseehowLeibnizmayhavethoughtthatthelatterthesiscouldbemadewhollyconsistent
withhischaracterizationofsubstantialformsasactiveforcestendingtowardperfection.

IthinkthatinallocatingperfectionandimperfectiontotheactionofGodandofcreatures,
respectively,Leibnizhadtheproblemsoftheodicymoreonhismindthanthoseofmetaphysics.
Morelightseemstometobeshedonthelatterbyanotherlineofthoughtdevelopedinthe
Theodicy.

Supposethatthecreatureisproducedanewateachinstant;grantalsothattheinstant,
beingindivisible,excludesalltemporalpriority.Butletusnoticethatitdoesnot
excludepriorityinnature,orwhatiscalledpriorityinSignorationis,andthatthatis
enough.TheproductionoractionbywhichGodproducesispriorinnaturetothe
existenceofthecreaturethatisproduced;thecreaturetakeninitself,withitsnatureand
itsnecessaryproperties,ispriortoitsaccidentalaffectionsanditsactions;andyetall
thesethingsoccurinthesamemoment.Godproducesthecreatureinconformitywith
thedemand[exigence]oftheprecedinginstants,followingthelawsofhiswisdom;and
thecreatureoperatesinconformitywiththatnaturethathereturnstoitincreatingit
always.(T388)

Inonerespectthispassagesteersuncomfortablyclosetotheoccasionalisthornofthedilemma.
Thelastsentencecouldeasilysuggestthatinrelationtolaterstatesofacreatedsubstance,its
earlierstatesareonlyoccasionalcauses,towhichGodattendsinaccordancewith"thelawsofhis
wisdom."WemaywonderwhetherthisisconsistentwithtextsinwhichLeibnizseemstospeakof
realanddirectcausaleffectsoftheearlieronthelaterincreatures(e.g.,GII,275/AG181;G
IV,532).Eveninthepresentcontext,however,Leibnizdoesdisagreewithoccasionalisminwhathe
saysabouttheorderofcauseswithinasingleinstantoftime.Godproducesthewholerealityofthe
creatureineachinstant,theaccidentalaffectionsandtheactionsaswellasthenatureofthe
creature.ButwithinwhatGodproducesthereisanatural(notatemporal)order,thenatureofthe
creaturebeingpriortoitsaffectionsandactions.WhatGod(directly)produces,wemaysay,isnot
justthecreature'snatureorsubstantialformorcapacitytoproduce,andnotjustthecreature's
natureanditsaffectionsandactions,butthecreature'snature"operating"andthusproducingits
affectionsandactions.28

____________________
27
Leibniz'suseofhisterminologyinthequotedpassageissomewhatimprecise,however,ashinted
bythephrase"bywhatevernameonemaycallthem."SeeChapters1013.
28
Forasimilarinterpretation,seeRobinet,Architectoniquedisjonctive,p.440.
97

Inthusproducingthecreature'sproducing,God'sconservingactivityhasadirectcausalrelationto
thecreature'sactions,butwithoutexcludingtheproductiveagencyofthecreatednature.

Otherpassagessupportthisinterpretionaswellforinstance,thestatementfrom1702,quoted
above,that"Godcontinuallyproducesallthatisrealincreatures.ButIholdthatindoingithealso
continuallyproducesorconservesinusthatenergyoractivitywhichaccordingtomeconstitutes
thenatureofsubstanceandthesourceofitsmodifications"(GIV,588f.).Similarly,whenLeibniz
saysthattheconcurrenceofGodis"immediate,sincetheeffectdependsonGod,notonlybecause
itscauseoriginatedfromGod,butalsobecauseGod'sconcurrenceisneitherlessnormoreremote
inproducingtheeffectitselfthaninproducingitscause,"heisclearlyspeakingofeffectsthatnot
onlyhaveGodasanimmediatecause,butalsohavecreatedcauses,themselvesproducedbyGod.

Acarefullywordedstatement,writtenin1702andpublishedin1712,presentsaninteresting
disjunction:"ForitisGodwhoconservesandcontinuallycreatestheir[creatures']forces,thatisto
say,asourceofmodificationsthatisinthecreature,orindeed[oubien]astatebywhichitcanbe
judgedthattherewillbeachangeofmodifications"(GIV,568/L583).Inthesecondalternative,
statedintermsofastatethatgroundspredictions,commitmenttometaphysicallyrealinfluenceof
earliercreatedstatesonlateronesiscarefullyavoided.Ametaphysicallyrealproductionof
creatures'modificationsbyforcesthatareinthemisaffirmedinthefirstalternative,butthatmay
applyonlytoanactionoftheforcesthatissimultaneouswiththemodificationsproduced.

Wecanspeculatealittlefurtheraboutthenatureoftheexplanatoryrelationbetweenearlierand
laterstatesofthesamecreatedsubstanceinLeibniz'stheoryofconservation.Leibnizsaidin1706
toDesBossesthat"thereisintheactivepower[ofcreatures]acertaindemand[exigentia]for
actionandthereforefordivineconcurrenceforaction,"ademandthat,though"resistible,"is
"foundedinthelawsofnatureconstitutedbydivinewisdom."Withoutsuchanactivepoweror
forceinthecreature,Leibnizdeclared,God's"ordinaryconcurrence"wouldnotsufficetogiverise
totheaction(GII,295;cf.T388).Itakeitthatthe"demand"isenvisagedhereastemporallyprior
totheactiondemanded.PerhapsitwasalsoLeibniz'sviewthatthecausallyefficaciousactionof
theforcesofacreatedsubstanceisalwayssimultaneouswithitseffect,butthatitproducesthe
effect,inaccordancewiththerelevantlaws,inviewofthesubstance'spreviousstates.29

Conservation,onmyinterpretationofLeibniz'sview,doesnotinvolveGod'sproducinganystate
ofacreaturethatdoesnotalsohavea"source"inthenatureorsubstantialformofthecreature.
"ThecreaturedoesnotconcurwithGodtoconserveitself,"Leibnizagrees,buthesees"nothing
thatpreventsitfromconcurringwithGodfortheproductionofsomeotherthing,andparticularly
ofits[own]internaloperation,asathought,avolition,wouldbe,thingsreallydistinctfromthe
substance"(T391).Soifcreation,inthebroadsense,includingconservation,weretheonly
"miracleofthefirstrank,"theonlyactionofGod

____________________
29
Thiswayofputtingittakesrationalagencyasmodelfortheactionofcreatedsubstancesassuch.
ThatwasinfactLeibniz'smodel,asIshallshowinChapter11,section1.3.
98

thatstrictlysurpasses"alltheforceofcreatures,"Leibnizwouldnotbecommittedtoanymiraclein
whichacreature'shistorydepartsfromthepatternlaiddowninitssubstantialform.Thereareat
leasttwoothertypesofdivineaction,however,thatLeibnizclassifiesasmiraclesofthefirstrank,
andwemustnowconsiderthem.

Oneofthemisincarnation.Itisaspecialcase.Obviously,nothingwouldbeanincarnationofGod
unlessGodparticipateddirectlyinit.Butincarnationisnotamatterofcausingstatesofacreated
substance;rather,itisaunionofthedivinewithahumannature.Thereisanothertextinwhich
Leibniz,proposingtoaccountformostapparentmiraclesasproducedthroughtheministryof
angels,says:

Thustherewouldbenoabsolutemiraclesinthesethings,exceptthecreationofthings
andtheunionofGodwiththefirstcreature[thatis,withthehumannatureofJesus
Christ];therestwouldhappenbylawsofnature,butbylawsthatwouldfitthefirst
creatureandtheangels.Furthermore,throughtheunionGodwouldnotchangethe
naturallawsofthefirstcreature,sincehewouldhavenoneedofthischange.This
unionwouldthereforechangenothinginthephenomena,eventhoughthestateofunion
differsinternallyfromnonunion.(RML413)

Itseemstofollowthatdivineincarnation,asconceivedbyLeibniz,doesnotimplythatanything
occursinthehistoryofcreaturesassuchthathasnosourceintheirsubstantialforms.

TheotheractionthatLeibnizsaysisreservedtoGodaloneisannihilation.Inhiscorrespondence
withClarke,Leibnizintroduceshisdistinctionbetween"miraclesofaninferiorsort,whichan
angelcanwork,"and"miracleswhichnonebutGodcanwork...[o]fwhichkindarecreatingand
annihilating"(LCIV,44).30LeibnizmayhavethoughtthatGodnever,infact,annihilatesacreated
substance.Inthetextquotedinthepreviousparagraph,hesays,"IprefertosaythatGodhasnot
actedmiraculouslyexceptintheCreationandtheincarnation"(RML413).ButLeibnizcertainly
believedthatGodcanannihilatecreatedsubstances."ForweknowwellthatthepowerofGodcan
renderoursoulsmortal,totallyimmaterial(orimmortalbynaturealone)astheymaybe,sincehe
canannihilatethem"(NE67).ThatisthereverseofthecoinofLeibniz'sbeliefthatcreated
substancesarecontinuallyconservedinexistencebyGod.Itwillbeimportanttocomebacktothis
questionofthepossibilityofannihilationinourconsiderationofthemodalissuethatIhave
deferredtothispoint.

2.4TheModalIssue

Webeganwiththequestionwhethertherearepossibleworlds,orpossibleindividualhistories,that
arequalitativelyidenticalbeforeacertaintimebutdiffer

____________________
30
IfollowClarke'stranslationhere,exceptforpunctuation.Leibnizgoesontosaythatmutual
attractionofbodiesatadistance,andcontinuedcircularmotionofabody,wouldbe"supernatural"
unlesstherewereamechanicalexplanation.Hecouldbetakenheretobeassigningthesetothe
firstrankofmiracles,butitisatleastarguablethathisthoughtaboutthesecases,whichwerevery
relevanttohiscontroversywithClarke,hadmoretodowiththeidea,discussedabove,that"laws
ofnature"mustprovideexplanationsofacertainsimplicity.
99

entthereafterand,specifically,whethersuchadifferencecouldarisebyamiracle.WhatIthinkwe
haveseenmostclearlythusfaraboutLeibniz'streatmentofmiraclesisthathewasnotcommitted
(thoughhemayhavebeentempted)totheviewthatinmiracles(orinsomeofthem)Goddoesin
factcausesomethingtohappentoacreatedsubstancethatisdifferentfromwhatwouldfollow
fromthepreviousstatesofthatsubstancebythemostcomprehensivelawsbuiltintoitssubstantial
form.Evenifwethink,asIdo,thatLeibniz'sphilosophyisbestrepresentedbytheviewthatthe
whole,exceptionlessgeneralorderoftheuniverseisbuiltintothesubstantialformsofallcreated
substances,andthattheythereforehavealwaysexpressedorprefiguredallthemiraclesthat
actuallyhappentothemandevenifweaddtothisviewthatthatwouldhavebeentrue,nomatter
whatmiraclesGodhaddonethatdoesnotsettlethecrucialmodalissue.Wemustaskwhether(1)
itisonlyGod'scommitmenttoharmonythatassurestheprefiguringofallmiraclesinsubstantial
forms,orwhether(2)thenatureofsubstanceassuchmakesitabsolutelyimpossibleevenforGod
tocreateasubstancewhoseconcreteformornaturedoesnotperpetuallyexpressabsolutely
everythingthateverhappenstoit.31

Thesecondiswhatisrequiredifpossibleworldsorhistoriesdifferingqualitativelyonlyaftera
certaintimearetobeexcluded.ThestrongesttextualevidenceforascribingthisviewtoLeibniz
maybefoundintheDiscourseonMetaphysics,particularlyin16.Thequestionaddressedinthat
sectionis

howitispossibleforGodsometimestohaveinfluenceonhumanbeingsoronother
substancesbyanextraordinaryandmiraculousconcurrence,sinceitseemsthatnothing
extraordinaryorsupernaturalcanhappentothem,inviewofthefactthatalltheir
eventsareonlyconsequencesoftheirnature"[italicsadded].

Thiscertainlysuggeststhatinproposingtheanswerthatmiracleshappeningtoacreatedsubstance
areaconsequenceofits"essence"butnotofits"nature,"Leibnizsupposesthatitisnotpossiblefor
themiraclesnottobeconsequencesofthe"essence,"whichIhavearguedistobeidentifiedwith
thesubstantialform,oratleasttoberegardedasfullyexpressedbythesubstantialform.

Whywoulditbeimpossibleformiraclestohappentoasubstancethatarenotconsequencesofits
"essence,"andhenceofitssubstantialform?Ananswerintermsofthenatureofcausality,and
indeedofthedivinecausality,issuggestedbythestatementthatnothingissupernaturaltoour
essence"sinceaneffectalwaysexpressesitscauseandGodisthetruecauseofsubstances"(DM
16).ButtheanswersuggestedbytheformulationofthequestioninDM16,andbyDM69asthe
backgroundofthequestion,isthatthenatureofasubstanceassuchrequiresaninherentessenceor
substantialforminthesubstancefromwhichallofitsstatesflow.Againstthebackgroundof
DM69,theapparentreasonforthisanswerisLeibniz'sconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruth.
Thisisadisappointingobservation,inasmuchasIhavebeenseeking,inthepresent

____________________
31
Thephrase"toit"marksarestrictionofthescopeofthepresentinquiryintothemodalissue.I
postponeuntilsection3thequestion(alsorelatedtothelawofthegeneralorder)whetherthe
natureofsubstanceallowsGodanyabilitytocreateasubstancewhoseconcreteformfailsto
expresssomethingthathappensoutsideit.
100

chapter,analternativetotheconceptualcontainmenttheoryasagroundforLeibniz'srejectionof
transworldidentity.Analternativerationalemightbesoughtinthenatureofsubstanceasactive.
Thefollowingargumenthasarguably.Leibnizianpremises:
Necessarily,acreatedsubstancedoesnotexist(atanytime)unlessitacts(atthattime).
Necessarily,acreatedsubstancedoesnotact(atanytime)unlessallitsstates(atthattime)follow
fromitsownsubstantialformanditsownpreviousstates.
Therefore,necessarily,acreatedsubstancedoesnotexist(atanytime)unlessallitsstates(atthat
time)followfromitsownsubstantialformanditsownpreviousstates.
Thisargumentisformallyvalid;(3)doesfollowfrom(1)and(2).(1)iscertainlyaLeibnizian
doctrine(GIV,469f./L433);itisconnectedwithLeibniz'sargumentthatcreatedthingsmusthave
activepowersiftheyaretobesubstancesandnotmeremodesasSpinozathought(LA133;G
IV,508f./L502).Theconsiderationsabouttranstemporalidentitypresentedinsection1ofthis
chaptermightalsohaveinclinedLeibniztoacceptsomethinglike(2).Themostquestionable
pointintheargumentistheuniversalquantifier("allitsstates")inpremise(2).Withoutitthe
argumentwillnotexcludeanymiracles.Butonemighthavethoughtthatthemostthatwouldbe
requiredforasubstancetoact(atall)wouldbethatsomeofitsstatesfollowfromitsown
substantialformandpreviousstates.Leibnizmayhaveaccepted(2)initsfullstrength,however,
believingthattheuniversalquantifierthereisrequiredforthegroundingoftranstemporalidentity
(cf.LA43).Andiftheconclusion(3)canbederivedinthisway,itwillfollowthat
HoweverGodworksmiracles,itcannotbebycausingsomethingtohappentoacreatedsubstance
thatdoesnotfollowfromthecreature'sownsubstantialformandpreviousstates,unlessthe
creatureistherebyannihilated.
Theconcludingqualificationin(4),aboutannihilation(a"miracleofthefirstrank"),is
significant.Anargumentbasedontherequirementsfor(continued)existenceofacreated
substancecannotexcludethepossibilityofeventsbywhichthesubstancewouldceasetoexist.
Thisargumentthereforedoesnotsupportthethesisthatitisabsolutelyimpossibleforthe
annihilationofasubstancetobeaneventthatwasnotcaused,norevenexpressed,bythe
substance'ssubstantialformandpreviousstates.

Infact,thereisconsiderableevidence,atleastintheTheodicy,thatLeibnizrecognizedasensein
whichGodcouldatanytimeannihilateacreatedsubstance,nomatterwhatitsprevioushistory
mighthavebeen.Hedeclaresthat"intruth,itdoesnotfollownecessarilyfromthefactthatIam,
thatIshallbe;butthatstillfollowsnaturally,thatistosay,ofitself,perse,ifnothingpreventsit"(
T383).

101

Theclaimthatmyfutureexistencedoesnotfollow"necessarily"frommypresentexistenceisnot
decisiveforourpresentpurpose,sinceitcouldjustmeanthattheconnectionbetweenthemisnot
(finitely)demonstrable.Moreimportantistheindicationthatthefutureexistencefollowsonly
"naturally"fromthepresent,forfollowing"naturally,"inLeibniz,generallysignifiesaconnection
thatdependsonGod'schoiceofaharmoniousworld.Similarly,itseemstobeLeibniz'sviewthat
conservation,aswellas(original)creationisavoluntaryoperationofGod(Tcd9),whichshould
implythattheconnectionbetweenpresentandfutureexistenceofacreaturedependsonGod's
choice,whichisofcourseinfactthechoiceofaharmoniousworld.

Leibnizalsosaysthat"Godproducesthecreatureinconformitywiththedemand[exigence]ofthe
precedinginstants,followingthelawsofhiswisdom"(T388;cf.GII,295).Thisseemstoimply
thatthe(re)productionbywhichGodconservesanygivencreatureinexistencedependsonGod's
wisdomandhence,certainly,onGod'sgoodnessandchoiceofthebest.Thistextcouldbereadas
implyingthatitdependsonGod'sgoodness,notonlywhethertheindividualcreaturewillcontinue
toexistbutalsowhetheranycontinuedexistenceithaswillconformtothedemandsofits
substantialformorinherentprimitiveforces.ButIthinkthisreadingisnotimposedonus;wecan
stillsupposethatGod'scausingasubstancetohaveanystatenotfollowingfromitsprimitive
forcesandpreviousstatewouldbecountedbyLeibnizasannihilation.

FromthesepassagesoftheTheodicytakentogetheremergestheviewthatGodcouldannihilateany
createdsubstanceatanytime,inthesensethatonlythedivinegoodnesspreventsGodfromdoing
that.32ItwouldbedifficulttoascribetoLeibnizatthispointtheviewthatifGoddidannihilatea
substance,thatannihilationmusthavebeenexpressedandperceivedinthesubstancefromthevery
beginningofitsexistence,andthatthisrequirementdoesnotdependonGod'swisdomor
goodness,sothatGodcouldnot,inthesenseinvokedhere,annihilateasubstancewhoseprevious
statesdonotdemandit.ThatinterpretationwouldhardlybeconsistentwithLeibniz'sstatementthat
itisby"followingthelawsofhiswisdom"thatGod'sconservingactivityagrees"withthedemand
oftheprecedinginstants"(T388).Atleastwithrespecttoannihilation,Leibniz'sstatementsinthe
Theodicysuggestasortofpossibilityofalternativeindividualhistoriesthatdifferonlyaftera
certaintime.

3.PerceptionandRelations

SuchapossibilityissuggestedevenmorestronglyinLeibniz'sthoughtaboutrelations.Inthecase
ofrelations,unlikethatofmiracles,thereisnodoubtofhowLeibnizthinksthingsgointheactual
world.Actually,everysubstanceateverytimecompletelyexpressesallitsrelationswithevery
othersubstance,andeveryevent,inthewhole(actual)world.Leibnizassertsthatrepeatedly,in
discussionsofsubstance,ofperception,ofpreestablishedharmony,andnevercontradictsit.The
issueherecanonlybewhetherGodcould,insomerelevantsense,

____________________
32
0ntheimportanceofthistypeofpossibilityforLeibniz'stheoryofcreation,seeChapter1,section
3.
102

havemadeasubstancethatwouldnothaveexpressedallitsrelations,andhencewhetherthereare
possibleindividualhistoriesthatareperfectlyalikeinternallybutdifferinsomeoftheirrelations.

Issuesaboutthepossibleexistenceofanactualsubstanceinaworldinwhichsomeofitsactual
relationswouldfailarenotprominentinLeibniz'sdiscussionsoftransworldorcounterfactual
identity,whicharemuchmoreconcernedwithwhethertherearepossibleworldsinwhichactual
creaturesactorsufferotherwisethantheydointheactualworld.Afocusonthelatterquestionis
easilyexplainedbyLeibniz's(andArnauld's)religiousandethicalinterests.Nonethelesswecan
askwhetheraccordingtoLeibnizthereisapossibleworldinwhichAdolfHitler,forexample,does
notexist,orislessmaliciousthanintheactualworld,butinwhichthereisamanbothnumerically
andqualitativelyidenticalwiththeactualAntoineArnauld[except,ofcourse,forthemerely
"extrinsicdenominations"thatArnauldactuallyhasbyvirtueofhis(distant)relationstoHitler].

Thisquestioncanbedividedintotwoparts:(1)Aretherepossibleworldsinwhichthereisaman
qualitativelyidenticalwiththeactualAntoineArnauld,butnoonequalitativelyidenticalwiththe
actualAdolfHitler,exceptforpurelyrelationalpropertiesoftheindividuals?(2)Iftherearesuch
possibleworlds,doesatleastoneofthemcontainsomeonenumericallyidenticalwiththeactual
AntoineArnauld?Leibnizhaslittletosayaboutthesecondofthesequestions.Ourstartingpointin
hisargumentabouttheGenoeseblockofmarble,withitsclaimsaboutqualitativedifferences,leads
metofocus,forthetimebeing,onthefirstquestion.Leibnizhasalottosaythatbearsonitbut
someofhisstatementsmaytellinoppositedirections.

ThepassageabouttheGenoesemarblemaysuggestanegativeanswer.Leibnizsaystherenot
merelythatthestonewouldhavebeenqualitativelydifferentfromthebeginningifitweregoingto
stayinGenoa,butthat"becauseoftheconnectionofthingsthewholeuniversewithallitsparts
wouldbeentirelydifferent,andwouldhavebeenanother[universe]fromthebeginning,iftheleast
thinginitwentotherwisethanitdoes"(LA42,italicsadded).SoifLeibnizisdenyingthatthereare
possibleworldsinwhichtheblockofmarble,oritscounterpart,isqualitativelythesameasinthe
actualworlduntilthetimeofitsactualtransportation,butthenstaysinGenoa,heisequally
denyingthattherearepossibleworldsinwhichonesubstanceisinternallydifferentfromitsactual
counterpartbutothersubstancesstartoutonlyrelationallydifferentfromtheiractualcounterparts.
Whatis"theconnectionofthings"thatprecludessuchpossibleworlds?Wehaveseenthatfor
Leibniztheprimitiveforceofeachindividualsubstanceprovidestheconnectionthatprecludes(if
anythingdoes)pairsofpossibleindividualhistoriesthatdifferinternallyafterbutnotbeforea
certaintime.IstheresomethinginLeibniz'sconceptionofthingsthatmightplayananalogousrole
inprecludingpairsofpossibleindividualhistoriesthatdifferrelationallybutnotindividually?

Theobviouscandidateforthisroleisperception.Leibnizheldthateachsubstancealwaysperceives
everythingthateveroccursinthewholeuniverse.Throughouthislife,AntoineArnauld,for
instance,perceivedtheexistenceofAdolfHitler,andeverydetailofHitler'scareer,thoughof
courseArnauldwas

103

notconsciousoftheseperceptions.ItseemstofollowthatifapossibleworldinwhichHitlerdid
notexistcontainedamanwhoisinternallyjustliketheactualArnauld,thatmanwould,inthat
world,"perceive"somethingsthatdonotexist.Perhapsthisinferencecouldberesistedbyholding
thatanysufficientlycomplexinternalstateofaperceivingsubstancecouldbeplacedinonetoone
correspondencewithanysufficientlycomplexpossibleworld,withorwithoutHitler,andwould
thereforeconstituteanaccurateperceptionofwhateverworldthesubstanceexistedin.Leibnizdoes
oftenexplainperceptionintermsofonetoonecorrespondence,buthecouldhardlyaffordto
acceptthistrivializationofhisconceptofperceptionandtheconsequenttrivializationofhispre
establishedharmony.

Ifhedoesnotacceptit,hisalternativesaretoadmitthattherearepossibleworldsinwhichsome
substancefailstoperceivethewholeworldjustasitis(failstoperceiveitasnotcontainingHitler,
forinstance),ortodenythattherearepossibleworldsthatdifferqualitativelywithrespecttothe
existenceorinternalpropertiesofsomebutnotalloftheirsubstances.Thereismuchtoincline
Leibniztothesecondalternative.Hethoughtthatitfollowsfromthenatureoftruththatthereare
nopurelyextrinsicdenominations,andhencethateverysubstanceperceivesthewholeuniverse(
C520/L268f.).Perhapshethoughtthatthisprecludespossibleworldsinwhichanysubstancefails
toperceivethewholeworldjustasitis.(Ofcourse,herecognizedthattherearefalsebeliefs,buthe
thoughtthatthebeingsthathavethemalso,unconsciously,perceivetheworldexactlyasitis.)On
thisview,thewholegeneralorderoftheuniverse,includingitsrelationalaspects,wouldbe
incorporatedintheconcretesubstanceasitisincludedinthesubstance'scompleteindividual
concept,andnotmerelybyvirtueofGod'swisechoiceofamostharmoniousworld.Therelational
lawsofthegeneralorderwouldbeincorporatedinthesubstance'sperceptionsasthelawsof
intrasubstantialcausationareincorporatedinitsprimitiveforce.Andallofthesubstance'sstates
andrelationswouldfollowfromtheforceandtheperceptionsithasatanygiventime,sothatthere
wouldbenopossibilityofapredicate'sbeingcontainedintheindividualconceptandnotbeing
containedintheconcretesubstance.

ThishastheveryimportantadvantageforLeibnizofprovidinganontrivialsenseinwhichpossible
individualscanfailtobe"compossible"witheachother.Inthinkingabouttheproblemofevilin
moreorlessLeibnizianterms,itisnaturaltoask,Whycouldn'tGodhaveimprovedtheworldby
replacingHitlerwithamorallybetterindividual,whileleavingtheexcellencesofmoreexcellent
individuals(suchasArnauld)unchanged?OneanswerthatLeibnizseemstowanttogivetothis
sortofquestionisthatGodcouldnotdothatbecauseArnauld(withhisactualexcellences)isnot
compossiblewithanysuchHitlersubstitute.Buthowarewetounderstandthisincompossibility?
SupposethatHitlerisreplacedbyamorevirtuoussubstituteinsomepossibleworldsthatcontaina
manwhoseinternal,nonrelationalqualitiesandstatesareexactlythesameasArnauldactuallyhas.
OfcourseifArnauld'sindividualconceptincludesthewholehistoryoftheactualworld,Arnauld
himselfwillbeabsent,bydefinition,fromanypossibleworldcontainingsuchasubstituteinplace
ofHitler.InthatcasetherewillbeatrivialsenseinwhichArnauldisincompossiblewithaHitler
sub

104

stitute.ButthissortofincompossibilitydoesnotanswerthequestionwhyGodcouldnothave
madeabetterworldbyreplacingparticularlyviciousorunhappycreatureswithbetterandhappier
oneswhilereplacinghismoreexcellentcreatureswithcounterparts33thatwouldhaveexactlythe
sameexcellencesinternallyandwoulddifferonlyintheirextrinsicdenominations.Tothis
question,Isuppose,Leibnizcouldreplythatcreaturesthatwouldbeinternallyjustlikethe
excellentactualcreatures,butinaworldthatisnotjustliketheactualworld,wouldtherebylackan
important(relational)excellenceofallactualcreatures,inthattheywouldnotperceivetheirwhole
worldjustasitis.Butinthisreplyitisnotincompossibilitybutharmonythatiscalledintosolve
thefundamentalproblem.

Perhaps,indeed,theappealtoincompossibilityisjustacovertappealtoconsiderationsofharmony.
ButitwouldbesomethingmoreifLeibnizthoughtthattheinternalstatesofpossiblesubstances
areperceptionsthatareconceptuallyconnectedwiththeexistenceandstatesofothersubstances,so
thatnoindividualinanypossibleworldhasexactlythesamehistoryofinternalstatesasany
individualinanyotherpossibleworld.Thentheinternalhistoriesofsubstancesinoneworldwould
beincompossiblewiththeinternalhistoriesofsubstancesinanyotherworld,andthis
incompossibilitywouldputaconstraintonGod'soptionsthatwouldbequiteindependentofthe
constraintsofharmony.

DespitethesereasonsforascribingtoLeibniztheviewthatGodcouldnothaveactualizedan
individualsubstancewithoutactualizingthewholepossibleworldperceivedbythatsubstance,I
knowofnotextinwhichLeibnizexactlyassertsit,34andtherearetextsinwhichheexplicitly
contradictsit.35Indeed,itishardlytobereconciledwithhisaccountofthepreestablished
harmony.EverystudentofLeibnizisfamiliarwithhisstatementthattheseriesoffuture
perceptionsthatfollowsfromhispresentnature"wouldnotfail,andwouldhappentomejustthe
same,ifeverythingthatisoutsideofmeweredestroyed,providedthatthereremainedonlyGod
andI"(DM14;cf.G1,382,IV,484/L457).ThisstronglysuggeststhatLeibnizthoughtthatwithout
creatinganyothersubstance,Godcouldcreateasubstancewithqualitativelythesamesubstantial
formandseriesofperceptionsasLeibnizactuallyhas.Butthisisnotthestrongestevidence,for
Leibnizmightconceivablybeusingacounterfactualconditionalwithanimpossibleantecedent,as
arhetoricaldevicetoexpressthemutualcausalindependenceofcreatedsubstances.

MoresignificantisthefactthatinexplainingthepreestablishedharmonyLeibnizrepeatedlysays
thatonlytheactionofGodcancausecreatedsubstancestocorrespondtoeachother'sperceptions.
"ThereisnothingbutGod...tobethecauseofthiscorrespondenceoftheirphenomena,andto
makewhatisparticulartoonetobepublictoall"(DM14).The"idealinfluenceofoneMonadon
another...cannothaveitseffectexceptbytheinterventionofGod....Forsinceonecreated
Monadcannothaveaphysicalinfluenceontheinteriorof

____________________
33
Iamnotusing'counterpart'hereinthetechnicalsenseusedinLewis,"CounterpartTheoryand
QuantifiedModalLogic."
34
Hisstatementthat"weneedothersubstances"(GIV,364/L389),containingnoexplanationofwhy
weneedthem,doesnotclearlyimplytheview.
35
0nthissubject,cf.Sleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,pp.18082.
105

another,itisonlybythismeansthatonecanhaveanydependenceonanother"(Mon51).Leibniz
presentsthedifficultyofachievingthiscorrespondenceasaproofoftheinfiniteknowledgeand
powerofGod.

ForsinceeachoftheseSoulsexpressesinitswaywhatgoesonoutside,andcannot
havethisthroughanyinfluenceofotherparticularBeings,orrathermustdrawthis
expressionfromtheresourcesofitsownnature,eachonemustnecessarilyhave
receivedthisnature(orthisinternalreasonoftheexpressionofwhatisoutside)froma
universalcauseonwhichalltheseBeingsdependandwhichmakestheoneperfectly
agreeandcorrespondwiththeother.Thisisnotpossiblewithoutaninfiniteknowledge
andpower,andbysogreatanartifice,especiallywithrespecttothespontaneous
agreementofthemachinewiththeactionsofthereasonablesoul,that[Bayle]doubted,
asitwere,whetheritdidnotsurpassallpossiblewisdom,sayingthatthewisdomof
Goddidnotseemtohimtoogreatforsuchaneffect,andrecognizedatleastthatthe
feebleconceptionsthatwecanhaveofthedivineperfectionhadneverbeenputinsuch
highrelief.(NE440f.;cf.GIV,578,LCV,87)

Buttheharmonyorcorrespondenceoftheperceptionsofcreatedsubstanceswitheachothercould
hardlybesuchapowerfulproofofGod'sinfinitewisdomandpowerifnocreatorcouldhave
createdaworldthatlackedsuchcorrespondence,asDesBossespointedouttoLeibnizin1715(G
II,493).Theuseofthepreestablishedharmonytoprovethegreatnessofthecreatorseemstherefore
topresupposethatamongthepossibleworldsthatGodcouldhaveactualizedweresomeinwhich
createdsubstancesfailtocorrespondwitheachother'sperceptions.Accordingly,Leibniz
respondedflatlytoDesBossesthatGod"wasableabsolutely[tocreateoneofthosemonadsthat
nowexistwithoutcreatingalltheothers],butwasnotablehypothetically,giventhathedecidedto
doeverythingmostwiselyandharmoniously"(GII,496/L611).36

4.Conclusions

Weareleft,Ithink,withtheconclusionthat,accordingtoLeibniz,

(1)ItisonlybyvirtueofGod'swisdomandgoodnessthatthereisnofailureof
correspondenceoftheprimitiveforcesofcreatedsubstanceswithwhathappensinthe
world.

WehaveidentifiedtwofailuresofcorrespondencethatLeibnizseemstothinkarepreventedonly
voluntarilybyGodthefailuresthatwouldbeinvolvedinGod'sannihilatingasubstancewhose
pastdidnot"demand"annihilation,or

____________________
36
Theuseof"absolutely"inthiscontextisprobablymeanttosuggestthefamousScholastic
distinctionbetweenGod'sabsolutepowerandGod'sorderedpower.InAquinas'sversionofthis
distinction,God'sabsolutepowerisGod'spowerconsideredapartfromtheconstraintsofother
divineattributessuchaswisdomandgoodness.SoGodisableabsolutelytodowhateverGod
coulddowereitnotforthedivinewisdomandgoodness.God'sorderedpowerisGod'spower
consideredinrelationtotheotherattributesthatactuallydetermineitsexerciseforAquinas,
indeed,inrelationtothedeterminationofitsexercisebytheplanGodhasactuallychosen.SeeM.
Adams,WilliamOckham,pp.118690.
106

creatingasubstancewithouttheexternalrelationsinternallyexpressedbyit.Thismayseem
inconsistentwiththethesisthat:
(2)Nothingwithqualitativelythesameprimitiveforcesasanyactualsubstancehas
wouldhaveexistedifanythingatallintheworldhadgonedifferently.

TheargumentabouttheGenoesemarblecertainlycommitsLeibniztothesis(2).

Infact,thereisnoinconsistencyhere.Thereisastrongconnectionbetweentheprimitiveforcesof
eachactualcreatureandabsolutelyeverythingthathappensintheactualworld,andthisconnection
canbeexpressedinacounterfactualconditionalsuchas(2).Butconnectionsdonothavetohave
absolutemetaphysicalnecessityinordertogroundcounterfactualconditionals.Theconnectionin
thiscasemaydependonthewisdomandgoodnessofGod.IfGodhadcreatedaworldinanyway
different,Godwouldnothavecreatedanysubstancewithprimitiveforcesqualitativelythesameas
thoseofanyactualsubstance,becausethatwouldhaveproducedastateofaffairstoodiscordantfor
thedivinewisdomandgoodnesseventoconsideritseriouslyasacandidateforcreation.The
demandsofGod'swisdomandgoodnessaremorethanstrongenoughtogroundcounterfactual
conditionals.

ThislineofthoughtgivessomesupporttothefirsthypothesisconsideredinChapter1,section2.3,
forexplainingcontingentconnectionsbetweenpossiblesthehypothesisthatalternativepredicates
foranindividualcreatedsubstanceare"possibleinthemselves"iftheyareexcludedbythe
substance'sindividualconceptonlyinvirtueofthelawsofitsuniverse.Thatisbecausethe
principaldoubtabouttheviabilityofthehypothesisconcernedtheacceptabilitytoLeibnizofthe
distinctionbetweenfeaturesofasubstancethatareparticulartoit,asembodiedinitsprimitive
forces,andthelawsofitsuniverse.Andproposition(1)impliesthatthereareindeedalternative
predicatesforacreatedsubstancewhicharenotexcludedbythesubstance'sprimitiveforcesallby
themselves,butonlyinvirtueofthedecisionofGod'sgoodnesstocreateaworldconformingtoat
leastminimallyharmoniouslaws.

Proposition(2)isaclaimaboutcounterfactualqualitativeidentity.Leibnizwasinterestedinit
largelyasabasisfordefendinghisthesisofthecompletenessofindividualconceptsagainst
Arnauld'sclaimsofcounterfactualindividualidentity.Thismaysuggesttousthatifthetruthof(2)
dependsonGod'swisdomandgoodness,sodoLeibniz'sdenialsofcounterfactualindividual
identity.IsthisLeibniz'sview?AssumingthatonlydivinewisdomandgoodnesskeepGodfrom
creatingsomeoneinternallyjustlikeme,butinanexternallydifferentsituation,wouldLeibnizsay
thatsuchanindividual,ifGoddidcreateone,couldbeme?Thisisadifficultquestion.The
possibilityofsuchadiscordantstateofaffairs,Isuspect,heldnomoreinterestforLeibnizthanfor
Leibniz'sGod.Itispossibletodenycounterfactualindividualidentityevenwherecounterfactual
qualitativeidentityofanindividual'sinternalhistory,oraninitialsegmentofitshistory,obtains,
andsometextsdiscussedinChapters1and2(e.g.,LA42,52)mightsuggestthatLeibnizwoulddo
this.Sodoeshiswritinginthemid1680sthat"aconceptthatisstillindeterminateeveninthe
slightestcircumstances...could

107

becommontotwodifferentindividuals"(Gr311);foritseemstofollowthatanindividualmustbe
definedbyaconceptthatisnotundeterminedinanyway,evenregardingexternalrelationsor
durationofexistence.Ontheotherhand,whereLeibnizdoesenvisagethechaoticsituationin
whichGodcreatesasubstancewithoutcreatingtheexternalrelationsthatitexpressesinternally,he
usesthelanguageofindividualidentity,speakingfreelyofhimselfandGodexistingwithout
anythingelse(DM14),orofGodcreating"oneofthoseMonadsthatnowexist"withoutallthe
others(GII,496/L611).

LetusassumeforthesakeofargumentthatLeibniz'sclaimsofcounterfactualindividual
nonidentitydodependonGod'swisdomandgoodnessinthesamewayashisclaimsof
counterfactualqualitativenonidentity.Itmightbethoughtthatthisconclusionwouldbe
inconsistentwiththethesisforthesakeofwhichLeibnizresistedArnauld'sclaimsof
counterfactualidentity,thethesisthat

(3)Allthepredicatesofeachsubstancearecontainedintheindividualconceptofthat
substance.

Againthereisinfactnoinconsistencyhere.WehaveseeninChapter1thatamostimportant
predicateofactualsubstancestheirexistenceiscontainedintheirindividualconcepts,according
toLeibniz,butonlybyvirtueofGod'swisdomandgoodness.Sobeingcontainedinanindividual
conceptanddependingonGod'swisdomandgoodnessarenotinconsistentmodalitiesforLeibniz.
37ThereareindeedtextsinwhichitseemsprettyexplicitthatinLeibniz'sviewthecontainmentof
anactioninacreatedsubstance'sindividualconcept,andhencethefailureofcounterfactual
individualidentity,likethatofcounterfactualqualitativeidentity,dependsonGod'swisdomand
goodness,atleastinsomecases.LeibnizsaysthatCaesar'sdecisiontocrosstheRubicon
"presupposesthesequenceofthingsthatGodhaschosenfreely,andthatisfoundedonthefirstfree
decisionofGod,theimportofwhichistodoalwaysthatwhichismostperfect"(DM13).
Likewise,inreadingnotesfromabout1695,havingstatedthat"whenIaskwhatwouldhavebeen
ifPeterhadnotdeniedChrist,whatisaskediswhatwouldhavebeenifPeterhadnotbeenPeter,
forhavingdeniediscontainedinthecompleteconceptofPeter,"Leibnizgoesontosaythatitcan
happensometimesthatadecision(presumablyonelikePeter's)"doesnotfollow[fromanythingin
theuniverse]unlessanewdivinedecreeoccursbyreasonofbestness"(Gr358).

DoesthisinterpretationleadtotheconclusionthatLeibnizdoesnotdenytransworldidentityof
individualsafterall?Heseemstodenyit,couchinghispointintermsofpossibleworlds,inthe
Theodicy(T414).Infact,hesuggestsasenseinwhichhecandenyitwithoutcontradictingthe
conclusionsproposedhere.Thesuggestioncomesinanexplicitstatement,from1698,thatGod
couldhavecreatedsubstancesthatwouldnothavecorrespondedwitheachother'sperceptions:
"Godwasabletogiveeachsubstanceitsphenomenaindependent

____________________
37
IfIunderstandit,thesenseofSleigh'sclaimthatLeibnizaffirmed"superintrinsicalness"butnot
"superessentialism"issimilartotheinterpretationthatIhaveofferedthusfarinthissection.See
Sleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,pp.57f.,6972.
108

ofthoseoftheothers,butinthatwayhewouldhavemade,sotospeak,asmanyworldswithout
connectionastherearesubstances"(GIV,519).38Thissuggeststhatacollectionofsubstancesthat
didnotcorrespondwitheachother'sperceptionswouldnotbesufficientlyconnectedtoconstitutea
single"world."PerhapsLeibnizdidnotthinkthateverystateofaffairsorsetofcreaturesthatGod
could(butforthedivinegoodness)haveactualizedshouldbecountedasa"possibleworld"(orpart
ofapossibleworld).Perhapsonlycompletesetsofperfectlyharmoniouscreatedsubstancesareto
countaspossibleworlds.CertainlyLeibnizwassoconvincedofthesupremeworthofharmony
thathewouldnothaveexpectedGodseriouslytoconsideractualizinganystateofaffairsthatdid
notsatisfythisconstraint,andIdonotknowofanypassageinwhichLeibnizhimselfspeaksof
"possibleworlds"thatdonotsatisfyit.IfLeibnizassumedthatthenotionofa"possibleworld"is
subjecttothisrequirementofharmony,hewouldhaveaclearreasontoholdthatsubstanceswith
differentrelationalproperties,ordifferentdurations,indifferentpossibleworldsmusthavehad
differentinternalproperties(differentperceptions)fromtheverybeginning;andthiswouldsupport
adenialoftransworldidentity,givingitasenseinwhichitwouldfollowfromhismetaphysicsof
causalityandperception.Ofcourseitwouldalsomovehimstillfartherfromtheconceptionof
possibleworldsintermsofwhichthequestionoftransworldidentityhasbeenraisedinourtime.

Appendix:'APriori'and'APosteriori'

Proofsaprioriandaposteriori,intheoriginalsenseofthoseterms,areproofsfromthecauseand
fromtheeffects,respectively,ofthefacttobeproved.Thissenseofthetermsisstillfoundinthe
PortRoyalLogic,whichspeaksofmattersinwhichourmindmaybe"capableoffindingand
comprehendingthetruth,eitherinprovingtheeffectsbythecauses,whichiscalleddemonstrating
apriori,orinverselyindemonstratingthecausesbytheeffects,whichiscalledprovinga
posteriori."39Theconceptionisclear,althoughtheauthorsgoonimmediatelytoremarkthat"itis
necessarytoextendthesetermsalittleinordertoreduceallsortsofdemonstrationstothem."

TherearemanyindicationsinLeibniz'swritingsthatheunderstood'apriori'intheoldersensethat
Ihaveindicated.Hesays,"ProofaprioriorApodeixisisexplanationofthetruth"(C408).He
equatesknowledgeaprioriwithknowledgethroughcauses(C272).Areason"wouldmakeknown
thereality[ofadefinition]aprioriinexhibitingthecauseorpossiblegenerationofthething
defined"(NE294).Mosttelling,perhaps,isanearlypassageinwhichLeibniztreatedindirect
proof[reductioadabsurdum],whichisnotnormallyempirical,asacaseofproofaposteriori
presumablybecauseitdoesnotexplainwhythepropositionprovedistrue(C154).40

____________________
38
0nthistext,cf.Sleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,pp.150f.
39
ArnauldandNicole,PortRoyalLogic,IV,1.
40
Couturat'seditorialcommments(C153f.)noteinternalevidencefordatingthispieceto1677.The
watermarkalsosuggestsapproximatelythatdate(VE309).
109

Nonetheless,therearepassagesinwhichLeibnizcouldeasilybereadinthenewersenseinwhich
'apriori'meanssimply'nonempirical'.Heregularlyconnectstheaposterioriwithexperience,and
cancontrast"truthsaposteriori,oroffact"with"truthsapriori,orofReason"(NE434).Isuspect,
indeed,thatLeibnizplayedacrucialroleinthetransformationofthemeaningof'apriori'.Ibelieve
that'proofapriori'alwaysmeantforhim'proofthatexplainsthereasonforthefactthatisproved'.
Butitfollowsfromhisepistemologyandhisconceptualcontainmenttheoryoftruththatapriori
knowledgeinthissensecoincideswithknowledgethatisindependentofexperienceandwith
knowledgebyanalysisofconcepts.Itwasthereforeeasyforhimtousetheterm'apriori'whenthe
ideathatwasforemostinhismindwasnotthatofknowledgebycausesbutoneoftheseotherideas
thatwere,forhim,coextensivewithit.

Bythesametoken,itwaseasyforaLeibnizianlikeAlexanderGottliebBaumgartentodefinethea
prioriasthenonempirical.41ChristianAugustCrusius,ontheotherhand,whowasmoreresistant
toLeibnizianviewsaboutsufficientreason,wasstillusing'apriori'and'aposteriori'intheold
senseinthemiddleoftheeighteenthcentury:

Ademonstrationaposterioriisonefromwhichisknownonlythatathingisfor
example,byexperience,orbyreductiontoabsurdity,orbycomparisonwithsome
otherthing.Ademonstrationaprioriisonefromwhichisknownwhyathingisfor
example,wherewededucetheattributesofthingsfromdefinitions,ordrawoutthe
effectfromthecausesanddeterminingreasons.42

____________________
41
Risse,DieLogikderNeuzeit,vol.2,p.649.
42
Risse,DieLogikderNeuzeit,vol.2,p.690.AsimilarconceptionisfoundinCrusius,Entwurfder
nothwendigenVernunftWahrheiten,,35.
110

II
Theism:GodandBeing
111

[Thispageintentionallyleftblank.]

112
4
TheEnsPerfectissimum
WebeginhereasequenceoffivechaptersonLeibniz'sviewsandreasoningsontherelation
betweenGodandontology.Leibnizis(inmyopinion)themostinterestingwriteronthe
ontologicalargumentfortheexistenceofGodbetweenSt.Anselmandthetwentiethcentury.This
chapterisconcernedwithoneofthekeyideasinLeibniz'sversionofthatargument,hisconception
ofGodasa"mostperfectbeing,"anensperfectissimum,bywhichhemeanta"subjectofall
perfections"(AVI,iii,579/L167),abeingthathasallperfections,andwhoseessence,indeed,isthe
"aggregate"(cf.AVI,iii,574)orconjunctionofallperfections.Leibnizseemstohaveworked
hardestonthedevelopmentofthisconceptionduring1676,attheendofhisyearsinParis,butit
stilldominateshisthoughtaboutGodintheDiscourseonMetaphysicsandintheMonadology(
DM1,Mon4148).Hebequeathedtheconceptiontohissuccessors.Inslightlyvaryingformsit
appearsinChristianWolffandAlexanderGottliebBaumgarten,anditprovidestheconceptofGod
fortheexcessivelyfamousdiscussionoftheontologicalargumentinImmanuelKantCritiqueof
PureReason.

Whatsortofthingasubjectofallperfectionswouldbeobviouslydependsonwhatperfectionsare.
Leibnizoffereddefinitionsof'perfection'onmorethanoneoccasion.TheoneIhavechosenasa
startingpointoccursinoneofhismorefinishedpapersfrom1676andfiguresprominentlyinhis
attempttoprovethepossibilityofGod'sexistence,whichIwilldiscussatlengthinChapter5.He
writes:"AperfectioniswhatIcalleverysimplequalitythatispositiveandabsolute,or[seu=that
is]thatexpresseswithoutanylimitswhateveritexpresses"(AVI,iii,578/L167).

Perfectionsarequalities.Noteverypredicateexpressesaquality.Inparticular,onlymonadic
predicates,predicatesofasinglesubject,(andperhapsnotallmonadicpredicates)expressqualities.
LeibnizdoesnotadhererigidlytoAristotle'sschemeofcategories,butheiscertainlyAristotelian
enoughtorefusetocountrelationsasqualities.Thequestionwhetherexistenceisaqualitywillbe
importantinconnectionwiththeontologicalargument.

Asimplequalityhereisonethatisnotanalyzableasaconjunctionofotherproperties;this
becomesexplicitinthenextstepoftheargument.Apositivequalityisnotthenegationofanother
quality.ThemostdurablefeatureofLeibniz'sconceptionofperfectionsisthattheyinvolveno
negationatall.Itakethelastclauseofthedefinitiontoindicatethatanabsolutequalityisnota
limiteddegreeofanyquality,andindeedinvolvesnolimitationatall;Iwillshortlyoffersome
justificationforthisinterpretation.

113

TherearemanymisgivingsonecouldhaveaboutthisconceptionofGod.NormanMalcolm
1I
objectedthathecouldnotunderstandhowanyqualitycouldbeintrinsicallysimpleorpositive.
havealwayswonderedwhetheritisreallyaconceptionofGod.Itisnotimmediatelyobviousthat
theconjunctionofallsimple,purelypositivequalitiesthatexpresswithoutlimitswhateverthey
express(assumingthattherearesuchqualities)wouldconstitutetheGodoftraditionaltheism
ratherthana"Metaphysicalsomething"toborrowaphrasethatLeibnizusestocharacterize
someoneelse'stheology(AVI,iii,474f./L158).SomehavesuspectedthatascribingtoGodthesum
ofallpurelypositiveattributeshasSpinozisticorpantheisticimplications.Wemaywonder,atany
rate,whetherthedefinitionofaperfectionincludesandexcludes,respectively,thosepropertiesthat
wouldandwouldnotcharacterizeabeingthatisrecognizablyGod.Shadesofcolor,whichGodis
notsupposedtopossess,haveseemedtosometobesimpleandpositive,andperhapstheyarenot
limiteddegreesofanything,butareonlyperfectlythemselves;shouldwecountthemas
perfections?Andareknowledgeandpower,whichGodissupposedtopossessinunlimiteddegree,
reallysimpleandpurelypositive?Argumentseemstobeneededonsuchpoints.

Wewillnotfindasmuchargumentasisneeded,butthepublicationofthecriticaleditionof
Leibniz'sphilosophicalwritingsfromtheParisperiod,167276,2makespossibleamoreadequate
understandingofthedevelopmentandmeaningofhisconceptionoftheensperfectissimumandof
thestructureoftheuniverseoverwhichthisbeingpresides.Inthesewritingswegetclear
indicationsofwhatqualitiesLeibnizthoughtofasperfectionsandattributesofGod.Theyarenot
sensiblequalities,butbasicmetaphysicalcategories.Or,rather,theyareprimal,unlimited,purely
positiveversionsofmetaphysicalcategoriesthatarecombinedwithlimitsinotherbeings.
Specifically,theyincludeimmensity,eternity,omniscience,andomnipotence,allconceivedasthe
absolutedegreesofthequalitiesorcategoriesofrealitymanifested,respectively,inspatialand
temporalbeing,inthoughtorintelligence,andinagency[AVI,iii,391f.,520(MarchApril1676)].
Ifthesimple,purelypositivequalitiesarepreciselytheunlimiteddegreesofthesecategories,the
3
Leibniziandeityis,orcouldbe,thepersonalGodoftraditionaltheism.

Severalissuesofmetaphysicalandtheologicalimportancewillrepayacloserinvestigationhere.I
willtryinsection1todevelopmorefullythemeaningandmotivationofLeibniz'sdefinitionofa
perfection,beginningwiththeinterpretationoftheterm'absolute'.Section2willbedevotedtothe
questionwhetherhisdefinitionpicksouttherightpropertiesasperfections,withspecificreference
tosensiblequalitiesandtoknowledge.SomepassagesofsurprisinglySpinozisticappearanceoccur
inLeibniz'spapersonthissubjectfrom1676,andIwilltryinsection3toshowbothhowfarhis
thoughtaboutGodwasSpinozisticthen,andhowintheenditescapesfromanySpinozistic
implication.

____________________
1
Malcolm,"Anselm'sOntologicalArguments,"p.59.
2
AVI,iii(1980).Leibniz'slettersfromthatperiodwerealreadyincludedinAII,i(1926),butthe
newervolumeisvastlysuperiorindocumentationandindexingandcontainsmoreonthistopic.
3
Later,intheTheodicy,Leibniztriestofitmoralperfection,orperfectionofthewill,intothis
scheme,claimingthat"thewillconsistsintheinclinationtodosomethinginproportiontothegood
thatitcontains"andmoralperfectionistheabsolutedegreeofthisinclination(T22).
114
1.AbsoluteQualitiesas"Requirements"ofThings

'Absolute'hasseveralmeanings.Leibnizoffersformaldefinitionsofitasmeaning"whatisthought
withoutanythingelsebeingthought"[AVI,ii,489(167172?)],orastheoppositeof'relative'[
4Nonrelativitymightberelevanthere,butIhavenotfoundinLeibniz's
C475(17024)].
discussionsoftheensperfectissimumanythingthatisunambiguouslyabouttheroleofrelational
properties.Moreclearlyrelevantisanotherfamilyofsensesinwhich'absolute'meanssomething
like'unqualified'[cf.C51/P19andC60(bothofApril1679)].Thisconceptionisexpressed,almost
intheformofadefinition,inamemorandumofMarchorApril1676inwhichLeibnizspeaksofa
thing"towhichexistenceisascribedabsolutely,thatis,withoutadeterminingaddition"(A
VI,iii,520/L163).The"determiningaddition"mightbeacondition;and'absolute',accordingly,can
mean'unconditional'[cf.AVI,ii,397(166971?);C26(Nov1677);GI137(1686)].Alternatively,
5Since
the"determiningaddition"canbealimitation,and'absolute'canmean'unlimited?'.
'unlimited'isoneoftheavailablemeanings,theexplicativeclause("thatexpresseswithoutany
limitswhateveritexpresses")makesitthelikeliestmeaningof'absolute'inthepresentcontext.

Thereisnosharpdistinctionbetween'absolute',inthismeaning,and'positive',foralimitationisa
sortofpartialnegation.Aquality"circumscribedbylimits"is"understoodthroughnegationsof
furtherprogress"(AVI,iii,578/L167).AtleastonceLeibnizexplained'absolute'asmeaning
'affirmative'[AVI,iii,519/L163(MarchApril1676)],andhesinglesoutthepurelypositive
characterofperfectionsasincompatiblewiththeirbeinganalyzedashavinglimits(AVI,iii,578/
L167).Theabsenceofa"determiningaddition"alsomeansthatanabsolutequalityisapureand
noncompositequality,andLeibnizcanuse'absolute'tomeansomethinglike'primitive',speaking
of"somethingabsolute,intowhichtheobjectsofthoughtsmustbeanalyzed"(C409).Thusthe
meaningof'absolute'canincludethatof'simple'aswellas'positive',andLeibnizcanspeakof"all
absoluteformsorpossibleperfections"withoutseparatementionofsimplicityandpositiveness,
sayingthatfromtheir"conjunctioninthesamesubjectarisesthemostperfectBeing[Ens
perfectissimum]"[AVI,iii,521/L163(MarchApril1676)].

Leibniz'sconceptionofdivineperfectionisaconceptionofinfinity,orunlimitedreality.Hegivesit
anegativeexpression,as"withoutanylimits."Inviewofhisinsistenceonthesimpleandpurely
positivecharacterofperfections,however,hecannotregardthenatureofthisinfinityasadequately
expressedinnegativeterms.Essentiallynegativeaccountsofinfinityingeneral,andofGod's
infinityinparticular,abound.AccordingtoLocke,"whenwewouldframeanIdeathemost
suitablewecantothesupremeBeing,weenlarge...withour

____________________
4
OtherplaceswhereLeibnizappearstouse'absolute'tomeannonrelativeareAVI,ii,161(from
1669);AVI,iii,518(probablyfromApril1676),thoughthatisnottheonlysenseof'absolute'inthis
text;andC590(probablyfrom1688).
5
SeeAVI,iii,502(April1676)andGr371(169597),whereLeibnizexplicitlyopposestheabsolute
tothelimited;cf.AVI,iii,520/L163.Innoteswrittenprobablyinthelastyearorsoofhislife,
Leibnizdistinguishedtwosensesof'absolute':oneinwhich"itisopposedtothelimited,"andone
inwhich"itisopposed...totherelative"(VE1087=LHIV,8,6061).
115
IdeaofInfinity"allourideasofqualitiesdesirableinourselves;andtheideaofinfinityis
essentiallynegative,"theNegationofanendinanyQuantity." 6Inpresentdayphilosophical
theologyomnipotenceorunlimitedpowerisstandardlydefined(atleastroughly)astheabilityto
7Theideaofinfinityinthatdefinitionisexpressedbya
bringaboutanypossiblestateofaffairs.
universalquantifier("any"),and,asanylogicianknows,universalquantifiersareequivalenttoa
sortofnegation.Soconceived,omnipotenceissuchpowerthatthereisnopossiblestateofaffairs
thatitspossessorcouldnotactualize.

Descartesfirmlyrejectedsuchnegativeconceptionsofthedivineinfinityorperfection;inthethird
ofhisMeditationshesays:

AndIoughtnottothinkthatIdonotperceivetheinfinitebyatrueidea,butonlyby
negationofthefinite,asIperceiverestandshadowsbynegationofmotionandlight;
foronthecontraryIclearlyunderstandthatthereismorerealityininfinitethaninfinite
substance,andthathencetheperceptionoftheinfiniteisinsomewaypriorinmeto
8
thatofthefinite;thatis,theperceptionofGodispriortotheperceptionofmyself.

Settingasideforthemomentquestionsofpriorityoftheperception,wecanatleastsaythat
Leibniz'sconceptionofdivineperfectioncommitshimtoagreewithDescartesthatinitsown
naturethedivineinfinityorperfectionisprimitivethatitisunanalyzableandnotanegationofthe
finite.Forhim,asforDescartes,theinfinite,inpropertiescapableofinfinity,istheprimarycase,
andthefiniteisformedbylimitation,orpartialnegation,oftheinfinite(NE157f.)."Theabsolute
ispriortothelimited,"Leibnizstates."Andjustsotheunboundedispriortothatwhichhasa
boundary[terminus],sinceaboundaryissomethingadded[accessioquaedam]"[AVI,iii,502
(April1676);cf.AVI,iii,392(18March1676);AII,i,313f.=GI,214f.(5April1677)].

Thepriorityoftheunlimitedisfirstofallconceptual.Beingpurelypositiveandsimple,according
toLeibniz,theunlimitedisunanalyzable.Itis"conceivedthroughitself,"inthesensethatithasno
constituentsintermsofwhichitmightbeunderstood.Rather,theperfectionsareprimitive,inthe
sensethattheyarefirstorultimateconstituentsintheanalysisofotherqualities.Butthepriorityof
theunlimitedorabsoluteisnotonlyconceptualforLeibniz.Unlessweseethatitisalsocausal,we
willmissanimportantpartofthemotivationofhisconceptionoftheensperfectissimum.Causal
dependencetendedtofusewithconceptualdependenceinhisthought;heheldthat"theeffectis
conceivedthroughitscause"[AVI,iii,514(April1676)],andhealwaysthoughtthatadefinitionor
analysisofanythingoughtideallytoexhibitthecauseofitsexistence,oratleastareasonwhyitis
possible(GIV,425/AG26).So,ifallotherthingsarecausallydependentonGod,theiressences
shouldbeconceptuallydependentonthedivineessence.Thisisaccomplishedifthedivineessence
isaconjunctionofallthesimple,positiveattributesoutofwhichallotherpredicatesare
constructed.

____________________
6
Locke,Essay,II,xxiii,33;II,xvii,15.
7
Qualificationsmaybeaddedtodealwithproblemsabout,forinstance,thefreewillofcreatures.
8
ATVII,45.Cf.ATVII,113,365.
116

Inapassagetobediscussedmorecomprehensivelyinsection3,Leibnizexpressesthisdouble
primacyoftheabsolute,unlimitedattributesordivineperfectionsbycallingthemthe"first
requirements"ofthings(AVI,iii,573).Theterm'requirement'[requisitum]isoneofwhichLeibniz
madeheavytheoreticaluse,especially,butnotexclusively,inhisearlywritings.9Wewillhave
severaloccasionstoattendtoit.In167172Leibnizdefinedarequirementas"somethingsuchthat
ifitisnotpositedthething[ofwhichitisarequirement]isnot"(AVI,ii,483).Thisformulais
used,inamoreelaboratedefinitionfrom17024,todefinethenotionofasustainer[suspendens].
"Asustainer,"saysLeibniz,"issomethingsuchthatifitisnotgiven,somethingelseisnotgiven;
itisalsocalledacondition."Thesustainingrelation,thusdefined,couldbereciprocal;twothings
couldbesustainersofeachother.Therequirementrelation,however,isasymmetrical,andis
thereforedefinedwithanadditionalprovisoofnaturalpriority:"Arequirement[requisitum]isa
sustainerthatisnaturallyprior"(C417).10Anotherwisecompresseddefinitionfromthe
mid1680sexplains"naturallyprior"inthiscontextasequivalentto"simplerinnature"
(Schmidt481).11

Notoriously,thereismorethanonekindofnecessarycondition.A"requirement,"intheindicated
sense,maybewhatwewouldordinarilycallacause,ormorepreciselyacausallynecessary
condition,particularlyifitiswhatLeibnizcallsa"requirementforexistence"(AVI,iii,584,118).
Requirementsseemtofunctionascausesinaproofoftheprincipleofsufficientreasondeveloped
intheearly1670s(AVI,ii,483;iii,118)andrepeatedin1716inLeibniz'slastlettertoSamuel
Clarke(LCV,18).12

Therearealsologicallynecessaryconditions,however,anditisclearthatLeibnizthoughtofthe
definingoressentialpropertiesofathingasamongitsrequirements,itsrequisita.Afterall,they
tooaresuchthatiftheyarenotposited,thethingisnot."Adefinition,"Leibnizsays,"isnothing
elsethananenumerationofrequirements"(AVI,iii,133;cf.AVI,iii,462f.,573;C60;GIII,247;G
VII,293).Thissortof"requirement"isclearlyinviewintextsof1676(AVI,iii,670f.=GVII,83)
andofApril1679.InthelatterLeibnizspeaksoftreatingthingsinhisgeneralcharacteristicor
languageforreasoning

insofaraswehavedistinctnotionsofthemthatis,insofarasweknowsome
requirementsofthem,bywhich,whenexaminedindetail,wecandistinguish

____________________
10
Thisasymmetryisindicated,moreawkwardly,whenLeibnizwrites,inApril1676,"Connectedare
thingsofwhichonecannotbeunderstoodwithouttheother.Requirementsarethingsthatare
connectedtoanotherandnotconversely"(AVI,iii,515/L161).Unfortunately,'connected'hasnot
beenassignedherethedirectionalitythatitneedsforitsuseinexplainingtheasymmetryof
requirement.
11
Forthedate,whichisbasedonthewatermarkinthepaper,andisearlierthanthatproposedby
Schmidt,seeVE1251.TheaccountofnaturalpriorityintermsofsimplicityisfoundalsoinVE170
(=LHIV,7C,7172)(assignedapreliminarydatingof167985bytheAcademyeditors,ongrounds
ofcontent),butaproblemabouttheaccountisdiscussedinnotesprobablydatingfromLeibniz's
Italianjourneyin168990(VE132=LHIV,7B,4748).
12
ThisproofisquotedinChapter2,section5.
9
1havebeenparticularlyhelpedintracingandunderstandingLeibniz'suseofthistermbythe
editor'snote31inSaame,146.AnexampleofitspersistenceinLeibniz'slaterworkisa
requisitabasedanalysisfromapublicationof1684(GIV,425/AG26)whichreappearsinaletterof
January1699toThomasBurnett(GIII,247/AG287).
117

themfromanyotherthingsorinsofaraswecanspecifytheirdefinition.Forthese
requirementsarenothingbutthetermswhosenotionscomposethenotionthatwehave
ofthething.(C50/P18)

InviewofthefusionofcausalandconceptualdependenceinLeibniz'sthought,however,itis
misleadingtospeakoftheseastwodifferenttypesofrequirement.Hiscallingsomethinga
"requirement"mustnormallybeassumedtohaveimplicationsaboutbothcausalandconceptual
relations,ofwhichonemaybemoreprominentthantheotherinaparticularcontext.

Thereisaproblemabouttherelationbetweenlimitedandunlimiteddegreesofaquality,towhich
Leibniz,sofarasIknow,devotesnodiscussionandoffersnosolution.Onemightassumethat
differentdegreesofthesamequalityshouldbestructuredlogicallyinsuchawayastocontaina
commonpartnamely,thequalityofwhichtheyaredegrees.Giventhataperfectionissimple,and
thushasitselfasitsonly"part,"itappearstofollowthattheperfectionitselfmustbea"part"ofthe
limiteddegreesofthesamequality.Thisconclusionalsoseemstobesupportedbytheideathatthe
perfectionisthepurecaseofthequality,andlimitationisasortofnegation.Italsoseemstobe
confirmedwhenLeibnizspeaksofthedivineperfectionsaspresent"in"thingsthathavelimited
degreesofthem(AVI,iii,391f.).SupposePisaperfection,andQisalimiteddegreeofthesame
qualityofwhichPistheunlimiteddegree.TheapparentimplicationisthatQisderivedfromPby
addingthenegationofsomequality,orinotherwordsthatQ=(P+notX).Thisseemstoentail,
however,thatwhateverpossessesQ,thelimiteddegree,alsopossessesP,theperfection,sincePis
aconjunctin(P+notX).Thisconsequencecastsdoubtontheanalysis,fortheterminologyis
devisedtocompareabeingthathasaperfectionwithbeingsthatpossessonlyalimiteddegreeof
thequality.

Thereareatleasttwopossiblewaysofdealingwiththisdifficulty.Onewouldtobetorejectthe
inferencefromathing'spossessing(P+notX)toitspossessingtheperfection.Topossessthe
perfection,itmightbesaid,isnotjusttopossessPinanywaywhatever,buttopossessPwithout
anylimitation.Thedifficultywiththisisthatitlookslikeanegativeunderstandingofthenatureof
aperfection.IfLeibnizchosethiscourse,hewouldhavetodenythatitinvolvesanalyzingthe
perfectionas(P+notlimited).TohavetheperfectionisnottohavePplusadoublenegative
property;itisjusttohavePandnothaveanegativeproperty.

Ifthatdoesnotsufficientlyguardthepurelypositivecharacteroftheperfections,thenLeibniz
mightwishtodenythatthesamenessofaqualityindifferentdegreesistobeunderstoodinterms
ofapartorelementthatiscommontoallthedegrees.Theconceptionoftheultimatedegreeofa
qualityasthepurecaseofthequalityisPlatonic,andmaybewecandrawhereononeofPlato's
ideasabouttherelationoftheformstotheirmundaneinstancesnamely,thatthelatterare
imitationsoftheformer.TheanalogueofPlato'sideaforthepresentcasewouldbethatother
degreesofanyqualityare(imperfect)imitationsoftheultimatedegreeofit.Leibnizactuallyuses
thislanguageintheMonadology,sayingthat"increatedMonads...thereareonlyimitations"of
thedivineperfections,andspecificallyofGod'spower,knowledge,andwillimitations"tothe
degree[mesure]thatthereisperfection"(Mon48).Ontheviewthatthis

118

suggests,thefundamentalrelationsofthelesserdegreestotheunlimiteddegreeofaqualitywould
besimilaritybutalsodistinctness,andindeedincompatibility.Since(asweshallsee)Leibniz
understandsallincompatibilityofpropertiesintermsofonecontaininganegationoftheother,and
sincetheperfectionsareunanalyzableandpurelypositive,Q,thelimiteddegree,mustbe
analyzableasaconjunctionhavingnotP,thenegationoftheperfection,asaconjunct.Perhapsthe
similaritywillalsobeaconjunct,inwhichcasetheanalysisofQwillbe,orinclude,(similartoP+
notP);orperhapsthesimilaritywillsimplysuperveneontheanalysisofQ.

Leibnizmightfindthissolutionproblematic,too.Itinvokessimilarityasafundamentallogical
relationofproperties,whereasmuchinhisphilosophyoflogicseemstoimplythattheonlysuch
relationsaredistinctness,identity,andconstructionbyconjunctionandnegation.ButIthink
Leibnizwouldwantinanyeventtomaintainthatlimitedandunlimiteddegreesofaqualityare
incompatibleinanyonesubstance.AsIwillsuggestattheendofthischapter,thatthesismaybe
importanttoLeibnizindifferentiatinghisviewsfromthoseofSpinoza.

2.SensibleQualities,Knowledge,andPerfection

InthinkingaboutthequestionwhetherLeibniz'sdefinitionofaperfectionincludesandexcludes
therightproperties,forpurposesoftheology,letusfocusonapairofexamplescloselyrelatedin
histhought:ontheonehand,thesensiblequalities,whichGodisnotsupposedtopossess,and
whichshouldthereforenottobeclassedamongtheperfections;andontheotherhand,knowledge,
ormoreprecisely,omniscience,whichLeibnizcertainlycountsasaperfectionandanattributeof
God.Leibniz'swritingsaffordadequatematerialfortheconstructionofareasonableanswerto
claimsthatheshouldcountsensiblequalitiesasperfections.Indeed,hemaybesaidtohave
addressedaformofthatproblemhimself.Iwillconclude,however,thatitwouldbemoredifficult
forhimtovindicatetheclassificationofomniscienceasapurelypositiveattribute.

AslongasLeibnizdefinestheperfectionsassimplequalities,heseemstohaveananswertothe
questionwhysensiblequalitiesdonotcountasperfections.Heheldthatcolor,forexample,"is
analyzableinitsownnature,sinceithasacause"(GVII,293;13Cf.C190,360f./P51f.),or(ashe
putitinApril1676)that"theperceptionofasensiblequalityisnotoneperceptionbutanaggregate
ofinfinitelymany"(AVI,iii,515/L161).14ItistruethatinatextfromperhapsasearlyasFebruary
1676Leibnizlists"sensiblequalities,suchasheat,cold,light,etc."alongwith"Existence,theEgo,
perception,thesame,change,"asexamplesofthingsthat"seemtobeconceivedthrough
themselvesbyus,thetermsorWords

____________________
13
Tobedated,probably,168386,onthebasisofwatermark(VE900).
14
Leibnizseemstosayherethatthisis"onaccountofthedivisibilityofspaceandtimetoinfinity,"
butthecontextalsosuggeststheideathatsensiblequalitiescannotbe"conceivedthrough
themselves,"andthereforecannotbesimple,becausetheyhavecauses.'Conceivedthrough
themselves'mustbeunderstoodhere(andinanumberofotherpassages)inthesenseLeibniz
assigns'understoodthroughthemselves'inthenextpassageIshallquoteinthetext.
119

forwhichareindefinable,ortheideasofwhichareunanalyzable."ButIthinkthesearenotall
supposedtobeexamplesofpropertiesthatareabsolutelyunanalyzableintheirownnature.Leibniz
goesontodistinguishwhatisconceivedthroughitselffromwhatisunderstoodthroughitself;the
latteris"onlythatallofwhoserequirementsweconceive,withouttheconceptofanotherthing
thatis,thatwhichisitsownreasonofexisting"(AVI,iii,275=GI,131).Thisdistinctionseems
designedtoallowthattheremaybethingsthatweconceivethroughthemselves,inasmuchaswe
doconceivethembutcannotanalyzethem,butthatwedonotunderstandthroughthemselves,
becauseintheirownnaturetheyareanalyzableintorequirementsthatweareeitherunableto
conceiveorunabletodiscerninthem.Thatsensiblequalitiesaresimpleonlyinthesensethatwe
areunabletoanalyzethemiscertainlyathesisofLeibniz'smaturephilosophy,andIthinkthe
evidenceindicatesitwashisviewin1676aswell.

InApril1677,however,inaconversationwithArnoldEckhardabouttheontologicalargument
Leibnizhimselfdidraisethequestionwhypain,whichcanbeconsideredasensiblequality,should
notbeconsideredaperfection.LeibnizreportsthathedemandedfromEckhardadefinitionof
perfection.

He[said]thataperfectioniseveryattribute,oreveryreality.I[said]thatthereforeeven
painisaperfection.He[said]thatpainisnotsomethingpositive,butaprivationof
tranquillity,asdarknessisoflight.I[said]thatitseemstomethatpaincannomorebe
calledaprivationofpleasure,thanpleasureaprivationofpain.Butpleasureaswellas
painissomethingpositive.Andpainisrelatedtopleasurequiteotherwisethan
darknesstolight.Fordarknesscannotbemademoreandlessintense,oncelighthas
beenexcluded,norisonedarknessgreaterthananotherwherealllightisabsent.But
paindoesnotexistbythemereremovalofpleasure,andonepainisstrongerthan
another.ThereforeitfollowsthatthemostperfectBeinghaspainstoo.

Thediscussioncontinuedalittlefurther;butonthisoccasion,Leibnizrecords,"wewerestuck...
here,anditwasnotadequatelyexplainedwhypainisnotasmuchaperfectionaspleasureor
satisfactionofmindis"(AII,i,313=GI,214).

Leibniz'sapproachinthisconversationwaspolemical,directedagainstCartesianism.Itwas
Eckhard'sdefinitionofaperfectionhewascriticizing,nothisown.Hecouldhaveofferedhisown
definition,butdidnot.AndEckhard'sdefinitionomitsthecriterionofsimplicitythatisamainpart
ofLeibniz's.Butitemphaticallyincludespositiveness,whichisalsoamainpartofLeibniz's
definition(indeedthemostimportantpart,asweshallsee).Itisnotclear,therefore,whether
Leibnizwasstumpedonthisoccasionbyaproblemthataffectedhisownviewsaswellas
Eckhard's.

Laterin1677,incorrespondencewithEckhard,Leibnizarticulatesasolutionthatseemsatleastto
comeclosetosatisfyinghim:

SomeofmyobjectionsceasewhenyouhaveexplainedthatforyouperfectionisBeing
[Entitas],insofarasitisunderstoodtodepartfromnonBeingorasIshouldpreferto
defineit,thatperfectionisdegreeorquantityofrealityoressence,asintensityisdegree
ofquality,andforcedegreeofaction.ItisclearalsothatExistenceisaperfection,or
increasesreality;thatis,whenexistingAisconceived,morerealityisconceivedthan
whenpossibleAisconceived.

120

Neverthelessitstillseemstofollowfromthisthatthereismoreperfectionorrealityin
amindthatishurtingthaninonethatisindifferent,thatisneitherenjoyingnorhurting;
andthusthat,metaphysicallyspeaking,evenpainisaperfection.Butsincepleasureis
alsoametaphysicalperfection,thequestionseemstoarise,whetherpainorpleasureis
thegreaterperfection,,metaphysicallyspeaking.Anditseemsthatpleasureisthe
greaterperfection,sinceitisconsciousnessofpower,inthesamewaythatpainis
consciousnessofweakness.Weakness,however,isanimperfection,metaphysically
speaking,andconsciousnessofmetaphysicalimperfectionisalsolessperfect,
metaphysicallyspeaking,thanconsciousnessofmetaphysicalperfection.Andsopain
impliessomeimperfectioninthebeingthatisinpain;yetthereremainsomescruples
evenhere,whichInowpassover.(AII,i,363/L177)

Thereismetaphysicalperfectioninpainaswellasinpleasure,itissuggestedhere,insofarasboth
augmentconsciousness;buttobeinpainisalsotobeimperfect,insofaraspainisconsciousnessof
metaphysicalimperfection.

Itisnoteworthythatthissolutionseemstoinvolveadifferentnotionofperfectionfromthatwith
whichwehavebeenworking.Webeganwithadefinitionthatyieldsayesornoanswertothe
questionwhetheranypropertyis"aperfection."Buthereweareintroducedtoperfectionasa
measureofthedegreeofrealitycontainedinaproperty.Thisisnotonlyatransitionfrom'Perfect
ornot?'to'Moreperfectorless?'Simplicityalsodropsoutasacriterion,andonlypositivenessand
perhapsabsolutenessareleft.Fordegreeof"reality"isameasureofpositivenessandunlimitedness
ofbeing.

CommentingonalongletterfromEckhard,moreover,Leibnizacceptsthisdefinitionofperfection:
"Perfectionformeisquantityordegreeofreality"(AII,i,327=G1,225).Thereisreasontothink
thatsimplicityisinfactdispensableasacriterionofperfectionsforLeibniz.Itisnotreallyneeded
forhisproofofthepossibilityofamostperfectbeing(asweshallseeinChapter5,section2.1).
Leibniz'searliestandlatestversionsoftheproof,insayingthatGod'sattributesare"affirmative"(
AVl,iii,395f.)orinclude"nolimits,nonegation"(Mon45),withoutmentioningsimplicity,leave
outnothingessential.SimilarlyintheDiscourseonMetaphysics(1686),inthefirstsection,which
ismainlydevotedtothedivineperfections,unlimiteddegreeistheonlycriterionofferedtoexplain
whataperfectionis:"theformsornaturesthatarenotsusceptibleofanultimatedegreearenot
amongtheperfections";simplicityisnotmentioned.

ThisisnottodenythatLeibnizbelieved(probablythroughouthiscareer)thateachsimplepositive
propertyinfactcharacterizesGod,andGodalone(C51315).Thesimplicityoftheperfectionsis
used,unnecessaryasitmaybe,inhisfullestversionsofthepossibilityproof,whichdatefromfall
1676.InsketchingtheproofforthePrincessElizabethabouttwoyearslater,heputsitintermsof
theattributesofGodbeing"allthesimpleforms,takenabsolutely,"withoutexplicitmentionof
theirpositiveness(AII,i,437f./AG240).

ItisnotclearwhetherourdatarepresentchangeanddevelopmentinLeibniz'sconceptionof
perfections,orsimplyvarietyinhischoiceofstrategiesofproof.Itisclearthatfromsometimein
orafter1678,ifnotbefore,hedoubted"whether

____________________
15
Thewatermarksuggeststhatthistextcomesfromtheperiod167886(VE869).
121

any[primitiveorsimple]conceptappearstohumansdistinctly,thatis,insuchawaythattheymay
knowthattheyhaveit"(C513;cf.C431,360/P51;GVII,293).16Thiscouldhavebeenareason
forLeibniznottorequiresimplicityofperfections,sinceheclaimedtoknowsomeofthedivine
perfections,suchaspowerandknowledge(DM1,Mon48).

TotheextentthatpositivenesswasLeibniz'sprimarycriterionofperfection,andthathemayinthe
endhavewishedtocountamongthedivineperfectionsqualitiesthatmightnotbeabsolutely
simple,thesensiblequalitiesmightbeseenaspresentingamoredifficultproblemforhisview.For
hisbeliefthatthesensiblequalitiesarenotsimplewillnotprovidehimwithanadequatereasonfor
notregardingthemasperfections,oratanyrateascompatiblewiththedivinenature.His
conceptionofperfectionapproachesEckhard's,andmayfacesomeofthesameproblems.The
solutionheproposedtoEckhardfortheissueaboutpainmayindicatethelinesalongwhichhe
wouldrelatetheconceptionofperfectiontosensiblequalitiesingeneral.Leibnizthinksthatour
conceptionsofsensiblequalitiesareconfusedconceptionsofaspectsoftheworldthathaveinthem
somemeasureofrealityandperfection,butalsooflimitationandimperfection.Theyaretherefore
notconceptionsofanyoftheabsoluteperfectionsofGod,andarenotevencompatiblewiththe
natureofabeingofunlimitedperfection.

ThissolutionreflectswhatItaketobeapersistentaspirationofLeibniztoreduceallqualitiesto
combinationsanddegreesofwhatwouldseemtomostofustoberatherabstractmetaphysical
categories,suchasconsciousnessandpower.Itisdifficulttoseehowthedifferentiationand
structureofaworldcanbeaccountedforinthatway.ThematureLeibnizseemstohave
maintainedthatitispreciselyindegreesofperfection,invariousrespects,thatfinitesubstances
differfromeachotherandfromGod;whattheyallshareisperceptionofthestructureofthesame
world.Thephenomenalspatialarraythatconstitutesthatperceptioninusdoesnotfitneatlywithin
theconceptualframeworkofLeibniz'sspeculationsaboutdivineperfections.Itisnotreadily
understoodeitherasasimplepositivequalityorasconstructedoutofsuchqualitiesbynegation
andconjunction.Itthereforeseemsnottobeaperfection,whichisanadvantageforLeibniz,
inasmuchasitenableshimnottoascribeaperfectiontofinitethings.Ifhewishestoadhere
rigorouslytohisconceptionoftheensperfectissimum,however,heisleftwiththeproblemof
understandinghowGod'sperceptionofaninfinitelycomplexstructureoflimitedthingscouldbea
simple,purelypositivequality,oraconjunctionofsuchqualities.

Thisproblemisaggravatedbythefactthatperfectknowledge,forLeibniz,isanomnisciencethat
includesknowledgeofwhatisnot,aswellaswhatis.Godknowsthepossiblesthatwillneverbe
actual,andknowsthattheyarenotactual.Ifthisnegativeknowledgeisreducibletoanythingmore
basic,itwouldbetheknowledgethatthenonactualsystemsofpossiblesarelessperfectthanthe
actualsystem;andthatisstillknowledgeofafactthatessentiallyinvolves

____________________
16
C431suggeststheinterestingideathatthereareonlytwoabsolutelysimpleconcepts,onepositive
(pureBeing[Ens]orGod),andonenegative(nothing),andthatallotherconceptsaresomehow
compoundedofthese.
122

limitation,andhencenegation.Ifperfectknowledgethus,andindeedofitsverynature,hasan
objectthatinvolveslimitationandnegation,itishardtoseehowperfectknowledgecanbeapurely
positiveattribute.

3.IsLeibnizsConceptionofGodSpinozistic?
3.1LeibnizsViewsin1676

Adifferentapproachtotherelationbetweendivineperfectionandthestructureoftheuniverseof
finitethingsissuggestedinapaperof18March1676inwhichLeibnizgivesoneofhisfullest
indicationsofwhatattributeshecountsasperfections:

Butthereissomethinginspacewhichremainsamidstthechanges,andwhichis
eternal,andisnothingotherthantheimmensityitselfofGod,thatis,asingleattribute
atonceindivisibleandimmense.Ofthis,spaceisonlyaconsequence,asapropertyis
ofanEssence.Itcaneasilybedemonstratedthatmatteritselfisperpetually
extinguishedorrepeatedlybecomessomethingdifferent.Inthesamewayitcanbe
shownthatthemindalsoiscontinuouslychanged,exceptforthatwhichisDivineinus,
orwhicharrivesfromoutside;justasinspacethereissomethingdivine,theimmensity
itselfofGod,sointhemindthereissomethingdivine,whichAristotlecalledtheagent
intellect,andthisisidenticalwiththeomniscienceofGod,inthesamewayasthat
whichisdivineandeternalinspaceisidenticalwiththeimmensityofGod,andthat
whichisdivineandeternalinbodyorthemovablebeingisidenticalwiththe
omnipotenceofGod,andthatwhichisdivineintimeisidenticalwitheternity.(A
Vl,iii,391f.)

Twofeaturesofthisaccountmayseemproblematic.OneisthatitascribestoGodaperfection,
immensity,whichisquasispatialandissaidtobe"thatwhichisdivineandeternalinspace."This
wasnotanextraordinaryviewintheseventeenthcentury,thoughitwasnotuncontroversial.Onthe
assumptionofarealisticconceptionofspace,itprovides(thoughwithoutmucharticulation)away
inwhichthestructureofaspatialuniversecanbedirectlyrelatedtoadivineperfection.Butit
seemstobeindisagreementwiththematurephilosophyofLeibniz,inwhichspaceandtimeare
idealentities,whichwewouldnotexpecttobegroundeddirectlyinattributesofGod.

ItistruethatwefindthematureLeibnizwriting,probablyabout1688,that"whateverisrealin
spaceisGod'somnipresenceitself";thisisassociatedwiththeviewthat"theextensionofspace
perseisabsolute"whereas"theextensionofabodyislimitedineveryway"(VE1603=LHIV,7
C,99f.).Bytheendofhislife,however,Leibnizcontraststhedivineimmensityasabsolutewith
spaceas"purelyrelative,"thoughhestillbringstheimmensityofGodintocloserelationwiththe
ideaofspace(LCIII,34),ashehadintheNewEssays(NE158).17Thethoughtthatspace
involves,andgetsitsrealityfrom,thedivineimmensitydidnot,forLeibniz,implythattheyareon
thesamelevelofreality.Ashewroteabout1695,"space,time,andmotionare,tosomeextent,
beingsofreason,and

____________________
17
IamindebtedtoAyvalRamatiforcallingmyattentiontothispassage.
123

aretrueorreal,notperse,butonlyinsofarastheyinvolveeithertheDivineattributesof
immensity,eternity,andoperation,ortheforceofcreatedsubstances"(GMVI,247/L445).

ThewayinwhichNewtonconnectedspacewithGodwasoneofLeibniz'sinitialpointsofattackin
hiscorrespondencewithClarke,andoneofthecontinuingthemesinthiscorrespondencewas
Leibniz'sobjectiontoClarke'sidentificationofinfinitespacewiththedivineimmensity(admittedly
asimpleridentificationthanLeibnizhimselfwouldhavemaintainedevenin1676).Inhislast
years,LeibnizunderstandsGod'simmensityasomnipresence(LCV,45;RS38/AG276)andseems
favorablydisposedtotheScholasticreductionofGod'spresenceinaplaceto"immediate
operation"onthingsthatareinthatplace(LCIII,12;LCIV,35;cf.NE221f.).18Thissuggeststhe
viewthatimmensityisnotadivineperfectiondistinctfromomnipotence.

TheothersurprisingfeatureofthequotationwithwhichIopenedthissectionisthewayinwhich
LeibnizlocatesattributesofGod,something"divineandeternal,"inpartsoraspectsofthecreation.
Thedivineimmensityisfoundinlimitedforminspatialthings;thedivineeternity,intemporal
things;thedivineandperfectknowledge,oromniscience,inthemind;andthedivinepower,
interestingly,"inbodyorthemovablebeing"thatis,insubstantialityandaction.19Such
affirmationofdivineimmanencemayarousesuspicionsthattheconceptionbeingexpressedis
pantheistic.Leibnizseemstohavebeensensitivetothispossibility,forlaterinthesamepaperhe
triestodistancehimselffromacertainformofpantheism,saying:

Thereisinmatter,asalsoinspace,somethingeternalandindivisible,whichseemsto
havebeenunderstoodbythosewhobelievedthatGodhimselfisthematterofthings.it
isnotcorrecttosaythat,however,sinceGodconstitutes,notapart,butaprincipleof
things.(AVl,iii,392)WithoutknowingmoreaboutwhathemeantbycallingGoda
"principle"[principium,"beginning"or"source"]ofthingswecanhardlytellhow
effectivelythisdistancesLeibnizfrompantheismingeneral.Hisstatementheremay
remindusofhiswritingtoBurcherDeVolder,almostthirtyyearslater,that
"substantialunitiesarenotparts,butfoundations,ofphenomena"(GII,268/L536),
wherehecertainlymeantthatthephenomenaaremetaphysicallyconstructedoutofthe
"unities."DenyingthatGodisapartof(finite)thingswillnotdifferentiateLeibniz
fromSpinoza,themostimportant"pantheist"inhisintellectualenvironment.Themost
seriousquestionaboutthetheisticorthodoxyofLeibniz1676conceptionofdivine
perfectionisindeedwhetheritispantheisticinaSpinozisticway.

____________________
18
Thereductionisnotflatlyassertedinthesetexts,butthereisampleevidencethatthroughmostof
hisadultlifeLeibnizthoughtthatallpresenceofanysubstanceinaplaceshouldbereducedto
operation;seeChapter12,sections2.22.3.
19
0ntherelationofspaceandbodytothedivineattributes,cf.Kant,LecturesonPhilosophical
Theology,pp.52f.(AkXXVIII,1021f.).ParticularlyinterestinginthiscontextisKant'sstatement
that"fromtheconceptofmatter"wecanretainforascriptiontoGod,"afterseparatingoff
everythingnegativeandsensiblethatinheresinthisconcept,nothingbuttheconceptofan
externallyandinternallyactiveforce."
124

ithasbeenclaimedthatitis.WolfgangJanke,inanimportantarticle,characterizestheformof
ontologicalargumentusedbyLeibnizin1676as"Spinozistic."20"Thesumofallpositive
constituentsofthings...standsunderthepressingsuspicion'thatitisidenticalwiththeworldas
anAllofexistingbeings(regardlessofallprotestationsagainstSpinozism)',"Jankesays,quoting
Kant.21Thereisevidencetosupportthissuspicion.ItisclearthatLeibnizwasthinkingabout
SpinozawhileheworkedonhisproofofthepossibilityofGod'sexistence.HeshowedSpinozathe
mostfinishedformofitwhenhevisitedhimintheHague.Infact,thereisagooddealinthetexts
of1676inwhichtheproofwasbeingdevelopedthatsuggestsaSpinozisticconceptionofthe
relationbetweenGodandtheworld.

TheprevailingtendencyinrecentresearchholdsthatLeibnizwasalwaysfundamentallyopposedto
Spinoza'sphilosophy,22andtherearealreadyplentyofstatementsofdisagreementwithSpinozain
Leibnizwritingsfrom1676.Butpointsofagreementanddisagreementneedtobedistinguished
herewithmuchcare.DuringthisperiodLeibniz'sknowledgeofSpinoza'sthoughtwasincreasing
butstillquiteimperfect.HehadstudiedtheTheologicoPoliticalTreatisebutdidnothavean
opportunitytostudytheEthicsuntilhereceivedacopyafterSpinoza'sdeath.Hewaslearningmore
aboutSpinoza'smetaphysicsinconversationswithEhrenfriedWalthervonTschirnhaus,whowas
familiarwithatleastpartsoftheEthics,andhewasseeingfragmentsofSpinoza'sthoughtin
letters.HecopiedoutthreelettersofSpinozatoHenryOldenburg,whichwereprobablyshownhim
byOldenburginLondoninOctober1676,shortlybeforehismeetingwithSpinoza.Inhismarginal
commentsontheselettersLeibnizvigorouslytakesissuewithSpinoza'streatmentofmiraclesand
rejectionofthedoctrineoftheincarnation(AVI,iii,36567,371=G1,12426,130).Leibnizagrees
that"theexistenceofthingsisaconsequenceoftheNatureofGod,"butonlybecausethedivine
nature"bringsitaboutthatonlythemostperfectcanbechosen";heiscarefultospecifythatfinite
thingsdonotproceedfromGod"withoutanyinterventionofthewill,"andthatsomethingsare
possiblethatdonotexist(AVl,iii,370,364f.=G1,129,123f.)23

Leibniz'sinsistenceontheroleofGod'swill,andchoiceofthebest,inthetheologicalexplanation
oftheexistenceofthecreatedworldwouldremainthechiefpointinhisdifferentiationofhisown
versionofdeterminismfromSpinoza's(seeChapter1,section1.4).Itisalso,Ibelieve,thepointon
whichLeibnizcanmosteasilybeseenasdefendingthepersonalityofGodagainstSpinoza.
Spinozaheldthat"ifintellectandwillbelongtotheeternalessenceofGod,somethingvery
differentmustbeunderstoodbybothoftheseattributesfromwhatpeople

____________________
20
Janke,"DasontologischeArgument,"esp.p.259.
21
Janke,"DasontologischeArgument,"p.269;Kant,PreisschriftberdieFortschritteder
Metaphysik,AkXX,302.Kantelsewhererejectsthesuspicion:LecturesonPhilosophicalTheology,
pp.7375(AkXXVIII,1041f.).
22
SeeFriedmann,LeibnizetSpinoza,esp.ch.3,andParkinson,"Leibniz'sParisWritingsinRelation
toSpinoza."Stein,LeibnizundSpinoza,hadarguedforanearlySpinozisticphaseofLeibniz's
thought.
23
AllthesedisagreementswithSpinozaareemphasizedbyFriedmann,LeibnizetSpinoza,pp.
11721.
125

arecommonlyaccustomed[tounderstand].Fortheintellectandwillthatwouldconstitutethe
essenceofGod"wouldagreewithoursonlyinname,as"thedog,thecelestialsign"or
constellation,agreeswith"thedog,thebarkinganimal."24Thisseemstopresentanimpersonal
conceptionofGod,aresultwhichLeibnizcertainlywishedtoavoid.Commenting,probablyinthe
springof1676,onChapter14ofSpinozaTheologicoPoliticalTreatise,Leibnizsays,"Herehe
sufficientlyintimateshisopinion:thatGodisnotamind[animus],butthenatureofthingsetc.,
whichIdonotapprove"(AVl,iii,269f.).25Moreemphatically,butwithoutexplicitreferenceto
Spinoza,Leibnizwriteson11February1676:

GodisnotaMetaphysicalsomething,imaginary,incapableofthought,will,action,as
somemakeout,sothatitwouldbethesameasifyousaidthatGodisnature,fate,
fortune,necessity,theWorld;butGodisaSubstance,Person,Mind....Itshouldbe
shownthatGodisapersonorintelligentsubstance.(AVI,iiii,474f./L158)

ThepointinLeibniz'sphilosophythatdoesmosttogivesubstancetohisascriptionofintellectand
willtoGodishisinsistencethatthecreationoftheworldmustbeexplainedbyGod's
understandingallthepossibleworlds,andtheirvalues,andchoosingthebest.26These,andabove
alltheroleoffinalcausation(thatis,purposiveness)intheworksofGod,formthecenterpieceof
hisobjectiontoasectof"newStoics,"whoholdthat"properlyspeaking,Godhasneither
understandingnorwill,whichareattributesofmen."HenamesSpinozaasaprimeexamplarof
thissect[GVII,334/AG282(167780)].

WhatLeibnizclearlyrejectsinSpinoza'stheology,therefore,isSpinoza'sdenialofchoiceand
optimificpurpose,andofintellectandwill,inanyordinarysense,inGod.Eveninobjectingto
suggestionsthatGodisthematter,orapart,ofthings,or"isnature,fate,fortune,necessity,the
World,"LeibnizmaybeobjectingonlytoanyideathatGodisnothingmorethanthesethings
(whichmaynotinfacthavebeenSpinoza'sview).ItwouldnotnecessarilyfollowthatLeibniz
thoughttheworldissomethingexternaloradditionaltoGod.Likewise,itIsnotsoclearhowmuch
LeibnizrejectsofwhatSpinozaaffirmedabouttheontologicalrelationshipbetweenGodand
creatures.Specifically,itisnoteasytodiscernLeibniz'sattitude,in1676,towardtheSpinozistic
ideathatfinitethingsareinGodas"modes"ormodificationsofthedivineattributes.

CommentingthirtyyearslateronSpinoza'sstatement,toOldenburg,that"AllthingsareinGod,"
Leibnizwoulddenythat"allthingsareinGod...asanaccidentisinasubject"(RS38/AG276).
Thatapproachesanexplicitrejectionofthemode/attributerelationbetweenfinitethingsandGod.
CommentingonthesametextofSpinozain1676,Leibnizwrote:

____________________
24
Spinoza,Ethics,I,prop.17,schol.
25
TheeditorssuggestthatLeibniz'sperceptionofthisintimationwasduetoknowledgeofSpinoza's
metaphysicsobtainedfromTschirnhaus(AVl,iii,248).
26
1noneofLeibnizlegalwritingsfrom1676wecanfindadefinitionof'person'as"whathassome
will"(AVl,iii,592=Gr722),whichmightsuggestthatwillwasLeibniz'smainorevensole
criterionofpersonality.Butthisdefinitionwasprobablymeantonlyforlegalpurposes.Bothalater
noteonit,fromLeibniz'shand,andthepassageIhavejustquotedinthetextsuggestthatin
metaphysicalcontextsherecognizedintellectasatleastasimportantacriterionofpersonality.
126

Itcanbesaidatanyratethatallthingsareone,thatallthingsareinGod,asaneffectis
containedinitsfullcause,andapropertyofanysubjectintheessenceofthatsame
subject.ForitiscertainthattheexistenceofthingsisaconsequenceoftheNatureof
God,whichbringsitaboutthatonlythemostperfectcanbechosen.(AVl,iii,370=G
I,129)

AtfirstglanceLeibnizseemsheretobeproposingcausaldependenceinsteadofontological
inclusionastheacceptablemeaningof"AllthingsareinGod."Thereisaquestion,however,tobe
askedbeforeascribingtoLeibnizthissomewhatstrainedinterpretation.Howisaneffectcontained
initsfullcause,accordingtoLeibniz?Is'contained'meantaslightlyhereaswemightthink?We
mighttakesomewarningfromthefactthatLeibnizoffers,asanapparentlyequivalentexplanation,
that"allthingsareinGod...asapropertyofanysubject[iscontained]intheessenceofthatsame
subject."Thisexplanationispuzzling,butitcertainlybreathesnoobviousairofontological
externality.Indeed,wemightnaturallyexpectthepropertyandtheessencetobepresentinthe
samesubject.

TherelationofpropertytoessenceisusedseveraltimesinLeibnizpapersof1676asamodelfor
therelationoffinitethingstoGod;itmeritssomediscussion.'Property'isclearlymeanthere,notin
thebroadsenseinwhichwecustomarilyuseit,butinanolderandnarrowersense.Leibniz
distinguishedanaccident,as"acontingentpredicate"ofathing,fromseveralkindsof"necessary
predicate":

Anattributeisanecessarypredicatethatisconceivedthroughitself,orthatcannotbe
analyzedintoseveralothers.

Anaffectionisanecessarypredicateanalyzableintoattributes....

Apropertyisareciprocalaffection,oranaffectioncontainingalltheattributesofa
subject,orfromwhichallotherpredicatescanbedemonstrated.

Anessenceis...theaggregateofalltheattributes[ofathing].[AVI,iii,574(late
1676)]

InapaperofApril1676Leibnizproposesanexampleoftherelationthatconcernsus."Itseemsto
me,"hesays,"thattheoriginofthingsfromGodisliketheoriginofpropertiesfromanessence."
Theessenceof6,heproposes,is1+1+1+1+1+1;amongitspropertiesare3+3,3x2,and4
+2.27Thesepropertiesaredistinct,forwithoutthinkingofanyoneofthemwecanthinkofany
other,oroftheessence:"Thereforeasthesepropertiesdifferfromeachotherandfromtheessence,
soalsothingsdifferfromeachotherandfromGod"(AVI,iii,518f.).Thisexampledoesnotsuggest
muchontologicalexternalitybetweenthederivative"things"andGod.Neitherdoesthepaperof18
March1676whenitsays(asIhavequotedit,above)that"spaceisonlyaconsequenceof[the
immensityitselfofGod],asapropertyisofanEssence"(AVl,iii,391).

PerhapsthemostsuggestiveofthepassagesinwhichLeibnizusestherelationofessenceto
propertyasamodelfortherelationofGodtootherthingsisinanotherpaperofApril1676:

____________________
27
IrelyhereonthecontextfortheinterpretationofsomesignsbywhichItakeLeibniztomean
equalityandthemultiplicationrelation.
127
TheattributesofGodareinfinite,butnoneoftheminvolvesthewholeessenceofGod;
fortheessenceofGodconsistsinthefactthatheisthesubjectofallcompatible
attributes.ButanypropertyoraffectionofGodinvolveshiswholeessence,asGod's
havingproducedacertainsomethingthatisconstanttooursensation,howeversmallit
be,involvesthewholenatureofGod,becauseitinvolvesthewholeseriesofthingsof
thatkind.Aninfiniteseries,moreover,resultsonlyfrominfiniteattributes.Whenall
theotherattributesarerelatedtoanyoneofthem,thereresultinitmodifications,
whenceithappensthatthesameEssenceofGodisexpressedasawholeinanykindof
World,andsothatGodmanifestshimselfininfinitemodes.(AVI,iii,514)

Herea"kindofWorld,"ora"wholeseriesofthingsofthatkind,"ispresumablyapossibleworld.
28LeibnizenvisagesaworldasarisingfromtherelationofeachoftheinfiniteattributesofGodto
alltheothers.Givenhisdefinitionof'property',thatisofcoursealsothewayinwhichaproperty
ofGodarises.Thiscreativeinteractionofattributesfollowsfromthedivineessence,butitwillbe
crucialforLeibnizthattheperfectionofGod'swillplaysapartinit,aswellastheperfectionof
God'spower.ItisGod's"havingproduced"thingsthatsoresults.ButitisinterestingforLeibniz's
relationtoSpinozathathespeaksoftheresultoftheinteractionasmodifications"in"anattribute,
andasGod'sselfmanifestation"ininfinitemodes."ItisnaturalenoughtothinkofGod'spower,for
example,asmodifiedbyGod'swill,inasmuchasitisdeterminedbythechoiceofthebest.Whatis
strikinghereisthatLeibnizisnotmovedtospeakclearlyoftheworldasanadditional"result"
outsidethedivinebeing.

ThepassagesuggeststhatLeibnizwasthinkingoftheexistenceofcreatedthingsasbeing,inthe
lastanalysis,afactaboutthethought,will,andpowerofGod.Thatthoughtseemstorecurin
Leibnlz'srepeatedflirtationwiththeideaofdefiningexistenceintermsof"whatpleasesGod"(see
Chapter6,section2).Onthisaccount,ourexistence,forexample,wouldconsistinthefactthatthe
perfectionsofknowing,willing,andpowerinGodconvergeinthechoiceofourworldasthebest
possible.AndthisideawascertainlyinLeibnizmindinApril1676,whenhewrotethatacreated
mind"willbeandwillsubsistbythewillofGod,thatis,oftheunderstandingofthegood.For
being[esseitselfisnothingbutbeingunderstoodtobegood"(AVl,iii,512).

SimilarimplicationscanbefoundinyetanotherpaperofApril1676inwhichLeibnizsaysthat
"Modifications...resultingfromall[thesimpleforms],relatedtoindividual[simpleforms],29
constitutethevarietyinthem"(AVl,iii,522/L162).Inthesameparagraphhealsousestheexample
oftherelationoftheessenceofthenumbersixtoItspropertiestosupportwhatappearstobea
denialofindependentessencestoderivativethings:

Thereisthesamevarietyinanykindofworld,anditisnothingbutthesameessence
relatedindiverseways,asifyoulookatthesamecityfromdiverseplaces;orifyou
relatetheessenceofsixtothree,itwillbe3x2or3+2[sic],

____________________
28
AtAVl,iii,523Leibnizexplicitlyidentifies"kindsofThings"with"Worlds."
29
Loemkertranslatesthisas"relatedtoindividuals,"apparentlyoverlookingthefeminine,ratherthan
neuter,formofsingulas,whichmustthereforerefertoformas(alsofeminine)ratherthanto
indefiniteentities.
128

whereasif[yourelateit)tofouritwillbe6/4=3/2or6=(4x3/2).Henceitisnot
strangethatthingsareproducedthatareinacertainwaydifferent.(AVl,iii,523)

Theexampleofacityviewedfromdifferentplacesrecurs,ofcourse,inanotherroleinLeibniz's
maturewritings.Italsoisfoundinanothertextof1676,inanexplicitassertionthatallthingshave
thesameessence.(ThepaperisonethatcontainsimportantworkonLeibniz'sproofforthe
possibilityofamostperfectbeing.)HereLeibnizflatlyaffirmstheSpinozisticideathatfinite
thingsareonlymodes.

Thatallthingsaredistinguishednotassubstancesbutasmodes,caneasilybe
demonstrated,fromthefactthatifthingsareradicallydistinct,oneofthemcanbe
perfectlyunderstoodwithouttheother;thatis,alltherequirementsoftheonecanbe
understoodwithoutalltherequirementsoftheotherbeingunderstood.Butitisnotso
inthings;forsincetheUltimatereasonofthingsisunique,whichalonecontainsthe
aggregateofallrequirementsofallthings,itismanifestthattherequirementsofall
thingsarethesame.Andthustheessenceistoo;ontheassumptionthattheessenceis
theaggregateofallthefirstrequirements,theessenceofallthingsisthereforethe
same,andthingsdonotdifferexceptinmode,asaCityviewedfromthehighestplace
differsfrom[thecity]viewedfromafield.Iftheonlythingsthatarereallydifferentare
thosethatcanbeseparated,oroneofwhichcanbeperfectlyunderstoodwithoutthe
other,itfollowsthatnothingisreallydifferentfromanotherthing,butallthingsare
one,asPlatoalsoexplainsintheParmenides.(AVl,iii,573)

Herethe"firstrequirements"ofathingarepresumablythesimplest,purestattributesoccurringin
theanalysisofthething.30Leibnizissupposingthattheconjunctionofallthesimplest,purest
attributesconstitutestheessenceofGod,andapparentlyalsothatallsuchattributesoccurinthe
analysisoftheessenceofeveryfinitething.

Theargumentisnotpersuasive.Themonisticconclusionisbuiltintotheimplausiblydemanding
criterionofdistinctnessthatisusedasapremise.Andwhyshouldwegrantthat"theessence[of
eachthing]istheaggregateofall[its]firstrequirements"'?Foritwouldseemthatdifferent
essencescouldbeconstructedoutofthesamefundamentalattributesoneessencecontainingP,
anothercontainingnotP,differentessencescontainingdifferentdegreesofQ,andsoforth.Behind
theargument,however,isclearlytheideathatwesawinotherpassages,ofderivativethings
resultingfromtherelations,orlogicalinteractions,soto

____________________
30
Leibniz'suseoftheterm'requirement'isdiscussedinsection1ofthischapter.Thepaper1have
justquoted,however,containsinitsnextparagraphasomewhateccentricexpressionofLeibniz's
characteristicfusionofconceptualandcausaldependencerelations.Theconceptualaspectofthe
requirementrelationisindicated,thoughthecausalaspectisnotexcluded,whenLeibnizsays,"The
aggregateofsufficientrequirementsistheEssence."Thecausalroleofrequirementscomestothe
forewhenheadds,almostimmediately,"Requirementsseemtoindicatearelationtoexistence,
attributestoessence"(AVl,iii,573).InthelatterstatementItake'requirements'and'attributes'to
refer,atleastforthemostpart,tothesameproperties,viewedintheonecaseasrequiredfor
existence,andintheotherasdefiningthenatureofthething.Thisdistinctionbetween
requirementsandattributesdoesnotseemtohavebeenanenduringfeatureofLeibniz'sthought,
andtheparagraphinwhichitisfoundlooksratherexperimental.
129

speak,ofallthedivineattributes.Andthistime,ontologicalexternalityoftheresultingentities
seemsexplicitlyrejected.

Thisisnot,Ithink,aconclusionwithwhichLeibnizwasentirelyhappy,anditwasnotastable
outcomeinhisthought.Tothestatementthat"allthingsaredistinguishednotassubstancesbutas
modes,"headdedaninterlinearqualificationbywritingintheadverb'radically'overtheword
'substances'.Moreover,oneoftheotherpapersfromwhichIhavequotedarathermonistic
statementconcludeswithaparagraphthatintroducesanimportantpluralizingnotion.Beginning
withtheobservationthatwhenachangeisperceived,thereisachangeintheperceiver,Leibniz
says:

Andinthiswayeverythingiscontainedinsomewayineverything.Butclearlyin
anotherwayinGodthaninThings;andinanotherwayinkindsofThings,orWorlds,
thaninindividuals.Thingsaremade,notbythecombinationofformsalone,inGod,
but[bycombination]withasubjecttoo.Thesubjectitself,orGod,withitsubiquity
yieldstheimmense;thisimmense,combinedwithothersubjects,causesallthepossible
Modes,orThingsinit[Resinipso],tofollow.Variousresultsfromformscombined
withasubjectcauseparticularstoresult.

Leibnizisstillworkingwiththesamemodeloflogicaldependenceasabasisforontological
dependenceorcausalgeneration,forheadds:

HowthingsresultfromformsIcannotexplainexceptbythesimilitudeofNumbers
[resulting]fromunities,butwiththisdifference,thatunitiesareallhomogeneous,but
formsaredifferent.(AVl,iii,523)

Whatisnewhereisthedistinctionof"subjects."Combinedwiththesingledivinesubject,the
simpleformsconstituteGod;"combinedwithothersubjects,"theformsconstitutederivative
things.Thisisexactlythewayinwhichmostofuswouldintuitivelyexpectontologicalexternality
tobemaintainedinapluralisticmetaphysicsthoughitisstrangelycombinedinthispassagewith
thesurvivingcharacterizationofderivativethingsas"Modes,orThingsinit,"whichpresumably
meansthings"in"thedivinesubject.

WasLeibnizpermanentviewintroducedinthispassage,whichhedated"April1676"?Doesit
markadecisiveandirreversiblesteptowardtheconceptionoffinitethingsasdistinctsubstances?
WecanhardlyseethispassageassodecisiveifweacceptthedateofNovember1676whichthe
editorsofAVl,iiiassigntothepaperinwhichLeibnizflatlyassertsthatallthingshaveasingle
essenceandaredistinguishedasmodesratherthanassubstances.Buttheevidenceforthelater
dateinthatcaseisnotconclusive,astheeditorsnote.

3.2LeibnizsLaterViews

ClearlytherewaschangeinLeibniz'sthoughtonthispointinthe1670s.Theideathatfinitethings
"aredistinguishednotassubstancesbutasmodes"wasdefinitelyrejectedby1678.Andwhereas
on15April1676hewrotethat"God...iseverything.Creaturesaresomethings"(AVl,iii,512),he
wrotetoEckhardonthe28thofthefollowingAprilthat"itseemstobeimpossiblefortheretobea
Beingthatiseverything;foritcouldbesaidofsuchaBeingthatitisyouand

130

itisalsome,whichIthinkyouwillnotadmit"(AII,i,323=GI,222).31Moreoversomethinglike
theideaof"othersubjects"recursinLeibniz'scommentsonthetextofSpinozaEthics,whichhe
finallyreceivedin1678.TothethirddefinitionofPartI("BysubstanceIunderstandthatwhichis
initselfandisconceivedthroughitself")Leibnizobjectsthat"onthecontrary,itseemsratherthat
therearesomethingsthatareinthemselveseveniftheyarenotconceivedthroughthemselves.
Andthatishowpeoplecommonlyconceiveofsubstances"(GI,139/L196).32The"things"to
whichLeibnizrefershereareobviouslyderivativeorfinitethings,andinsayingthatthey"arein
themselves"hemeansthattheyhaveoraredistinctsubjectsofpredication,andthusaredistinct
substances,eventhoughtheyareconceived,notthroughthemselves,butthroughtheattributesof
God.

ButthistoomaynotrepresentastablepositioninLeibniz'sthought.Wedonotfindthemature
Leibnizgroundingthedistinctnessofsubstancesonaprimitivedistinctnessofsubjectsassuch.
Suchagroundingmightevenbeinconsistentwithhisdoctrineoftheidentityofindiscernibles.As
inthecaseofnecessityandcontingency(seeChapter1,section1.4),wemustbecarefultolet
LeibnizdisagreewithSpinozainhisownway,andnottoimportalienassumptionsabouthowan
ontologicalpluralistwouldconceivetherelationbetweenGodandtheworld.

Thereisampleevidencethat,intraditionaltheologicalterms,LeibnizsawGodas"immanent"as
wellas"transcendent"inrelationtotheworld,andthatthedistinctnessofcreatedthingswasin
somewaysprecariousforhim.TheDiscourseonMetaphysicssuggestsasubstantialconnection
betweenGodandfinitethings,describingcreationasakindofemanation:33

Nowitis...veryevidentthatthecreatedsubstancesdependonGod,whoconserves
themandevenproducesthemcontinuallybyakindofemanation,asweproduceour
thoughts.ForasGodturnsonallsides,sotospeak,andinallways,thegeneralsystem
ofphenomenathathefindsgoodtoproducetomanifesthisglory,andregardsallthe
facesoftheworldineverypossiblemanner,sincethereisnorelationthatescapeshis
omniscience,theresultofeachviewoftheuniverse,asregardedfromacertainplace,is
asubstancethatexpressestheuniverseinconformitywiththatview,ifGodfindsit
goodtorenderhisthoughteffectiveandproducethatsubstance.(DM14)34

____________________
31
Thecontextisinteresting.EckhardhasofferedaproofofthepossibilityofGod'sexistence
strikinglysimilartoLeibniz'sownproof(which,sofarasweknow,hehadnotcommunicatedto
Eckhard).ButEckhard'sproofturnsonidentifying"theconceptofanEnsperfectissimum"with
"theconceptofaBeingthatdoesnotparticipateinnonbeing."Suchabeing,Leibnizargues,
wouldhavetobe"everything,"becausethereisnothingitcouldbesaidnottobe.Hisownaccount
doesnothavethisuntowardconsequence,becausehedoesnotdenythattherearenegativetruths
aboutGod.Hedeniesonlythatanynegationiscontainedinanyoneofthedefiningattributesof
God.
32
Cf.Leibniz'scommentonproposition14ofpartI(GI,145/L201).
33
ForextensivedocumentationofLeibniz'suseofthevocabularyofemanation,seeRobinet,
Architectoniquedisionctive,pp.431f.;seealsop.438.
34
StrikinglysimilartothistextareVE62/L185of1677("WhenGodcalculatesandexercizes[his]
thought,theworldismade")andVE292=LHIV,1,14C,10.Inthelatter,however,asubstantial
formorsoulresults"fromtheveryfact[eoipso]"thatGodregardsthewholeuniverseasiffroma
certainbody;nomentionismadeofGodrenderinghisthoughteffective.Thisisnotthe
131

AsimilaraccountofthecreationisgivenintheMonadology,although'fulguration'replaces
'emanation':

ThusGodaloneisthePrimitiveUnity,ortheoriginatingsimplesubstance,ofwhichall
thecreatedorderivativeMonadsareproductionsandareborn,sotospeak,by
continualFulgurationsoftheDivinityfrommomenttomoment,limitedbythe
receptivityofthecreature,towhichitisessentialtobelimited.(Mon47)

AparticularlyimportantindicationofthetendenciesofLeibnizthoughtonthissubjectisfoundin
hisstatement,publishedin1698,thatif,asMalebrancheheld,therewerenoenduringcausally
efficaciousforceinthings,

itwouldfollowthatnocreatedsubstance,nosoul,remainsnumericallythesame,and
sothatnothingisconservedbyGod,andhencethatallthingsareonlysomeevanescent
orfleetingmodificationsandphantasms,sotospeak,oftheonepermanentdivine
substance.Thisamountstothesamethingasthatdoctrineofmostevilrepute,whicha
certainsubtleandprofanewriterrecentlyintroducedintotheworld,orrevivedthatthe
verynatureorsubstanceofallthingsisGod.(GIV,508f./L502)

The"subtleandprofanewriter"mentionedhereisobviouslySpinoza,andLeibnizissayingthat
theirpossessionofenduringforce(closelyconnectedinhismindwithformandessence)isallthat
keepscreatedsubstancesfrombeingmeremodificationsofthedivinesubstance,alongthelinesof
Spinoza'stheory.Thisisadramaticexpressionofthetenuousnessofthecreatures'independence
fromGodintheLeibnizianschemeofthings.HereLeibnizisnotpreparedtoassertthedistinction
betweenGodandcreatedsubstancesasasimple,primitivedistinctionbetweendifferentsubjectsof
properties.Atthesametime,itisclearthatLeibnizisaffirmingthatcreatedthingsaresubstances,
andnotmeremodificationsofthedivinesubstance.Theirdistinctnessistracedtoadistinctionof
powers.

ItisnothardtoseehowLeibnizmighthavethoughtthepowersofcreaturesdistinctfromGod's
power.Forthepowersofcreatureshavelimitations.ItispartofLeibniz'stheoryofforcesthat
limitedpowerscanbemodificationsofbroader,morefundamentalpowersinthesamesubject.35
ButitdoesnotfollowthatsuchlimitationscanbepresentinGod.Indeed,Itakeittobepartof
Leibniz'sconceptionoftheensperfectissimumthatnolimitedperfectioncanbeascribedtoit,
becauseeverylimitedperfectioninvolvessomenegationofanabsolutedivineperfection.Nodoubt
itfollowsthatthelimitedpowersofcreaturesexistinsubjectsdistinctfromthedivinesubject.But
thedistinctionofsubjectshereisnotprimitive.Rather,itflowsfromthedistinctionofpowers,or
(morebroadlyspeaking)offormsasitshould,foraproponentoftheidentityofindiscernibles.36

ThatthisistherightbasisfordistinguishingLeibniz'sconceptionoftherelationbetweenGodand
finitethingsfromSpinoza'sisconfirmedbyapaper

____________________
34
onlywayVE292divergesfromLeibniz'smaturethought.Iinclinethereforetothinkitisearlier
thanDM.Itswatermarkisattestedfrom1679and1690.Leibniz'sviewsonwhatGoddoesin
conservingcreaturesarediscussedinChapter3,section2.2.
35
See,e.g.,GII,270/L537.ThisisamaintopicofChapter13ofthisvolume.
36
ThispointisanalogoustoapointIwillmakeinChapter11,section3:Leibnizrevealsinthistext
thatforhimitisformratherthanmatterthatiscrucialforrealisminphysics.
132

titled"OntheAbstractandtheConcrete"fromabout1688(VE1603=LHIV,7C,99100).37The
relevantpassagebeginswithanattempttodefinethenotionof"beingin[inesse]asubject"in
termsofthenotionofrequirement,apparentlyinthesensediscussedinsection1ofthischapter.

Andthereforewhatisinasubjectappearstobethatwhoserealityispartofthereality
ofthesubjectitself.Or,tospeakinawaymoresuitedforforminganddemonstrating
propositions,AisinBifeverythingthatisimmediatelyrequiredforAisalso
immediatelyrequiredforB.Whatisimmediatelyrequiredforsomething,however,in
suchawaythatnothingfurtherisimmediately,norevenmediately,requiredforit,can
becalled[its]reality.

ThissuggeststoLeibnizaformoftheproblemthatwehavebeendiscussing:"Butsinceallthe
realityofcreaturesisinGod,itseemstofollowfromthisthatallcreaturesareinGod."Thepoint,
presumably,isthat,givenLeibniz'sbeliefthatthe"requirements"ofcreaturesarethedivine
attributes,fromwhich,ultimately,alltheattributesofotherthingsarecomposed,itfollowsfrom
thedefinitionsgivenherethatthedivineattributesarethe"reality"ofcreatures,andthecreatures
"arein"'GodwhichseemsatleastclosetoaSpinozisticconclusion."Butwemustreply,"Leibniz
goeson,"thattherealityofcreaturesisnotthatveryrealitythatinGodisabsolute,butalimited
reality,,forthatisoftheessenceofacreature."Herethethoughtseemsveryclearthatthelimited
andtheabsoluteorunlimitedrealityaredifferent,indeedincompatible,attributesandhencearenot
presentinthesamesubject,sothatthecreaturesarenot"in"Godafterall.

AlittlefurtheronaworryseemstooccurtoLeibniz."Butitstillseemsundeniablethat...the
absoluterealityisimmediatelyrequiredforthelimited"'nodoubtbecausethelimitedattributes
areinsomewayconstructedfromtheunlimited.ThisleadsLeibniztoreplacerequirementswith
"constituents"inthedefinitionof"beingin."

Thereforeitseemsthedefinitionshouldbecorrected,namely,sothatwesaythatAis
inB,athingin38adifferentthing,ifalltheconstituentsofAitselfareconstituentsof
Bitself.

Unfortunatelythedefinitionhethenoffersof"constituents"doesnotmakeveryclearthedifference
betweenconstituentsandrequirements.

ButIunderstandconstituentstobethosethingsthatinprinciple[exinstituto]makea
thing,insuchaway,namely,thatwhentheyarepositedthethingisposited,andthat
thisisassumedasaprinciple.Theconstituentsofaconstituentareconstituentsofthe
[thing]constituted.

Unclearasthisis,themostplausiblereadingofthepassageasawholeissurelyoneaccordingto
which,first,creaturesarenot"in"Godbecausetheirlimitedattributescannotbe"in"Godand,
second,some"requirements"ofcreatures

____________________
37
Allquotationsfromheretotheendofthepresentchapterarefromthissource.Thewatermarkof
thedocumentisattestedfromthelastthreemonthsof1688,andthepaperseemsrelatedtoanother
whosewatermarkhasthesameattestationandwhichcannothavebeenwrittenbefore1685because
itcitesabookpublishedinthatyear(VE1607).
38
Reading"in"forVE's"im."
133

particularlytheabsoluteattributesofGod)arenot"constituents"ofcreaturesbecausetheyarenot
attributesofcreatures(thoughattributesofcreaturesareconstructedfromthembylimitation)and
theyarenot"in"creatures.

Weareleft,Ithink,withthefollowinganswertothequestionwhetherLeibniz'sconceptionofGod
asensperfectissimumhas,inescapably,Spinozisticimplications:itdoesnot.Therelationofthe
limitedattributesofcreaturestotheabsoluteattributesofGodisnottherelationofmodeto
attribute,sincetheyexcludeeachotherfromanyonesubject,byvirtueofthenegationinvolvedin
thecreaturelyattributes.39

____________________
39
1nthischapter,inadditiontosourcescitedabove,IhavebeenhelpedbySchneiders,"Deus
Subjectum."
134

5
TheOntologicalArgument
Duringthelater1670sLeibnizwasintenselyengagedwiththeCartesianversionoftheontological
argument.Hedevelopedastandardlineonthesubjectthatrecursinvariousplacesinhiswritings
fromthenon.Ithasthreemainpoints.(1)TheCartesianargumentisincomplete.Itdoesshowthat
ifGod'sexistenceispossible,thenGodexists;butitassumeswithoutproofthatGod'sexistenceis
possible,whichcanbedoubted. 1(2)TheexistenceofGodshouldbepresumedpossibleunlessitis
provedimpossible.Thispresumption,togetherwiththeCartesianproof,providesajustificationof
2But(3)thedemonstrationcanbe
theisticbelief,thoughitfallsfarshortofdemonstration.
completed:itcanbeproved1.3thatGod'sexistenceispossible.3WhenLeibnizoffersanapriori
proofinsupportofhisthirdclaim,hetouchesonfascinatinganddifficultissuesaboutexistence
thatgorighttotheheartofthelogicalstructureofhisphilosophy.Thefirstclaimwillbediscussed
inthischapter;thethirdclaimwillbediscussedinthischapterandthenext;thesecondclaimwill
bediscussedinChapter8.

____________________
1
AII,i,250/L165f.(28December1675);AVI,iii,510f.(15April1676);AVl,iii,579/L168
(November1676);AII,i,300,306,325,383f.(1676,1677);AII,i,312,401=GI,213,198(1677,
1678);AII,i,436=GIV,294(1678);AII,i,478/L211(22June1679);AII,i,529(1682);G
VII,294/L231(16831986);GIV,424/L292f.(1684);AII,i,545f.(1685);VE47=LHI,20,160
(16781985?);DM23(1686);GIV,358f./L386(1692);GVII,310;AVI,vi,8=GV,18(1695?
1997);GIV,401ff.,405(17001701);NE437f.(1704);GVII,490(1710).(Insomeofthesetexts
Descartesisnotmentioned,buttheargument,whichLeibnizdidnotregardaspeculiarlyor
originallyCartesian,isclearlyinview.)In1671Leibnizdidnotyetgivethisobjection,butaquite
differentone,totheCartesianargument(AVI,ii,306).In"DeVitaBeata"of1676,hepresentsthe
Cartesianargumentwithoutanycriticism(AVI,iii,642),theprobableexplanationbeingthatthe
workisapasticheofCartesianviewsratherthanadevelopmentofLeibniz'sownthought.
2
AII,i,312f.=GI,213f.(5April1677);AII,i,388=GI,188(3January1678);AII,i,436=G
IV,294(1678);GIV,404,405(17001701);GIII,444(20November1702);NE438(1704);G
VII,490(1710);alsoinamemorandum,probablyof167778,publishedinpp.286f.ofJanke,
"DasontologischeArgument."Janke'spaperisoneofthemostimportantonthissubject,andIam
muchindebtedtoit.Itshouldbenoted,however,that,unlikeitsappendixIII,whichIhavejust
cited,itsappendicesIandIIhaveappearedintheAcademyedition,inAVI,iii,57173andA
II,i,39193,respectively(thelatterunaccountablyoverlookedbyJanke).
3
AII,i,43338/AG23540(1678);GIV,4014,405f.(17001701);andNE437f.(17031905)are
noteworthyforcontainingallthreeofthemainpoints.Exceptforthefirstofthem,however,they
donotsupportthethirdpointwithanaprioriproofofpossibility.Thatisattemptedmostfullyin
textsfrom1676(AVI,iii,395f.,57179/L167f.),andwithalmostcrypticbrevityinGr325
(mid1680s)andintheMonadologyof1714(45).WritingtoEckhard,28April1677,Leibniz
sayshethinksthepossibilitycanbeproved,butadds,"noonehasdoneityet"(AII,i,324=G
135

1.TheIncompleteProof

ThatthepossibilityofGod'sexistencecanbedoubtedandthatitmustbeeitheranassumptionora
premiseofanyaprioritheisticproofaretruthssofamiliarincontemporaryphilosophicaltheology
astocallforlittlecommenthere.EvenintheseventeenthcenturyLeibniz'sobjectiontothe
Cartesianargumentwashardlyoriginal.IthadbeenpresentedtoDescartes,intheSecond
ObjectionstotheMeditations,andDescarteshadgivenareply.4Whetherhisreplywasadequate
ismoreproperlyaquestionforCartesianthanforLeibnizianstudies.Whatdeservesdiscussion
hereisthequestion,OnwhatgroundsdidLeibnizbelievethattheontologicalargumentshowsthat
ifanecessarybeingispossible,itactuallyexists?

Hewroteanelaborateandilluminatingproofofthisthesis,datedJanuary1678.Thisdocumentwas
probablyconnectedwiththeextensivediscussionabouttheCartesianontologicalargumentthathe
5Iwillquote
carriedon,bothorallyandbyletter,beginningin1677,withArnoldEckhard.
extensivelyfromit,asIbelievethereisnopublishedEnglishtranslation.

ProofoftheexistenceofGodfromhisessence

(1)ThepossibleexistenceorPossibilityofanythingandtheessenceofthatsamething
areinseparable(thatis,ifoneofthemisgivenintheregionofideasortruthsor
realities,theotherisalsogiventhere.Thatis,ifthetruthofoneofthemexistssodoes
thetruthoftheother;forthetruthsexistevenifthethingsdonotexistandarenot
thoughtofbyanyone....

Thereforebysubsumption

(2)ThepossibleexistenceorpossibilityofGodandtheessenceofGodareinseparable
(fortheessenceofathingisthespecificreasonofitspossibility),

but

(3)TheessenceofGodandhisactualexistenceareinseparable.

Thereforeinconclusion
(4)ThepossibleexistenceorPossibilityofGodandhisactualexistenceareinseparable,

____________________
4
ATVII,127,14951.LeibnizmusthaveknownofthisandbeenunsatisfiedwithDescartes'sreply.
HecriticizesarelatedpassageoftheSecondReplies(ATVII,139)inpresentinghisobjectionina
draftofalettertoMalebrancheinJuneof1679(AII,i,476f.=GI,338f.).
5
Theconnectionissuggestedinaletterof3January1678toHermannConring,inwhichLeibniz
clearlyalludestohisdiscussionswithEckhard(whomheidentifiesonlyas"aprofessorfroma
neighboringAcademy,aCartesian")andclaimstohavediscoveredademonstration"thatGod
necessarilyexists,givenonlythatitispossiblethatheexists"(AII,i,388=GI,188).InAII,i,390
theeditorssuggestthatLeibnizpreparedthisproofforHenningHuthman,buttheonlyevidence
theyciteforthishypothesisisaletterofthesamemonth,toLeibniz,inwhichHuthmanobjectsto
an"argumentrecentlyproposed"ontheground"thatIcanprovethatExistencecannotbededuced
fromanyconceptofEssence"(AII,i,389).Giventhisopinion,Huthmancanhardlybethe
CartesianthatLeibnizmentionstoConring.
x
I,224)whichmaynotbeinconsistentwithhisthinkingthathehimselfhadanunpublishedproof
ofit.Inanotherletterof1677hesaysthatthepossibilitycannotbeprovedonCartesianprinciples
butcanbeprovedbythemethodof"analysescontinuedtotheend"whichwillleadtotherational
languageor"characteristic"projectedbyLeibniz(AII,i,383f.).SeealsoAII,i,401=GI,198.
136

or,whatisthesame,

(5)OntheassumptionthatGodispossibleitfollowsthatGodactuallyexists(A
6
II,i390).

Step(4)followsfromsteps(2)andbythetransitivityoftheinseparabilityrelation.Step(2)follows
fromstep1byinstantiationandisjustifiedonthegroundthat"theessenceofathingisthespecific
7sothatthereisanessenceofathingifandonlyiftheexistenceofthe
reasonofitspossibility,"
8ThesestepsmustbeadmittedifwearetoallowLeibniztomeanwhathesays
thingispossible.
hemeansby'inseparable',andwhathemustmeanby'essence'.Ibelievethatstep(5)alsofollows
fromstep(4),givenLeibniz'sstatedconceptionofinseparability,butthereisadoubttobe
overcometherethatIwilldiscusspresently.Step(3)remainsastheoneLeibnizrightlyregardsas
mostinneedoffurtherjustification.

Heofferstwoproofsofit.Thefirstisanargument,alongCartesianlines,fromGod'ssupreme
perfection.Commenting,however,that"thisreasoningcanbeabbreviatedatthispointandthe
mentionofperfectioncanbeeliminatedfromit,"heproceedstoofferasecondproofinwhichGod
issimplydefinedasanecessarybeing.Leibnizrecommendsthisstreamliningoftheargument
9Indeed,itisanotherpersistentfeatureofhiscritiqueoftheCartesianproof,
elsewhere,too
althoughconsiderationofthedivineperfectioncertainlyremainedimportanttohisthoughtabout
thenecessityofGod'sexistence.Thesimplificationeliminates(forthetimebeing,atanyrate)
possiblegroundsofobjectionpertainingtoideasaboutperfection.Italsothrowsintohigherrelief
themostsolidpartofLeibniz'smodalversionoftheontologicalargument.Itdistinguishes
Leibniz'streatmentoftheargumentnotonlyfromDescartes's,butalsofromthosefoundin
Anselm,forwhomtheargumentisfirstandforemostaboutdivineperfection.

Theconclusionofthispartoftheargumentis,ineffect,thatiftheexistenceofanecessaryGod,the
GodofwhattheGermanscall"ontotheology,"issomuchaspossible,thensuchadeityactually
(andalso,ofcourse,necessarily)exists.Recentworkonthesubjecthasestablished,Ithink,that
thisconclusioniscorrect.10Itisworthwhile,however,totrytounderstandwhetherandhow

____________________
10
SeeHartshorne,LogicofPerfection,pp.50f.;R.Adams"LogicalStructureofAnselm's
Arguments";andPlantinga,NatureofNecessity,ch.10.
6
InquotingfromthisdocumentIomitsomemarginaladditionsandsomecrossreferencestoother
partsofit.
7
LeibnizsaysthisalsoatAVI,iii,583;cf.VE47.
8
Discussingtheontologicalargumentinaletterof1685,Leibnizsays,"Fortherebeinganessence
ofathingisthesameasthethingbeingpossible"(AII,i,545).Foracasualendorsementofthis
equivalence,seeGVII,294.
9
AII,i,312=GI,212f.(5April1677,amemorandumofLeibniz'sfirstconversationwithEckhard);
AII,i,323f.=GI,223(28April1677);GIV,359,402,405f.(1692,17001701).Anevenmore
abbreviatedformoftheargumentisgiveninthefirsttwosentencesofapiece(assignedbythe
Academyeditorstolate1676or1677)headed"DefinitionofGodortheBeingofitself':"Godisa
beingwhoseexistencefollowsfromitspossibility(oressence).IfthenGod,definedinthisway,is
possible,itfollowsthatheexists"(AVI,iii,582).Aparticularlyelegantshortformoftheargument
isgiveninaletterof1710:"IfaBeing,fromwhoseessenceexistencefollowsispossible(orifit
hasanessence),itexists(thisisanidenticalorindemonstrableaxiom).GodisaBeingfromwhose
Essenceexistencefollows(thisisadefinition):ThereforeifGodispossible,heexists.Q.E.D."(G
VII,490).
137

Leibnizsucceededinestablishingit.Hereistheconclusionofhisargument,beginningwithhis
secondproof11ofstep(3):

[6]TheessenceofGodinvolvesnecessityofexistence(forbythenameofGodwe
understandanecessaryBeing).

[7]Iftheessenceofanythinginvolvesnecessityofexistence,itsessenceisinseparable
fromexistence(forotherwiseitisamerelypossibleorcontingentthing).
Therefore

TheessenceandexistenceofGodareinseparable.

FinallythereforewehaveconcludedthatIfGodispossible,heactuallyexists,and
thereforeitneedonlybeprovedthatamostperfectBeing[Ensperfectissimum],orat
anyrateanecessaryBeing,ispossible.(AII,i,391)12

ThepivotofLeibniz'sreasoninghereishisconceptionofessence.Inanannotationtothisproof,he
makesclearthatforhimanecessarybeingisone"whoseexistencenecessarilyfollows,oris
inseparable,fromitsveryessence"(AII,i,392).13Heavoidsacircularversionoftheontological
argumentinwhichGod'sexistenceisillegitimatelypresupposed:

InsayingthattheEssenceofGodinvolvesexistence,itmustnotbeunderstoodas
meaningthat,ifGodexists,henecessarilyexists,butinthisway,asmeaningthaton
thepartofthething[aparterei],evenifnoonethinksaboutit,itisunconditionally,
absolutelyandpurelytrueinthatregionofessencesorideasthattheessenceand
existenceofGodareinseparablyconnected.(AII,i,392)14

Leibnizthinksofanessenceasaquasilogicalstructurethatgroundstruthsthatneednotbe
hypothetical,orconditionalontheexistenceofsomethingexemplifyingtheessence.Thisis
implicitintheexplanationthat"theessenceofathingisthespecificreason[ratio]ofits
possibility,"whichsurelymeansthattheessenceisaquasilogicalstructurethatgroundsthe
(unconditional)truththattheexistenceofthethingispossible.15Likewise,anessencethat
involves(necessary)existenceisaquasilogicalstructurethatgroundsthe(unconditional)truththat
thething(necessarily)exists.Suchanessenceis"inseparable"fromtheexistenceofthethingina
senseindicatedbyLeibniz'sinitialexplanationofinseparability:theessencecannotbe"givenin
theregionofideasortruths"unless

____________________
11
Thefirstproof,whichLeibnizhimselfsaysissuperfluous,willreceivesomecriticalattentionin
Chapter6,section1.
12
Ihaverenumberedstepstoavoidconfusionwithprevioussteps.
13
Cf.AII,i,391,andatextpublishedbyJankein"DasontologischeArgument,"p.286.Leibnizgave
asimilardefinitionin1701:"GodisaBeingfromitselforprimitiveEnsase;thatistosay,one
thatexistsbyitsessence"(GIV,405).Andincommentswrittenin1685orlater,hethinks"Being
[Ens]whoseessenceinvolvesexistence"is"moreaccurate"than"Beingthatsufficesforitself
alone"asadefinitionof"causeofitself[causasui]"(VE2189=LHIV,3,6,1).
14
LeibnlzalsochargedthatSpinozawasguiltyofthesortofcircularargumenthementions(A
II,i,393).
15
Similarly,Leibnizwouldsaymorethantwentyyearslater(in1701),"theessenceofthethingis
nothingbutthatwhichmakesitspossibilityinparticular."Therefore,hewouldgoontosay,"itis
quiteevidentthat[forathing]toexistbyitsessenceistoexistbyitspossibility"(GIV,406).
138

thetruththatfollowsfromit,thatthethingexists,isgiventoo.Forasupposedessencethatimplied
theexistenceofsomethingthatdidnotexistwouldimplysomethingfalse,andwouldthusbe
defectiveasanessence.Itisclearthatnothingthatisdefectiveinthiswaycountsasanessencefor
Leibniz.

TherearethereforeonlytwoalternativesforLeibniz.Either(A)thereisanessenceofanecessary
God,or(B)thereisnot.(A)Ifthereis,itmustinvolvenecessaryexistence,andsomustgroundthe
truththatanecessaryGod(necessarily)existsandthatmustindeedbeatruth.Inthiscase,
therefore,Godexists,andexistsnecessarily.Conversely,(B)ifitisnotatruththatanecessaryGod
exists,thenthereisnoessencethatgroundssuchatruthorinotherwords,nodivineessence
involvingnecessaryexistence.Thatis,thereisinthiscasenoessenceofanecessaryGod.Butif
thereisnoessenceofanecessaryGod,theexistenceofsuchabeingisnotpossible.Leibniz
describesthisalternativeasoneinwhich"thenecessarybeingisanimpossiblefiction[figmentum)"
(AII,i,392f.).Foraccordingtotheplausibleassumptionthatseemstounderliesteps(1)and(2)of
Leibniz'sargument,thepossibilityofanything'sexistencemustbegroundedinaquasilogical
structurethatconstitutesaconsistent,nondefectiveessence.Inshort,if(A)thereisanessenceofa
necessaryGod,itfollowsthatsuchabeingnecessarily,andhenceactually,exists;ontheother
hand,if(B)thereisnoessenceofanecessaryGod,thentheexistenceofsuchabeingisnoteven
possible.Q.E.D.

IwilldiscusstwopossibleobjectionstoLeibniz'sreasoning.Ourfirstobjectormaygrantthatthe
essence,andthereforethepossibility,ofanecessaryGodareinseparablefromexistence,oreven
fromnecessaryexistence,"intheregionofideasortruthsorrealities,"butwilldenythatanything
abouttheactualexistenceofsuchabeingthereforefollowsfromitsmerepossibility.The
transitionfromstep(4)tostep(5)inLeibniz'sproof,itwillbeclaimed,isaninstanceofthe
illegitimateinference"fromconceptstoreality"thatmanyphilosophershaveseeninthe
ontologicalargument.ElsewhereIhavecriticizedthistypeofobjectiontotheontological
argument.16Hereitsufficestoobservethattheobjector'smetaphysicalviewsfitneatlywithinone
ofthealternativesadmittedatthisstageofLeibniz'sargument.Forifnoessencecangroundthe
actualexistenceofathing,thenthereisnoessencethatinvolves(necessary)existenceinLeibniz's
sense,andthereforenoessenceofanecessaryGod,andnopossibilityofsuchabeing.

AsecondobjectormightchargethatLeibnizhasoverlookedanalternativeinassumingthatifthere
isnoessenceofanecessaryGod,thenthereisnopossibilityofsuchabeing'sexistence.Thenew
suggestionisthatevenifthereisinfactnoessencefromwhichthenecessary(andthereforeactual)
existenceofaGodfollows,perhapstherecouldhavebeensuchanessence.Therelevanceofthis
objectionisundeniable.ItproposesawayinwhichitcouldallegedlybepossibleforGod's
existencetobenecessaryevenifitisinfactneithernecessarynoractual.Intermsofmodernmodal
logictheobjectorquestionsthefollowingprinciples:

____________________
16
R.Adams,"DivineNecessity."Mytargetinthatearlierpaperisactuallyanobjectiontotheideaof
abeingwhoseexistenceisnecessary,orfollowsfromitsessence,ratherthantotheontological
argumentassuch;butthemetaphysicalissuesraisedbytheobjectionarethesame.
139

(9)Ifitisnotnecessarythatp,thenitisnotpossibleforittobenecessarythatp.

(9)Ifitisnotactuallythecasethatp,thenitisnotpossibleforittobenecessarythatp.

TherecentlydevelopedproofsofthethesisthattheexistenceofanecessaryGodisactualifitis
evenpossible,towhichIhavealluded,alldependononeortheotheroftheseprinciples,whichare
characteristicaxiomsofwidelydiscussedsystemsofmodallogic.Theyarenotuncontroversial,
thoughIdonotseeanycompellingreasontodoubttheircorrectnessasappliedtotheissueof
necessarydivineexistence.Thequestiontobeconsideredhere,however,is,Howwellgroundedis
Leibniz'scommitmenttothem?

IhavearguedinChapter1,section3,thatprinciple(8)isnotvalidonthedemonstrability
conceptionofnecessityconnectedwithLeibniz'sinfiniteanalysistheoryofcontingency.Principle
(9)isalsoinvalidonthatconception,forsimilarreasons.Ithinkitisclear,however,thatthe
conceptionsofpossibilityandnecessityconnectedwiththetheoryofinfiniteanalysisarenotthe
conceptionsemployedinLeibniz'sdiscussionsofthenecessaryexistenceofGod.Therethe
relevantmodalconceptionsarethoseindicatedbythetheoryofessencesthatfiguresinthese
discussions,andtheyaremuchclosertothoseinvolvedinLeibniz'sothermaintheoryof
contingencythetheorythatinsiststhatwhateverhas"someessence"is"possibleinitsown
nature"(Gr289f.)andthatdistinguisheswhatis"necessarythroughitself"fromwhatisnecessary
onlyonaccountofitsrelationtosomethingelse.17Thelatterdistinctioniscertainlynotaliento
Leibniz'sdiscussionsoftheontologicalargument,forthedivineexistenceissupposedtobe
necessarythroughitself,withanecessitythatisinternaltothedivineessence.Commentingin1676
onSpinoza'sdefinitionofsubstance,Leibnizequates"thatwhichisitsownreasonforexisting"
with"that,allofwhoserequirementsweconceivewithouttheconceptofanotherthing"(A
VI,iii,275=GI,131).18Anecessarybeingisonethathasinitsessenceareasonforitsexistence
thatdoesnotinvolvetheessence(ortheaction)ofanotherbeing.

Here,however,wearenotsomuchconcernedwiththedistinctionbetweenthetwotypesof
necessityaswiththegroundsofpossibility.Inthetheoryofessencespossibilityappearsas
somethingpositiveratherthannegative.Itisnotjusttheabsenceofimpossibility.Aspositive,it
requiresagroundorreason,whichwillbeaquasilogicalstructure,asIhavecalledit,andindeed
anessenceorsystemofessences.Inthiscontext,whatwoulditmeantosaythattherecould

____________________
17
SeeChapter1,section1.2.
18
ThisisnotapointonwhichLeibnizdisagreeswithSpinoza.Spinozahasadistinctionbetween
whatisnecessarythroughitself(orthroughitsownessence)andwhatisnecessaryonlyonaccount
ofitsrelationtosomethingelse,andneedsthedistinctioninordertoobtainasenseinwhichGod
(substance)isanecessarybeingandmodesarenot.In1676Leibnizcopiedoutapassageinwhich
Spinozamakesthisdistinction,andLeibniz'sbriefcomment"This[presumablywhatSpinoza
ascribestomodes]isjustwhatiscommonlycalledcontingent"suggeststhathegotthepoint.In
GI,147f./L202f.,fromabout1678,however,itisnotcleartomethatLeibnizunderstoodSpinoza
onthispointthoughthetextdoesconfirmthatLeibnizhimselfunderstoodanessence'sinvolving
existenceasconstitutinginternalasdistinctfromexternalnecessity.
140

havebeenanessence,orapossibility,thatthereisn't?Tosaythattherecouldhavebeenistosay
thereisapossibility,whichmusthaveits"specificreason."Andwhatistokeepthatspecific
reason,orsomethingimpliedbyit,frombeingtheessencethatsupposedlythereisn't?These
assumptionsaboutthegroundingofpossibilitiescanbedoubted,ofcourse,buttheyseemplausible
enough.IconcludethatLeibnizreasonablyemploysinthiscontextprinciplesthatimply(8)and(9)
,andthatthisfirststageofhisargumentaboutnecessarydivineexistenceiswellsupported.

2.ProofofPossibility
TocompletehisversionoftheontologicalargumentLeibnizofferstwotypesofproofforthe
possibilityofanecessaryGod.Theoneusedinhiswritingsinthe1690sandthefirstyearsofthe
nextcentury19isderivedfromacosmologicalargument.Leibnizclaimsthatiftheexistenceof
contingentbeingsispossible(asisobvioussincetheyactuallyexist),theexistenceofanecessary
Godmustalsobepossible,sinceitisonlythroughtheactionofsuchadeitythattheexistenceof
contingentthingscouldbeexplainedinaccordancewiththePrincipleofSufficientReason.Onthe
"obliqueapproach"[biais]thatLeibnizadvocates,accordingtowhichitestablishestheconditional,
butveryimportant,modalconclusionthat"ifthenecessaryBeingispossible,itexists,"the
ontologicalargument

appearstohavesomesolidity,andthosewhowillhaveitthatfromnotions,ideas,
definitions,orpossibleessencesaloneonecanneverinferactualexistencefallback
into...denyingthepossibilityoftheBeingfromitself.Butnotewell,thisoblique
approachitselfservestomakeknownthattheyarewrong,andultimatelyfillsthehole
inthedemonstration.ForiftheBeingfromitselfisimpossible,allthebeingsby
anotheraretoo,fortheyare,ultimately,onlybytheBeingfromitself;thusnothing
wouldbeabletoexist.Thisreasoningleadsustoanotherimportantmodalproposition,
equaltothepreviousone,whichtogetherwithitcompletesthedemonstration.Itcanbe
expressedthus:ifthenecessaryBeingisnot,thereisnopossibleBeing.Itseemsthat
thisdemonstrationhadnotbeencarriedsofaruntilnow;however,Ihavealsolabored
elsewheretoprovethattheperfectBeingispossible.(GIV,406)

Evenifsuccessful,thisargumentdoesnotyieldeverythingthatLeibnizwanted,asItaketobe
hintedinthelastsentenceofthequotedpassage.Because

____________________
19
TheargumentisexplicitatGIII,450(1702)aswellasatGIV,406(1701).Noticeofthegapinthe
Cartesianargumentelicitsanappealtoaprooffromeffects(GIV,404,about1700),or"fromthe
factthatcontingentthingsexist"(GIV,359/L386,about1692);butthesepassagesarenotclear
aboutthemodalstructureofthestrategy.Cf.GVII,3028/L48691;VE1909=LHIV,6,9,6.A
similarargumentforthepossibilityofan"absolutelynecessaryBeing"isfoundinamarginal
additiontoatextof11February1676(AVI,iii,472).Andinamarginaladditiontoatextof1678
(discussedatlengthinsection1ofthischapter),Leibnizemployedaslightlydifferentstrategy,
arguingthatthePrincipleofSufficientReasoncannotbemaintainedunlessitisgrantedthata
necessarybeingis(actualandtherefore)possible;for"otherwiseallthingswouldbecontingent"
andwouldhavenosufficientreason(AII,i,390).Thesemarginaladditionsmayofcoursebelater
thanthetextstowhichtheyareattached.
141

theconceptionofacomprehensivelyandsupremelyperfectBeingplaysnoessentialpartinit,it
needssupplementation,asLeibnizremarked,ifitisto"provethatthenecessaryBeingmusthave
allperfections"(GIII,450).Furthermore,andprobablymoredecisivelyforLeibniz,theargument
fromthepossibilityofcontingentbeingsisademonstration"aposteriorithatistosay,fromthe
effects"(GIV,404).20Assuch,itdoesnotgivedirectinsightintothepossibilityofanecessary
Godorexplainhoworwhysuchabeingispossible.ThereforeLeibnizstillaspires,inthiscontext,
tocomplete"thedemonstrationapriori"(GIV,404).

Leibniz'sprincipalattemptsatamoredirect,apriori,proofofthepossibilityofnecessarydivine
existenceallappeartobeofasingletype,andtheydobeginwiththeconceptionofabeingthat
possessesallperfections.Thelineofargumentreceivesitsfullestdevelopmentinpapersdating
fromtheyear1676(AVI,iii,395f.,57179),andislatersketched,withapproval,in1678inaletter
tothePrincessElizabeth(AII,i,437f./AG240).Somethinglikeitappearstobeendorsedinapaper
(Gr325)fromthemid1680S,21andagainin1714,neartheendofLeibniz'slife(Mon45).In
layingouttheargumentIshallfollowthebestknownandmostfinishedversionofit,which
LeibnizsaysheshowedtoSpinozainNovemberof1676,obtainingthelatter'sopinionthatitwas
"solid"(AVI,iii,578f./L167f.).Ishallquoteroughlyinorder,butonlyinfragmentsasneededfor
myexposition,sincetextandEnglishtranslationarewidelyavailable,andIshalldraw
supplementarymaterialfromotherversionsinLeibniz'spapers.

2.1TheFirstStageoftheProof

Thefirststepoftheargumentappearstobeadefinitionof'perfection':

(1)"AperfectioniswhatIcalleverysimplequalitythatispositiveandabsolute,or[seu
=thatis]thatexpresseswithoutanylimitswhateveritexpresses."

Asimplequalityhereisonethatisunanalyzable;thiswillshortlybecomeexplicit.Apositive
qualityisnotthenegationofanotherquality.ThemostdurablefeatureofLeibniz'sconceptionof
perfectionsisthattheyinvolvenonegationatall.Itakethelastclauseofthedefinitiontoindicate
thatanabsolutequalityisnotalimiteddegreeofanyquality,andindeedinvolvesnolimitationat
all;thisinterpretationisjustified,andamplified,inChapter4,section1.

Allperfectionsareunanalyzable.

(2)"Butaqualityofthissort,sinceitissimple,isthereforeunanalyzable,orindefinable
..."

____________________
20
ThisargumentisaposterioriinbothofthesensesinwhichthattermmaybeinterpretedinLeibniz
(seetheappendixtoChapter3).Thatis,(1)itproceedsfromtheeffecttothecause(andtherefore
doesnotexplainthetruththatitpurportstoprove),and(2)ithasanempiricalpremise(that
contingentbeingsexist,fromwhichthepossibilityoftheirexistenceisinferred).Thefirst,and
older,ofthesesensesisundoubtedlythemoreimportantinthiscontext.
21
ltswatermarkisattestedfrom1685;seeVE1251.
142

HereLeibnizoffersadisjunctionofreasonstoshowthatthisfollowsfromthedefinitionofa
perfection.

[F]orotherwiseeitheritwillnotbeonesimplequalitybutanaggregateofseveral;orif
itisone,itwillbecircumscribedbylimits,andtothatextentitwillbeunderstood
throughnegationsoffurtherprogress,contrarytothehypothesis,foritwasassumedto
bepurelypositive.

Wemaywonderwhythedisjunctionisneeded,sincehehasdefinedperfectionsassimple,which
seemstomeanunanalyzable.Leibnizappearstobethinkingofanalyzablepropertiesashavingtwo
possiblebasictypesofconstruction.Analyzablepropertiesofthefirsttypeareconjunctionsor(as
Leibnizputsithere)"aggregates"ofproperties.BeingAisapropertyofthistypeifitisanalyzable
asbeingBandC.ThisisthetypeofconstructionthatLeibniztakestoberuledoutbysimplicity:a
simplequalityisnotaconjunctionofstillsimplerones.Analyzablepropertiesofthesecondtype
arenotconjunctionsofsimplerpropertiesbutareinsomewaynegative.Somephilosopherswould
saythatapropertyformedbynegationofanotherpropertyisthereforenotsimple,butLeibnizdoes
notusethatargumentheretoestablishthatnegativepropertiesarenotperfections,choosingrather
toappealtothefactthathehasdefinedperfectionsaspositive.

AtthispointLeibnizannouncesoneofthemainconclusionshewilltrytoprove:

(3)"Fromthese[considerations]itisnotdifficulttoshowthatallperfectionsare
compatiblewitheachother;thatis,theycanbeinthesamesubject."

Heproceeds,notexactlybyindirectproof,butbyproposingforrefutationaputative
counterexampletothethesisannouncedinstep(3).

(4)"Forsupposeapropositionofthissort:AandBareincompatible(understandingby
AandBtwosimpleformsofthissort,orperfections...)."

Leibnizadds,withoutargument,that"itisthesameifmore[thantwo]areassumedatthesame
time."'Incompatible'isamodalterm;'AandBareincompatible'meansthesameas'Itisnecessary
thatAandBarenotinthesamesubject'.

Hethenbeginsalemmawiththefollowingpremise:

(5)"Itisevidentthat[thepropositionproposedasanexampleinstep(4)]cannotbe
demonstratedwithoutanalysisofthetermsAorB,eitherorboth."

Hegivesaratherobscurereasonfortheclaim:"forotherwisetheirnaturewouldnotenterintothe
reasoning,andtheincompatibilitycouldjustaswellbedemonstratedaboutanyotherthingsas
aboutthem."Iinterpretthisasacrypticabbreviationofthefollowingargument.

143

Assumethatifapropositionisdemonstrated,itmustbebyvirtueofsomefeatureofthelogical
formoftheproposition.Assumefurtherthatifthedemonstrationisbasedonsomeaspectoflogical
forminternaltoatermoftheproposition,itmustdependonananalysisoftheterm.Hence,if'A
andBareincompatible'canbedemonstratedwithoutanyanalysisofAorB,thedemonstration
mustfollowfromthelogicalformthatthepropositionhasapartfromanyformthatisinternalto
theterms.Apartfromanylogicalformthatisinternaltotheterms,however,thelogicalformofthe
propositionwouldnotbeaffectedbythesubstitutionofanyotherdistincttermsforAandB.Soif
'AandBareincompatible'couldbedemonstratedwithoutanalysisofAorB,thisdemonstration
wouldfollowfromalogicalformthatthepropositionshareswith'CandDareincompatible',anda
similardemonstrationcouldbegivenforthelatterproposition.Thusitcouldbeprovedthatall
qualitiesareincompatible.Sincethatresultwouldbeabsurd,wemustconcludethat'AandBare
incompatible'cannotbedemonstratedwithoutanalysisofAorB.

Therestofthislemmaiseasy.

(6)"But[AandB]areunanalyzable[exhypothesi]."

Fortheyareperfections[asassumedinstep(4)],andallperfectionsareunanalyzable[bystep(2)
].

(7)"Thereforethispropositioncannotbedemonstratedaboutthem."

Thatis,itfollowsfromsteps(5)and(6)that'AandBareincompatible'cannotbedemonstrated.

Thenextsentenceoftheproofcontainsanotherwholelemma:"Itcouldcertainlybedemonstrated
aboutthem,however,ifitweretrue,sinceitisnotknownthroughitself,butallpropositionsthat
arenecessarilytrueareeitherdemonstrableorknownthroughthemselves."Iwillseparateand
reorderthethreestepsofthissubproof.

(8)"Allpropositionsthatarenecessarilytrueareeitherdemonstrableorknownthrough
themselves."

HereIthinkLeibniz'sterminologyissomewhatmisleading.Heappearstotiealogicalor
metaphysicalmodality("necessarilytrue")toepistemologicalcriteria("demonstrableorknown
throughthemselves").Infact(asIhavearguedinChapter1,section2.2)demonstrability,for
Leibniz,isastructuralfeatureofpropositionsandisnotrelativetothecapacitiesoropportunities
ofaknower.WhenLeibnizwrotethis,moreover,heprobablyhadnotyetdevelopedhistheoryof
infiniteanalysis,accordingtowhichfeaturesofanessencethatcouldbeelicitedonlybyaninfinite
analysisarenotdemonstrable.Thisrestrictionmustbedisregardedhere,inaccordancewithwhatI
saidearlierinsection1ofthischapteraboutthemodalitiesrelevanttoLeibniz'sversionofthe
ontologicalargument.Inotherwords,IdonottakeLeibniztobeclaimingherethatanyconceptual
incompatibilitymustbediscoverablebyafiniteanalysis,ifanalysisisneededat

144

all.ToleaveopenachancethattheconceptofGodmaycontainaninconsistency,thoughonethat
couldbediscoveredonlybysomethingmorethanfiniteanalysis,istoabandonLeibniz'sproject,
sincegenuineessencescannotcontaineventhatsortofinconsistency.

Similarly'knownthroughthemselves'[persenota]mustbeunderstoodhereasmeaning'knowable
throughthemselves',inprinciple,whetherornotweinfactknowtheminthatoranyotherway.
Leibnizexpresseshimselfmoreclearlyinanotherversionofthisproof,wherehesaysthatifthe
propositioninquestionisnecessary,thenitwillbe"eitheridenticalordemonstrable"(AVI,iii,572,
italicsadded).Anecessarilytrueproposition,forLeibniz,isonethatiseitheridenticalorcanbe
reducedtoidentitiesbyalogicalprocessthatcountsasademonstration.Thiscanbetrueofa
propositionevenifnohumanbeinghaseversomuchasthoughtofit.

Thisunderstandingof'knownthroughitself'iscrucialfortheotherpremiseofthislemma,which
Leibnizsimplyasserts,withoutproof.

(9)Theproposition,'AandBareincompatible',"isnotknownthroughitself."

Ofallthestepsinthewholeargument,wemightinitiallythinkthisonethemostinneedofproof.
Forifsomesimple,purelypositivequalitiesareincompatible(whichisthehypothesisLeibnizis
tryingtorefute),theirincompatibilityispresumablyaprimitive,indemonstrablenecessity.
Leibniz'sconfidenceinthispremiseisbasedonhisconvictionthatallprimitive,indemonstrable
necessitiesmustbeidentities.Thatis,theymusthavesuchaformas'A=A',orperhaps'Aisnot
nonA,',or'WhathasAandBhasA'.AndwhereAandBaredistinctperfections,'AandBare
incompatible'doesnothavesuchaform,nordoestheunderlyingnonmodalproposition,'AandB
arenotinthesamesubject',whichitdeclarestobenecessary.Thisreasoningismoreexplicitinthe
otherversionIhavementionedoftheargument,where'identical'takestheplaceof'knownthrough
itself'.Therehesays:

Thisproposition,'QualityAandqualityBcannotbeinthesamesubject',...cannotbe
identical,forthen'WhereAis,Bcannotbe'wouldbethesameas'AisA'or'Ais[not]
22B',andsoonewouldexpresstheexclusionoftheother,andsooneofthemwouldbe
thenegativeoftheother,whichiscontrarytothehypothesis,forweassumedthatthey
areallaffirmative.(AVI,iii,572)
Inotherwords,'AandBareincompatible'cannotbeprimitively,indemonstrablynecessary.Forif
itwere,itwouldhavetobeanidentity,whichitcannotbeunlessA=notBorB=notA.Butthat
isimpossible[bysteps1and4],sinceAandB,asperfections,arepurelypositive.

Atthispointwecansee(asIpromisedinChapter4,section2)thatLeibniz'sargumentneednot
dependonthesimplicityoftheperfections.Theirpurelypositivecharacterissufficientforit.Even
iftheperfectionswereanalyzable,

____________________
22
Leibnizwrote'AisB',butthatistheoppositeofthesenserequiredhere;soIassume"not"was
inadvertentlyomitted.
145

'AandBareincompatible'couldnotbedemonstrable,accordingtoLeibniz,unlessitwere
reducibletoanidentity.ThatcouldnotbeunlesstheanalysisofAorBcontainedthenegationofa
propertycontainedintheanalysisoftheother.AndthatcannotbeifAandBarepurelypositive.

Leibnizsawthispoint,andmadeithimselfinoneofhis1676versionsoftheproof,sayingthatthe
possibilityofamostperfectBeing

willbeclearifIshowthatall(positive)attributesarecompatiblewitheachother.But
attributesareeitheranalyzableorunanalyzable.If,theyareanalyzable,theywillbethe
aggregateofthoseintowhichtheyareanalyzed.Thereforeitwouldbeenoughtohave
shownthecompatibilityofallthefirst,orunanalyzable,attributes,thatis,thosewhich
areconceivedthroughthemselves.Forifindividual[attributes]arethuscompatible,
pluralitieswillbetoo,andthereforealsocomposites.(AVI,iii,572)

Inotherwords,ifallsimplepositiveattributesarecompatiblewitheachother,thenevenifsomeof
thedivineperfectionsarenotsimple,theywillstillbecompatiblewitheachotheraslongasthe
simpleattributesofwhichtheyarecomposedareallpositive(astheymustbeiftheperfectionsare
purelypositive).

Moreover,inwhatmaybeLeibniz'searliestversionofthepossibilityproof,dated22March1676,
hedoesnotmentionsimplicitybutspeaksonlyof"affirmativeattributes...absolute,pure,and
unlimited,"whichareneither"modifiedbylimits"nor"in[any]waynegative"(AVI,iii,395f.).Ina
relatedstudyfourdaysearlierhehadwritten,"Aperfectionisanabsoluteaffirmativeattribute"(A
VI,iii,392).Againinhislast,briefversionoftheproof,intheMonadology(1714),onlythe
positivenessofthedivineattributesismentioned:"nothingcanpreventthepossibilityofthatwhich
includesnolimits,nonegation,andconsequentlynocontradiction"(Mon45).AstheMonadology
wastheonlyworkofLeibnizcontainingtheproofthatwasgenerallyaccessibleintheeighteenth
century,itisnotsurprisingthathissuccessors,ChristianWolffandAlexanderGottlieb
Baumgarten,giveaversionoftheproofthatreliesexclusivelyonthepositivenessofthe
perfections.23
Fromsteps(8)and(9)Leibnizinfersthat

(10)Theproposition'AandBareincompatible'"could...bedemonstratedifitwere
true."

Thisinferencerequiresasuppressedpremise,however,applyingwhatstep(8)saysaboutnecessary
truths,assuch,tothecaseunderdiscussion.Leibnizisassumingthat

(8a)If'AandBareincompatible'istrue(atall),itisnecessarilytrue.

Since'AandBareincompatible'isequivalent,asIhavenoted,to'ItisnecessarythatAandBare
notinthesamesubject',(8a)followsfromthemodalaxiom,

____________________
23
WOlff,TheologiaeNaturalisParsII,pp.118,esp.9f.(paragraphs128,esp.13);Baumgarten,
Metaphysica,pp.33032(paragraphs80311,esp.8089).
146

'Ifitisnecessarythatp,thenitisnecessarythatitisnecessarythatp',whichseemsacceptablein
relationtoanyconceptionofnecessitythatLeibnizwouldbelikelytobeusinghere.24From(8)
and(8a)itevidentlyfollowsthatwhat(8)saysabout"allpropositionsthatarenecessarilytrue"
istrueabout'AandBareincompatible'ifthelatteristrueatall.Thatis,from(8)and(8a)it
followsthat

(8b)If'AandBareincompatible'istrue,itiseitherdemonstrableorknownthrough
itself(thatis,anidenticalproposition).

Nowfrom(8b)and(9),whichsaysthat'AandBareincompatible'isnotknownthroughitself
(oranidenticalproposition),step(10)followsstraightforwardlybymodustollens.

ByanothermodustollensLeibnizinfersfromsteps(7)and(10)thatsince'AandBare
incompatible'isnotdemonstrable,itisnottrue.

(11)"Thereforethispropositionisnot...true;25thatis,itisnotnecessarythatAand
Barenotinthesamesubject."

Inotherwords,AandBarecompatible."Andsincethereasoningisthesameaboutanyother
qualitiesofthissortthatmaybeassumed,"Leibnizadds:

(12)"Thereforeallperfectionsarecompatible."

Thisistheconclusionthatwasannouncedinstep(3).

Strictlyspeaking,sincethereasoningwascarriedthroughwithapairofperfections,themostthat
couldhavebeenprovedisthatallpairsofperfectionsaremutuallycompatible.Andthatindeedhas
beenproved,iftheargumentisgoodtothispoint,for,asLeibnizsays,nothinginthereasoninghas
dependedonwhichperfectionsAandBare.Butmoreargumentisneededtogetustothe
conclusionassertedin(12).Leibnizclaimedatstep(4)that"itisthesameifmore[thantwo]are
assumedatthesametime,"butheofferednoargumentfortheclaim.Hecouldplausiblyarguethat
nothinginsteps(5)to(11)dependedonthenumberofperfectionsintheexample,andtherefore
thattheconclusion,ifjustifiedfortwo,isjustifiedforanynumberofperfections.Thatseemsfair
enough,aslongaswearetalkingaboutafinitenumberofperfections,butargumentsthatworkfor
anyfinitenumberoftermsdonotnecessarilyworkforaninfinitenumberofterms.Andnoreason
hasbeengivenhereforthinkingtheperfectionsfinitein

____________________
24
IhavearguedinChapter1,section3thataconceptionofnecessityintermsofdemonstrability
(understoodbroadlyenoughforidentitiestobecountedasdemonstrable)supportsthisaxiom.
Underthelikeliestalternativeconceptioninthiscontext,thenecessarywouldbeconceivedhereas
whatisdeterminedbyessencesalone.Butsurelyifsomethingisdeterminedbyessencesalone,itis
determinedbyessencesalonethatthatisso;sothisconceptionsustainstheaxiom,too.
25
Leibnizwrote,"Thereforethispropositionisnotnecessarilytrue."Ihaveeliminatedthemodal
qualifier,asitisnotpartoftheconclusionrequiredbytheargumentatthispoint,norisitrequired
bytheexplicativeclausefollowing"thatis"[sive].Itfollows,ofcourse,from(8a),whichLeibniz
mustbeassuming,thattheconclusionswithandwithout'necessarily'hereareequivalent.His
sloppinessintheuseofiteratedmodalitiesinthisargumentbeganwithhisunnecessaryuseofthe
modalterm'incompatible'inthepropositionproposedasanexamplewhosemodalstatushewas
goingtodiscuss.
147

number.Indeed,inapaperofthesameyearasthisproof(1676),Leibnizhadwrittenthat"There
areinfinitelymanysimpleforms,"andIthinkthatprobablyreferstothedivineperfections,though
theinterpretationofthetextisnotunproblematic(AVI,iii,521).Inanyevent,thereseemstobea
gaptobefilledintheargumentatthispoint,thoughIdoubtitwouldbeafatalweakness.

Arestatementofstep(12)yieldsasaconclusionthepossibilityofabeingpossessingall
perfections:

(13)"Thereisgiven,therefore,orcanbeunderstood,asubjectofallperfections,or
mostperfectBeing[Ensperfectissimum]."

SinceLeibnizisobviouslyassumingthatsuchabeingwouldbeGod,thislookslikethepossibility
premisethatisneededtocompletetheontologicalargument.Butitisnot,oratanyrate,notyet,
foritiscrucialthatLeibniz'sversionoftheontologicalargumentisaboutanecessaryGod,aGod
thatisanecessarybeing.Aproofofthepossibilityofamostperfectbeingdoesnotestablishthe
possibilityofanecessaryGod,however,unlessithasbeenprovedthatamostperfectbeingwould
beanecessarybeing.LeibnizhimselfwouldlaterobjecttooneofDescartes'sversionsofthe
ontologicalargumentas"takingforgrantedthatnecessaryexistenceandperfectexistencearejust
thesamething"(AII,i,476).Similarly,inhisconversationwithEckhardinApril1677,hesaidthat

inthisdemonstrationofthedivineexistencetherearetwothingstobeconsidered.One
iswhetheramostperfectBeingdoesnotimplyacontradiction.Theotheris,giventhat
amostperfectBeingdoesnotimplyacontradiction,whetherexistenceisamongthe
perfections.(AII,i,313=GI,214)

2.2TheSecondStageoftheProof:OneVersion

Leibniz'swayofstructuringtheprobleminthisremarktoEckhardreflectsthestrategyoftheproof
heshowedtoSpinoza,whichconcludeswiththestatement,"Whenceitisevidentthat[thesubject
ofallperfections]alsoexists,sinceexistenceisincludedinthenumberoftheperfections."Here
againasubproofiscompressedintoasinglesentence,anditistheleastcarefullyhandledpartof
Leibniz'sargument,intheversionthatwehavebeenfollowing.Thepremisethatexistenceisa
perfectionisassertedwithoutproof:

(14)"Existenceisincluded[among]theperfections."

WithinafewmonthsLeibnizhimselfwouldberaisingdoubtsaboutitinhisconversationand
correspondencewithEckhard(e.g.,AII,i,313=GI,214).From(13)and(14)Leibnizinfersthat

(15)Thesubjectofallperfections,whichhasbeenprovedtobepossible,"alsoexists."

BoththeinferenceandtheroleoftheconclusioninLeibniz'sstrategyarehighlyproblematic,aswe
shallsee.Foronething,wemayaskhow(15)issupposedtofollowfrom(13)and(14).
Certainly(14)entailsthefollowing:

148

(14a)Anysubjectofallperfectionsisasubjectof(i.e.,has)existence.

Fromthis,however,andthepossibilityofasubjectofallperfections,supposedlyestablishedat
step(13),whatfollows?Allthatfollows,accordingtomanyphilosophers,isthepossibilityofan
existingsubjectofallperfections.Butthisaffordsnoinferencetotheactualexistenceofsucha
being,whichisassertedinstep(15).Sincethepossibilityofabeingofanysortisgenerally
assumedtobethepossibilityofanexistingbeingofthatsort,steps(14)and(14a)seemnotto
havegottenusbeyondaclaimofpossibleexistencethatwasalreadyobviouslyimplicitinstep
(13).

Alternatively,onemightinferfrom(14)that

(14b)Existenceiscontainedinthenatureofasubjectofallperfections.

Step(15)couldthenbeinferredfrom(13)and(14b)withtheaidoftheCartesianpredication
principle:
(14c)Whateveriscontainedinthenatureofapossiblethingcanbe(truly)assertedof
thatthing.26

TheseareprobablytheassumptionsunderlyingLeibniz'sinference.Andthisisnottheonlyplace
inwhichhisdiscussionoftheontologicalargumentappearstorelyon(14c).27Itisa
controversialprinciple,however,regardedbymanyasvitiatingversionsoftheontological
argumentthatdependonit.28Indeed,byJanuary1678Leibnizhimselfwasbeginningtoobjectto
itsuseinanontologicalargument,asweshallseeinChapter6,section1.

Itmaybeamistake,however,toworrytoomuchaboutwhether(15)followsfrom(14).The
largerstrategyindicatedbyLeibniz'sargumentofJanuary1678,discussedinsection1,was
apparentlynotyetsoclearinhismindinNovember1676whenhewroteoutforSpinozahisproof
ofthepossibilityofGod'sexistence.For(15)saysbothmoreandlessthanthelargerstrategy
requiresinaconclusionofthepossibilityproof:more,since(15)assertsactualexistencewherea
proofofpossibilityisallthatwasneeded,andless,since(15)failstoidentifyGod,theperfect
being,asanecessarybeing.Theconclusionrequiredbythestrategyissomethinglikethe
following:

(15a)Asubjectofallperfections,whichwouldbeanecessarybeing,ispossible.

InordertoreachthisconclusionLeibnizneedsapremisethatsaysaboutnecessaryexistencewhat
(14)saysonlyaboutexistence:

____________________
26
ThisisassertedandusedbyDescartesinaversionofhisontologicalargument(ATVII,162,166).
ItalsoplaysaleadingroleinLeibniz'saccountoftheCartesianontologicalargumentin1684atG
IV,424/L292,andaboutthesametimeatGVII,294/L231.(Onthedatingofthelattertext,see
VE900andCouturat,LalogiquedeLeibniz,pp.189,n.1.323n.)
27
Anotherisamemorandum,datingverylikelyfrom167778,publishedinpp.286f.ofJanke,"Das
ontologischeArgument."
28
Ihavediscussedtheprinciple,anditsproblematicroleinbothAnselmianandCartesianversionsof
theargument,in"TheLogicalStructureofAnselm'sArguments."
149

(14d)Necessaryexistenceisincludedamongtheperfections.

TherecanbelittledoubtoftheacceptabilityofthispremisetoLeibnizin1676.Fortheexistence
thatheregardedasaperfectionissurelynotthelimited,contingentsortofexistencethatwe
possess,buttheunlimited,necessaryexistencethatGodpossesses.From(14d)andthetrivial

(14e)Anysubjectofnecessaryexistencewouldbeanecessarybeing,wecaninfer
(14f)Anysubjectofallperfectionswouldbeanecessarybeing.

Thedesiredconclusion(15a)clearlyfollowsfrom(13)and(14f).Letusthereforeconsider
Leibniz'spossibilityproofasamendedbythesubstitutionof(14d)and(15a)for(14)and(15),
respectively.

Oneobjectiontotheproof,evenasamended,isthatitcaneasilybeparodiedtoprovethe
possibility,andhencetheexistence,offartoomanynecessarybeings.Thisisaclassictypeof
objectiontoontologicalarguments;onethinksofGaunilo'sperfectislandandCaterus'sexisting
lion.29Thereisanobviousproblemofthissortfortheunamendedproofthatreliesonthe
Cartesianpredicationprincipleandthepremisethatexistenceisaperfection:Existencecan
consistentlybeconjoinedwiththedefiningpropertiesofanysortofthingthatcouldpossibly
existthatis,inLeibniz'sview,withanyconsistentsetofproperties;inthiswayitseemswecan
producenew,existenceimplyingdefinitions.So,ifwearetorelyontheCartesianpredication
principle,wemustacceptanassertionoftheexistenceofeverypossiblesortofthing.30

Eventheamendedprooffacesasimilardifficulty.31Leibnizclaimedthat"onlytheessenceofGod
hasthisprivilege,"thatexistencefollowsfromit[AII,i,391(January1678);similarlyAII,i,436/
AG238(167879);Mon45(1714)].Buthowcanhesustainthisclaim?Ifnecessaryexistenceisa
perfection,inthesenseofstep(1)ofthepossibilityproof,itisasimple,purelypositivepropertyof
unlimiteddegree.Theheartoftheamendedproofwillbetheclaimthatbyvirtueoftheirsimple,
purelypositivecharacter,necessaryexistenceandalltheotherperfectionsaremutuallyconsistent,
becausethereisnowayinwhichsimple,purelypositivequalitiescanbemutuallyinconsistent.But
nowsupposethataperfectionP(otherthannecessaryexistence)isreplacedbyitsnegation,notP.
Thatis,considerasetSofproperties,composedofnotP,N(necessaryexis

____________________
29
Gaunilo,"OnBehalfoftheFool,"6;Caterus,inATVII,99f.
30
ThisisageneralizationofGaunilo'sfamous"perfectisland"objectiontoAnselm'sversionofthe
ontologicalargument,orCaterus's"existentlion"objectiontoDescartes'sversion.Ihavediscussed
these,andsomerepliestothem,insectionIIof"TheLogicalStructureofAnselm'sArguments."
Myargumenttherewouldsupporttheclaimthatevenifdefendersofanontologicalargumentwish
torelyontheCartesianpredicationprinciple,theyhavereasontoruntheirargumentintermsof
necessaryexistence,ratherthansimplyexistence,beingaperfection.
31
Iamindebtedtomystudentsformuchdiscussionofthispoint.JeffreyWeismanfirstproposedthe
objectiontome.
150

tence),andalltheotherperfectionsexceptP.ItseemsthatonLeibnizianprinciplesSmustbe
consistent.Forhisargumentdependsontheassumptionthattheonlywayinwhichasetof
propertiescanbeinconsistentisifoneofthemisthenegationofanothermemberoftheset,orisa
conjunctionhavingsuchanegationasaconjunct.ButnotPisnotaconjunctionandisnotthe
negationofanyothermemberofS,butonlyofP,whichisnotamemberofS.Andnoother
memberofSisaconjunctionoranegationofanything.Itseemstofollow,onLeibnizian
principles,thatthereisapossiblesubjectofS,whichmustbeapossible,andthereforeactual,
necessarybutimperfectbeing.Indeed,itseemsthatforsimilarreasonsLeibnizmustadmit
indefinitelymanynecessarybeingsthatarelessthanperfect,assomeotherperfectioninsteadofP,
ortwoperfectionsinsteadofone,couldbereplacedbytheirnegationswithoutaffectingthe
structureoftheargument.IbelievethatthisobjectionwillprovefataltoanyversionofLeibniz's
argumentthatreliesonthepremisethatnecessaryexistenceisaperfection.

2.3TheSecondStage:AnotherVersion

VersionsthatdonotrelyonitarefoundinLeibniz'sworksorsuggestedbylaterdevelopmentsin
histhought.OneofthembelongstothesameyearastheversionheshowedSpinoza.Inanother
paperof1676,havinggivenanargumentverysimilartosteps(1)to(13)above,Leibniztriesto
connecttheperfectbeingwithnecessaryexistencebyadifferentsubproof,whichdoesnothaveit
asapremisethateitherexistenceornecessaryexistenceisaperfection.

Hencenowitseemstobeproved,further,thataBeingofthissort,whichismost
perfect,isnecessary.Foritcannotbeunlessithasareasonforexistingfromitselfor
fromsomethingelse.Itcannothaveitfromsomethingelse,becauseeverythingthatcan
beunderstoodinsomethingelsecanalreadybeunderstoodinitthatis,becausewe
conceiveitthroughitself[perse],orbecauseithasnorequirementsoutsideitself.
Thereforeeitheritcannothaveanyreasonforexisting,andsoisimpossible,contraryto
whatwehaveshown,orelseitwillhaveitfromitself,andsowillbenecessary.(A
VI,iii,572)32

Thekeytounderstandingthisproofliesinthestatementthatamostperfectbeing(ens
perfectissimum)cannothaveareasonforexistingfromsomethingelse"becauseweconceiveit
throughitself,orbecauseithasnorequirementsoutsideitself."Suchabeingisconceivedthrough
itselfbecauseithasallthesimple,purelypositiveattributes,andthereforealltheattributesinto
whichtheconceptofitisultimatelyanalyzableareattributesthatitpossesses.Ithasno
requirementsoutsideitselfforthesamereason,ontheassumptionthatabeing's"requirements"are
allattributesorpredicatesthatoccurintheanalysisofitsessence,33andthatifithasrequirements
"outsideitself,"thesewillbeproper

____________________
32
Alittlelater(p.573)inthissamepaperisfoundthepassage,discussedatlengthinChapter4,
section3.1inthisvolume,inwhichLeibnizoffersademonstrationfortheratherSpinozisticthesis
that"allthingsaredistinguishednotassubstancesbutasmodes."ThequestionofSpinozistic
influenceonthepresentargumentwillbediscussedlaterinthischapter.
33
Leibniz'snotionof"requirements"isdiscussedatlengthinChapter4,section1.
151
tiesthatthebeingdoesnotpossessbutthatareinvolvedinthelogicalconstructionofitsessential
properties.

Whyisthisfeatureofanensperfectissimumareasonforthinkingthatitcannothaveareasonfor
existingfromsomethingelse?34Giventhatsuchabeinghasno"requirements"outsideitselfinthe
sensethatthelogicalstructureofitsessenceinvolvesnopropertiesthatthebeingitselfdoesnot
possess,totakethatasmeaningthatithasno"requirements"outsideitselfinthesenseofhaving
nocausallynecessaryconditionsinanotherbeingwouldseem(atleasttomanyphilosophers)a
verybadpun.ButLeibnizwasnotpunning.Hebelievedthatthereisaconnectionbetweenlogical
dependenceandcausaldependence,35andclaimed[AVl,iii,514(April1676)]that

(16)"Theeffectisconceivedthroughitscause."

Thisclaimmustbeunderstoodasmadeabouteveryeffect,andasmeaningthatthecausehasan
attributeorpredicatethattheeffectdoesnotpossessbutthatisinvolvedintheanalysisofthe
conceptoftheeffect.ForLeibnizoffered(16)asareasonfor

(17)"Whateverisconceivedthroughitself,acauseofitcannotbeunderstood.

Theinferenceisvalid,if(16)isunderstoodasIhaveindicatedand'cause'in(17)meansan
externalcause,acausedistinctfromtheeffect.ForreasonsthatIhavediscussed,Leibnizheldthat

(18)Anensperfectissimummustbeconceivedthroughitself.

Andfrom(17)and(18),undertheinterpretationof'cause'Ihaveassumedfor(17),itfollows
that

(19)Anensperfectissimumcannothaveareasonforexistingfromsomethingelse.

Thekeypremiseinthisreasoningis(16).ItisreminiscentofSpinoza'saxiomthat"The
knowledgeoftheeffectdependsontheknowledgeofthecause,andinvolvesit."36Wecannot
excludethepossibilitythatLeibniz'sbeliefin(19)was

____________________
34
Asimilarargumentfromthenotionofarequirementisfoundinapieceofuncertaindate(VE51=
LHIV,1,15,3).Theretheargumentisthatifanatureiscompletelysimple,itwillhaveonlyone
requirement,withwhichitwillbeidentical,andathingofsuchanaturemustthereforeexist
throughitself,andhencenecessarily,ifitexistsatall.Leibnizdoesnotapplythistotheexistence
ofGod,however,nordoeshehereaffirmthetraditionaldoctrineoftheabsolutesimplicityofthe
divinenature,whichgenerallydoesnotappeartobehisview.(Cf.Grua,Jurisprudence,p.244.)
Ratherheusestheargumentaspartofalargerargumentthatvolitionsmusthavecomplex
requirementsandmustthereforehavereasons.
35
See,again,Chapter4,section1.
36
Spinoza,Ethics,I,axiom4.LeibniziscommentingonanexpositionofSpinoza'sideaswhenhe
indicateshisbeliefinsomethinglike(16),inanothertextof1676,byequatingathing"thatis
152
rootedintheSpinozisticideathatbeingsthatarecausedtoexistaremodificationsofaninfinite
attributepossessedbythebeingthatcausesthem.Anensperfectissimum,ofcourse,couldnotbe
causedinthiswaybecauseitsattributesareallabsolute,unmodified.Insupportofthis
interpretationitcouldbeurgedthattheargumentinwhich(19)figuresseemscalculatedto
provide,forthecaseofGod,whatLeibnizhaddemanded,probablysomewhatearlierin1676,for
Spinoza'sviewthatexistencepertainstotheessenceofsubstance.Hesaid,"Itshouldbeshownthat
thisfollowsfromthefactthat[substance]isconceivedthroughitself"(AVI,iii,277=GI,132).
Thepapercontainingtheargumentwearestudying,thatanensperfectissimummustbea
necessarybeing,isoneofthemostSpinozisticinappearanceofLeibnizwritingsfrom1676,
containingademonstration"thatallthingsaredistinguished,notassubstances,butasmodes"(A
VI,iii,573).37Suggestionsofthisideaarealsofoundinthepaperinwhich(16)isfound.(A
VI,iii,514f.)

Nevertheless,both(16)and(19)couldbeheldwithoutthisSpinozisticbelief.Itisclearthat
throughouthislifeLeibnizsawconceptualandcausalrelationsasinsomewaysfused.38
Moreover,aweakerpremiseaboutcausalitythan(16)couldsupport(19).Manyphilosophers,
notablyincludingDescartes,havebelievedthat

(16a)Ifanythingcauses,oristhereasonfor,theexistenceofsomethingelse,any
perfectionfoundintheeffectmustbefoundinatleastashighadegreeinthecause.

Leibnizbelievedtherecannotbetwoabsolutelyperfectbeings.Inanearlysketchofhispossibility
proof,heclaimedthat"itismanifestthatsuchaBeing[onetowhichallaffirmativeattributes
belong]isunique"(AVI,iii,396)fromwhichitfollowsthat

(17a)Therecannotbeabeingthatpossesses,inatleastashighadegree,allthe
perfectionsfoundinanensperfectissimumthatisdistinctfromit.

Leibnizarguedfortheuniquenessoftheensperfectissimumonthebasisoftheprincipleofthe
identityofindiscernibles,orsomethinglikeit:"Foriftwounlimited[beings]differnumerically,
theywillalsodifferinspecies,sincetheywillcertainlydiffer."Thisisnotthemostlucid
formulationoftheprinciple,butitiscoupledwithanaffirmation(andLeibnizianqualification)of
theThomisticthesisabouttheangelsthatLeibnizwouldlaterciteasapartialprecedentforhisown
thesisoftheidentityofindiscernibles:"AndSt.Thomasrightlyheldthatsubstancesseparatedfrom
matter(asisGodalone)woulddifferinspeciesifthereweremanyofthem"(AVI,iii,396).
Statements(16a)and(17a)jointlyentail

____________________
36
itsownreasonofexisting"withathing"allofwhoserequirementsweconceivewithoutthe
conceptofanotherthing"(AVI,iii,275=GI,131).
37
Seenote32above.
38
Cf.Chapter3,section1.
153

(19)Anensperfectissimumcannothaveareasonforexistingfromsomethingelse.

Suchareasoncouldbefound,accordingto(16a),onlyinabeingthatsatisfiesaconditionthatno
beingcansatisfy,accordingto(17a).

RegardlessofhowLeibnizmeanttojustify(19),heisobviouslyrightininferringfromitthat

(20)Eitheranensperfectissimumcannothaveanyreasonatallforexisting,orsucha
beingcan39haveareasonforexistingfromitself.

Headdstwofurtherpremises:

(21)Ifanysortofthingcannothaveanyreasonatallforexisting,thenthatsortof
thingisimpossible.

(22)AnybeingthathasareasonforexistingfromitselfMUSt40beanecessarybeing.

Statements(20),(21),and(22)jointlyimply

(23)Eitheranensperfectissimumisimpossible,oranensperfectissimumcanbea
necessarybeing.

But,Leibnizclaims,hehasjustprovedthat

(24)Anensperfectissimumispossible.

Soitfollowsbymodustollensthat

(25)Anensperfectissimumcanbeanecessarybeing.

Inotherwords,anecessaryGodispossible,whichisjusttheconclusionLeibnizneedstocomplete
hisontologicalargument.

Thisargumentrestsonapremiseaboutcausalitywhether(16)or(16a)thatwouldbe
questioned,andevenrejected,bymanyphilosophers.Here,however,weneednotpauseto
considerthetruthoftheseassumptions.Itisenoughtopointoutthattheuseofanyoftheminthe
presentcontext,asapremiseinacompletionofLeibniz'sproofforthepossibilityofanecessary
God,underminesthestrategyoftheproof.

Thefirststageoftheproof,whichIhavearticulatedinsection2.1ofthischapterandwhichis
supposedtoestablishthepossibilityofanensperfectissimum,dependscruciallyontheassumption
thattheonlywayinwhichanysortofthingcanbeimpossibleisbyincludingbothapropertyand
itsnega
____________________
39
LeibnIzwrote"will"atthispoint,but"can"iswhatiswarrantedandrequiredbytheargument.
40
Asinstep(20),IhavecorrectedLeibniz'smodality,thistimefrom"will"to"must."
154

tionamongitsessentialordefiningproperties,oramongconjunctsthatwouldappearinananalysis
ofitsessentialordefiningproperties.Butinconjoining(21)with(16)[or(16a)]Leibnizwould
commithimselftoanotherwayinwhichitisatleastthinkablethatasupposedsortofbeingcould
beimpossiblethatis,byhavinganessencethatdoesnotinvolveexistencethoughitisconceived
throughitself(orisnotanalyzableintermsofaperfectionthatsomeotherbeingcouldpossessin
higherdegree).Theargumentofsection2.1doesnotshowthatanensperfectissimumcouldnotbe
impossibleinthisway;soifwetrytocompletetheargumentbyshowingthatanens
perfectissimummustbeimpossibleinthiswayunlessitisanecessarybeing,wemerelyinvitethe
suspicionthatanensperfectissimummayindeedbeimpossibleinthisway.

PerhapsLeibnizwouldreplythatwedonotreallyhavehereanotherwayinwhichsomething
couldbeimpossible.Perhapshethoughtitcouldbeshownthatasupposednonnecessarybeing
whoseessenceisconceivedthoughitself(orisnotanalyzableintermsofaperfectionthatsome
otherbeingcouldpossessinhigherdegree)mustcontainanexplicitcontradictionamongits
definingproperties,oramongconjunctsintowhichtheycouldinprinciplebeanalyzed.ButIdo
notseehowthiscouldbeshown,anditdoesnotseemparticularlyplausible.

Ideasaboutcausalityrelatedto(16)or(16a)mightalsohavebeenthoughttoprovideLeibniz
withadefensefortheversionofthesecondstageofhispossibilityproofpresentedinsection2.2of
thischapter.Thatversionfacestheobjectionthatasimilarproofseemstobeavailableforthe
possibility,andhencetheexistence,ofindefinitelymanyimperfectnecessarybeings.Perhaps
Leibnizthoughtoftheperfectionsas"requirements"ofallpossiblethingsinsuchawaythathe
mighthaverepliedthatanypossiblebeingthatwouldbeinanywayimperfectmust(i)havea
limiteddegreeofoneoftheperfectionsand(ii)becausedbyabeingthathastheunlimiteddegree
ofthatperfection.Thereasonfor(ii)wouldbethatsincetheunlimitedispriorinnaturetothe
limited,thelimiteddegreeoftheperfectionmustbeconceivedthroughtheunlimiteddegreeofit,
andcausaldependencerunsparalleltoconceptualdependence.Wemayadd(iii)thatabeingthat
mustbecausedbyanotherbeingisnotanecessarybeinginthesenseintendedbyLeibniz,sinceits
existencedoesnotflowfromitsownnaturealone,andthusitisnotnecessaryinitself(regardless
ofwhetheritisnecessarilyproducedbyitscause).Fromtheseassumptionsitfollowsthat
necessaryexistenceisinconsistentwithanyimperfection,sothatonlytheabsolutelyperfectbeing,
whichpossessesallperfections,couldbeanecessarybeing.

Thisdefense,however,confrontsthesamecrucialdifficultyastheversionoftheproofthatrelies
on(21)and(16)or(16a).Thatis,itunderminestheassumptionthatanimpossiblesortofthing
mustcontainanexplicitcontradictionamongitsdefiningproperties,whichiscrucialtothefirst
stageofLeibniz'spossibilityproof.Forthedefenserelieson(i)and(ii)asnecessaryconditionson
imperfectbeingstoshowthatanimperfectnecessarybeingisimpossible,butwithoutshowingthat
animperfectnecessarybeing,asanimperfectbeingnotcausedbyanotherbeing,mustcontainan
explicitcontradictionamongitsdefiningproperties.Leibnizmayhavebelievedthat(ii)expressesa
necessarytruthofcausalmetaphysics,butitishardtoseehowhecouldshowthatalimiteddegree
ofanyperfectionisanalyzableasaconjunctionhavingasaconjunctthe

155

propertyofbeingcausedbyanotherbeinghavingtheunlimiteddegreeoftheperfection.

Neitherofthe1676versionsofLeibniz'sproofofthepossibilityofanecessaryGodseemstohave
muchlikelihoodofsucceeding.Evenifthefirststage,leadingtotheconclusionthatanens
perfectissimumispossible,weretobejudgedsuccessful,thereisnoanswerinsighttothe
objectionsthatconfrontbothversionsoftheconcludingstage,inwhichLeibniztriestoshowthat
anensperfectissimummustbeanecessarybeing.Leibniz'sviewsontherelationofexistenceto
perfectioncontinuedtodevelopafter1676,however.Inthenextchapterwewillconsiderwhether
hislaterviewsprovideabasisforabetterversionofthepossibilityproof.

156

6
ExistenceandEssence
InhisconversationandcorrespondencewithArnoldEckhard,beginninglessthansixmonthsafter
hisvisitswithSpinoza,weseemtoseeLeibnizworkinghiswayoutoftheassumptionthat
existenceis"aperfection"inthesenseofa"simplequalitythatispositiveandabsolute."AsInoted
attheendofsection2.1ofthepreviouschapter,LeibnizpointedouttoEckhardthatoneofthe
"twothingstobeconsidered"regardingtheCartesianontologicalargumentis"whetherexistenceis
amongtheperfections."Leibnizthenproceededtoproposeareasonforthinkingthatexistenceis
notaperfection:"Forperfectionsseemtobequalities,asexistenceisnot"(AII,i,313=GI,214).

ThatexistenceisnotaqualitymaynothavebeenafixedpointforLeibnizinthisdiscussion,forin
hisnextlettertoEckhardheappearstoequatethequestion"whetherexistencecanfollowfrom
essence"(ashesurelybelievedthatitcan)withthequestion"whether...existencecanbe
understoodasanessentialqualityofsomeBeing,namelyofGod"(AII,i,324=GI,223).Inthe
resolutionultimatelyreachedonthispointinthecorrespondence,however,theideaofperfections
asthesimpleprimitivequalitiesseemstobeleftbehind,atleastforthetimebeing.Leibniz
droppedhisobjectiontotheclaimthatexistenceisaperfection"after[Eckhard]explainedthatfor
[him]perfectionisBeing[Entitas],insofarasitisunderstoodtodepartfromnonBeingoras
[Leibnizwould]prefertodefineit,thatperfectionisdegreeorquantityofrealityoressence"(A
II,i,363/L177).Giventhisdefinitionofperfection,whichLeibnizhimselfapproved(AII,i,327=
1hesays"itisplainalsothatExistenceisaperfection,orincreasesreality;thatis,when
GI,225),
existentAisconceived,morerealityisconceivedthanwhenpossibleAisconceived"(AII,i,363/
L177).

IpointedoutinChapter4,section2,thatinthisdefinitionsimplicitydropsoutasacriterionfor
perfection,leavingpositivenesstostandalone.Moreimportantinthepresentcontextistherelation
betweenperfectionandessence.Indefiningperfectionhereas"degreeorquantityofrealityor
2apropertyofproperties,andspe
essence,"Leibniztakesittobeeitherasecondorderproperty,

____________________
1
Similarly,in"ElementsofTruePiety,"whosewatermarkisattestedfrom167778(VE233),
'perfection'isdefinedas"degree[gradus]orquantityofreality"("orquantity"beinganemendation
byLeibniz),andin"OnAffections,"datedApril1679,'perfection'isrepeatedlydefinedas"degree
ofreality"(Gr11,527,529).
2
Idonotuse'property'hereinthetechnicalLeibniziansenseexplainedinChapter4,section3.1,but
inabroadsenseinwhichitsignifiesanythingthatmaybepredicatedofanobjectofthought,
157

cificallyofessences,orelseapropertyofthingsthatisdefinedintermsofa(secondorder)
propertyoftheiressences.Hereperfectiondependsontheessence.Thisisquitedifferentfromthe
1676proofsofthepossibilityofGod'sexistence,whereperfectionsarefirstorderproperties,on
whichessencesdepend,inasmuchasessencesarecomposedofperfectionsand/orofproperties
derivedinsomewayfromperfections.Weneednotsupposethatafundamentallydifferent
metaphysicalstructureisenvisagedinthesedifferenttexts,buttheattachmentoftheconceptof
perfectiontoadifferentpartofthestructureintheEckhardcorrespondencemayopenthewayfora
reconceptionoftherelationbetweenexistenceandessence.Thebeginningsofsuchareconception
appearbyJanuary1678atthelatest.Wecanapproachitbywayofthequestionhowexistence
increasesreality,asLeibnizacknowledgedtoEckhardthatitdoes.

1.IsExistenceanEssentialQualityofGod?

Leibniz'sacceptanceofEckhard'sdefinitionofperfectionasameasureofthedegreeofpositive
realitycontainedintheessenceofathingwouldbeconsistentwithhiscontinuingtothinkof
existenceasasimple,purelypositivequalityofthesortthathehadcalledperfectionsinhis1676
proofsofthepossibilityofGod'sexistence.Hisassigning'perfection'tosignifyanotherfeatureof
themetaphysicalstructurecertainlydidnotmeanthathehadceasedtobelievethattherearesuch
qualitiesandthattheyessentiallyanddistinctivelycharacterizeGod.Sinceanythinghasmore
"reality,"intherelevantsense,ifitpossessesanypurelypositivequalitythanifitlacksit,the
identificationofexistenceassuchaqualitywouldexplainhowexistenceincreasesreality.If
existenceisconceivedinthisway,itisnaturaltosupposethatexistencemayberelatedtoan
essenceinthesamewayasothersimple,positivequalitiesthatis,asaconstituentoftheessence,
andthusasanessentialordefiningqualityofthethingthathastheessence.
Leibnizcametoobjecttothiswayofthinkingofexistence,however,forhewrote:

IfExistenceweresomethingotherthananessence'sdemand[exigentia],itwould
followthatithassomeessenceorsuperaddssomethingnewtothings,aboutwhichit
couldbeaskedagainwhetherthisessenceexists,andwhythisoneratherthananother.
3
(GVII,195)

____________________
provideditisunderstoodthatwhatissignifiedisafeatureoftheobject,ratherthanafeatureof
thoughtorspeechabouttheobject.
3
Thisisa(possiblylater)marginalannotationtoamanuscriptthatmaybedatedwithsome
probability,onthebasisofwatermark,totheperiod167780(seeVE115).Ithinkboththenote
andtheunderlyingtext,whichalsocontainstheideaof"anessence'sdemand,"shouldbedated
afterthedocumentofJanuary1678,discussedlaterinthissection,whichshowsnotraceofthat
ideaandtreatsexistenceassimilarto"realitiesorformsorperfections"thatareconsituentsof
essences(AII,i,392),evenwhileitstrivestoarticulateadifferentrelationofexistencetoessence.
ForsimilarreasonsIwouldassignadateafterJanuary1678(thoughnotverymuchlater)to
"ElementsofTruePiety,"whosewatermarkisattestedfrom167778(VE233),andwhich
containsaversionoftheideaofanessence'sdemand,thoughintermsof"propensity[propensio]to
exist,"ratherthaninthemetaphoricaltermsof"demand[exigentia]"(Gr16f.).
158

Wewillcomeinduecoursetotheconception,implicitlyaffirmedhere,ofexistenceas"an
essence'sdemand."Ourpresentconcerniswiththeideathatexistence"hassomeessenceor
superaddssomethingnewtothings."Ifthisweretrue,Leibnizobjects,wecouldaskwhether
existenceexists,orwhetherexistentthingsexist,andwhytheyexistratherthansomethingelse.
Grantinghimthatthesequestionsareabsurd,wemaywonderwhyhethinkstheywouldarise.

AsimilarargumentinKantspringsreadilytomind,oneinwhichKantalsoobjectstotheideaof
existenceaddingsomethingnewtothings."Theactual,"wroteKant,"containsnomorethanthe
merelypossible.Ahundredactualdollarscontainnottheleast[coin]morethanahundredpossible
dollars,"although"ahundredactualdollarshavemoreeffectonmyfinancialconditionthanthe
4Kanttakesthisasareasonfordenyingthat
mereconceptofthem(thatis,theirpossibility)does."
existenceisa"realpredicate"or"determination"[Bestimmung]thatis,"apredicatethatisadded
5Thusfar,Ithink,Kantisinsubstantialagreement
totheconceptofthesubjectandenlargesit."
withLeibniz.

Kant'sfavoredalternativeistosaythatthefunctionoftheverb'tobe'initsexistentialuseisto
posit[setzen]"thesubjectinitselfwithallitspredicates,andindeed[topositit]astheobjectin
6Modernlogicaltheoryhascarriedthissuggestioninadirectionthatis
relationtomyconcept."
certainlynotinagreementwithLeibniz'sviewsorwithhispractice.Inourlogicalsymbolismwe
donotnormallytreatexistenceformallyorgrammaticallyasapredicateatall.Existenceisallowed
expressiononlyindirectly,infusionwithquantityspecifically,withthe"particular"quantityofa
term,astraditionalpredicatelogicwouldhavecalledit.'(x)Fx'isnormallyinterpretedasmeaning
simultaneously'Forsomething,x,Fx'and'Thereexists(atleastonething)xsuchthatFx.'Under
thiscustomaryinterpretation,followingKant'scommentaboutpositinganobjectforourconcept,
wedonotinthefirstinstanceascribeexistencetoanobject,butrathersaythatapredicateis
exemplified.(InthiswegobeyondKant,whoexplicitlyallowedthatexistencecouldbeusedasa
7)
"logicalpredicate,"thoughitisnota"realpredicate."

Howcanweallow'Forsomex,Fx'and'ThereexistsanxsuchthatFx'tocoincide?Mightwenot
thinkthat'Forsomex,xis(orwas)awingedhorse'istrue(sincePegasus,forexample,wasa
wingedhorse),but'Thereexists(orexisted)anxsuchthatxis(orwas)awingedhorse'isfalse
(sincePegasus,andwingedhorsesgenerally,haveneverexisted)?Theusualanswerinvolvesthe
ideathat'Forsomex,(x)'meansthatistrueofatleastonememberofasetofthingswhichis
knownasthe"universeofdiscourse."Andininterpretingoursymboliclogicwenormallyassume
thatonlythingsthatactuallyexist(atsometime,ortimelessly)areintheuniverseofdiscourse.On
thisinterpretation'Forsomex,Fx'willbetrueifandonlyifthereexistsanxsuchthatFx.Thisset
ofideasiseventakenasanexplicationoftheconceptofexistenceintheinfluentialQuinean
dictumthat"tobeistobeavalueofaboundvariable."Moreover,ifweaddtheusualassumption
that'Fa'(whereaisaparticularindividual)entails

____________________
4
Kant,CritiqueofPureReason,A599/B627.
5
Kant,CritiqueofPureReason,A598/B626.
6
Kant,CritiqueofPureReason,A599/B627.
7
Kant,CritiqueofPureReason,A598/B626.
159

'Forsomex,Fx',itfollowsfromtheseviewsthatpredicatescanbeascribedwithtruthonlyto
existingthings,andthatexistenceisnotneededasaseparatepredicatebecauseitisimpliedinthe
ascriptionofanypredicate.

ItisclearthatLeibnizdiffersfrommorerecentlogicaltheoryonthesepoints.'Existent'isusedasa
predicateinhislogicalapparatus(C271f.,375f./P65f.),and,asweshallsee,hispapersabound
withdefinitionsofit.Intheintensionalinterpretationofpredicatelogicwhichhemostoften
prefers,moreover,'SomeAisB'doesnotimplythatanyAorBactuallyexists,8anditis
possibilityratherthanexistencethatisrequiredofabeingorentity(ens)towhichpredicatesareto
9Thesearemainlyformalpoints,however,andtheascriptionofpredicatestopossible
beascribed.
beingsassuchwasregardedbyLeibnizasreducibletomorefundamentalsortsofproposition,as
weshallsoonsee.

IfwearetounderstandtheconsiderationsthatledLeibniztorejecttheconceptionofexistenceasa
quality,and,inthecaseofGod,anessentialquality,wemustfocusnotontherelationofexistence
topredication,butontherelationofexistencetoessence.Leibnizexpressedtherejectedviewin
termsofexistencehaving"someessence,"andItakethattomeanhavingcontentofthesortthatis
requiredtoconstitute,inwholeorinpart,anessencecontentofthesortpossessedorcontributed
bypositivequalitiesingeneral.Inthiswayexistencewouldbe,inKant'sterms,"apredicatethatis
addedtotheconceptofthesubjectandenlargesit,"thoughsomethingimportanttoLeibnizisleft
outinreplacing'essence'by'concept'.Ifexistencehad"someessence"inthissense,itwouldbethe
essence,or(moreplausibly)partoftheessence,ofexistentthings,andexistentthingswouldbea
kindofthings,orexistentFswouldbeakindofFs.

Leibnizsuggests,however,thatonthisviewitwouldseemtobeanopenquestion,whetherand
whyitisthingsofthiskindthatactuallyexist,ratherthanthingsofsomeotherkind.This
suggestionmayseempuzzling;whyaren'tthesequestionsansweredbytheobservationthatthe
kindofthingswearetalkingaboutisexistentthings?ButthepointLeibnizistryingtomakeisthat
theconceptofexistencehasanessentialuseinaskingquestionsthatcannotbeansweredinthat
way,and,morebroadly,thatsayingthat(oraskingwhether)Fsexistisquitedifferentfromsaying
oraskinganythingaboutwhatkindofthingFsare.InLeibniz'swayofthinkingthisisapoint
abouttherelationofexistencetoessence,becauseitistheessenceofathingthatdeterminesthe
kindstowhichitbelongs.10Ourconceptofexistence,therefore,isnottheconceptofakindof
thing,orofacontentthatanessencemighthave.Itwouldbemoreaccuratetosaythatitisthe
conceptofastatusthatthingshave,andcarrieswithittheconceptofacorrelatedstatusthatthe
essencesofexistentthingshave.Asweshallsee,muchofLeibniz'sdiscussionofexistenceisan
efforttocharacterizesuchstatuses.

____________________
10
InAristotelianthought,accidentalaswellasessentialkindsarerecognized.ForLeibniz,however,
anydifferenceinkindconstitutesadifferenceintheessenceofanindividualthing,andthus
essencecompletelydetermineskindmembership;seeDM16.
8
SeeChapter2,section3.
9
Thereisatleastonetext[GVII,214/P118(after1690)]inwhichLeibnizacknowledgesthe
possibilityofusinganalternativeinterpretationinwhichactualexistenceisrequiredofabeing
(ens).SeeMates,PhilosophyofLeibniz,pp.5557,foraninterestingdiscussionofthistopic,with
manyreferencesthoughIthinkthattheexistentialinterpretationofensislessprominentin
Leibniz'sworkthanMatessuggests.
160

AnimportantdocumentofthedevelopmentoftheseideasinLeibniz'sthoughtdatesfromJanuary
1678.Inhisannotationstohisversionoftheincompleteorconditionalontologicalproof,discussed
inChapter5,section1,hesays:

Spinozareasonsthus,followingDescartes:Itisthesametosaythatsomethingis
containedinthenatureorconceptofsomething,astosaythatthatvery[predication]is
trueaboutthatthing(asitiscontainedintheconceptofaTriangle,orfollowsfromits
essence,thatitsthreeanglesareequaltotworightangles).Butnecessaryexistenceis
containedinthesamewayintheconceptofGod.ThereforeitistrueaboutGodtosay
thatnecessaryexistenceisinhim,orthatheexists.Tothisreasoning,andotherslikeit,
itcanbeobjectedthatallthosepropositionsareconditional,fortosaythatthreeangles
equaltotworightanglesareinvolvedinthenatureorconceptofatriangleistosay
onlythatifatriangleshouldexist,thenitwouldhavethisproperty.Sointhesameway,
evenifitbegrantedthatnecessaryexistencebelongstotheconceptofGod,stillallthat
willbeinferredfromthatisthatifGodshouldexist,thenhewouldhavethisproperty
(ofnecessaryexistence),orthatifGodshouldexist,hewouldexistnecessarily.Our
reasoning,however,isnotliabletothisdifficulty,butprovessomethingmore,namely
thatifGodisevenpossible,henecessarilyexistsinfact.(AII,i,393)

LeibnizascribestoSpinozawhatIhavecalled(inChapter5,section2.2)"theCartesianpredication
principle":

(14c)Whateveriscontainedinthenatureofapossiblethingcanbe(truly)assertedof
thatthing.

Thisprincipleisacandidatefortheinterpretationofthekeyfinaltransitionintheproofthat
LeibnizhimselfshowedSpinozain1676.Here,however,in1678,Leibnizofferswhatseemstobe
theusualKantianandpostKantianobjection11totheuseoftheCartesianpredicationprinciplein
theontologicalargument:thatfromthecontainmentofapropertyFinthenatureorconceptofan
XitfollowsonlythatifthereshouldexistanX,itwouldbeF.Hisownargument,Leibnizsays,is
notliabletothisobjection.Itbeginsbyestablishingapropositionthatisfranklyacknowledgedas
conditional.Butitsconditionalconclusionismoresubstantial:notmerely"thatifGodshouldexist,
hewouldexistnecessarily,"but"thatifGodisevenpossible,henecessarilyexistsinfact."Allthat
remainsistoprovethepossibilityoftheexistenceofsuchanecessaryGod.

Insayingthat'BisinvolvedinthenatureorconceptofA'isequivalentto'IfanAshouldexist,it
wouldbeB',Leibnizmightbetakentoberejecting(14c)insuchawayastoimply,contraryto
hisownusualpractice,thatpredicatesaretobeascribedonlytoexistentthings.ButIthinkthat
wouldbeamisreading.Leibnizisindeedareductionist,butnotaneliminationist,withregardtothe
ascriptionofpredicatestopossiblethingsassuch.ThisisclearinawellknownpassageoftheNew
Essays.Therehetreatstheproposition,'Theanglesofeverythreesidedfigureareequaltotwo
rightangles,'asascribingaEuclidianpredicatetoeachpossibletriangle.Atthesametime,hetreats
thispropositionasreducible,indicatingthatitis"atbottomconditional"andequivalentto'Ifa
figure

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11
ItwasalreadyGassendi'sobjection,ofcourse(ATVII,323).
161

hasthreesides,[thatsamefigure's]anglesareequaltotworightangles.'Thewayinwhicha
proposition"aboutasubject"thatdoesnotexist"canhavearealtruth"is"thatthetruthisonly
conditional,andsaysthatincasethesubjecteverexists,itwillbefoundtobeofthissort"(
NE446f.).12
Tobesure,thisisnottheonlyLeibnizianreductionofpredicationswhosesubjectsareconsidered
merelyaspossible.Thereisalsoareductiontorelationsofconceptualinclusion,whichheregards
asalwaysimplicit,andfoundational,inanythingsaidaboutapossiblesubjectassuch.Hiscriticism
ofSpinozacouldberegardedasreducingconceptualcontainmentclaimstoconditional
propositionsaboutthepropertiesactualexistentswouldhave.Butareductiveintentisneitherclear
norcrucialatthispoint.Themainburdenoftheargumentisthatthecorrespondingpropositionsof
thetwotypesareequivalent,andhencethat'BisinvolvedinthenatureorconceptofA'saysno
morethan'IfanAshouldexist,itwouldbeB'.

ButhowcouldLeibnizhavethoughtthatthisrefutedSpinozawithoutalsodestroyinghisown
argument?Heishereannotatingaproofthathasasapremisethat"TheessenceofGodinvolves
necessityofexistence"(whichissurelythesamepropertyasthe"necessaryexistence"thatfigures
inLeibniz'srenditionofSpinoza'sargument).Andtheproof,whensupplementedwithapossibility
proof,issupposedtoestablishtheexistenceofanecessarybeingwhosenecessityconsistsinthe
factthatitsessence"involvesexistence."Leibnizsurelythinksthisinvolvementmeansmorethan
thatifthisbeingshouldexist,itwouldexist.

Leibniz'sargumentrequiresadistinctionbetween(atleast)twowaysinwhichapredicatecanbe
involvedorcontainedinthenatureorconceptofathing.Heisquiteexplicitthathisownversion
oftheontologicalargumentturnsonasortofinvolvementthatmeanssomethingunconditional:

Inthisplacetheeternaltruthsarenottobeconsideredashypothetical,[as]assuming
actualexistence;forotherwiseacirclewouldarise.Thatis,theexistenceofGodbeing
assumed,thence[God's]existencewouldbeproved.Certainly,insayingthatthe
EssenceofGodinvolvesexistence,itmustnotbeunderstoodasmeaningthat,ifGod
exists,henecessarilyexists,butinthisway,[asmeaningthat]onthepartofthething
[aparterei],evenifnoonethinksaboutit,itisunconditionally,absolutelyandpurely
trueinthatregionofessencesorideasthattheessenceandexistenceofGodare
inseparablyconnected.(AII,i,392)

WhatistokeepSpinozafromreplyingthatinhisargument,too,thecontainmentofnecessary
existenceinthenatureorconceptofGodmeanssomethingunconditional?Leibnizneitherraises
noranswersthisquestionhere,butIbelievethebestansweristhefollowing.Intheargumentthat
Leibnizquotes(wordforword)fromSpinoza1663geometricaldemonstrationofDescartes
Principlesitisclearthatitisasanessentialpropertythatnecessaryexistenceissaid

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12
Leibnizhadalreadyexpressedthesameviewin1670:approvingNizolius'sstatementthatin
"essential"predications,suchas'Manisananimal,'"theexistenceofthesubjectsisnotrequired,"
Leibnizcommented,"Theyarerightinsayingthis.Forwhoeversays'Manisananimal'means'If
anythingisaman,itisananimal.'Andsincetheconditionpositsnothing,thereforeitisnot
requiredforthetruthofthispropositionthattherebeanyman,butthatifthereshouldbe,hewould
necessarilyalsobeananimal,whichismosttrue"(AVI,ii,472).
162
tobecontainedintheconceptofGod.Spinozasupportsthecontainmentclaimbyappealtoan
axiomthatsaysthatnecessaryexistenceiscontained"intheconceptofGod,orofasupremely
perfectbeing;forotherwiseitwouldbeconceivedasimperfect,contrarytowhatissupposedtobe
conceived."13Thereasoninghereisevidentlythatnecessaryexistencemustbecontainedinthe
conceptofGodbecauseabeingthatdidnotexistnecessarilywouldnotqualifyasperfect,and
thereforewouldnotqualifyasGod.Butthestrongestcontainmentclaimthatcouldbewarrantedby
thisreasoning(ontheassumptionthatitspremisesarecorrect)saysnomorethantheconditional
thesisthatifanybeingisGod,thatbeingmustexistnecessarily.Andfromsuchaconditional
thesis,asLeibnizargues,itdoesnotfollowthatthereactuallyexistssuchabeing.

Thismakesclear,Ithink,thecrucialpointabouttherelationofexistencetoessence.Ifthe
necessaryexistenceofanybeingistobeexplainedintermsoftheinvolvementofexistenceinthe
essenceofthatbeing,thisinvolvementmustnotbeofthesortthatessentialordefiningproperties
have.FortheinvolvementofBasadefiningoressentialpropertyintheessenceofAmeansno
morethanthatifanythingisA,itmusthaveB.Andfromthisitdoesnotfollowthatsuchathing
actuallyexists.Thusnothingcanbe"definedintoexistence";itcannotbe"truebydefinition"that
anybeingexists.IftheessenceofGodinvolvesexistenceinsuchawayastorenderGod's
existencenecessary,itmustnotbesimplybysayingthatabeingmustexistnecessarilyinorderto
beGod,butbyvirtueofsomeotherfeatureofthedivineessence.Thismaybeexpressedbysaying
thatexistencemustbeconnectedwiththeessenceofanecessarybeing,notprimarilyasapartof
theessence,butbyvirtueofasecondorder,andprobablyholistic,propertyoftheessence.

NotthatLeibnizhadseenallofthisinJanuaryof1678.Theclearestevidenceofthe
incompletenessofhisgraspoftherelevantpointsatthattimeisinhistreatmentofexistenceas"a
perfection,"apparentlyinthesenseofhis1676arguments.Forheoffersthefollowinglemma(A
II,i,391):

TheessenceofGodandsupremeperfectionareinseparable(exhypothesi,forwe
supposethattheessenceofGodcontainssupremeperfection).

Supremeperfectionandeveryperfectioninkind[inspecie]areinseparable.

Actualexistenceisaperfectioninkind[inspecie].

Therefore

TheessenceofGodandhisactualexistenceareinseparable.

Thislemmaplainlyexpressestheviewthatexistenceiscontainedasanessentialpropertyinthe
essenceofGodasasupremelyperfectbeing,andisthusessentiallysimilartoSpinoza'sCartesian
proofthatLeibnizwouldcriticizelaterinthesamedocument.Theinseparabilityofessenceand
existenceestablishedinthiswayissimplytheinclusionofexistenceasapartoftheessence,and

____________________
13
Spinoza,Opera,vol.1,p.155;cf.p.158.Spinozaevidentlyreliesonapreviouslystateddefinition
ofGodasasupremelyperfectsubstance(ibid.,p.150).TheargumentfortheexistenceofGodin
SpinozaEthics,I,prop.7,andthefirstdemonstrationofprop.11,isnotliable(inmyopinion)to
theobjectionLeibnizmakeshere,becausenecessaryexistencefiguresintheargument,
163

itcanhardlymeanmorethanthatifanybeingisGod,thatbeingmustactuallyexist.

Leibniz'slargerargumentstillescapesthisobjection,however,becausethislemmaissuperfluous
forthelargerargument.AsLeibniznotes,"thementionofperfectioncanbeeliminatedfrom"the
argumentbydefining'God'assignifyinganecessarybeing.Theargumentproceedingfromthis
definition14stillturnsonaninvolvementof(necessary)existenceinthedivineessence.Butthe
argumentisnolongerthatabeingthatdidnotexistcouldnotsatisfytheessence,butthatan
essencethatdidnotinvolvenecessaryexistencecouldnotqualifyastheessenceofanecessary
being.Heretheinvolvementrelationbetweenexistenceandthedivineessenceneednotbe
understoodintermsoftheinclusionofexistenceasapart,oressentialordefiningproperty,inthe
essence,butcanbeunderstoodintermsoftheessencenecessarilyhaving,forsomeotherreason,
thestatusofbeingactuallyexemplified.Thesignificanceofthelattersortofinvolvementisnot
exhaustedbytheconclusionthatifanybeingisGod,thatbeingmustactuallyexist.

ThiscanhardlyhavebeencleartoLeibnizwhenheformulatedtheargument.Eveninthe
annotationstoitheassimilatesexistence,asa"form,"tothe"perfections."

Asintheregionofeternaltruths,orinthefieldofideasthatexistsobjectively[aparte
rei],theresubsistUnity,theCircle,Potency,equality,heat,rose,andotherrealitiesor
formsorperfections,evenifnoindividualbeingsweretoexist,andtheseuniversals
werenottobethoughtabout;soalsothereamongotherformsorobjectiverealitiesis
foundactualexistence,notasitisfoundintheWorldandinexamples,butasa
universalform.Ifinthefieldofideasthisformisinseparablyconnectedwithsome
otheressenceorform,thereresultsthenceaBeingthatnecessarilyexistsinactuality."(
AII,i,392)

Thisinvites,thoughitdoesnotentail,thedefiningpropertyconstrualoftherelationofexistenceto
thedivineessence.Intheannotations,however,hedoessee,first,thatinsomecontextsthe
involvementorcontainmentofapredicateinanatureorconceptmeansnomorethanthatif
anythinghasthenatureorsatisfiestheconcept,itmusthavethepredicate,and,second,thatheis
thereforeassertingadifferentsortofinvolvementofexistenceinthedivineessence.Withinthe
nextfewyearshewouldarticulateaconceptionoftherelationofexistencetoessencethatmightbe
seenaspromisinganexplicationofthesortofinvolvementrequiredbytheargument.

2.DefiningExistence

OneoftheclearestpresentationsofthelineofthoughtIwishnowtoexploreisfoundinthe
followingbrief,undatedmemorandum:

____________________
notmerelyasanessentialqualificationforbeingGod,butasafeatureofthedivinenature'scausal
roleinthestructureofreality.ButLeibnizwouldnothavetheEthicsbeforehimuntilthemonth
afterthiscritiquewaspenned.
14
Premises[6]and[7]andtheconclusiondrawnfromthemintheargumentdiscussedinChapter5,
section1.
164

Existence

Itcanbedoubtedverymuchwhetherexistenceisaperfectionordegreeofreality;forit
canbedoubtedwhetherexistenceisoneofthosethingsthatcanbeconceivedthatis,
oneofthepartsofessence;orwhetheritisonlyacertainimaginaryconcept,suchas
thatofheatandcold,whichisadenominationonlyofourperception,notofthenature
ofthings.Yetifweconsidermoreaccurately,[weshallsee]thatweconceive
somethingmorewhenwethinkthatathingAexists,thanwhenwethinkthatitis
possible.Thereforeitseemstobetruethatexistenceisacertaindegreeofreality;or
certainlythatitissomerelationtodegreesofreality.Existenceisnotadegreeof
reality,however;forofeverydegreeofrealityitispossibletounderstandtheexistence
aswellasthepossibility.Existencewillthereforebethesuperiorityofthedegreesof
realityofonethingoverthedegreesofrealityofanopposedthing.Thatis,thatwhich
ismoreperfectthanallthingsmutuallyincompatibleexists,andconverselywhatexists
ismoreperfectthantherest.Thereforeitistrueindeedthatwhatexistsismoreperfect
thanthenonexistent,butitisnottruethatexistenceitselfisaperfection,sinceitis
onlyacertaincomparativerelation[comparatio]ofperfectionsamongthemselves.(
VE2016=B119f.)

HereLeibnizexplicitlydenies,notonlythatexistenceisa"perfection,"suchascanconstitute"one
ofthepartsofessence,"butalsothatexistenceisasecondorderpropertyofessencesofthesortthat
wasidentifiedwithperfectioninhiscorrespondencewithEckhardthatis,a"degreeofreality."
Existencecannotbeidentifiedwithanyonedegreeofreality,fortheexistenceofanydegreeof
realityispossible.Indeed,Leibnizbelievedthat(infinitely)manydegreesofrealityactuallyexist.
Existenceiscloselyrelatedtodegreesofreality.Itisidentifiedwiththepropertyofhavingmore
realityorperfectionthananyincompatiblealternative.Degreesofrealityorperfection,however,
areequivalent,inthisschemeofthings,nottoexistenceitself,buttodegreesoftendencytoexist.
Anessence'sperfectionismeasuredbythestrengthofits"demand"[exigentia]forexistence.
Degreeofperfectionisnotexistencebuttheprincipleorsource[principium]ofexistence(G
VII,194f.,303f./L487f.).15

SimilardefinitionsofexistencearefoundinseveralotherplacesinLeibniz'spapers.Forinstance,
hedefines'existent'as"compossiblewiththemostperfect,"andsays,"Existentisthatseriesof
possibleswhichinvolvesmoreofreality,andwhateverentersintoit"(Gr325).16These
formulationsmakeclearthatthisaccountofexistenceappliesinthefirstplacetocompletesetsof
compossible

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15
Theformulationthat"perfectionordegreeofEssence"is"thesourceofexistence"comesfromthe
essay"OntheRadicalOriginationofThings,"of23November1697,whichcertainlyusesand
developsideasbelongingtothisnexus.Weshallhavetoquestionlaterhowfullythe1697paper
acceptsthedefinitionofexistencewearestudying.Butthebasicideaofessences"demanding"
existenceinproportiontotheirperfectionisfoundinpapersbelongingcertainlyorprobablytothe
period167885,towhichIbelievemostofLeibniz'sdevelopmentofthislineofargumentcanbe
dated.SeeVE238f.,277=Gr16f.,288/AG20;andseenote3.
16
Thefirstoftheseformulationsispreliminarilydated167985,onthebasisofcontent,andthe
second168385,onthebasisofwatermark,inVE169,166.Thefirstformulationoccursinthesame
documentwithanalternativedefinition:"Entity[Ens]is[something]distinctlythinkable.Existent
[is]distinctlyperceivable"(VE171).Onthesignificanceofthispairingofdefinitionsofexistence,
andforadditionalreferences,seenote23.Foranotheroccurrenceofthedefinitionfromthesame
period,seeGVII,194f.
165

things,ratherthantoindividualsubstances.Theessencesofactuallyexistingearthwormsareless
perfectthantheessencesofpossiblehumanbeingsthatdonotactuallyexist.Whatexistsisthatset
ofcompossiblesubstancesthatismoreperfectthananyalternativethatisnotcompossiblewithit.

Thisanalysisofexistencereadilysuggestswaysofcompletingorrevisingtheontologicalargument
fortheexistenceofGod.Onewayistoarguethattheessenceofasupremelyperfectbeing
involves(necessary)existence,withthesortofunconditionalinvolvementrequiredbyLeibniz's
argument,onthegroundthatsuchanessenceobviouslycontainsmoreperfectionorrealitythanthe
essenceofanythingthatwouldbeincompatiblewithit.Tothisitmaybeobjectedthatcompetitors
forexistencemeetthetestofperfection,notsingly,butincompletesetsofcompossiblebeings.
TheexistenceofGodthereforedoesnotfollowdirectlyfromthefactthatthedivineessenceis
moreperfectthananyotheressenceofanindividualsubstance;itmustbeprovedthatnosetof
compossiblebeingsthatexcludesGodhasahighersumofperfectionthanallthesetsthatinclude
God.ButLeibnizwouldhaveareadyanswertothisobjection.Hecouldmaintain,asmosttheists
would,thatthedivineperfection,allbyitself,withoutanysupplementationbytheperfectionof
otherbeings,isgreaterthanthesumofperfectionofanyaggregateoflessperfectbeings.Hecould
alsoarguethattheexistenceofGodmustbecompossiblewiththatofthemostperfectpossibleset
offinitethings,becausethechoiceandcreationofthatsetfollowsfromtheperfectionofthedivine
willandpower.OnthesegroundsLeibnizcouldholdthat(necessary)existenceisinvolved,inthe
relevantway,intheessenceofasupremelyperfectbeing.Andifthepossibilityofasupremely
perfectbeingistakenasprovedbytheargumentdiscussedinsection2.1ofChapter5,thisseems
tocompleteanontologicalproofoftheexistenceofGod.

ThefollowingobjectionmightberaisedagainsttheargumentthatGod'sexistencemustbe
compossiblewiththemaximumoffiniteperfection.Leibnizsaysthat"iftherewerenotabest
[optimum]amongallthepossibleworlds,Godwouldnothaveproducedanyofthem"(T8).From
thistheobjectormightinferthatiftherewerenobestamongpossibleworlds,theexistenceofGod,
accordingtoLeibniz,wouldnotbecompossiblewiththeexistenceofanypossibleworld.But
Leibnizcouldreplythat,giventhedefinitionofexistencethatisassumedhere,theexistenceof
Godwouldnotbepreventingtheactualizationofaperfectionthatmightotherwiseexist.Forif,
amongthepossibleworlds,allincom

____________________
Accordingtoalaterstatement:"Existenceisconceivedbyusasathinghavingnothingincommon
withEssence,whichcannotbe,however,sincetheremustbemoreintheconceptoftheExistent
than[inthat]ofthenonexistent;thatis,existencemustbe[a]perfection,sincereallynothingelse
isexplicableinexistenceexceptenteringintothemostperfectseriesofthings"(C9).Thistexthas
beenassignedapreliminarydateofabout1700bytheAcademyeditors(personalcommunication,
1977).Ithinkthisstatementdoesnotimplyareductivedefinitionofexistence,however,butis
consistentwithsupposingexistencetobeanunanalyzableprimitive.Despitethebeginningofthe
statement,Ialsodonottakeittoimplythatexistencemightenterintoessencesasadefining
propertyofthings.Whatitsaysisratherthatexistentthingsassuchmustdifferfromnonexistent
thingsinsomewaythatisrootedintheiressence,andtheonlysuchdifferencethatcanbe
explainedisthatallandonlytheexistentthingsenterintothemostperfectseriesofthings.Thatis
somethingthatIthinkLeibnizbelievedtotheendofhislife(withsomequalificationsforthe
uniquerelationofGodtothemostperfectseriesofthings).
166

possiblewitheachother,thereisnonethatisbetterthanalltheothers,thenthereisnonethat
satisfiesthedefinitionofexistence.Itmightalsoberepliedthat,giventhatweexperiencethat
somefinitethingsdoexist,wecaninfer,bothfromthedefinitionofexistenceandfromLeibniz's
philosophicaltheology,thatthereisabestamongpossibleworlds.Butthisdoesnotyieldana
prioriargument;moreover,asweshallsee,thedefinitionofexistenceinvolvedintheargument
callsintoquestionanyempiricaljustificationofexistentialclaims.

Leibnizneveroffersthisproof.Thatmaysurpriseuslesswhenwereflectthatthedefinitionof
existenceonwhichitrestsisliabletoratherobviousobjections.ItseemstotrivializetheLeibnizian
doctrinethatthebestofallpossibleworldsactuallyexists.Isitstillgoodnews,iftheactual
existenceofthebestworldconsistssimplyinitsbeingthebest?Anddowestillhavereasonto
believethatourworldactuallyexists,andisthebest,ifactuallyexisting,forworlds,justisbeing
thebest?Ifwehadtoprovetheactualexistenceofourworldfromitssuperiorityoverother
possibleworlds,wemightbeleftinsomedoubtofourownexistence.17Surelybyactualexistence
wemeansomethingmorethanbeingpartofthebestpossibleaggregateofthings.Andifwedid
not,wemightconcludethatthebestpossibleworldneedsnohelpfromGodtoexist,butexists
simplybynecessityofitsnature,asthebest.ThiswouldeliminatetheroleofGod'schoicein
explainingtheexistenceoftheworld,contrarytothetheoryofcreationespousedbyLeibniz
throughouthisintellectualcareer.

Theobviousnessoftheseobjectionssuggeststhattheaccountofexistenceassimplyidenticalwith
inclusioninthebestpossibleaggregateofthingsmaybetoosimplemindedtorepresentadequately
Leibniz'sintentions.Certainlyitisnotanexplicitpartofthephilosophythathepresentedtothe
learnedworld,anditappearstobeinconsistentwiththetheoryofcreationthatisfound,for
instance,intheTheodicyandthewellknownessay"OntheRadicalOriginationofThings"(T7;G
VII,302ff./L486ff.).Wemustthereforetrytosituatethetextsthatsuggestitwithinalargerpattern
anddevelopmentofLeibniz'sideas.
ThereisconsiderablevarietyinthedefinitionsofexistenceproposedinLeibniz'swritings.
Particularlyinterestingisaparagraphof"GeneralInquiriesabouttheAnalysisofConceptsand
Truths"(1686),inwhichLeibnizpursuesthequestion"what'existent'means.""AnExistent,"he
says,"isanEntity[Ens],thatis,apossible,andsomethingbesides";andweunderstandactual
existenceas"somethingsuperaddedtopossibilityorEssence."Butwhatisthissomethingextra?

IsaythereforethatanExistentisanEntitythatiscompatiblewiththemost;thatis,an
Entitymaximallypossible,andsoallcoexistentsareequallypossible.Or,whatcomes
tothesamething,anexistentiswhatpleasesanintelligentandpowerful[being];but
thusExistenceitselfispresupposed.However,itcanatleastbedefinedthatanExistent
iswhatwouldpleasesomeMind,andwouldnotdisplease18anothermorepowerful
[mind],ifanymindsatallwereassumedtoexist.Thereforethemattercomestothis,
thatthatissaidtoExistwhichwouldnotdispleasethemostpowerfulMind,ifamost
powerful

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17
Ontheseobjections,cf.R.Adams,"TheoriesofActuality,"pp.21214.
18
AtthispointinP,ausuallyreliabletranslation,"please"shouldbecorrectedto"displease."
167

mindwereassumedtoexist....Butitpleasesamindthatwhathasareasonshould
cometoberatherthanwhatdoesnothaveareason.(GI73)

Wegetherewhatlookslikequiteadifferentdefinition:anexistentiswhatwouldplease(orwould
notdisplease)themostpowerfulmind;andthisisnottheonlyplaceinLeibniz'sworkswhere
existenceisanalyzedinapproximatelythisway.19

Itisnoteworthy,however,thatLeibnizsaysthisalternativedefinition"comestothesamethingas"
thedefinitionintermsofperfectionwhichwehavebeenexamining.Thismayperplexus,
inasmuchastheydonotseemtohavebyanymeansthesamemeaning.Theconclusiontobe
drawn,Ithink,isthatneitherdefinitionisintendedasananalysisofourmeaning.Bothare
intendedasrealdefinitionsthatis,asintendedtoexplicatethenatureofexistenceinsuchawayas
toexhibitthereasonorcausethatanyexistencewouldhave.20Ifweconfineourattentiontofinite
existents,wecanseethateachofthesedefinitionsprovidespartoftheexplanationthatLeibniz
thoughttheremustbefortheexistenceofanyexistentthing.Onepartofthereasonisthatthething
isincludedinthebestpossibleaggregateofthings;theotherpartisthat(becauseofitssuperiority)
thataggregatepleasesGod,themostpowerfulmindandisthereforechosenandactualizedby
God.Thusthetwodefinitionsarecomplementary,eachencapsulatingelliptically,withdifferent
omissions,thesamecausalaccountofthenatureofexistence.

Whenthematterisviewedinthislight,however,aseriousproblemarises.Insayingthat"an
existentiswhatpleasesanintelligentandpowerful[being]...Existenceitselfispresupposed,"as
Leibnizhimselfnotes.ItisofcoursetheexistenceofGodthatispresupposed.Theexplanationof
existencecontainedinthispairofdefinitions,understoodasmutuallycomplementary,isthatthe
bestpossibleaggregateofthingsischosenandcreatedbyGod.ButGodmustexistinorderto
create.ThisyieldswhatiscertainlythecorrectinterpretationofLeibniz'stalkaboutthepossibles
"striving"forexistenceandhavingatendencytoexistthatisproportionedtotheirperfection.Itis
inthemindofGodthattheystrive,anditisthepowerofGodthatgivesrealitytotheirtendencyto
exist.ThatimpliestheexistenceofGodwhichiswhythestrivingpossiblescanfigureinan
argumentfortheexistenceofGod(GVII,302ff./L486ff.;T7).21

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19
SeeC405,wheretheclaimthat"thenotionofexistenceissuchthat[whatis]existentissuchastate
oftheuniverseaspleasesGOD"isimmediatelyfollowedbytheobservation,"ButGODispleased,
freely,bywhatismoreperfect."Interestingly,Leibnizbegantowrite,"existentissuchastateof
theuniverseasissuperior"(andbeforethatapparently,"asis[more]perfe[ct]"),andthenchanged
ittopresenttheanalysisintermsofpleasingGod(VE165).
20
ForLeibniz'spreferenceforrealorcausaldefinitionssee,e.g.,his"MeditationsonKnowledge,
Truth,andIdeas"of1684(GIV,424f./L293).Foratextinwhichthedefinitionofexistencein
termsofperfectionisexplicitlycalleda"realdefinition,"andmotivatedbytheneedto"givea
reasonoftheexistenceofthings"(specificallyareasonthatfitstheconceptualcontainmenttheory
oftruth),seeGVII,195.Notealsothatin"GeneralInquiries"(C360/P51)Leibnizhasalready
connectedthepossibilityofdefining'existent'as"whatiscompatiblewithmorethingsthan
anythingelsethatisincompatiblewithit"withthepossibilityofgiving"acauseofexistence."
21
ThequestionofinterpretationiswellandthoroughlyarguedinBlumenfeld,"Leibniz'sTheoryof
theStrivingPossibles."SeealsoGr324(=VE189f.,withawatermarkattestedfrom168386):
"Everyessenceorrealitydemandsexistence....AndeverypossiblenotonlyinvolvesPossibility,
butalsoaneffort[conatus]toactuallyexistnotasifthingsthatarenotmakeaneffort,but
because
168

ThedifficultythisposesforLeibnizgoesmuchdeeperthananymereproblemofformulation,forit
appearstoimplythattheaccountofexistencegivenbythepairofdefinitionsappliesonlytothe
existenceoffinitethings.ItcanhardlyapplytotheexistenceofGod,sinceLeibnizneversuggests
thatthedivineexistenceitselfistobeexplainedbyGod'shavingchosenandactualizeditaspartof
thebestpossibleaggregateofthings.Thissuggestionisnotonlyimplausiblebutalsoinconsistent
withLeibniz'sfirminsistencethattheexistenceofGodisanecessarytruthandthatnecessary
truthsdonotdependonthedivinewill.Thisimpliesthatthepairofdefinitionsdonotgivean
adequateaccountofthenatureofexistenceingeneral,sincethedivineexistenceisacaseof
existenceindeedtheprimecaseofit.

"GeneralInquiries"mightbereadasproposingadefinitionofexistenceingeneral,includingthe
existenceofGod,initsresorttocounterfactualmodalities.Existence,onthisaccount,would
consistinbeingsuchaswouldpleaseaGodifoneexisted.God'sexistencesatisfiesthiscriterion
becausetheperfectionofthedivinenaturedoespleaseGod,accordingtotraditionaltheology.But
thisviewisliabletoanobjectionthatmustbecrushingfromLeibniz'spointofview:itrendersthe
existenceofcreatures,aswellasthatofGod,independentofthepresuppositionofGod'sexistence.
IfourworldissuchasaGodwouldchoose,thatconstitutesitsexistence.God'sexistingand
actuallychoosingthisworldarenotneededtoexplainitsexistence.Butthedependenceof
creaturesonGod'sactualdecisionsisapersistentthemeinLeibniz'sphilosophy.Itiswhathe
chieflyseizeson,forinstance,todifferentiatehisbrandofdeterminismfromthatofSpinoza.22

Abetterwayofintegratingtheideasofthepairofdefinitionsintoacompletelygeneralaccountof
thenatureofexistencemightbesoughtinastrikingtextfrom1672,earlyinLeibniz'sParisperiod.
Hewrote:

IseemtomyselftohavediscoveredthattoExistisnothingotherthantobeSensed
[Sentiri]tobesensedhowever,ifnotbyus,thenatleastbytheAuthorofthings,tobe
sensedbywhomisnothingotherthantopleasehim,ortobeHarmonious.(AVI,iii,56)

ThisisnottheearliesttextinwhichLeibnizanticipatedBerkeley'sfamousthesisthattobeistobe
perceived(seeAVI,i,285;AVI,ii,282f.,487),anditiscertainlynotthelatest(seeC437,of17024).
23Whatisparticularlyinterestingaboutthistextisthattheideasofexistenceconsistinginpleasing
God,andinbeingharmonious(whichplaysherethepartofperfection),areembeddedinamore
fundamentalconceptionofexistingasbeingperceived,principallybyGod.Theseconceptionsare
linkedbyLeibniz'sversionofthetraditionalScholasticdoctrinethatthewayinwhichGodknows
abouttheexistenceoffinitethingsoutsidehimselfisbyknowinghisownwilltocreatethem.God
sensesfinitethings,

____________________
theideasofessences,whichactuallyexistinGod,makesuchademand,afterGodhasfreely
decreedtochoosewhatismostperfect....[F]ortheyareabletoobtainexistence,notbytheirown
forcebutbyGod'sdecision."Cf.Gr286,from1679;andVE1141(=LHIV,1,14C,6),probably
fromabout1689.
22
SeeChapter1,section1.4.
23
Forafullerdiscussion,seeChapter9,section2.
169

saysLeibniz,byperceivingthattheyareharmoniousandthereforepleasehimthatis,byperceiving
thathechoosestocreatethem.

Thistextpresentsmorethanonepossibilityofaquitegeneralaccountofthenatureofexistence.
Themostobviousistheaccountwithwhichthetextbeginsthattoexististobeperceived,atleast
byGod.ThisappliestotheexistenceofGodaswellasoffinitethings,sinceGod'sexistenceis
surelyperceivedbyGod.WhatissaidaboutbeingharmoniousandpleasingGodwouldservethen
toexplainhowfinitethingscometobeperceived.

Amoredaringalternativewouldbetoidentifyexistence,ingeneral,withbeingrecognizedbyGod
assuperiorinperfection,andthuspleasingGod.EvenGod'sexistence,itmightbeclaimed,isnot
distinctfromthepleasureGodtakesinthedivineperfection.Fortraditionalphilosophicaltheology,
afterall,thedivineperfectionisthemostessentialobjectofthedivineknowledgeandlove.It
wouldnotbeclaimedthatGodexactlychoosestoexist,orcauseshisownexistencebylovingit,
butratherthatexisting,forGod,consistsmostessentiallyinknowingandlovingtheperfectionof
hisownnature.

Unfortunately,neitheroftheseaccountsofthenatureofexistenceprovidesanexplanationofthe
necessityofGod'sexistence.PerhapsGodmustexistifanythingatallistobeperceived.Certainly
GodmustexistifanythingistopleaseGod.Butthisisnoreasonforregardingasimpossiblethe
stateofaffairsinwhichGoddoesnotexistandthereforenothingatallisperceivedorpleasesGod
orexists.Inanyevent,thereisnostrongreasontobelievethatthematureLeibnizheldeitherof
thesetheories.

Anotheralternativewouldbetohaveseparatedefinitionsofdivineandcreaturelyexistence.For
God,existencewouldbedefinedsimplyasbeingmoreperfectthananyincompossiblethingorset
ofthings.Forcreatures,however,existencewouldbedefinedasenteringintoanaggregateoffinite
thingsthatpleasesGod,orischosenbyGod,byvirtueofthesuperiorityofitssumofperfectionto
thatofalternatives.PerhapsLeibnizwouldhaveregardedtheseseparatedefinitionsashavingone
ofthemostimportantofthevirtueshesoughtinarealdefinition,expressingtherealreasonsofthe
existenceofGodandofcreatures,respectively,insofarastheycanbeknowntous.Buttheycan
hardlyberegardedasentirelysatisfying.Inadditiontotheobviousdisadvantageoffailingto
presentaunifiedaccountofthenatureofexistence,theygiveusnoanswertothequestion,Whatis
itthatGoddecidestogivetocreatureswhenhechoosesthem?Indeed,thedefinitionofcreaturely
existenceseemstoprecludeananswertothatquestion:iftheirexistencesimplyisbeingchosenby
God,thereisnothingleftforGod'schoicetobeadecisiontodo.Thisisadefect,indeed,ofallthe
definitionsofexistencewehavebeenconsidering,intheirapplicationtocreatures.Noneofthemis
consistentwithLeibniz'stheoryofcreation.

3.ExistenceIrreducible

Atthispoint,thehypothesisthatexistenceisindefinable,oratleastnotreductivelyanalyzableinto
simplerelements,mightbefoundappealing.Itwas,infact,arecurrenthypothesisinLeibniz's
thought,despitetheprofusionofdefi

170

nitionsofexistencethatheproduced.Aforcefulearlystatementofitisfoundinatextdated
September1677:

Being[esse]itselfseemstobeconceivedthroughitself.Forsupposeittobeconceived
throughotherthings,sayaandb;itseemsthataboutthesethingstooitcanbe
conceivedthattheyare,whichisabsurd.Existence[existentia]isthereforean
uncompoundedorunanalyzablenotion.(G1,271)24
Here,however,thehypothesisappearstobebasedontheconception,soontoberejected,ofbeing
orexistenceasanessenceorpartofanessence.Theargumentassumesthatifexistenceis
analyzableintootherterms"through"whichitisconceived,theywillbepartsofanessence,inthe
sensethattheywillsignifykindsofthingthatcanbeconceivedasexisting,introducingwhat
Leibnizregardsasaviciouscircularityintotheanalysisofexistence.Thisargumentforthe
indefinabilityofexistenceisthereforenotavailabletoLeibnizafterhehasdrawntheappropriate
conclusionfromthecircularityproblem,in1678.Andnosuchcircularityseemstoarisefroma
definitionofexistenceasenteringintothemostperfectpossibleaggregateofthings,sinceitdoes
nottreatexistentsasakindofthing.

ThisisnottheonlyargumentfortheirreducibilityofexistencethatdisappearsfromLeibniz's
thought.Thetreatmentofexistenceasaperfection,intextsof1676bearingontheontological
argument,impliesaviewofexistenceasaprimitive,unanalyzablequality,forwhichnoreal
definitioncanbegiven.Butwehaveseenthatthisviewoftherelationofexistencetoperfection
didnotsurviveLeibniz'sdiscussionswithEckhard;itcanbeseenin1704,butonlywiththe
qualification"asM.Descartesputsit"(NE437).

Nonetheless,westillfindtheindefinabilityofexistenceassertedinthefollowingtextfromthe
mid1680s25thistimewithoutanyargumentthatLeibnizwouldthereafterhavereasontoreject
indeed,withoutbeingbasedonanyargumentatall:

Existentcannotbedefined,anymorethanEntity[Ens]orthepurelypositivethatis,in
suchawaythatsomeclearernotionmightbeshowntous.Weshouldknow,however,
thateverypossiblewillexistifitcan;butsincenotallpossiblescanexist,assome
interferewithothers,thoseexistthataremoreperfect.Therefore,whateverismost
perfect,itiscertainlyestablishedthatitexists.Thereis,moreover,acertainmost
perfectBeing[Ensperfectissimum];thatis,thesupremelyperfectispossible,sinceitis
nothingotherthanthepurelypositive.(Gr325)

Itisinterestingthattheindefinabilityofexistenceisassertedhereinconjunctionwiththedoctrine
thatthemostperfectisassuredofexisting.Thismightrepresentaconsciousabandonmentofthe
attempttodefineexistenceintermsofthatdoctrine.Tobesure,Leibnizdeniesonlythatexistence
canbeanalyzedinsuchawayastoshowusaclearernotion,butthedefinitionofexistenceas

____________________
24
ThisbeginsadocumentofaboutoneprintedpageincludedbyGerhardt,butnotbytheAcademy
edition,inLeibniz'scorrespondencewithEckhard.Itlacksanyindicationofepistolaryform.
25
ItSwatermarkisattestedfrom1685;seeVE1251.Thetextispublishedmorecompletelyin
Schmidt47884thaninGr.
171

inclusioninthebestseriesofpossiblessurelywasanattempttogiveusaclearernotion.

IaminclinedtothinkthatifLeibnizhadanystablepositiononthesubject,thiscautionwithregard
todefinition,andacertainagnosticismaboutthedeepestnatureofexistence,musthavebeenan
importantpartofit.Iinterprettheindefinabilitythesisasdenyingonlythatexistenceisreducibleto
somethingmorefundamental,inwhichexistenceconsists.Itisconsistentwithsome,atleast,ofthe
definitionsofexistencethatoccurinhislaterpapers(andperhapsevensomeofthoseinhisearlier
papers),providedthatwhattheyareconstruedasattemptingtoidentifyisnotwhatexistence
consistsin,butonlyhowtorecognizeexistence,26orwhatdifferencebetweenexistingand
nonexistingthingsexplainstheexistenceofthosethatexist.27ThisconstrualofLeibniz'sintentin
offeringdefinitionsofexistenceissupportedbythecases(quotedinChapter9,section2)inwhich
heoffersdifferentdefinitionsforthelattertwopurposes(VE404f.,1086).

TheconclusionofthepassagequotedabovefromGr325remindsus,however,ofanattendant
problem.Insayingthat"thesupremelyperfectispossible,sinceitisnothingotherthanthepurely
positive,"Leibnizseemstobeoffering,inthebriefestpossibleform,theargumentforthe
possibilityofasupremelyperfectbeingthathehadshownSpinozasomeyearsearlier.The
questionsthenarise,Ishestillentitledtothisargument?Ifso,whatuseisheentitledtomakeofit?
Hisindefinabilitythesisgivesrisetothefollowingdifficulty.

Ifaproofofthepossibilityofanensperfectissimumistocompleteanontologicalargumentthat
beginswithaproofthatanecessaryGodiseitheractualorimpossible,itmustbeprovedthatthe
ensperfectissimumwouldbeanecessarybeing.By1678Leibnizseemstohavecome,rightly,to
theconclusionthatthiscannotbeprovedbycounting(necessary)existenceamongtheperfections
(inthesenseofhis1676arguments).Itcouldbeprovedbyareductivedefinitionofexistencein
termsofperfection,ifthatwereacceptable,butheappearsheretoabandonsuchadefinitionagain
rightly.Soagapmaybethoughttoremainintheargument.

Thepassagebeforeussuggestsasomewhatdifferentstrategyofargument,however.Itseemsto
containanargumentfortheexistenceofGod,foritsbriefargumentforthepossibilityofanens
perfectissimumimmediatelyfollowsthestatementthatitiscertainlyestablishedthatwhateveris
mostperfectexists.Thetheisticargumentthissuggestsismoremodestinitspretensionstopurely
formalrigorthanthoseof1676.Leibnizarticulatesherenologicaldoctrines,andnodefinitions,
thatwouldjustifyhispremises.Hedoesofferametaphysicaldoctrine,howeverthat"every
possiblewillexistifitcan"and"thoseexistthataremoreperfect."Theexistenceofapossible
beingcanbepreventedonlybyitsincompatibilitywithsomethingmoreperfect.Thisisnota
definition,anditappliesindifferentwaystoGodandcreatures.ButitdoesapplytoGod,onthe
viewthatLeibnizseemstoholdhere.Sinceanensperfectissimumcannotbeincompatiblewith
anythingmoreperfect,itmustexist,andwillthereforebea

____________________
26
ItishardtobelievethatmorethanthisisintendedbyLeibniz'sfairlynumerousdefinitionsof
existenceintermsofperceptibility,exceptperhapssomeoftheveryearliestofthem.Seep.169
andChapter9,section2,forcitationsandfullerdiscussion.
27
ThedefinitionofexistenceofferedatC360/P51(1686)canberegardedplausiblyenoughas
offeredonlyforthelastofthesepurposes.
172
necessarybeing,ifitisapossiblebeingatall.Thethesisofitspossibilitywillperhapsbe
supported,notonlybythelogicalargumentthat,aspurelypositive,itcontainsnoformal
contradictionbutalsobythemetaphysicalargumentthat,aspurelypositive,itcannotinterferewith
anythingofgreaterreality.28

ThismetaphysicalargumentseemsconsistentwithLeibniz'stheoryofcreation.Thusfar,however,
itisunsatisfyingatanotherimportantpoint:itdoesnotexplainwhythosepossiblethingsexistthat
aremoreperfect.Thereforeitalsofailstoexplainhow(necessary)existenceisinvolvedinthe
essenceofanensperfectissimum.Moreover,wemightsuspectthatLeibniz'sanswertotheformer
questionmustbeamereconjunctionofprinciplesaboutthenecessaryexistenceofthemostperfect
possiblebeing,ontheonehand,andthatbeing'schoiceofthebestpossibleworldofbeingsof
limitedperfection,ontheotherhand.Suchaconjunction,ifnotexactlyadhoc,offerstoolittle
insightintothenatureofexistence(orofanything)tohavemuchpersuasiveforceinthiscontext.
Themetaphysicalanalysismustbedeepenedifitistosatisfy.

Suchadeepeningmightbeginwiththeobservationthattheprincipleofessence'sdemandfor
existence,inthegeneralform'Eachessencewillbeexemplifiedunlessthereissomereasonthat
preventsitsexemplification',isacorollaryofaversionofthePrincipleofSufficientReason(PSR).
EvidencethatLeibnizunderstooditinthiswayisprovidedbyatext(GVII,194)inwhichthe
principle"Everypossibledemandstoexist"takestheplaceheusuallyassignstoPSRasthe
absolutelyfirstamongtruthsoffact.SincePSR,assuch,appliesequallytotheexistenceofGod
andoffinitethings,so,inageneralway,doestheprincipleofessence'sdemandforexistence.

FurtherdevelopmentofthelatterprincipleforGodandcreaturesbifurcates,however,atthe
question,Whatsortofreasoncanpreventexistence?Whatreasonscanpreventathing'sexistence
dependsonwhetherthething,ifitexisted,wouldexistthroughitselforthroughanexternalcause.
Ifitwouldexistthroughitself,itsexistencecanbepreventedonlybyinconsistencyinitsown
essence.Ifitwouldexist(ifatall)throughthecausalagencyofanotherbeing,itsexistencecanbe
preventedbyareasonthatwouldpreventthecausefromactingtocauseit.

TheseconsiderationscanberelatedtoLeibniz'sviewsabouttheperfectionofGodandofcreatures,
bywayofsomeofhisviewsaboutrequirements[requisita].Accordingtotheseviews,causal
dependenceandindependencearedeterminedbytheattributesinvolvedinathing'sessence.The
firstrequirementsofanythingaretheabsolutedegreesoftheattributesinvolvedinitsessence.The
lineofargumentIamdevelopingdependsonacceptingasnecessarytruthstwoprinciplesabout
requirementsandthecausationofexistence.

First,thebeingwhoseessencecontainstheabsolutedegreesofallattributeshasallitsrequirements
initself,thatis,initsessence.Suchabeingexists,ifatall,throughitself.Wehavealready(in
Chapter5,section2.3)seenevidencethatLeibnizheldthis,atleastin1676.Second,abeingthat
hasalimiteddegreeofanyattributeexists,ifatall,throughthecausalagencyofthebeingthathas
theabsolutedegreeofallattributes(orofallthatareinvolvedinitsessence,butI

____________________
28
ThemetaphysicaltypeofrationaleIhavepresentedinthisparagraphcouldalsobeusedtointerpret
thebriefversionoftheontologicalargumentin45oftheMonadology.
173
suspectLeibnizthoughtthatanemptyqualification).ThatLeibnizbelievedthisproposition,
inasmuchashebelievedthatGodhastheabsolutedegreeofallattributes,isclear.Toascribeitto
himasametaphysicalprincipleofdeepexplanatoryforceisamorespeculativeinterpretation,but
hecameclosetoassertingitassuchin1676,inequating"thatwhichisitsownreasonforexisting"
with"that,allofwhoserequirementsweconceivewithouttheconceptofanotherthing"(AVI,
iii,275=GI,131).Forhecertainlythoughtthattherequirementsofalimitedbeingcannotbe
conceivedwithouttheconceptofattributesthatbelongonlytoanunlimitedbeing.

Thesecondprincipleisnarrowerthantheprinciplethatherejectedin1678or1679inobjectingto
Spinozathatitis"false"that"thatwithoutwhichsomethingcannotbeconceivedisitscause"(G
I,147f./L203).InthistextLeibnizacceptstheimplicationfrom'AcausesB'to'TheconceptofB
involvestheconceptofA',butrejectstheconverseimplication.Thisisconsistentwithhis
maintainingthefollowing:'TheessenceofBinvolvesanabsoluteattributeAwhichisnotan
attributeofB'entails'TheexistenceofBdependscausallyontheexistenceofsomethingthatdoes
possessA.'ItisnoteworthythatwhatLeibnizisattackingisanargumentofSpinoza'sinsupportof
thepropositionthat"Godistheefficientcausenotonlyoftheexistences,butalsooftheessences
ofthings,"andthathiscounterexamplestotheinferencethatherejectsaredrawnfromrelations
betweenmathematicalobjects.Leibnizdoesnotnormallyspeakofessencesas"caused,"29andit
maybethatheisonlyresistingtheextensiontoessencesofaprinciplethatheacceptsasappliedto
existences.

Giventhattheessenceoftheensperfectissimum,asLeibnizunderstandsit,istheessencethat
containstheabsolutedegreesofallattributes,ithasallitsrequirementsinitselfandexists,ifatall,
throughitself.Itsexistencecouldbeprevented,therefore,onlybyaninconsistencyinitsessence.
Giventhat,asLeibnizbelieves,theessencecontainingtheabsolutedegreesofallattributesis
consistent,itfollowsthatnothingcanpreventtheexistenceofabeing(God,theens
perfectissimum)thathastheabsolutedegreesofallperfections;fromthatandfromPSRitfollows
thattheensperfectissimumexists.Ifallthepremisesofthisreasoningarenecessarytruths,thenthe
essenceoftheensperfectissimuminvolves(necessary)existence.Andthisindeedishowsuchan
essenceinvolves(necessary)existence,onthisinterpretationofLeibniz.

Finitebeings,ontheotherhand,wouldexist(ifatall)throughthecausalagencyoftheens
perfectissimum.Theirexistencethereforecanbepreventedbyareasonthatwouldpreventtheens
perfectissimumfromactingtocreatethem.GivenwhatLeibnizbelievesaboutthewaytheactionof
amostperfectbeingisgovernedbyreasons,itfollowsthattheexistenceofafinitebeingwhose
essenceisinternallyconsistentcanbepreventedonlybythepossibilityofamoreperfectseriesof
thingsthatexcludesit,whichiswhatwouldgiveGodareasontorefrainfromcreatingtheless
perfectseries.

Thusallessenceincorporatesatendencytoexist,andthetendencycanbe

____________________
29
LeibnizdoesspeakofGodinMon43as"thesource...ofessences,"andatGVII,305/L488as
"thesource[fons]ofeveryessence,"butinawaythatdoesnotdependontheparticularcontentof
theessences.Iwilldiscussthissubjectinthenextchapter.
174

saidtobeproportionedtotheperfectionoftheessence.Thisisbasedonageneralprinciplethat
appliesbothtoGodandtofinitebeings,thoughitappliestothemindifferentways.Thisreasoning
restsonseveralpotentiallycontroversialmetaphysicaltheses.Acomprehensiveassessmentof
themwouldoverstepbyfartheboundsofourhistoricalinquiry,butIthinkitwillbeappropriateto
considerbrieflythreeobjectionstothereasoning,asinterpretationandasargument.
1.
1.ItassumesthattherelevantversionofPSRisanecessarytruth,butitmaybedoubtedwhether
thatisconsistentwithLeibniz'streatmentofPSRasthefirstprincipleofcontingenttruths(G
VI,413;cf.T44,Mon3132,36).ItisdifficulttodetermineLeibniz'sviewsonthemodalstatusof
PSR,30butIdonotthinkheiscommittedtoitsbeingcontingentinanysensethatunderminesthe
argumentbeforeus.Inthesensethatmostconcernsushere,Godhasnecessaryexistenceifthe
divineexistencefollowsfromthedivineessence,withoutessentialreferencetotheessenceofany
otherthing;moreover,finitethingslacknecessaryexistenceinasmuchasthereasonoftheir
existencedoesinvolvetheessence(andexistence)ofanotherbeing(God).Theexistenceoffinite
thingsremainscontingentinthissenseevenifitisanecessarytruththattheremustbeareasonfor
theirexistenceornonexistence.

Thequestionwhetherthetruthsinvolvedcanbeprovedbyafiniteanalysisdoesnotenterintothis
systemofideas,asoriginallyworkedoutbyLeibniz,asIarguedattheendofsection1ofChapter
5.Butevenifnecessityisunderstoodintermsoffinitedemonstrability,thecontingencyoffinite
existencesisconsistentwiththenecessarytruthofPSRif,asLeibnizbelieved,31itisnotfinitely
demonstrablewhichfinitethingshavethestrongestreasonsfortheirexistence.WhetherLeibnizin
factthoughtthat'Godalwayschoosesthebest'(anobviousandcrucialcorollaryofPSR)isfinitely
demonstrable,andhencenecessary,isadifficultinterpretivequestion;Ihavearguedearlier
(Chapter1,section2.5)thatanaffirmativeanswerfitsbestwithLeibniz'sphilosophyasawhole.

ThereisalsoatextualconsiderationthatfavorsareadingofLeibnizassupposingthatPSRplaysa
partingroundingthenecessaryexistenceofGod.Leibnizclaims,earlyandlate,thattheproofof
theexistenceofGoddependsonPSR[Gr268(1679);NE179(170305);T44(1710)].Howcan
hehavebelievedthis?ForheneverceasedtobelievethattheexistenceofGodcanbeprovedbya
prioriargument,andthereforeneverbelievedthatacosmologicalargumentisrequiredtoproveit(
Mon3645).Thesepositionscanbereconciled,however,ifLeibnizthoughtthateventheapriori
proofsinvolvePSRasaprinciplerequiredtoaccountforthenecessityofthedivineexistence.

2.
2.ItisnoteworthythatthisaccountofthenecessityofGod'sexistencepresupposesaversionof
PSRthatrequiresareasonforthenonexistenceaswellasfortheexistenceofanything.32Indeed,
itmaybesaidtodemandareasonmorestringentlyfornonexistencethanforexistence,treating
existenceratherthannonexistenceas
____________________
30
Cf.Parkinson,LogicandRealityinLeibniz'sMetaphysics,pp.6269.
31
SeeChapter1,sections2.12.2.
32
Thusfar,Leibniz'sargumentisinagreementwithSpinoza,EthicsI,prop.11.Indeedmuchofthe
reasoningIamascribingtoLeibnizcanbefoundinSpinoza'sargumentthere,thoughLeibnizparts
companywithSpinozaemphaticallyintheroleheassignstoGod'swillandchoiceofthegoodin
thereasonwhichexplainstheexistenceofthosefinitethingsthatexist.
175

thedefaultstatus,sotospeak,foranypossiblething.Foritallowstheabsenceofasufficient
reasonfornonexistencetocountasasufficientreasonforexistence.Thisisacontroversial
featureofthetheory,asitiscommontodemandareasonmorestringentlyforexistencethanfor
nonexistenceandtoallowtheabsenceofasufficientreasonforexistencetocountasasufficient
reasonfornonexistence.33

Leibniz'sdefenseonthispointisbothclearandinteresting.Hearguesthatwemustsupposethat
abiasinfavorofexistenceisbuiltintothemostfundamentaltruthsofontology,forotherwise
nothingatallwouldexist,whichismanifestlycontrarytofact."Thisproposition,'Everypossible
demandstoexist',canbeprovedaposteriori,giventhatsomethingexists....Iftherewerenot
someinclinationtoexistenceintheverynatureofEssence,nothingwouldexist"(GVII,194;cf.
Gr16f.,GVII,303/L487).34Thisisnotasillyargument.Thefactthatsomethingexists,rather
thannothing,doesindeedseemtobeareasonforsuspectingthatthereisabiasforexistencein
themostbasicmetaphysicaltruths.

3.
3.Itmaybesuspectedthataviciouscirclelurksintheveryideaofabeingthatexists"through
itself,"orthroughitsownessence.Insuchanexplanationoftheexistenceofanecessarybeing,
isn'ttheexistenceofthebeingitself,oratleastofitsessence,alreadypresupposed?Anddoesn't
thatleaveeitheranunexplainedexistenceoraviciouscircleinexplanation?Hereitissignificant
thattheideathatessencesinvolvea"propensitytoexist"(Gr17)doesnotmeanthatessencesare
efficientcausesthatacttoproducetheexistenceofthething.Anefficientcausemustalready
haveafootholdinexistenceinordertoact.Butessencescanbeviewedasformalratherthan
efficientcauses(Gr269).Theyarenotefficientcausesofexistence.35Godistheefficientcause
oftheexistenceoffinitethings,andthepowertocausetheirexistenceisinGod.Theessencesof
finitethingsarereasonsthatinfluencethecreator'schoice.Eventhedivineessenceneednotbe
understoodasanefficientcauseofGod'sexistence.Itisareasonthatexcludesthepossibilityof
God'snonexistence.

Thisdoesnotdisposeoftheissueofcircularity,however,forLeibnizcertainlybelievedthat
essencesrequireafootholdinexistencewhichdependsonthedivineexistence.Itseemsthathe
explainsGod'sexistencebyGod'sessence,andheexplainstherealityofallessences,including
God's,asdependingonGod'sexistence.Thispresentsanappearanceofcircularitythatcannotbe
dismissedwithoutafullerdiscussionoftherelationoftheontologicalstatusofessencesand
theirrelationtoGodinLeibniz'sphilosophy.Thatrelationwillbethesubjectofthenextchapter.
____________________
33
Cf.Rowe,CosmologicalArgument,ch.2.RoweisuncertainofthetruthofPSR,butproposesas
themostdefensibleversiononethatdemandsareasononlyforexistences,arguingthatsome
suchlimitationisnecessarytoavoidsweepingnecessitarianimplicationsofasortthatgiverise
tomuchofthediscussioninChapter1above.
34
AtPNG7(1714),inthecourseofdevelopingacosmologicalargumentfortheexistenceof
God,Leibnizsaysthat"nothing[lerien]issimplerandeasierthansomething."Thismightseem
difficulttoreconcilewiththedoctrineofafundamentalmetaphysicalbiasinfavorofexistence.I
thinkitisprobablysomethingthatLeibnizshouldnothavesaid,butIdoubtthatitrepresentsan
intentionalabandonmentofthebiasforexistence,whichplayedapartinhisreasoningsovera
longperiodoftime.FormorediscussionofthisstatementinPNG7,seeChapter8,pp.21011.
35
Whereoperationratherthanexistenceistobeexplained,however,substantialforms,whichare
closekintoessences,andmayevenbeviewedasconcretizedessences,areefficientcausesfor
Leibniz;seeChapter3,section1,andChapter11,section1.1.
176

7TheRootofPossibility
1.TheProofoftheExistenceofGodfromtheRealityofEternalTruths

"Iftherewerenoeternalsubstance,"wroteLeibniz,"therewouldbenoeternaltruths;andfrom
thistooGODcanbeproved,whoistherootofpossibility,forhismindistheveryregionofideas
ortruths"(GVII,311/MP77).Similarly,intheMonadologyheclaimedtohaveprovedthe
existenceofGod"fromtherealityofeternaltruths"(Mon45).

Itistrue...thatinGodisnotonlythesourceofexistences,butalsothatofessences,
insofarastheyarereal,orofwhatisrealinpossibility.That'sbecausethe
UnderstandingofGodistheregionofeternaltruths,oroftheideasonwhichthey
depend,andbecausewithouthimtherewouldbenothingrealinthepossibilities,and
notonlynothingexisting,butalsonothingpossible.

ForifthereisarealityintheEssencesorpossibilities,orindeedintheeternaltruths,
thatrealitymustbefoundedinsomethingexistingandActual;andconsequentlyinthe
ExistenceofthenecessaryBeing,inwhichEssenceincludesExistence,orinwhich
beingpossibleissufficientforbeingActual.(Mon4344)

ToJohnBernoulli,inMay1699,Leibnizwrotethatthepropositions,"Godexists[est]"and"Two
contradictoriescannotbetrueatonce"canbeheldto"coincide,"onthegroundthat"theDivine
essenceis,sotospeak,theregionofeternaltruths,sothatitisthroughtheexistenceofGodthat
truthsaboutnonexistentpossiblesaremadereal,andtheywouldotherwiselackasubjectand
support"(GMIII,586).

Thisargumentdeservesattentioninitsownright.Itismorepersuasive,Ithink,thananyof
Leibniz's(oranyoneelse's)versionsoftheontologicalargument,thoughinimportantwaysless
1formajorpartsofLeibniz'stheoryoftheontologyoflogic.
complete.Itisalsothemaincontext

AccordingtoLeibniz,theobjectsoflogicexistinthemindofGod.Amongtheseobjectsare
2andessencesorideas.Theyare
mentionedpossibilitiesorpossibles,necessaryor"eternal"truths,
stratified.TheessencesareforLeibniz

____________________
1
Nottheonlycontext,however.ThetheoryappearswithoutthisargumentinT184,forinstance,
andinthecontextofadifferent,morecosmologicalargumentfortheismatGVII,305/L488.
2
"TheEternalTruths...areabsolutelynecessary,sothattheoppositeimpliesacontradiction"(T
pd2).
177

themostfundamentalobjectsoflogic.Possibilitiesdependonessences,asdiscussedinChapter5,
andtheeternaltruthsaresaidtodependon"ideas"(Mon43),bywhichIbelieveessencesare
meant.TheessencescanbeidentifiedwithideasinGod'smind,ideasofpossibleindividuals,
whichconstitutethepossibilityofsuchindividuals,andwhichareconcatenatedtoconstitutethe
ideas,andthepossibility,ofpossibleworlds.Andthenecessarytruthsexpress,orfollowfrom,
factsabouttheessencesandtheirrelations.

Analysisoftheargumentmaybeginwithathesisclearlypresupposed,butnotfullyarticulated,by
Leibnizinthetextsquotedabovethatwhateveristrue(orpossible),theremustbesomethingby
virtueofwhichitistrue(orpossible).ThisisimpliedbyLeibniz'sclaimthatwithouttheexistence
ofGod'smindforthepossibilitiestoexistin,therewouldbenothingpossible(Mon43).Inanother
contextheflatlyassertsasimilarthesisabouttruth:"Nowitissurethateverytruepredicationhas
somefoundationinthenatureofthings"(DM8).Andwithregardto"therealityofeternalTruths"
hesays,"Everyrealitymustbegroundedinsomethingexistent"(T184;cf.Gr392f.).Thesetheses
havegreatintuitiveappeal,andarebynomeanspeculiarlyLeibnizian.MichaelDummetthas
stated,"Itiscertainlypartofthemeaningoftheword'true'thatifastatementistrue,theremustbe
somethingbyvirtueofwhichitistrue."3SomemaybelesscertainthanDummettthatthisispart
ofthemeaningof'true';butitisattheveryleastaphilosophicallyrespectablepremise.

Whatistherebyvirtueofwhichthetruthsoflogic(andmathematics)aretrue?Modernthoughton
thissubjecthasfocusedmainlyontwoanswers.Accordingto"Platonism," 4asitiscalled,the
necessarytruthsthemselves,ortheessences,propositions,numbers,orwhateversortof"abstract
object"itmaybethattheydependon,exist,orperhaps"subsist,"independentlyofanyothersortof
realityindependently,inparticular,ofbeingeitherexemplifiedorthoughtof.Theprincipal
alternativetoPlatonismhasbeen"anthropological,"asIshallcallit,holdingthatthetruthsoflogic
andmathematicsaretrueinvirtueofsomefeatureofhumanthought,whichmightbeideasinour
minds,ourintentionsregardingouruseoflanguage,orproofswehaveactuallyconstructed.

LeibnizrejectedbothPlatonisticandanthropologicaltheoriesintheontologyoflogic,andhewas
consciousofthisrejectionaspartofthegroundsofhisargumentfortheexistenceofGodfromthe
realityofeternaltruths.Thisisclearerfromapairofearlynotes,onecertainlyandbothprobably
fromAugustof1677,andcompletelyunpublisheduntilrecently(VE6567=LHIV,5,3,34),than
fromthelaterandsketchierformulationsoftheargumentwhicharebetterknown.

Thenotesseemtobecloselyconnectedwiththe"Dialogue"ofAugust1677,inwhichLeibniz
attackswhatIamcallingananthropologicaltheory,atypeofconventionalismthatheascribesto
Hobbes,accordingtowhichtruthsoflogicandmathematicsarearbitrarybecause"definitions
dependonourdecision"(GVII,191/L183).Leibnizgrantsthatitisarbitraryorconventionalwhat
soundsorsignsweuseinwhatsenses,buthearguesthattruthsoflogicandmathematicsdepend
onsomethingelse,somethingmore"permanent[perpetuum],"and

____________________
3
Dummett,"Wittgenstein'sPhilosophyofMathematics,"p.335.
4
Whatissaidabout"Platonism"hereisnotmeantasaninterpretationofthehistoricalPlato,though
IalsodonotmeantoexcludehimfromtheclassofPlatonists.
178

independentofourwills,whichappearstocorrespondtowhatwewouldcalllogicalform(G
VII,192f./L184f.).

Tosaythatlogicalform,andtruthsgroundedinit,areindependentofourwills,isnotyettosay
thattheyareindependentofusineveryway.ThismoresweepingpointLeibnizattemptedto
establishinoneofthenotestowhichIhavereferred.

Itistrue,andevennecessary,thatthecircleisthelargestofisoperimetricfigures.Even
ifnocirclereallyexisted.LikewiseevenifneitherInoryounoranyoneelseofus
existed.Indeedevenifnoneofthosethingsexistedwhicharecontingent,orinwhich
nonecessityisunderstood,suchasthevisibleworldandothersimilar[things].Since,
therefore,thistruthdoesnotdependonourthought,theremustbesomethingrealinit.
Andsincethattruthiseternalornecessary,thisrealitytoothatisinitindependentof
ourthoughtwillbefrometernity.(VE65)

Ithinkthelastofthesestatementscontainsthemainpremiseofthisargument.Sincethetruths
underconsiderationareeternal,inthesenseofbeingnecessary,whatevertherealityisinwhich
theyaregroundedmustbeeternalandnecessarytoo.Thewholeargumentproceedsonthe
assumptionthatthereareindeednecessarytruths,truthsthatwouldbetruthsnomatterwhat.And
sinceitissurelyfalsethatIoryouoranyoneelseofushumanswouldexistnomatterwhat,it
followsthattherewouldbethenecessarytruthsevenifwedidnotexist,andthatwhateverreality
groundsthemcouldbewithoutusfromwhichinturnitfollowsthattheydonotdependonour
thought.

Leibnizassumesherethatsince,trivially,thenonexistenceofeachcontingentthing,considered
singly,ispossible,thereforeastateofaffairsispossibleinwhich"noneofthosethings[would
exist]whicharecontingent."Thisinferenceisnottrivial,andweshallreturntoitlater.Forthe
present,however,thepossibilityofastateofaffairsinwhichnohumanbeingsatallwouldexist
mayreadilybegrantedtoLeibniz,andthatsufficesfortherejectionofanthropologicaltheoriesin
theontologyoflogic,ifweassumewithLeibnizthattherewouldbenecessarytruths,and
somethinggroundingthem,nomatterwhat.

HereLeibnizmakesarelatedpointthatthebeingofthenecessarytruthscannotdependonthe
existenceofthingsinstantiatingorexemplifyingtheessencesinwhichtheyaregrounded,forthere
wouldbenecessarytruthsaboutcircles,forexample,"evenifnocirclereallyexisted."Leibniz
obviouslyintendsBernoulli,in1699,tomakeasimilarinferencefromtheassumptionthatthe
eternaltruthsinclude"truthsaboutnonexistentpossibles"(GMIII,586).

APlatonistontologyoflogicseemsnomoreacceptabletoLeibniz.Theobjectsoflogic,inhis
opinion,arenotthesortofthingthatcouldsubsistofthemselves."Theobjectiverealitiesof
5thought,therewouldstill
thinkablenaturesandtruths...arenotsubstances"(VE66)."Ifnoone
existtheimpossibilityofasquare

____________________
5
Inthecontext,"noone[nemol"cannotbeintendedtoexcludeGod,butonlyhuman,oratmost
finite,thinkers.ThisissoclearinthistextthatwhenLeibnizwrites,lessthansixmonthslater,ina
documentofJanuary1678,that"evenifnoonethoughtaboutthem,...itwouldstillremaintrue
intheregionofideasortruths"thattheobjectsoflogic"actuallyexist,"Ithinkweshouldassume
heisnotexcludingdependenceonGod'sthought,butonlyrestatingtheclaimhe
179

largerthananisoperimetriccircle.Andsinceitisonlyamode,theremustbesomethingthatisits
subject"(VE67).Animpossibilityis"onlyamode."Likewise"naturesandtruthsaremodes"(
VE67).(Intheseearlynotes"natures"seemtoplaythepartofessences.)Wemaywonderwhether
"mode"isreallytherightcategoryhere,andweshouldnotassumethatLeibnizwouldhave
adheredtoitinthiscontextthroughouthiscareer.Thebasicideaisthatimpossibilities,truths,
naturesoressences,andotherobjectsoflogicareabstractobjectsintheoriginalsense;thatis,they
canbeconceivedonlybyabstractionfromaricher,morecompletebeingor"subject."The
connectionoftheideaofabstractionwiththatofmodesisexplicitinLeibniz'sprefaceforthe
reprinting,in1670,ofabookbyMariusNizolius:"Forconcrete[objects]aretrulythings[res];
abstract[objects]arenotthings,butmodesofthings."Leibnizgoesontoamplifyhisconceptionof
modesinawaythatmakesitlesssurprisingthathewouldtreatabstractobjectsingeneralasmodes
ofa(divine)mind:"mostmodes,however,arenothingbutrelationsofathingtotheintellect,or
capacities[facultates]forappearing"(AVI,ii,417/L126).

TheassumptionsgroundingLeibniz'srejectionofanthropologicalandPlatonistontologiesoflogic
areintuitivelyappealing,Ithink,onbothsides.Onemightbereluctanttoletoneselffeelthe
strengthofbothsetsofintuitionsatonceifonecouldseenootheralternativeontologyoflogic.
Leibnizhasanalternativeinstore,however,atheisticmodificationofPlatonism,sponsoredin
antiquitybyPhiloandAugustine,andgenerallyacceptedintheMiddleAges. 6Onthisview,the
realityinwhichnecessarytruths,andmoregenerallythebeingoftheobjectsoflogicand
mathematics,aregroundedistheensembleofideasinthemindofGod.Theseideastakeupin
manywaystheroleoftheselfsubsistentIdeasofPlato'smiddledialogues.Theyexistnecessarily,
sinceGod'shavingandunderstandingthemfollowsfromthedivineessence,buttheycanbe
regardedbyLeibnizasmodesofthedivinebeing.Inthiswaytheimplausibilitiesofboth
anthropologicalandPlatonistontologiesoflogiccanbeavoided.Itseemstobeatheoretical
advantageoftheismthatitmakesthispossible,andLeibniz'sprooffromtherealityofeternaltruths
isanattempttoexploitthisadvantage.

Atheoreticaladvantageofanyviewisofcourseareasoninitsfavor,buttherejectionof
anthropologicalandPlatonisttheories,evencombinedwiththeassumptionthattruthsoflogicand
mathematicsmusthavesomegroundinreality,fallsfarshortofaproofoftheism.Ifitisconcluded
thattheremusteternallyandnecessarilyexistthoughtsofsomenonhumansortgroundingthe
truthsinquestion,thisisamomentousconclusionformetaphysics,butitdoesnotamounttothe
existenceofGod.Foronething,itisrelevantatmosttoGod'sintellectualattributes.Nothinginthe
argumentfromtherealityofeternaltruthsimpliestheexistenceofanomnipotentorperfectlygood
being,forexample.In

____________________
5
hasmadeinthepreviousclause,that"[e]ssences,truths,ortheobjectiverealitiesofconceptsdonot
depend...onourthought"(AII,i,391f.,italicsadded),eventhoughinthetextfromJanuary1678
thereisnoexplicitidentificationof"theregionofideasortruths"withthedivinemind.
6
0nthemedievalbackgroundofthisaspectofLeibniz'sthought,seeGrua,Jurisprudence,pp.
26267.
180

thiswayitislesscompletethantheontologicalargument,which,ifitweresuccessful,would
establishtheexistenceofabeingperfectineveryway.

Still,iftheargumentcouldestablishthenecessaryexistenceofaconceptuallyomniscientbeing,a
beingthateternallyunderstandsallessences,possibilities,andnecessarytruths,thatwouldbea
substantialachievementforphilosophicaltheology,aswellasformetaphysicsingeneral.Buteven
thisrequiresmoreargumentthanwehaveexploredpreviously.Atmostwehavethusfarbeen
givenreasontobelievethattheremustnecessarilyexistthoughtssufficienttogroundallthose
objects.Afurtherinferenceisrequiredtoconcludethatthoughtsofallofthemmustnecessarily
existinasinglemind.Ockham'srazormightfavorasingleomniscientnecessarybeing,as
ontologicallymoreparsimoniousthanapluralityofknowerssufficienttokeeptheobjectsoflogic
inbeing,butamorerigorousargumentwouldbedesirable.

Leibnizattemptstoprovidesuchanargumentinthetwonotesfrom1677;Iknowofnoothertext
inwhichheeventakesnoteoftheneedforit.Hisargumentof1677isbasedontheinterrelations
ofnecessarytruthsandotherobjectsoflogic.

Apluralityoftruthsjoinedwitheachotherproducenewtruths.Andthereisnotruth
whichdoesnotproduceanewtruthwhenunitedwithanyothertruthwhatever.
Thereforewhateverinanytruthexistsfrometernitywithrespecttotheobject[aparte
rei]isunitedwithanyothertruthwhatever.Andthisismuchmoremanifestfromthe
factthatonenaturejoins[concurrit]inconstitutinganothernature.Naturesandtruths
aremodes.Thecausewhyanecessarypropositionistruewhennooneisthinkingmust
beinsomesubjectwithrespecttotheobject[aparterei].Thecausewhytheabove
mentionedpropositionaboutthecircleandthesquareistrueisnotinthenatureofthe
circlealonenorinthenatureofthesquarealone,butalsoinothernaturesthatenterinto
itforinstance,oftheequalandoftheperimeter.Theproximatecauseofonethingis
single.Anditscausemustbeinsome[thing][inaliqua].Therefore[itmustbe]inthat
inwhichthenatureofthecircle,thesquare,andtheothersis;thatis,inthesubjectof
ideas,orGod.(VE67)

Takeanyplurality,P,of(necessary)truthsornatures,wemaysay,toparaphraseLeibniz's
argument.Somefurthernecessarytruth,T,willbebasedonarelation,R,amongallthemembersof
P,on"somerealconnectionamongthemselves"that"alltherealitiesintheeternalTruths"have(
VE66).Asanecessarytruth,Twouldbeatruthnomatterwhat.Thecrucialquestionforthe
argumentiswhatmustexist,eternallyandnecessarily,inordertosustainTinbeing.

TheultimategroundsofT,inLeibniz'sview,arethenaturesoressencesinvolvedinit.Theycould
exist,individually,eachasanideainthemindofadifferentintelligentbeing.ButLeibnizargues
thatthatwouldnotbeenoughtosustainTinbeing.Asasinglething,Tmusthaveasingle
proximatecauseor(asitmightbebettertosayinthiscontext)reasonorground.Theproximate
groundofTisR.

LeibnizclaimsthatinordertosustainTinbeing,"its[proximate]causemustbeinsome"thing;
andhemeans,insomeonething.Whatjustifiesthisassumption?Sincethe"cause"inquestionis
R,arelationnecessarilyobtainingamongthemembersofP,wemightthinkthattheexistenceofall
themembersofP,eachinadifferentmind,wouldbeenoughtosustainR,andhencealsoT,in

181

being.Leibniz'sreasonsforthinkingthatwouldnotbeenougharetobesoughtinhisviewsabout
relations.Itisapersistentthemeinhisphilosophythatrelationsassuch,atleastinsofarasthey
involvemorethanonesubstance,arementalentities,havingtheirbeingonlyasobjectsofthought
7Arelationhasfoundationsinitsrelata,theitemsthatitrelates;butwithoutamind
orperception.
thatrelatestherelata,orregardsthemasrelated,therelationitselfdoesnotexist.Soifallthe
membersofPexistindifferentminds,butthereisnoonemindthatperceivesorunderstandsthe
relationRamongthem,thenfoundationsofRexistbutRitselfdoesnot.

WemightbetemptedtoexpressthisviewbysayingthatinsuchacasethemembersofP,intheir
isolatedexistence,aresuchthatifsomeonemindunderstoodthemalladequately,thentherewould
betherelationRamongthem.ButLeibnizcannotaccepteventhis.Forthetruthofsucha
counterfactualconditionalaboutthemembersofPwouldbearelationamongthem;infact,it
wouldbeequivalenttoR.Andsotherecanbenosuchtruthifthereisnomindwithenough
understandingtosustainRinbeing.Understoodinthisway,asitmustbetosupportthetheistic
argument,Leibniz'sthesisoftheidealityofrelationsisveryradical,anditisdoubtlessapointat
whichsomephilosopherswillobjecttotheargument.

AccordingtoLeibniz'sargument,foranyplurality,P,of(necessary)truthsornatures,there
necessarilyexistsanecessarytruth,T,groundedinarelation,R,amongallthemembersofP;in
ordertosustainTinbeingtheremusteternallyandnecessarilyexistatleastonemindthat
understandsR.ButamindthatunderstandsRmustbeonethatunderstandsthemembersofP,a
mind"inwhich[theideaof]thenatureofthecircle,thesquare,andtheothersis,"ifthosearethe
naturesinwhichTisgrounded;understandingallthat,itwillpresumablybeamindthat
understandsTitself.Theconclusionofthisargumentisthatforanyplurality,P,of(necessary)
truthsornatures,thereeternallyandnecessarilyexistsatleastonemindthatunderstandsallthe
membersofP.

ThismayhelpexplainwhyLeibnizdoesnotofferthetypeofargumentthatKantfavoredinhis
early(1763)treatiseonTheOnlyPossibleGroundofProofforaDemonstrationoftheExistence
8andstillviewedwithsomefavorinhis"criticalperiod."ItisanargumentthatGod's
ofGod,
existenceisrequiredtoaccountfortheontologicalstatusofpossibilities,butitisbasedonGod's
exemplifyingallperfectionsratherthanonGod'sunderstandingallpossibilities.Itdependsonthe
ideathat"allthingsaspartlyreal,partlynegative,presupposeabeingthatcontainsallrealitiesin
9It
itself,andthatmusthaveconstitutedthesethingsthroughthelimitationoftheserealities."
shouldbeclearfromChapter4

____________________
7
Thistheme,asappliedtorelationsofunityamongparts,playsanimportantpartinLeibniz's
argumentthatbodies,asaggregates,aremerelyphenomenal(seeChapter9,section3.2).Ibelieve
thethemeisalreadypresentinthatargumentin1687(LA100f.;cf.thelater,moreexplicitNE
145f.).Thatrelationsarebeingsofreason,orideal,ordependontheunderstanding,isfrequently
statedinLeibniz'sworksfromafter1700(NE145,227,265;GII,438,486,517/AG199,203,L609;
LCV,47).Andasearlyas1676hecalledrelations"imaginaryideas"(AVI,iii,399).Cf.Mates,
PhilosophyofLeibniz,ch.12.
8
AkII,64163;theargumentitselfisfoundinpp.7792.
9
AkXXVIII,1033f.,translatedinKant,LecturesonPhilosophicalTheology,p.66.Thistext,which
ascribesrealthoughlimitedvaluetotheargument,notsufficingtoestablishthe"objective
182

ter4thatLeibnizhadinhisphilosophythematerialforsuchanargument;whydidn'theuseit?
Onepossiblereasonisthatbecauseofhisviewsaboutrelations,Leibnizthoughtthatitisnot
enoughfortheontologicalgroundofpossibilitiesandnecessarytruthstocontainthematerialsfor
theirconstruction;itmustalsocontainsomecorrelateofthelimitationsandotherrelationsby
whichtheyareconstructedfromthosematerials,andthelattercanbefoundinthecontentsof
God'sunderstanding,butnotinGod'sattributesassuch.

Onestepremainstotheconclusionthatthereeternallyandnecessarilyexistsaconceptually
omniscientmind.Itdependsontheassumptionthatthetotalityofessences,possibilities,and
necessarytruthsconstitutesthesortofpluralityIhavediscussed,thatmusthaveanecessarytruth
groundedinarelationamongallitsmembers.Thisisnotatrivialassumption.Leibnizseemsto
relyonitwithoutargument,thoughheknewwellenough(iflesswellthantwentiethcentury
logicians)thatparadoxcanlurkininfinitizingormaximizingassumptions(see,e.g.,GIV,424/
L293).The"classical"intuitionsaboutlogicandmathematicsthatimpelLeibniztoreject
anthropologicaltheoriesprovidesomesupportfortheviewthattherearenecessarytruthsthat
dependonnothinglessthanthetotalityofallessencesandpossibilities,andperhapsonall
necessarytruthsotherthanthemselves.Butifthisviewistoofraughtwithrisksofparadox,one
whosharedLeibniz'sotherpremisesmightseektoavoidparadoxbystratifyingtheobjectsoflogic
into"logicaltypes"andmightmaintainthatforeachlogicaltypethereisanecessarytruth(ofthe
nexthighertype)groundedinalltheessences,possibilities,andnecessarytruthsofthattypeand
lowertypesandhencethatthereeternallyandnecessarilyexistsatleastoneintelligentbeingthat
isconceptuallyomniscientwithrespecttothattypeandlowertypes.ThustheLeibniziancould
haveaproofofthenecessaryexistenceofconceptualomniscienceuptoashighalogicaltypeas
youplease.

TheconclusionofLeibniz'sargumenttothispointisthatitisnecessarythatthereexistsatleastone
beingthatisomniscientwithrespecttoavastrealmofpossibilities,necessities,andessences.
Wouldthisbeanecessarybeing?Itmustbe,ifLeibnizwascorrectinassuming,asheseemsto
havedone,atleastin1677,10thatifeachpossiblebeingofacertaintypeiscontingent,itmustbe
possiblefornoneofthemtoexist.Butthisisnotobviouslycorrect.Whycouldn'titbenecessary
thatthereissomeconceptuallyomniscientbeing(forreasonsindicatedintheprooffromthereality
ofeternaltruths),butcontingentwhichsuchbeingexists?SomemaydoubtthatLeibnizhas
adequatereasonforrejectingthishypothesis,butitisnotlikelytoappealtoanyoneascommitted
ashewastothePrincipleofSufficientReason:itishardtoseewhatthesufficientreasonwouldbe
thatwoulddeterminewhichofthoseindividuallycontingentbeingswouldexist,ifthereisnotone
ofthemthatnecessarilyexistswiththepowertodecidewhichcontingentbeingsshallexist.

____________________
necessity"ofGod'sexistence,butonly"thesubjectivenecessityofsupposingit,"represents
lecturesgivenafterthefirsteditionoftheCritiqueofPureReason.
10
SeethediscussionofVE65,p.179inthischapter.
183

2.Leibniz'sThcoryExamined

HavingexaminedLeibniz'sprincipallineofargumentforit,wemayfurtherexplorehistheological
theoryoftheontologyoflogicbyconsideringthreeobjectionstoit,beginningwiththechargeof
circularitythatImentionedattheendofChapter6.11

2.1CircularityorSelfExistence?
ThechargemaybedirectedatLeibniz'saccountoftherealityofessences.ThethesisthatGod's
existenceisnecessaryplaysaprominentpartinLeibniz'saccountoftheontologyoflogic.Leibniz
understandsnecessaryexistenceintermsofabeing'sexistencefollowingfromitsessence,aswe
haveseeninChapters5and6.ButifLeibnizholdsthattherealityofallessences,presumably
includingthedivineessence,dependsontheexistenceofGod,whilealsoexplainingGod's
existenceasgroundedinthedivineessence,ishenotinvolvedinaviciouscircle?

Alternatively,thechargemaybedirectedatLeibniz'saccountoftherealityofeternaltruths,asit
wasbyBertrandRussell:

Moreover,God'sexistenceisdeducedfromtheLawofContradiction,towhichitis
thereforesubsequent....Again,withoutthelawofidentityorcontradiction,asLeibniz
trulysays(GV,14),therewouldbenodifferencebetweentruthandfalsehood.
Therefore,withoutthislaw,'itcouldnotbetrue,ratherthanfalse,thatGodexists.
Hence,thoughGod'sexistencemaydependuponthelawofcontradiction,thislaw
cannotinturndependuponGod'sexistence.12

AnattemptmightevenbemadetoenlistLeibnizhimselfinsupportofthisobjection.Hepresseda
similarchargeofcircularityagainsttheCartesiandoctrinethatnecessarytruthsdependonGod's
will:"Forthusthenecessityofthedivineexistenceandthenecessityofthedivinewillthemselves
willdependonthedivinewill;andthussomethingwillbebothpriorandposteriorinnatureto
itself"(AII,i,351=GI,253).LeibnizseesDescartesasinvolvedinaviciouscirclethataffects
God'sunderstandingaswellasGod'swill:"ForifthetruthitselfdependsonlyonthewillofGod
andnotonthenatureofthings,andastheunderstandingisnecessarilypriortothewill(Ispeakof
natural,nottemporal,priority),God'sunderstandingwillbepriortothetruthofthingsand
consequentlywillnothavethetruthasitsobject"(AII,i,507=GIV,285).CanLeibnizescape
circularityinhisowntheorywithoutrenouncingeitherhistheologicalontologyoflogicorthe
necessityofGod'sexistence?

AfirstpointtobemadeinLeibniz'sdefenseisthathenormallyseeksorpostulatesareason,rather
thananefficientcause,forthedivineexistence.In1677hewrote,"If[something]isthroughitself
[perse],thenitsreasonofexistingistakenfromitsownnature....Butifsomethingisthrough
somethingelse,thenithasareasonofexistingoutsideitself;thatis,ithasacause"(VE302=

____________________
11
ImportantdiscussionsofLeibniz'sviewsontheontologyoflogic,includingaspectsofhisviews
thatIwillnottreathere,arefoundinMates,PhilosophyofLeibniz,ch.10;Mondadori,
"Nominalisms";andMugnai,"Leibniz'sNominalism."
12
Russell,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.180.
184

LHIV,4,3C,1214),whichseemstodenyacausetoanythingthatexistsperse.Leibnizdoesnot
usuallyevenspeakofGodascausasui[selfcaused],exceptwhendiscussingSpinoza.13Thisisan
importantdifferencebetweenLeibniz'sownpositionandCartesianvoluntarism,asItakehimto
haveunderstooditin1677.Forthewillseemstobeanefficientcause,andonethatpresupposes
alternativesinsomesensepossible.14Thereisaviciouscircleintheideaofsuchacausepushing
itselfintoexistence.ButwearenottotakeLeibnizasthinkingofthedivineessencepushingitself,
orGod,intoexistence.Norissuchapushneeded,foramainpointofLeibniz'sdoctrineisthat
thereisnot,andcannotbe,anystateofaffairsinwhichGoddoesnotexist.Thereisnoproblemof
gettingfromdivinenonexistencetodivineexistence,forthereisnopossibledivinenonexistenceto
beastartingpointforanytransition.Theonlypossibleproblemforexplanationhereiswhatreason
therecanbewhythedivineexistenceisnecessary.

AllofthekeythesesinthispartofLeibniz'sphilosophy,indeed,areassertedasnecessarytruths.
ThatGodexists;thatGod'sessenceexists;foreachessence,thatitexists;foreachoftheeternal
truths(includingtheprincipleofcontradiction),thatitistrue;foreachoftheessencesandeternal
truths,thatGodunderstandsit;thattherealityoftheessencesandeternaltruthsconsistsinGod's
understandingthemallarenecessarytruthsaccordingtoLeibniz.Whateverrelationsof
explanationandmetaphysicaldependenceLeibnizsupposestoobtainamongthesetheses,he
cannotconsistentlysupposethatanyofthemisindependentofanyoftheothersinthesensethat
thereisapossibilityofitsobtainingwithoutthem,forhedoesnotbelievethatthereisany
possibilityofanyofthemnotobtaining.Allnecessarytruthsareinthiswayinseparablefromeach
other.

WemustbecarefulthereforenottofoistonLeibnizclaimsofprioritytowhichheisnot
committed.HisargumentfortheismfromtherealityofeternaltruthsdoesnotimplythatGod's
understandingisnaturallypriortothenecessarytruths.Itdoesimplythatthetruthscouldnotexist
withoutbeingunderstoodbyGod,andthatissupposedtoexplainwhatsortofbeingthetruths
have.ButitisequallypartofLeibniz'sviewthatGodcouldnotexistwithoutunderstandingexactly
thosenecessarytruths.Neithercouldexistwithouttheother.Theyaretwosidesofasinglefact.

Godexiststhroughhimself[perse],accordingtoLeibniz.Alternatively,Godexiststhroughhis
essence;butLeibnizaffirmsthetraditionalthesisthat"InGodexistencedoesnotdifferfrom
Essence"(Gr302/AG28;cf.Gr354).Eitherway,God'sexistenceispresentedasselfexplanatory.
TheexistenceofGod,thereal

____________________
13
SeeGrua,Jurisprudence,p.244.Grua'spointispresumablythatincriticizingSpinozafordefining
causasuias"thatwhoseessenceinvolvesexistence"(B104&GI,147,citedbyGrua,loc.cit.),
Leibnizimpliesthatanessenceinvolvingexistenceisnottobeunderstoodasacauseintheusual
sense.Thetextsdonotseemtometoimplythatmuch,forinbothLeibnizsaysratherthatSpinoza
needstoprovethatcausasuisodefinedhastheusualcausalimplications.Thetextsdoatleast
imply,however,thatLeibnizdidnotthinktheideaofathing'sexistencebeingexplainedbyits
ownessencecanonlybeunderstoodintermsthatareintheordinarysensecausal.
14
ThatitpresupposesthisseemstobeimpliedbyLeibnizin1677;ontheCartesianview,sincethe
natureofjusticedependsonthedivinewill,"therewillbeabletobeaworldinwhichthepiousare
damned,theimpioussaved"(AII,i,352=GI,254).By1710Leibnizhadnotchangedhisown
opinion,butwaspreparedtoentertainanalternativeinterpretationofDescartes'svoluntarism(
T186),whichisdiscussedlaterinsection2.3.
185
ityofthedivineessence,andofallotheressencesascontainedinit,andthetruthofallnecessary
truthsasgroundedtherein,forminasenseasingleindissolublemetaphysicalreality,thefirstofall
realities.Thereisnogettingbeyondittoanythingmetaphysicallydeeper.Itmustthereforehavethe
reasonofitsexistencewithinitself,inaccordancewithLeibniz'sversionofthePrincipleof
SufficientReason.Thestandpointfromwhichsuchareasoncanbegivencanonlybeoneinwhich
theexistenceratherthanthenonexistenceofthisfirst,divinerealityisthedefaultvalue,soto
speakjustaswecanintelligiblyspeculateabouttheontologicalstatusofthePrincipleof
Contradictiononlyfromastandpointinwhichthetruthratherthanthefalsityofthatprincipleisthe
defaultvalue.

AreasongivenfromthisstandpointshouldnotbeseenasspecifyingsomethingthatmakesGod
exist.Itismorenaturallyunderstoodasexplainingwhythereisnoalternativepossibilitytobe
opposedtothedivineexistence.Oneapproachtothistakesupanideacentraltothetraditionofthe
ontologicalargument:thatthedivineexistenceistoogoodtobefalsethatGodissoperfectthat
Godcannotfailtoexist.Itfocuses,however,ontheconverse:thatasupposedstateofaffairsin
whichGoddoesnotexististoodefective,metaphysically,tobepossible.Whatwouldbethe
defectsofsuchastateofaffairs?Ananswertothisquestionsuggestedbytheprooffromthereality
ofeternaltruthsisthatasupposedstateofaffairsinwhichGodwouldnotexistwouldnothavethe
necessarystructureofanystateofaffairs,inasmuchastherewouldbeinitnonecessarytruths
(indeedinacertainsensenotruthsatall),becausetherewouldbeinitnoideas,possibles,
essences,orrelationsamongthem.

Despitethemetaphysicalinseparabilityofallnecessarytruthsfromoneanother,itremainsthatin
ourreasoningswederivesomenecessarytruthsfromothersandexplainsomefeaturesofthe
systemofnecessarytruthsintermsofotherfeaturesofit.Leibnizisclearlyengagedinsuchan
enterprisewithregardtotheessenceandexistenceofGod.Butitisimportantthatwecan
distinguishheretwoquitedifferentquestions:WhydoesGodexist?WhatkindofbeingdoesGod's
essencehave?Thefirstquestiongets(inLeibniz'sview)ananswerintermsofthe(characterof)
God'sessence.ThesecondgetstheanswerthatGod'sessenceexistsasexemplifiedandunderstood
byGodwhichofcoursecannotbeunlessGodexists.Butitisnotthesamequestionthatgets
answeredintermsofGod'sessenceasregardsGod'sexistence,andintermsofGod'sexistenceas
regardsGod'sessence.Similarly,theproposition'Godexists'dependsforitstruthonthetruthof
thePrincipleofContradiction,whilethePrincipleofContradictiondependsontheexistenceof
God,notforitstruth,butforitsreality.Inthisway,Ithink,aviciouscircleinexplanationis
avoided.Tobesure,LeibnizhasnotexplainedGod'sexistenceintermsofsomethingthatcould
existwithoutGodexisting,buttherecannotbeanysuchthingifGod'sexistenceisnecessaryas
Leibnizclaims.

2.2GodandtheEpistemologyofLogicandMathematics

ThepointthatnecessarytruthsdependontheexistenceofGod,notfortheirtruth,butfortheir
reality,15hasimportantimplicationsfortheepistemologyof

____________________
15
Thisthesisisemphasized,andascribedtoDunsScotusaswellastoLeibniz,inMondadori,
"Modalities,Representations,andExemplars:the'RegionofIdeas'."
186

necessarytruth.ItexplainswhyLeibnizcansay,"Essencescaninacertainwaybeconceived
withoutGod,butexistencesinvolveGod"although"theveryrealityoftheessences,bywhich
indeedtheyflowintoexistences,isfromGod"(RS24/AG273).Onecanunderstandthecontents
andinterrelationsofessenceswithoutanyattentiontothefactthattheirrealityconsistsintheir
beingunderstoodbyGod,whereas,accordingtoLeibniz,onecannotunderstandwhyotherthings
existwithoutreferencetoGod.Leibnizheldthat"anAtheistcanbeaGeometer.Butiftherewere
noGod,therewouldbenoobjectofGeometry"(T184).Theatheistgeometerdoesnotnecessarily
makegeometricalmistakes;shecanunderstandthereasonsforallnecessarygeometricaltruths
about,say,triangles.Thereasonsforthesetruthsarefoundinthecontentandinterrelationsofthe
essenceoftriangleandotheressences.Onecanunderstandthemwithoutinquiringwhatthereality
ofessencesandnecessarytruthsconsistsin,thoughnotwithoutinsomesenserecognizingthat
reality.Toexplain,correctly,whythereisanyessenceoftriangleatall,onemustrefertoGod.But
onecanunderstandwithoutreferencetoGodwhyitfollowsfromtheessencesoftriangle,angle,
side,andsoonthatatrianglehasjustasmanysidesasangles.

Inanotherway,however,Leibnizcanhardlyregardknowledgeofgeometryorlogicascompletely
independentofawarenessofGod.Iftheobjectsoflogicandmathematicshavetheirrealityin
God'smind,inbeingunderstoodbyGod,itseemstofollowthatinknowingthemweareawareof
someofGod'sthoughts.AndLeibnizdoesnotrejectthisinference,thoughofcoursehedeniesthat
theatheistmathematicianmustrecognizewhatsheknowsasthoughtsofGod.LikeAugustine,16
helinksatheologicalontologyoflogicwithanepistemologyofdivineillumination:

Whilewhatistrueremainstrueevenifitwereknownbynohumanbeing;andwhatis
goodretainsitsgoodnessevenifnohumanbeingmadeuseofit;ontheotherhand,if
therewerenoGod,therewouldnotonlybenothingactual,butalsonothingpossible,
andthusthetrueandthegoodwouldbeannihilatedtogether,sothatitcanwellbesaid
thatthetrueiswhatagreeswiththeunderstanding,andthegoodiswhatagreeswiththe
will,ofGod,thefirstbeing[Urwesen].

Andthiscanalsohelpustodistinguishthetruefromthefalseandthegoodfromthe
evil.Fortherearefoundinuscertainraysofthedivinewisdomandoftheeternalword,
namelythefirsteternaltruthswhichareacriterion[maa]oftheothersthatspring
fromthem.Inotherwords,justasheisanoriginalsourceofallthings,soalsoisall
fundamentalknowledgetobederivedfromGod'sknowledge,andinhislightwesee
light.(GVII,111)

Thecontinuationofthispassage,onthegood,neednotconcernushere.Theremarksaboutthe
goodinquotedtexthaveamorevoluntaristicflavorthanisusualinLeibniz,whogenerallyinsists
thatGod'sunderstandingofthegoodispriortoGod'swill.Thestatementthat"thegoodiswhat
agreeswiththewillofGod"canofcoursebereadinasensethatisconsistentwithLeibniz'susual
views,sincehefamouslyheldthatwhatisbestisinfactalwayswilledbyGod.Butperhapsthis
textisanomalousonthispoint.

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16
Augustine,DediversisquaestionibusLXXXIII,xivi,inPLvol.40,cols.3031.
187

Thereisnoreason,however,tosuspectthatitsteachingaboutdivineilluminationisanomalousfor
Leibniz.Heexpressessimilarviewsinotherplaces."Godisthesunandlightofsouls,'thelight
illuminatingeveryhumanbeingwhocomesintothisworld',"hedeclares(DM28),quotingthe
Bible(John1:9)."OurUnderstandingcomesfromGod,andshouldbeconsideredasarayfrom
thatsun"(G111,353).

Theterminologyofdivine"illumination"andofraysfromthedivinesunisobviously
metaphorical.17WhatrelationsbetweenGodandthehumanmindLeibnizregardedasjustifying
themetaphormayperhapsbeseenmoreclearlyinconsideringhisreactiontoNicolas
Malebranche'scelebrateddoctrinethatweseeallthingsinGod.Thatdoctrine,tobesure,isnot
concernedsimplywiththeontologyandepistemologyoflogicandmathematics,butwhatLeibniz
saysaboutideasinresponsetoitcertainlyappliestohisownviewsonthosesubjects.

LeibnizunderstoodMalebranchetomeanthat"ourideasthemselvesareinGod,andnotatallin
us."ThatviewLeibnizregardedasirreconcilablewithhisownaccountofthenatureofsubstance,
accordingtowhicheverysubstancemusthaveinitselfagroundofallitspredicates.Inparticular,
thehumansoul"includeseverythingthathappenstoit,andexpressesGod,andwithhimall
possibleandactualbeings"(DM29).Thatinoursoulswhichgroundsourbeingtrulysaidtoknow
theobjectsoflogicandmathematics,andwhichexpressesthoseobjectsastheyareinGod,isour
ideaofthoseobjects;anditisindeedinus.

Nevertheless,Leibnizacknowledgedasenseinwhichwe"seeinGod"thepossibilitieswhich
"subsistalwaysaseternaltruthsofthepossibleswhosewholerealityisgroundedinsomething
actualthatistosay,inGod."Leibnizis

persuadedthatGodistheonlyimmediateexternalobjectofsouls,sincethereis
nothingbuthimoutsidethesoulthatactsimmediatelyontheSoul.Andourthoughts,
withallthatisinus,inasmuchasitincludessomeperfection,areproducedwithout
interruptionbyhiscontinuousoperation.Soinasmuchaswereceiveourfinite
perfectionsfromhiswhichareinfinite,weareimmediatelyaffectedbythem;anditis
thusthatourmindisimmediatelyaffectedbytheeternalideasthatareinGod,when
ourmindhasthoughtsthatarerelatedtothemandparticipateinthem.Anditisinthis
sensethatwecansaythatourMindseeseverythinginGod.(GVI,593f./L627)

TheclaimthatGodistheonlyimmediateexternalobjectofoursoulsisfoundinwritingsfrom
quitedifferentperiodsofLeibniz'slife.18TheprincipalreasongivenforitinthetextIhavequoted
iscausal:Godistheonlyexternalcauseonwhichourexistenceandfiniteperfections,including
ourideas,directlydepend."Becauseofthedivineconcurrencewhichcontinuallyconfersoneach
creaturewhateverofperfectionthereisinit,itcanbesaidthattheexternalobjectofthesoulis
Godalone,andthatinthissenseGodistothemindaslightistotheeye"(DutensII,224/L593).

Thesecausalclaimsmustbeunderstood,ofcourse,inthecontextofthetheoryofpreestablished
harmony.Thewholeseriesofmythoughtsisaconsequence

____________________
17
Leibnizcouldexpressthesamethoughtinanaltenativemetaphor,appealingtotheearratherthan
theeye:"ReasonisthenaturalvoiceofGod"(Gr138).
18
GVI,593isfrom171215(onthedate,seeRML427f.).DutensII,224isfrom1707,andDM28is
from1686.SeealsoGIII,561f.,from1714.
188

ofmyownnature.Goddoesnotintervenetocauseanythoughtsinmethatdonotfollowfrommy
nature.WhatGoddirectlyandcontinuallycausesissimplytheexistenceofauniquebeinghaving
mynature.ButinsodoingGodalsocausestheideasthatareconsequencesofmynature.Andas
"everyeffectexpressesitscause"(DM28),myfiniteperfections,includingmyideas,asaspectsof
mynature,arecausedbytheinfiniteperfectionsinGodtowhichtheycorrespond.

ThecausalrelationissurelyrelevanttotheclaimthatGodisanobjectofourawarenessinour
understandingoflogicandmathematics,butitisjustassurelynotenoughtoestablishit.Leibniz
seestheclaimasgroundedalsoinarelationofexpressionorresemblance,whichinturnis
groundedinthecausalrelation.

ThusitisonlyinvirtueofthecontinuousactionofGodonusthatwehaveinoursoul
theideasofallthings;thatistosay,becauseeveryeffectexpressesitscause,and
becausetheessenceofoursoulisthusacertainexpression,imitation,orimageofthe
divineessence,thought,andwill,andofalltheideasthatarecontainedthere.Itcan
thereforebesaidthatGodaloneisourimmediateobjectoutsideus,andthatweseeall
thingsthroughhim.(DM28)

SinceGodisourcauseand"everyeffectexpressesitscause,"thereforetheessenceofoursoul
expressesorimages,initsimperfectway,thedivineessence.Andbecausethedivineessence
includesthedivineideasofallthings,thereforeouressence,inexpressingorimagingthedivine
essence,includesideasthatexpressorimagethedivineideas.Inasmuchasourideasoftheobjects
oflogicexpressthedivineideasandarecausedbythem,theycanbesaidtohavethedivineideas
astheirobject,inLeibniz'sview.Thisconclusionmaybefurtherconfirmedbythereflectionthat
wereadilytakeourselves,inlogicandmathematics,tobethinkingaboutsomethingthatis
independentofourthought;thatcanbeso,accordingtoLeibniz,onlyifwearethinkingabout
somethingthatexists,whetherwerealizeitornot,inGod'smind.

Anepistemologyofdivineilluminationisnotasillytheory.Ithink,infact,itmaybethebesttype
oftheoryavailabletousforexplainingthereliabilityofoursupposedknowledgeoflogicand
mathematics,sincethealternativetypeoftheorymostsalientforus,intermsofnaturalselection,
doesnotobviouslyexplainouraptitudeforthehigherreachesofthosesubjects,whichwasofno
usetoourancestorsonwhomtheselectivepressuresweresupposedlyoperative.Butthisisnotthe
placetodevelopthatpoint;Ihaveargueditelsewhere.19
2.3TruthandDivineUnderstanding

SomeofBertrandRussell'sobjectionstoLeibniz'sontologyoflogicseemtobebasedonan
interpretationofLeibnizasholdingthatGod'sknowingorunderstandingthenecessarytruthsis
"whatmakesthemtrue."20ThisreadingofLeibnizmightbesupportedbyatextIquotedinthe
previoussection,accordingtowhich"itcanwellbesaidthatthetrueiswhatagreeswiththe
understanding....ofGod"(GVII,111).Ibelievethisisnotacorrectinterpretation,butthepoint
issubtleandrequiressomeexamination.

____________________
19
R.Adams,"DivineNecessity."
20
Russell,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.180.
189

Throughouthiscareer,LeibnizwasvehementlyopposedtotheCartesianthesisthatnecessary
truthsdependonGod'swill.21Thisthesis,heargued,iscontrarytotheverynatureofthewill:"the
willofGodpresupposesanunderstandingofthethingtobewilled.Thisunderstandinginvolves
thepossibilityofthethingunderstood.Thereforethewillpresupposesthepossibilityofthethingto
bewilled"(AII,i,354=GI,256).HenceitisincoherenttosupposethatthewillofGoddetermines
whatispossible.Butpossibilitiesareinseparablefromessencesandnecessarytruths,whichmust
thereforealsobepresupposedbythedivinewill.ThetheologicalconsequencesoftheCartesian
position,moreover,seemedtoLeibnizappalling.IfGod'swilldidnotpresupposeessencesand
necessitiesindependentofit,Leibnizarguedparticularlyifitdidnotpresupposetheessencesof
justiceandgoodness,andnecessarytruthsfollowingfromthemthenGodwouldbearbitraryin
waysthatwouldfatallyunderminebeliefindivinegoodnessandjustice(AII,i,298f.;Gr433).

IntheTheodicyLeibniztriestoputamoreacceptableinterpretationonDescartes'sclaims.

Isuspectthathehadinviewhereanotherextraordinarywayofspeaking,ofhisown
invention,whichwastosaythataffirmationsandnegations,andinternaljudgmentsin
general,areoperationsofthewill.AndbythisartificetheeternalTruths,whichhad
been,upuntilthiswriter,anobjectofthedivineunderstanding,havebecomeatone
strokeanobjectof[God's]will.Nowtheactsofhiswillarefree,soGodisthefree
causeoftheTruths.(T186)

Onthisinterpretation,however,"theseactionswouldbenothinglessthanfree,forthereisnothing
tochoose."Theaccountwould"keeponlythenameoffreedom"(T186).Thepointofthis
criticism,ofcourse,isthatafreechoicemustbeamongapluralityofalternativespossiblein
themselves(seeChapter1,section1.4).Thatthereisnosuchalternativetoanecessarytruth,even
forthedivinewill,isperhapsthecentralthesisinLeibniz'scritiqueofCartesianvoluntarism.

InthispassageoftheTheodicyLeibnizdoesnotrejectthethesis,ascribedtoDescartes,that
necessarytruthsdependontheaffirmationsorjudgmentsbywhichGodacceptsthem.Elsewhere,
however,hedoesrejectit,andIthinktherejectionexpressesanauthenticallyLeibnizianthought.

Itisthoroughlyerroneous,however,[tothink]thattheeternaltruthsandthegoodness
ofthingsdependonthedivinewill,sinceeveryvolitionpresupposesajudgmentofthe
understandingaboutgoodnessunlesssomeonebyachangeofnamesweretotransfer
alljudgmentfromtheunderstandingtothewillthougheventhenitcouldnotbesaid
thatthewillisthecauseofthetruths,sincethejudgmentalsoisnot.Thereasonofthe
truthslurksintheideasofthings,whichareinvolvedinthedivineessenceitself.(G
VII,311/MP77)

Nomentalact,whetherofthewilloroftheunderstanding,makesthenecessarytruthstrue,Leibniz
implieshere,becausethenecessarytruthsfollowfromthedivineessence,whichispresupposedby
allGod'smentalacts.

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21
ImportanttextsfromtheperiodofLeibniz'sfullestdevelopmentoftheontologicalargumentand
theprooffromtherealityofeternaltruthsareAII,i,298f.,35155(167677).Fromthemiddle
yearsseeDM2(1686)andGr365(1695),andfromhislastyearsseeT186(1710)andMon46(
1714).ForotherreferencesseeGrua,Jurisprudence,pp.142f.,27073.
190

Understandingandbeliefarenotmentalactsinthesamewayasjudgment,however,anditseems
tobethroughthedivineunderstandingthat"theideasofthings"ingeneral"areinvolvedinthe
divineessence."CoulditstillbeGod'sunderstanding(andhencebelievingoraccepting)themthat
makesthenecessarytruthstrue?HereIthinkwemustreturntoadistinctionverysimilartoone
thatwasintroducedearlierinsection2.1.

Wecanask(1)Whyarethenecessarypropositionstrue?Leibniz'sanswerseemstobethat"the
reasonofthetruths[whytheyaretrueratherthanfalse]lurksintheideasofthings."Thatis,those
propositionsthatarenecessarilytruearesobecauseofthecontentofthe(divine)ideas."Thesole
principleofnecessarytruthsisthatthecontraryimplies[acontradiction]interms"(AII,i,351=G
I,253;cf.Gr365),asLeibnizsaysincriticizingCartesianvoluntarism.Itisnecessary,ofcourse,
thatGodbelievesoracceptsthenecessarytruths;butthatisnecessarybecauseofthereasonsfor
theirtruththatarefound"inthe[divine]ideasofthings."ItisnotbecauseGodacceptsthemthat
theyaretruthsratherthanfalsehoods.

Wecanalsoask(2)Whatsortofbeingdothenecessarytruthshave?AccordingtoLeibniz,of
course,theirbeingdependsonGod'sunderstanding.Doesitdependontheirbeingrecognizedin
thedivineintellectastruths,orsimplyonthepresencethereoftheideasonwhichtheyarebased?
Thatisadifficultdistinctiontomake.Canoneunderstandanidea,orcanGodperfectlyunderstand
anidea,withoutrecognizingthenecessarytruthsthatflowfromit?Insection1ofthischapterI
arguedthatLeibniz'sfullestversionoftheproofofGod'sexistencefromtherealityofeternaltruths
dependsonthethesesthatnecessarytruthstypicallydependonrelationsamongideas,andthatthe
beingofarelationdependsonitsbeingperceivedorunderstoodbysomemind.ButhowcanGod
perceivetherelevantrelationsamongideaswithoutrecognizingthecorrespondingnecessary
truths?SuchconsiderationsshouldprobablyleadLeibniztotheconclusionthatthebeingof
necessarytruthstypicallyconsistsintheirbeingrecognizedoracceptedastruebyGod,thoughthe
reasonwhytheyaretrue(andhenceaccepted)ratherthanfalse(andhencerejected)istobefound
intheircontentratherthaninthedivineacceptanceassuch.

191

8
PresumptionofPossibility
EvenifwehavenotfoundacompellingproofofthepossibilityofanecessaryGod,aslongassuch
abeinghasnotbeenprovedimpossible,Leibnizclaims,itistobepresumedpossible.Giventhat
hismodalversionoftheontologicalargumentshowsatleastthatanecessaryGoddoesexistifthe
existenceofsuchabeingispossible,Leibnizisofferingapresumptiveproofoftheexistenceof
1ThischapterisdevotedtoastudyofthisargumentanditsbackgroundinLeibniz'sthought.
God.
Wewillbeginwithfourstatementsoftheargumentfromtwoquitedifferentperiodsofhiscareer.
InhisinitialconversationwithArnoldEckhardabouttheontologicalargument,Leibnizrecords(5
April1677),whenhehadsaidthatCartesiansoughttoprovethepossibilityofamostperfect
Being,Eckhardcalledthisa"harddemand,"saying"thatsuchapossibilityneednotbeproved."
Aftersomediscussionofgeometricalexamples,inwhichLeibnizseemstohaveobtaineda
concessionthatpossibilityproofssometimescanandshouldbeprovided,Eckhardclaimed"thatit
isotherwisewithsimplerthings,whichareunderstoodtobepossible."Leibnizdescribesthe
ensuingdiscussion:

I[said]thattheirpossibilityisprobable,butnotcertain,untilitisproved.Certainlyitis
presumeduntilthecontraryisproved.Butthismodeofproofisadmittedonlyinthe
forum,notinphilosophy.He[said]thatitisadmittedeveninphilosophy,foritisnot
thecasethateveryoneisboundtoproveeverything.I(said]thatifitconcernspractice
[praxis],IgrantthatthepossibilityofanecessaryBeingormostperfectBeingis
presumed.Butwheredemonstrationisconcerned,itisincumbentononewhoseeks
perfectcertaintyordemonstrationtoproveallthepropositionsthatherelieson.(A
II,i,312f.=GI,213f.)

InaletterabouttheCartesianontologicalargument,probablywritteninthelaterpartof1678tothe
2Leibnizsays:
PalatinePrincessElizabeth,Descartes'scorrespondent,
____________________
1
OnthebackgroundofthischapterinLeibniz'sthoughtaboutprobability,Ihavebeenhelpedbythe
classicdiscussioninCouturat,LalogiquedeLeibniz,pp.23960;byHacking,Emergenceof
Probability,esp.chs.10,1415;andbyBurkhardt,LogikundSemioticinderPhilosophievon
Leibniz,pp.42234.Amosthelpfulspecializedstudywithconsiderablediscussionofpresumption
isdeOlaso,"Leibnizetl'artdedisputer."
2
Therecipientisaddressedsimplyas"Madame"and"YourHighness."Gerhardt(GIV,268)
suggestedthatshewasElizabeth'ssisterSophia,whoin1678wassisterinlawtotheDukeof
192

Moreover,Iinfer...thatthereisapresumptionthatGodexists.Forthereis
alwayspresumptiononthesideofpossibility;thatistosay,everythingisheldto
bepossibleuntilitsimpossibilityisproved.Thereforethereisalsoapresumption
thatGodispossiblethatistosay,thatheexists,sinceinhimexistenceisa
consequenceofpossibility.Thatcansufficefortheconductoflife[lapractique
delavie],butitisnotenoughforademonstration.(AII,i,436/AG238)

3.
Thefulleststatement,andamoreemphaticallyfavorableevaluation,ofapresumptive
justificationoftheisticbeliefisfoundinapresentationthatarosefromLeibniz'sdiscussions
withIsaacJaquelotin1702:

ThisargumentofDescartes,andbeforehimofSt.Anselm,Archbishopof
Canterbury,isnotaSophism,assomeclaim;andinmyopinionitisonlyan
incompleteargument,orsomethingmuststillbesupplied.Butifnothingwouldbe
supplied,thereisalreadyaveryconsiderableusefulness,incompleteasthe
argumentis,inthatitshowsthatthedivineNaturehastheprivilegethatItneeds,
foritsExistence,onlyitspossibilityoressence.Andfurthermore,thisargument
yieldsatleastpresumptivelytheExistenceofGod.

Foreverybeingoughttobejudgedpossibleuntilthecontraryisproved,untilitis
shownthatitisnotpossibleatall.

Thisiswhatiscalledpresumption,whichisincomparablymorethanasimple
supposition,sincemostsuppositionsoughtnottobeadmittedunlesstheyare
proved,buteverythingthathaspresumptionforitoughttopassfortrueuntilitis
refuted.

ThereforetheexistenceofGodhaspresumptionforitinvirtueofthisargument,
sinceitneedsnothingbesidesitspossibility.Andpossibilityisalwayspresumed
andoughttobeheldfortrueuntiltheimpossibilityisproved.

SothisArgumenthastheforcetoshifttheburdenofprooftotheopponent,orto
maketheopponentresponsiblefortheproof.Andasthatimpossibilitywillnever
beproved,theexistenceofGodoughttobeheldfortrue.

InordertocompletethedemonstrationinanabsoluteandGeometricmanner,
however,itistobewishedthattheproofofthepossibilityinquestionbegiven.(
GIII,443f.)

4.
Thelatestofthesetextsisalsothemostfamiliar.Astatementofthepresumptiveargumentis
foundintheNewEssays(17031705):
Anditisalreadysomethingthatbythisremark[abouttheCartesianargument]it
isprovedthatgiventhatGodispossible,heexists,whichistheprivilegeof
Divinityalone.OnehastherighttopresumethepossibilityofeveryBeing,and
aboveallthatofGod,untilsomeoneprovesthecontrary.Sothat

____________________
HannoverandwouldsoonbecomeDuchessofHannover,andLeibniz'spatroness.Theeditors
ofAII,isuggestthePrincessElizabeth(atthattimeAbbessofHerford)astheletter's
addresseeandpropose1678asthedate.Theygivenoreasons,butIthinktheyareprobably
right.TheletterindicatesthatitwaswrittentosomeonewhohadspokenbrieflywithLeibniz
andaskedforhisviewsontheCartesianargument.ThePrincessElizabethvisitedHannover
"inthewinterof1678"(Aiton,Leibniz:ABiography,p.90;cf.AII,i,455).Beginning5
December1678,moreover,andcontinuinginto1680,oneofLeibniz'scorrespondents,F.A.
Hansen,repeatedlyaskedforacopyofaletter"touchingthephilosophyofMonsieur
Descartes"thatLeibnizhadwrittentothePrincessElizabeth(AI,ii,389,408,501;A
I,iii,418f.).Hansen'sreferenceisprobablytotheletterthatconcernsushere.
193

thismetaphysicalargumentalreadyyieldsamoraldemonstrativeconclusion,which
impliesthatinthepresentstateofourknowledgeweoughttojudgethatGodexists,
andactaccordingly.(NE438)

Oneistemptedtoregardthisargument,eveninitsfullestform,asarathercasualeffort.
Presumptionisaninferioralternativetoproof,andLeibnizalwaysthoughthecouldprovethe
existenceofGodinonewayoranother.Moreover,thereseemstobeaneasyandobvious
refutationofthepresumptiveargumentinthiscase.Forif"thereisalwayspresumptionontheside
ofpossibility,"itwouldseemthatpresumptionshouldfavorthepossibilityofthenonexistence,as
muchasthepossibilityoftheexistence,ofanecessaryGod.IftheargumentdiscussedinChapter
5,section1,issound,however,eithertheexistenceorthenonexistenceofanecessaryGodmustbe
impossible.Iftheexistenceisnotimpossible,itisnecessary;andiftheexistenceisnecessary,the
nonexistenceisimpossible.Presumingeitherpossibilitythereforeleadstorejectionoftheother,
andthetwoopposingpresumptionsofpossibilityseemtocanceleachother.

1.JurisprudenceandPragmatisminTheology

Thisobjectionmayindeedbeconclusive,andwewillreturntodiscussitmorefully.Butthereis
moretoLeibniz'sargumentthanmeetstheeye.Behindhisappealstopresumptioninconnection
withtheontologicalargumentliesalargeapparatusofdefinitionandargumentrootedina
particularintellectualtradition,atraditionofjurisprudenceorlegaltheory.Mostreadersofthis
essaywillbefamiliarwiththeruleofEnglishcommonlawaccordingtowhichthedefendantina
criminalcaseis"presumedinnocentuntilprovenguilty."Leibniz'svoluminouswritingsin
jurisprudence,orientedtowardRomanlaw,alsoaboundindiscussionsandcasesofpresumption.
Forinstance,"apossessorispresumedtobeanowner"(AVI,iii,608).WhenLeibnizsaysto
Eckhardthatpresumption"isadmittedonlyintheforum,notinphilosophy,"wearerightly
remindedoftheroleofpresumptioninlegalprocedureandlegaltheory.

Inthuscallingattentiontothefactthattheconceptofpresumptionhasitshomeinthelawrather
thanin"philosophy,"Leibnizmaystrikeusasdisparagingthepresumptiveargument.This
impressionmaybedeepenedbytherelatedcontrastbetween"practice"[praxis]or"theconductof
life"[lapratiquedelavie]and"demonstration"inbothofthefirsttwopassagesIhavequoted,for
weknowthatwhatpresumptiongovernsinthelegalsystemisbehavior.Personspresumed
innocent,forexample,arenotnecessarilybelievedinnocent.Butsurely(andparticularlyinthe
LutherantraditiontowhichLeibnizbelonged)religionrequiresbelieforfaith,andnotjust
behavioralconformity.Itmightthereforeseemnaturaltoconcludethatpresumptioncouldnotbe
worthmuchindefenseofareligiousthesis,suchastheexistenceofGod,andthattheassessment
ofthepresumptiveargumentinthetwoearliertextsiswidelyatvariancewiththerather
enthusiasticevaluationinthepiecefrom1702.

Thisinterpretationisnottotallymistaken.CertainlyLeibnizmeanttocomparepresumption
unfavorablywithdemonstration.Thetheoreticalinsufficiencyofpresumptionismostheavily
emphasizedintheearliestofthesetexts,andits

194

apologeticusefulnessisevidentinthemuchlaterpair.Butthereisalsoanearlytext(probablyof
167778)inwhichLeibnizofferstheprinciplethat"eachthingisheldtobepossibleuntilthe
contraryisproved"asareasonwhyaproof"thatGodeitherisimpossible,orelseactuallyexists"is
3IntheNewEssays,moreover,aclearaffirmationofthevalueofthe
"ofgreatimportance."
presumptiveargumentseemstocoexisthappilywithacharacterizationofitsconclusionas"moral"
andanemphasisonitsrelevanceforaction.AcloserexaminationofLeibniz'sconceptionofthe
relationsamongtheology,jurisprudence,andthelogicofprobabilitywillgreatlymitigatethe
apparentdisparagementofpresumptioninanyofthesetextsandwillshowthatallofthemcanbe
interpretedasexpressingthesamesystemofviews,withoutanyfundamentalchangefromthe
earliesttothelatest.

Leibnizclearlythoughtthatjurisprudenceisimportantfortheology.4InhisNewMethodof
LearningandTeachingJurisprudence,publishedin1667,hestatesthat"Theologyisacertain
speciesofJurisprudence(thelatterbeingtakenuniversally);foritdealswiththe[systemofJustice
[Jus]andLaws[Leges]obtainingintheRepublic,orratherkingdom,ofGODoverhumanbeings."
Hejustifiesthisclaimbymappingalonglistoftopicsoftheologyontotopicsoflegaltheory.For
instance:"infidelsarelikerebels;theChurchlikegoodsubjects";thedoctrinesofScripture,thelast
judgment,andeternaldamnationarelikethoseoflaws,judicialprocess,andcapitalpunishment(A
5"Inshort,"headds,"almostallofTheologydependsinlargepartonJurisprudence.
VI,i,294).
Howoftenisatestament,howofteninheritance,howoftenslavery,howoftenisadoption
mentionedbySt.Paul?"Hegoesontogiveotherexamplesoftheuseoflegalconceptsintheology
(AVI,i,295).Leibnizcannotbesaidtohavearticulatedheretheidea,recentlyproposedin
6thatthedoctrinesofreligiousbodies(asdistinctfrompersonalreligiousbeliefs)are
theology,
bestunderstoodasrulesgoverning(verbalaswellasnonverbal)behavior,butsomethingofthesort
maybeimplicitinhisidentificationofthetheologicaldoctrine"offundamentalErrors"(heresies)
as"like[thelegaldoctrine]ofCapitalCrimes"(AVI,i,294).

Thirtyyearslaterthesamebasicideaoftheologyasjurisprudenceisexpressed,thoughlessfully
andmorecautiously,inalettertoVincentPlaccius:"practicaltheologyisnothingbutjurisprudence
fortheuniversalrepublicwhoserulerisGod,insofarasitdescribesourdutiesinit"(Dutens
VI,i,84).'Practicaltheology'heredoesnotreferprimarily,asitoftendoesinmoderntheological
curricula,totheartsofreligiousministryandtheirspecifictheoreticalbackground.Itssenseis
givenbyLeibniz'simmediatelyprecedingstatementthat

Godmustbeconsideredintwoways:physicallyandmorally.Physically,thatis,asthe
ultimatereasonofthings,withrespect,ofcourse,toeveryperfec

____________________
3
Thetextisprintedonpp.286f.ofJanke,"DasontologischeArgument."
4
Inadditiontotextscitedbelow,seeGr370.Thispointprovidesthetitle,andaleadingidea,ofone
ofourcentury'sgreatestworksofLeibnizianscholarship,GastonGruaJurisprudenceuniverselleet
thodiceselonLeibniz;seeesp.ch.4.
5
Leibnizhadalsopublishedtheseideas,largelyinthesamewords,thepreviousyearinhis
DissertationontheArtofCombinations(AVI,i,190f.).
6
Lindbeck,NatureofDoctrine.
195

tionthatisinthem;butmorally,asthemonarchofthemostperfectrepublic,whichis
thatpoliticalcommunity[civitas],sotospeak,ofthemindsofthewholeuniverse.(
DutensVI,i,84)

"Practical"theologyarisesfromthe"moral"considerationofGod,andtakesasitsfieldallthe
socialorquasisocialrelationsbetweenGodandrationalcreatures.Itisthispartoftheologythatis
aspeciesofjurisprudence,andthatwasdoubtlessLeibniz'smeaninginhisyouthfulpublications,
too.Evenin1667hewouldsurelynothaveassignedtolegaltheorythe"physical"considerationof
Godasthemetaphysicalfirstcauseofthings.

TheportionoftheologytowhichLeibnizwaspreparedtoassignapracticalcharacterwasvery
7Theextentofhispragmatismregardingreligiousbeliefisperhapsnowheremore
large,however.
clearlyrevealedthaninapaper,writtenabout1670,ontheproblemofa"judge"orcriterionfor
8Thefirsthalfofitisdevotedtoreligiouscontroversies,
resolvingcontroversies(AVI,1,54859).
andLeibnizaversthat,atleastfromaProtestantpointofview,theologicalquestionsthatcannotbe
settledbyrecoursetoexplicitstatementsinScripture"arenotoffaith,butofmorals,not
theoretical,butpractical,whichwearenotcommandedtobelieve,buttoperform"(1011).
EvenwherethereareexplicitstatementsinScripture,placingtheissueinthetheoreticalcategory,
pragmaticconsiderationsmaycomeinifthereisdoubtabouttheinterpretationofthesacredtext
(asforinstanceofthestatement,"Thisismybody,"ascribedtoJesusathislastsupper).

InthiscaseIthinkthedutyofaChristianisthis:hearingthewordsofthetext,to
appropriatethemastrueinaliteral[proprius]sense,butwithdevoutsimplicity,which
thinksthatitcouldbemistaken,andthatperhapsthepropositionistrueinafigurative
[tropicus]sense,butthatitissafertoactthus.Andsothisfaithwillbedisjunctive,but
incliningtooneside.Andthisinfact,ifyouwillnotice,iswhatmostChristiansdoin
practice.(24)

Heretheacceptanceofadisjunctionofmeaningsispresumablytheoretical,butthe"incliningto
oneside"ratherthantheotherlookslikeabehavioralresponsetothewordsofthetext,defendedas
a"safer"wayof"acting"(cf.Gr32),andas"whatmostChristiansdoinpractice."

Particularlystriking,andinterestingforourpresentdiscussion,isthefactthatLeibnizwasprepared
toadmitsuchadisjunctivefaith,orsomethingverylikeit,regardingtheexistenceofGod.

IndeeditcanbetaughtthattheveryfaithofmostChristiansbothnowconsists,andhas
alwaysconsisted,intheapprovalofpropositionsnotunderstood.Forsee,ifyouaska
PeasantwhetherhebelievesthereisaGOD,hewillbeindignantthatyoudoubtedit;
butifyouaskwhathecallsGOD,hewillbeamazedthatyouevenaskthis,andwill
finallyconfessthathehashardlyeverpaidanyattentiontowhatmaybemeantbythe
word[vox]GOD,[but]hasbeensatisfiedtorecitethisproposition,havingconceived
underthewordssomeobscuresense,bywhichhehasunstablyimaginedGOD,nowas
alargeandwiseman,nowotherwise.(30)

____________________
7
OnLeibniz'semphasisontheimportanceofthepracticalaspectofreligion,seeLeBrun,"Critique
desabusetsignifiancedespratiques,"withampledocumentation.
8
Furtherreferencetothistext,inthepresentdiscussion,willbebysectionnumber.
196

TheordinaryChristian'stheoreticalbeliefinGod'sexistenceispresentedhereasdisjunctive,or
perhapssimplyvague.Whatisdefiniteisthebehaviorofhearingandreciting(affirmatively)a
formofwords.

Somemightthinkthistheologicallyscandalous,9andtheessayinwhichitisfoundwasboth
youthfulandneverpublishedbyLeibniz.Butasimilarlypragmatic,thoughlessfullydeveloped,
viewofadherencetoareligiouspositionisfoundintheNewEssays,writtenmanyyearslaterand
withadefiniteintentionofpublication.Intermsnotlikelytobefoundscandalousinhisowntime,
Leibnizwritesofthedeferenceduetoexpertopinion,andgivesexamplesfromtherealmof
religion.

Thusachild,andanyotherpersonwhoseconditionishardlybetterinthisrespect,is
obligedevenifheisquitehighlyplacedtofollowtheReligionofthecountryinsofar
asheseesnothingwrongwithit,andinsofarasheisnotinapositiontoinquire
whetherthereisabetterone.Andagovernorofpageboys,whateverhisownsect,will
makeeachofthemgototheChurchthatisattendedbyadherentsofthebelief
professedbytheyoungman.(NE458)

ModernphilosophicalreaderswillnaturallyberemindedatthispointofDescartes,forwhom
constantadherencetothereligioninwhichhehadbeenraisedstoodattheheadofthecodethathe
proposedtohimself(andhisreaders)forguidanceduringaperiodoftheoreticaluncertainty.Itis
noteworthythatDescartessawthiscodeasa"morality"[unemorale],andappealedtoutilityto
defendadherencetotheopinionsofhisowncountryinpreferencetothoseofthePersiansand
Chinese.10

ForLeibnizaswellasforDescartes,pragmaticconsiderationsseemtohavebeeninorder
wherevertheoreticalcertaintywaslacking.AndLeibnizwasquitewillingtoappealtoarguments
ofpracticalormoralforce,specificallyincludingpresumption,inmattersofbasicreligiousbelief.
11Forinstance,inanessaywrittenforDukeJohannFriedrichofHannoverin1671,stressingthe
humanandpracticalimportanceofawellgroundedbeliefintheimmortalityofthesoul,Leibniz
says:

Nophilosopherhasthusfarbeenabletoexplainthoughtbythemotionsorshapesof
bodies.Iacknowledgethatthisyieldsastrongpresumptionofincorporeality,butnota
demonstration.ThereforeDigby'sdemonstration[whichisbasedonthispoint],ifyou
analyzeit,isintheendamoralone,orestablishesnotacertaintybutapresumptionof
immortality.Idonotdeny,however,thatthisisalreadysomethingofgreatimportance
formotivatingprudentpeople.(AII,i,113)

Likewiseinanoutlineofhisplanned"CatholicDemonstrations,"writtenslightlyearlier,Leibniz
thoughtitworthwhiletoinclude,inadditiontofourtheisticproofsofpresumablystricter
theoreticalcogency,a"demonstration[oftheexistence

____________________
10
Descartes,DiscourseonMethod,part3(ATVI,23).
11
Leibnizalsoseemstohavethoughtpresumptiveargumentsquiteinplaceindebatesbetween
ProtestantsandRomanCatholics;seeGr198f.ThistextiscitedbydeOlaso("Leibnizetl'artde
disputer,"p.221f.),whoalsoarguesthatLeibnizappealsoftentoconsiderationsofburdenofproof
inhisTheodicy.
9
Seetheattackontheideaof"implicitfaith"inCalvin,InstitutesoftheChristianReligion,
III,ii,25.Cf.NE520f.
197

ofGod]ofinfiniteprobability,ormoralcertainty"from"thebeautyoftheworld"(AVI,i,494).
AndinhisTheodicy,manyyearslater,hedeclaresthat"theproofsofthetruthofreligion,"
meaningrevealedreligion,"canonlygiveamoralcertainty"(Tpd5).

Itmaynotbeentirelyobviousthatincallingacertainty"moral"intheselasttextsLeibnizreally
meanttoenterthesphereofpracticalconsiderations.Couldhenotbeusing'moralcertainty'simply
asanameforthehighestpossibledegreeofprobability?Certainlyitdidsignifyforhimadegreeof
probabilitysohigh"thatnonoteworthycomparisoncanbemadewith[theprobabilityof]the
opposite"(GVII,44f.;cf.C515;GVII,320/L364;NE68).ButIdoubtthatLeibnizeverforgotthe
originalpointofspeakingofaprobabilityasa"moral"or"practical"certainty,whichisthatitis
strongenoughtoactonwithouthedgingone'sbetsinviewofthetheoreticalpossibilityoferror.
Thispointismanifestinaparticularlyinterestingdiscussionofempiricalgeneralizationsin
science,publishedbyLeibnizin1670.Forhisjustificationforclaiminga"practicalormoral
certainty"forthegeneralizationthatallfire(ofthesortthatwehaveobserved)burnsdependson
premisesaboutwhat"shouldbeheldinpractice"(AVI,ii,431f./L129f.).12

2.JurisprudenceandtheLogicofProbability

Thereisreason,indeed,tothinkthatLeibnizassignedallmerelyprobablereasoning,allreasoning
oflessthanfullydemonstrativeforce,tothepracticalsphere.13Thisissuggestedbytextsfrom
167778onthepresumptiveargumentfortheism,where"demonstration"isthesolealternative
contrastedwith"practice"or"theconductoflife"(AII,i,312f.,436).ItisinthislightthatIwould
interpretthefactthat,afterdiscussingthepresumptionofthepossibilityofGod'sexistenceinhis
lettertothePrincessElizabeth,Leibnizgoesontosaythat"onehasdonenothingifonedoesnot
provethispossibility"(AII,i,436/AG239,italicsadded).Thisisnotadenialofthereligiousvalue,
butonlyoftheintellectualmerit,ofapresumptioninfavorofdivineexistence.Theletterisvery
muchconcernedwithintellectualmerit,andbreathesaspiritofcompetitionwiththeCartesians.

Theassignmentofprobablereasoningto"practicalphilosophy"isnotmerelysuggestedbutplainly
impliedinaletterofFebruary1697toThomasBurnett,whichisespeciallyinterestingalsoforthe
connectionsitdrawsbetweenjurisprudenceandthelogicofprobability.LeibnizwritestoBurnett
that"Theologicaltruthsandinferencesareoftwokinds;somehaveametaphysicalcertaintyand
othershaveamoralcertainty."Inordertodealproperlywiththelattersort,"onemustalsohave
recoursetothetruePhilosophy,andinparttonaturalJurisprudence."

ForPhilosophyhastwoparts,thetheoreticalandthepractical.TheoreticalPhilosophy
isfoundedonthetrueanalysis,ofwhichtheMathematiciansgive

____________________
12
Someofthemoreimportantpartsofthistext,formypresentpurpose,areomittedinLoemker's
translation.
13
Thispointisnotdiscussed,butbackgroundrelevanttoitispresented,inSchupp,"TheoriaPraxis
Poiesis."
198
examples,butwhichoughtalsotobeappliedtoMetaphysicsandtonaturaltheology,in
givinggooddefinitionsandsolidaxioms.ButpracticalPhilosophyisfoundedonthe
trueTopics14orDialecticsthatistosay,ontheartofestimatingthedegreesofproofs,
whichisnotyetfoundamongtheauthorswhoareLogicians,butofwhichonlythe
Juristshavegivenexamplesthatarenottobedespisedandthatcanserveasa
beginningforformingascienceofproofs,suitableforverifyinghistoricalfactsandfor
givingthemeaningoftexts.ForitistheJuristswhoareoccupiedordinarilywiththe
oneandtheotherin[legal]processes.ThusbeforeTheologycanbetreatedbythe
methodofEstablishments,asIcallit,aMetaphysics,ordemonstrativenatural
Theology,isneeded,andsoisamoralDialectic,andanaturalJurisprudence,bywhich
thewaytoestimatethedegreesofproofsmaybelearneddemonstratively.Forseveral
probableargumentsjoinedtogethersometimesmakeamoralcertainty,andsometimes
don't.Thereisthereforeneedofasuremethodtobeabletodetermineit.Itisoften
said,withjustice,thatreasonsshouldnotbecounted,butweighed;howevernoonehas
yetgivenusthatbalancethatshouldservetoweightheforceofreasons.Thisisoneof
thegreatestdefectsofourLogic;wefeeltheeffectsofiteveninthemostimportantand
mostseriousmattersoflife,whichconcernjustice,thepeaceandwellbeingoftheState,
humanhealth,andevenreligion.ItisalmostthirtyyearssinceImadetheseremarks
publicly,andsincethattimeIhavedoneaquantityofresearch,tolaythefoundations
ofsuchwork;butathousanddistractionshavepreventedmefromgivingfinalformto
thosePhilosophical,Juridical,andTheologicalElementsthatIhadprojected.IfGod
stillgivesmelifeandhealth,Iwillmakeitmyprincipalbusiness.Istillwouldnot
proveallthatcanbeproved,butIwouldproveatleastaveryimportantpart,inorderto
beginthemethodofEstablishments,andtogiveothersoccasiontogofurther.(G
III,193f.)

Iknowofnoothertextthatunitesallthepointsfoundinthisprogrammaticstatement,butitisby
nomeanseccentric.MostofitsideasarefoundfrequentlyinLeibniz'swritings,andthereisa
plausiblereferenceforhisclaimtohave"madetheseremarkspublicly"almostthirtyyearsbefore
thislettertoBurnett.InhisSpeciminaJuris,publishedin1669,Leibnizremarksofacertain
probleminlegaltheorythatit"dependsentirelyontheLogicaldoctrineofdegreesofprobability;
butit15hasnotbeentreatedaccuratelybyanyLogician,sofarasIknow,althoughitwouldbeof
greatuseinpractice,notonlyhere,butalsowhenpresumptionsaretobecompared"(AVI,i,426).

Thetopicofprobabilitywascloselyconnectedinhismindwithlegaltheory.Inaletterof1697to
JohnBernoulli,mentioningearliermeditationsofhisownona"Doctrineofthedegreesof
probability,"Leibnizsaystheywere"especiallyforuseinJurisprudenceandPolitics"(GM
III,377).Andheoftencommendsthelegaltheoristsfortheirworkonprobability(AVI,i,280;
NE464f.;C211f.;GVII,167,477,521;GMIII,850;DutensV,403;DutensVI,i,36).16

____________________
14
AscienceofdialecticalornondemonstrativereasoningissonamedhereafterAristotleTopics.In
1667LeibnizhadidentifiedTopicsas"theartofdiscovery"[arsinventiva](AVI,i,279).
15
Thesensehereseemstometorequirethis'it'torefertotheLogicaldoctrineofdegreesof
probability,andIcitethetextontheassumptionthatthisinterpretationiscorrect;Leibniz'sLatinis
exactlyasambiguousasmyEnglishtranslationonthispoint,however.
16
0nlegaltheoryasasourceofideasaboutprobability,cf.Hacking,EmergenceofProbability,ch.
10.AtGr792f.thejuristsarecommended,butsomewhatbackhandedly.
199

Indeed,Leibniz'sinterestsinthewholeoflogicandinjurisprudencewerelinkedfromthe
beginning.HisDissertationontheArtofCombinations(1666)iswidelynotedastheforerunnerof
thehighlyoriginalresearchesinlogicthathavedrawnsomuchattentioninourcentury.Itisless
oftennotedthatproblemsoflegaltheoryfigureprominentlyamongthe"uses"proposedforlogicin
thisearlywork(AVI,i,177,18991).Legalapplicationsundoubtedlyrankedhighamongthe
expectedusesofthe"generalcharacteristic"ofwhichLeibnizdreamedthroughouthisadultlife,
thequixoticallymassiveproposedencyclopediaofdefinitions,axioms,andtheoremsthatwould
facilitateaccurateandrelativelyuncontroversialreasoningoneverytopic.Andlegaltheoryisone
ofthetopicsonwhichLeibnizwasmostassiduous,earlyandlate,incompilingactuallistsof
definitions.ToAntoineArnauld,in1688,Leibnizwritesthathisworkonthe"general
Characteristic"includes"someessaysinjurisprudence"(LA134).Itisundoubtedlyhisworkon
thegeneralcharacteristicthatLeibnizdescribestoBurnettas"aquantityofresearch"thathehas
done"tolaythefoundations"ofa"methodofEstablishments"having"Philosophical,Juridical,and
TheologicalElements"(GIII,194).

SincetheprojectunderdiscussioninthelettertoBurnettisthedevelopmentofanadequatelogical
apparatusforprobablereasoning,myinterpretationofitasreferringtothegeneralcharacteristic
maybequestionedbystudentswhohavethoughtofthecharacteristicasasuperrationalisticproject
forpurelyapriorireasoningtoconclusionsestablishedonthebasisofconceptualanalysisand
deductivelogicalone.Itisclear,however,thatprobablereasoningwasinfactsupposedtohavean
importantplaceinthegeneralcharacteristic.17WritingtoJeanGalloisin1677,forinstance,
Leibnizlistsamongthepromisedbenefitsofthecharacteristicthat"wecouldestimatethedegrees
ofprobability,ratheras[wedo]theanglesofatriangle"(AII,i,381=GVII,22;cf.AII,i,384).
Likewise,writingtoNicolasRmondin1714,Leibnizsaysthat"thisLanguageorCharacteristic..
.wouldalsoserveforestimatingthedegreesoflikelihood(whenwedonothavesufficientdatato
arriveattruthsthatarecertain)"(GIII,605).Tothesetextsfromtheearlyandthefinalyearsof
Leibniz'scareercanbeaddedothersfromtheinterveningyearsconfirmingthepartlyprobabilistic
natureofthegeneralcharacteristic(C176,215;GIII,259;GVII,26,125,167,188,201).

ThecomparisonwithestimatingtheanglesofatrianglesuggeststhatLeibniz'srationalismdid
extendtotheviewthatevenwhenmerelyprobablereasoningmustbeemployed,theprobabilities
themselvescouldbedeterminedaprioriwithgeometricalrigor,andthisisstronglyconfirmedby
mostofthetextsIhavejustmentioned.Asearlyas1678Leibnizheldthat

eveninmattersoffactthatarecontestedwithpresumptionsandconjecturesonboth
sides,itcanbeaccuratelydefinedonwhichsidethereisgreaterprobabilityfromthe
givencircumstances.Thereforeprobabilityitselfcanbedemonstrated,anditsdegree
admitsofbeingestimated,althoughthisargumentisnotmuchcultivated.(AII,i,387=
GI,187)

____________________
17
ThemostextravagantlyrationalisticinterpretationsofLeibnizarehardlycompatiblewithhisblunt
statement,inaletterof1680,that"Itisridiculoustoexpectuniversalknowledge(pansophia)from
anycharacteristic,...asalsofromanyanalysis,formanythingsareknownonlybyexperience"(
GVII,19).
200

Similarly,hesaysinanotherplace:

Evenwhendealingonlywithprobabilities,onecanalwaysdeterminewhatismost
likelyfromthedata....Sowhenonehasn'tenoughconditionsgiventodemonstrate
certainty,asthematterisonlyprobable,onecanalwaysatleastgivedemonstrations
touchingtheprobabilityitself.(GVII,167)

These"demonstrations"presumablyestablishtheprobabilitiesoftherelevanthypotheses"from
thegivencircumstances"or"fromthedata"thatis,theconditionalprobabilitiesthatmeasure
howlikelythehypothesesaretobetrueifthesearethedata(cf.GVII,44).Thetruthofthe"data"
maybegivenempirically,buttheconditionalprobabilitiesaretobeestablishedaprioriinthe
generalcharacteristic:"OnecouldsaywithCardanothattheLogicofprobableshasdifferent
inferencesfromtheLogicofnecessarytruths.Buttheprobabilityitselfoftheseinferencesmustbe
demonstratedbytheinferencesoftheLogicofnecessary[truths]"(NE484).

Whymustthisbeso?InhisprefacetoaneditionofNizolius,of1670,Leibnizoffersthefollowing
argument.

Itisevidentthatinductionbyitselfproducesnothing,notevenamoralcertainty,
withoutthesupportofpropositionsthatdependnotoninductionbutonuniversal
reason.Forifthesupportstoowerebasedoninduction,theywouldneednewsupports
andnomoralcertaintywouldbeobtained[byfollowingsucharegress]toinfinity.(A
VI,ii,432/L129f.)

Asthecontextmakesclear,the"supports"towhichLeibnizrefersareineffectpropositions
assigningconditionalprobabilitiesandthusdetermininghowthe(resulting)probabilityofgeneral
hypothesesisaffectedbyempiricaldata.Ifweweretotrytojustifythose"supports"themselvesby
inductionorempiricalevidence,wecouldnotdeterminehowtheirprobabilityisestablishedby
suchevidencewithoutfurther"supports"totellustheconditionalprobability;this,Leibnizargues,
willleadtoaviciousinfiniteregressunlesswecanrelyatbottomonapriorideterminationsof
conditionalprobability.

Leibnizsaysthatthe"supports,"whichIinterpretasgivingtheconditionalprobabilities,are
"universalpropositionsthatdepend...ontheuniversalideaordefinitionoftheterms"(A
VI,ii,431/L129).IanHackinghasplausiblyinterpretedLeibnizasholdingsomethingliketheview
lateradoptedbyCarnap,whichhasbecomeknownasthe"logical"interpretationofthenatureof
probability.18Onthisview,theconditionalprobabilityofahypothesis,H,ondata,D,(the
probabilityHwouldhaveifDwereourdata)isalogicalrelationthatnecessarilyobtainsbetween
HandD.Thiscouldbetrueevenifwewereoftenunabletoknowtheselogicalrelationsapriori.
Commonly,however(asatGVII,167),Leibnizimpliesthattheconditionalprobabilitiescan
alwaysbeestablisheddemonstratively,"mathematically"(C176),"withgeometricalor
metaphysicalaccuracy"(GIII,259).

Ifweinterprettheseclaimsasapplyingonlytoconditionalprobabilities,weneednotfollow
Hacking19intakingLeibniztohavechangedhismindaboutthelastofthemwhenhesays,ina
letterof1714toLouisBourguet:"Likeli

____________________
18
Hacking,EmergenceofProbability,ch.15.
19
Hacking,EmergenceofProbability,p.128.
201

hoodsarestillestimatedaposteriori,byexperience,andonemusthaverecoursetothatindefault
ofreasonsapriori.Forexample,itisequallylikelythatachildtobebornshouldbeaboyoragirl,
becausethenumberofboysandofgirlsisfoundtobeapproximatelyequalinthisWorld"(G
III,570).Leibnizisindeedcontrastingtheprobabilisticpropensitiesofthehumanreproductive
process,whichcanbeknownonlyempirically,withthoseofdice,whichheseemstothinkcanbe
knownapriori.Forallthatissaidhere,however,hemaystillhaveassumedthatitisknowna
priorithattheconditionalprobabilityofahumanfetusbeingfemale,ontheassumptionthat50
percentofobservedhumanfetuseshavebeenfemale,is50percent.Fortheobservedpast
frequencyofmaleandfemalehumanbirthsmaybetakenasamajorpartofthedata,whichLeibniz
(onmyinterpretation)alwaysbelievedmustoftenbegivenempirically.Hacking'sfurther
suggestion,thatLeibniz'schangeofmind(iftherewasone)wasduetopersuasionbyJames
Bernoulli,seemstometohavenogroundinthistext,whichsaysaboutBernoullionlythathehad
"cultivated[thestudyofprobability]at[Leibniz's]encouragement"(GIII,570).

3.AProofforthePresumptionofPossibility

AmongthetruthsofprobabilitythatLeibnizexplicitlyclaimsaregivenby"reason"istheprinciple
accordingtowhich"wepresumethatanideaispossibleuntilthecontraryisdiscoveredbyamore
preciseinvestigation"(NE446).20ThisispreciselytheprincipletowhichLeibnizappealsinhis
presumptiveargumentfortheexistenceofanecessaryGod.Asweshallsee,thereisactuallya
proofofthisprincipleinoneofhisearlyworks.

ThetheoryofpresumptionsisoneofthemorefullyarticulatedpartsofLeibniz'sviewson
probabilities,anditisveryoftenmentionedwhenhediscussesthelargersubject.Sometimeshe
seemstothinkofpresumptionasoneofthehighergradesofprobability(NE464),butothertimes
heseemstodistinguishitfromprobabilityasacloselyrelatedalternative(AVI,i,472;Gr598).His
definitionofpresumptionexhibitssomevariationwithinafairlyconstantpattern.Inaparticularly
fullstatementofabout1671hesays,"Topresumeistoholdforcertainuntiltheoppositeis
proved,"andadds,"Forcertainiswhatwefollowinactionasifitwerecertain.Whatistobe
presumediswhateverisprudentlypresumed"(AVI,ii,567).21In1676hewrites,"Presumptionis
whatisheldfortrueuntilthecontraryisproved"(AVI,iii,631),andintheNewEssayshesaysthat
presumption"issomethingmore"thanconjectureand"oughttopassfortruthprovisionally,until
thereisproofofthecontrary"(NE457;cf.NE464,Tpd33).Thereissomedifferenceamongthese
definitionsastowhetherwhatispresumedisheldforcertainoronlyheldfortrue.22Allthe
definitions

____________________
20
PeterRemnantandJonathanBennett'sgenerallyreliabletranslationobscurestherelevanceofthis
passagetoourconcernsbytranslatingnouspresumonsas"weassume."
21
ThisisfromadraftthatLeibnizcrossedoutandreplaced.Ithinkthedraftwasabandonedfor
reasonsnotinvolvingrejectionofthisdefinition,withwhichtherevisedtextseemstoagree.
22
EzequieldeOlaso,"Leibnizetl'artdediputer,"n.46,seesanoscillationinLeibniz'sviewsabout
therelationofcertaintytoprobabilityandpresumption.
202

agree,however,thatwhatispresumedishelduntilthecontrary,ortheopposite,isproved.

Itisnotalwaysasexplicitasitwasinthe1671passagethatpresumptionisdefinedasgoverning
action,butIbelievethatthisisalwaysimplicitinLeibniz'stalkofholdingfortrueandpassingfor
acompleteproof.ThedefinitionintheNewEssays,itmayalsobenoted,ispartofaseriesof
explanationsoflegalstandardsofevidence,mostofwhicharemeasuredbythekindsofactionthey
areacceptedaswarranting.23Thisisnottosay,however,thatpresumptionwasforLeibniz
exclusivelyamatterofovertbehavior.ThereisatleastonepassageinwhichLeibnizseemsto
implythatpresumingsomethingtobetruedoesnotquiteamounttobelievingittobetrue(G
VII,45).Normally,andespeciallyinmattersofreligion,however,thereisnosignthatLeibnizdoes
notassumethatwhatispresumedtobetrueisalsobelievedtobetrue(oratleasttobeprobably
true).Andheclearlytookadimviewofthesortoflegalpresumptionjurisetdejurewhichwas
supposedtoholddespiteanyamountofcontraryevidence,andwhichthereforedidnotimplya
preponderanceofprobability(Gr848;cf.AVI,iii,631n).24

Indeed,Leibnizinsistedthatpresumptionmusthaveafoundation:"Topresumeisnot...toaccept
before[avant]theproof,whichisnotpermitted,buttoacceptprovisionally[paravance],butwith
grounds[fondement],whilewaitingforacontraryproof"(NE457).Thegroundsmentionedhere
areundoubtedlyepistemological,butLeibnizbelievedthatgoodepistemologicalgroundsshould
alsohaveametaphysicalfoundationinthenatureofthings.Hefrequentlyconnectstheprobability
ofanoutcomeorputativefactwiththe"ease"withwhichitcouldbeproduced,or,inotherwords,
withthestrengthofthepropensityinthenatureofthingstoproduceit(NE372f.;C515;G
III,569f.).25"Whatiseasyinreality[facileinre]isprobableinthemind"(AVI,ii,492).That
presumptionistobesimilarlygroundedineaseorfacilityisaffirmedinanearlytext.Leibnizhad
written,"Forwhatwepresume,wedemonstratefromitsnaturetobeeasier,andhencewepresume
ittobemorefrequent"(AVI,ii,567).Hecrossedoutthepassagecontainingthisstatement;thefinal
textofthis(unpublished)papercontainsamorecomplicatedformulation:

Whatiseasier,however,andwhatistobepresumeddifferasLessandpart.Forthatis
easierinwhichlessorfewer[things]arerequiredthantheopposite;[whereas]thatisto
bepresumedwhoserequirementsarepartoftherequirementsoftheopposite.
Thereforeeverythingthatistobepresumediseasier,butnotconversely.(AVI,i,472,
ascorrectedatAVI,ii,529)

Thisviewabouttheproperfoundationforpresumptionconstitutesoneofthekeyassumptionsof
Leibniz'sproofthatpresumptionfavorspossibility,whichisfound,indeed,inthetextfromwhichI
havejustquoted.Acrucialnotionfor

____________________
23
PresumptionisalsoconnectedexplicitlywithactionatNE438,andwithpracticeatAVI,ii,431f./
L129f.(Thecitedtranslationsofbothtextsfailtorenderpresumer/praesumereas"presume.")
24
0nthesubjectofpresumptionsjurisetdejure,seedeOlaso,"Leibnizetl'artdedisputer,"p.217f.,
andnotesthereto.
25
0nthispointseealsodeOlaso,"Leibnizetl'artdedisputer,"p.218,andHacking,Emergenceof
Probability,p.127f.,and"LeibnizCarnapProgramforInductiveLogic."
203

boththeviewandtheproofisthatof"requirements."AsIhaveexplainedatlengthinChapter4,
section1,thistermsignifiedforLeibnizbothconceptualconstituents,suchasdefiningproperties,
andcausallynecessaryconditions,andheseemscommonlytohaveuseditwiththeassumptionthat
thetwosignificationswouldcoincide.

Leibnizheldpersistentlytotheviewthatease,andthereforeinherentprobability,variesinversely
withquantityofrequirements.Inalistofdefinitionsfrom1702to1704hestillsays,"Easy,thatof
whichtherequirementsarefew.Difficult,thatofwhichtheyaremany.Undermanyareincluded
large;forthelargehavemanyparts"(C474).Thereisobviouslyaquestionabouttheplausibility
ofLeibniz'spositionatthispoint.Ifwethinkofthenumberofrequirementsasanumberofdistinct
efficientcauses,itmayberelativelyplausibletosupposethatthefewerarerequired,theeasierthe
resultwillbe.Butiftherequirementsaredefiningproperties,itmayseemmoredoubtfultous
whethersomethingwithmoredefiningproperties,ormorecomplexlogicalrequirements,must
thereforebemoredifficultinsuchawayastobeintrinsicallylesslikelytooccur.Leibnizmight
replythatasweaddpropertiesorlogicalrequirementstothedefinition,wecloseoffwaysinwhich
thedefinitioncouldbesatisfied,sothatifAhasfewerdefiningpropertiesthanB,therewillbe
morewaysinwhichAcouldoccur,andthereforeAwillbeinherentlymoreprobablethanBjust
asthesumofpointsina(fair)castofdiceisinherentlylikeliertobeseventhantwelvebecause
therearemorepossiblecombinationsthatyieldseventhantwelve(cf.GIII,569f.).Wewillneedto
bealert,however,toconsiderwhetherthedifferencesinlogicalcomplexitythatwillconcernusare
indeedassociatedwithdifferencesinthenumberofpossiblewaysofrealizingtheputative
possibilities.

Therearealsodifficultiesindeterminingthenumberofpropertiescontainedasrequirementsina
definition.Howdoweindividuatepropertiesforthispurpose?ItmayseemthatLeibnizmustcount
allindividualsubstances,ifpossibleatall,ashavingexactlythesamenumberofessential
requirements,sincetheirconcepts,ascomplete,mustcontainexactlyonememberofeverypairof
mutuallycontradictoryproperties(asexplainedinChapter2,above).Wemaybeabletoavoid
thesedifficultieshere,however.Forthebasisforpresumptionistobetheinclusionofthe
requirementsofwhatistobepresumedasaproperpartoftherequirementsofitsopposite,anda
properpartisnecessarilylessthanthewhole.

Inthecaseoftheproofthatpresumptionfavorspossibility,wearenotconcernedwithrequirements
forexistence,butwithrequirementsforpossibilityorimpossibility.Wearethereforeprimarily
concernedwithrequirementsasessentialordefiningfeatures,ratherthanas(efficient)causes.The
argumentgoesasfollows:

Foritiseasierforsomethingtoturnouttobepossiblethanimpossible.Fornothingis
requiredforthepossiblebutthatitbesupposed;fortheimpossible,however,itis
requiredthatwhileitissupposed,itsoppositebesupposedatthesametime.Therefore
morethingsarerequiredfortheimpossiblethanforthepossible....Thatispresumed,
however,whosesuppositions[supposita]arealsosuppositionsoftheopposite,andnot
conversely.(AVI,i,471)

204

Fromwhichitfollowsthatanythingistobepresumedpossibleunlessanduntilthereisweightier
reasontobelieveitimpossible.

Theargumentofthisremarkablyinterestingpassagedeservestobesetoutinalesscompressed
formthanLeibnizhasgivenit.

(1)"Fornothingisrequiredforthepossiblebutthatitbesupposed."

ThisItaketomeanthattherequirementsofaputativepossibilityaretheessentialorconstitutive
featuresofwhatwouldbepossible.

(2)"Fortheimpossible,however,itisrequiredthatwhileitissupposed,itsoppositebe
supposedatthesametime."

AtfirstglancewemighttakeLeibniztobearguingthatitisharderforsomethingtobeimpossible
thantobepossiblebecause,inordertothinkthatitisimpossible,wemustholdcontradictory
suppositionsatthesametime.Ithinkitislikelierthathemeansthat,sinceimpossibilityisrooted
ininconsistency,aputativeimpossibilitynotonlyhastherequirementsofthepossibilitydenied
(withoutwhichitwouldlackasubjectmatter)butalsorequiresthattheyimplytheiropposites.

Fromthispointtheargumentcangointwodirections.

(3a)Wecaninferthatlessisrequiredforapossibilitythanfortheopposed
impossibility.
And,aswehaveseen,Leibnizholds

(4a)Thatforwhichlessisrequiredispreciselythatwhichiseasier.

Therefore

(5a)"Itiseasierforsomethingtoturnouttobepossiblethanimpossible."

From(1)and(2)wecanalsoinfer

(3b)Therequirementsofapossibilityareaproperpartoftherequirementsofthe
correspondingimpossibility.

Butthisispreciselytheconditionlaiddowninthistextforpresumption.

(4b)"Thatistobepresumedwhoserequirementsarepartoftherequirementsofthe
opposite,"or"whosesuppositions[supposita]arealsosuppositionsoftheopposite,and
notconversely."

Therefore

(5b)Possibilityistobepresumedunlessanduntilthecorrespondingimpossibilityis
proved.

205

4.PresumingthePossibilityofBeingsasSuch

IdoubtthatweareinapositiontoknowwhetherLeibnizhadthisearlyproofinmind,oreven
whetherhewouldstillhaveendorsedit,whenhewroteintheNewEssaysthat"reasonyields"the
principlebywhich"wepresumethatanideaispossibleuntilthecontraryisdiscoveredbyamore
preciseinvestigation"(NE446).Itwillbeworthwhile,however,toconsiderwhethertheproof
yieldsabasisforagoodreplytotheobviousobjectiontohispresumptiveargumentfortheism.I
willtrytoworkoutthesortofpositionthatLeibnizwouldhavetohaveheldinordertohavesucha
reply,drawingfreelyontextsthatsuggestsuchaposition.ThenIwilldiscusssomeobjectionsboth
tothepositionitselfandtothehypothesisthatLeibnizheldit.

InpresentingtheobjectionitisconvenienttoassumethatwhenLeibnizsaysthat"possibilityis
alwayspresumedandoughttobeheldfortrueuntiltheimpossibilityisproved"(GIII,444),he
meansthatthetruthofanypropositionoughttobepresumedpossibleunlessanduntilitisproved
impossible.Thisrule,theobjectorpointsout,appliesequallytothepropositions,'AnecessaryGod
exists'and'NonecessaryGodexists'.ButLeibnizhasarguedthatif'AnecessaryGodexists'is
possiblytrue,itisnecessarilytruefromwhichitfollowsthatif'AnecessaryGodexists'is
possiblytrue,'NonecessaryGodexists'isnotpossiblytrue.Thereforewecannotconsistently
acceptbothofthesepropositionsaspossiblytrue.Itmaybeplausibleinmostcasestopresume,in
theabsenceofproof,thatapropositionispossiblytrue.Butwhenwehavetwopropositionsof
whichweknowthatexactlyoneispossiblytrue,butwehavenotprovedwhichoneitis,the
generalruleofpresumingpropositionspossiblytrueyieldsnoconsistentconclusion.

Theonlydefensiblegeneralpresumptioninfavorofpossibilityofpropositionswouldreallybea
presumptioninfavorofcontingencyapresumptionthatapropositionshouldbepresumed
contingent(possiblybutnotnecessarilytrue)unlessprovednottobe.Therearepropositionsthat
areknownnottobecontingentbutaboutwhichithasnotbeenprovedwhetheritistheyortheir
contradictoriesthatarepossibly(andhencenecessarily)true.Goldbach'sconjecture(thatevery
evennumbergreaterthantwoisthesumoftwoprimes)isafamousexample.Ageneral
presumptioninfavorofcontingencyhasnobearingonsuchcases,andthatisasitshouldbe.It
wouldbeabsurdtosupposethatweoughttodecideaboutGoldbach'sconjectureonthebasisofa
presumptiverulefavoringpossibilityorcontingencyoranyothermodalstatusofpropositionsas
such.Theobjectorarguesthatthisisalsotrueof'AnecessaryGodexists'.

Ageneralpresumptiverulefavoringpossibilityofpropositionscannottelluswhetheragiven
noncontingentproposition,ratherthanitscontradictory,shouldbeassumedpossibly(andhence
actually)true,becausesuchapresumptionfailstodiscriminatebetweenthealternativesthatis,
becausenodifferencebetweenthealternativesisrelevantaccordingtotherule.Butperhaps
Leibnizhadadifferentruleinmind,onethatwoulddiscriminatebetween'AnecessaryGodexists'
and'NonecessaryGodexists'.Itmaybesignificantthatsomeformulationsoftheruleof
presumptiongiveninhisdiscussionsofthepresumptiveargumentfortheismareexplicitlyabout
thepossibilityofbeings:"Everybeing

206

oughttobejudgedpossibleuntilthecontraryisproved"(GIII,444)."Onehastherighttopresume
thepossibilityofeveryBeing,andaboveallofGod,untilsomeoneprovesthecontrary"(NE438).
IfLeibniz'sruleofpresumptiondoesfavorthepossibilityofbeingsassuch,itwilldirectusto
presumethepossibilityof(theexistenceof)anecessaryGod,andwillnotcontradictitsownadvice
bygeneratingacountervailingpresumptionofthepossibilityofthenonexistenceofanecessary
God,sincenonexistencesarenotbeings.

Ofcourseitmightcontradictitsownadviceinanotherway,bygeneratingpresumptionsof
possibility,andhencepresumptivearguments,fortheexistenceoftwoormoreincompatible
necessarybeings.Perhapsthesewouldbeanecessary(personal)GodandanimpersonalPlatonic
FormoftheGood,oneconceivedasnecessarilyindependentofallotherbeingsthanitself,andthe
otherconceivedasnecessarilyacauseofallotherbeingsthanitself.26Thiswouldlimitthe
applicabilityandusefulnessofaruleofpresumptionfavoringthepossibilityofbeingsassuch.It
couldnothelpustodecideamonghypothesesinvolvingalternativeandincompatibletypesof
necessarybeing.SofarasIcansee,thattaskcannotbeaccomplishedbyapresumptiveargument
andmustbedealtwithinsomeotherway.Butthisobjectionfailstoshowthatsucharulecould
contradictitsownadviceindirectingustopresumethepossibilityoftherebeinganecessarybeing
ofsomesortorother,abeingwhoseexistencefollowsfromitsessence.Andsincemuchof
Leibniz'sargumentissimplyabouttheexistenceofanecessarybeingassuch,thatrathergeneral
conclusionwouldsurelystillbeofinteresttohim.
ItisquitepossibletointerpretLeibniz'searlyproofthat"presumptionis...forpossibility"(A
VI,i,471)asanargumentforpresumingthepossibilityofbeings.Theproofturnsontheconceptof
a"requirement."WhileLeibnizwascertainlypreparedtospeakoftherequirementsofaneventor
ofanimpossibility,itisclearthatinhisminditwasprimarilythings,substances,thathad
requirements.Theessentialpropertiesthatenterintothedefinitionofathingaretheprimecaseof
requirements,particularlywhereweareconcernedwithrequirementsforpossibilityratherthanfor
(actual)existence.

InLeibniz'sview,thepossibilityofthingsisgroundedintheiressences,whichare"thespecific
reason[s]of[their]possibility"(AII,i,390),aswesawinChapter5,section1.Andthe
possibilitiesofeventsandstatesofaffairsaregroundedintheessencesofthesubstancesthatenter
intothem.CertainlyLeibnizheldthattheactualityofeventsandstatesofaffairs,andevenofthe
actualworldasawhole,followsfrom,andisgroundedin,theactualizationoftheessencesofthe
individualsubstancesthatactuallyexist(DM89,1314).Aspossibleworldsarecollectionsof
possiblethingsinthesamewaythattheactualworldisacollectionofactualthings(GIII,573/
L662;cf.GVII,302ff./L486ff.),itseemstofollowthatthepossibilityofapossibleworld,andof
allthatoccursinit,followsfrom,andisgroundedin,theessencesoftheindividualsubstancesthat

____________________
26
SeeR.Adams,"PresumptionandtheNecessaryExistenceofGod,"pp.22f.,forafuller
presentationofthisexampleandofthiswholeobjection.Itreatedtheobjectionthereasshowing
conclusivelythataruleofpresumptionfavoringthepossibilityofbeingsassuchisofnouseinthis
context.Ihavecometothinkthattoohastyajudgment,forreasonsthatwillemergeinthepresent
discussion.
207

wouldexistinit,andtheircompossibility.GivenLeibniz'sbeliefsthatallpossiblefactsareabout
substances,andthattheessenceofeverypossibleindividualsubstancedetermineseveryfactthat
wouldbetrueaboutthatsubstance,theessencesofpossibleindividualsubstances,inproviding
reasonsforthepossibilityofthesubstances,mustprovidesufficientreasonsforthepossibilityof
allpossiblefacts.Inthestructureofpossibility,asseenbyLeibniz,thefoundationsaretheessences
ofsubstances.Ifanythingcouldbemorefundamental,itwouldbethegeneralpropertiesofwhich
thoseessencesarecomposed;butthey,too,arepropertiesofsubstances,andtheirpossibilityisthe
possibilityofakindofsubstanceorbeing.Theultimatefoundationofallpossibility,ofcourse,is
theessenceofGod(Mon4346),whichiscomposedofthesimplestandmostpositiveofgeneral
properties.

InlightofthesereflectionswemayinterpretthefirstpremiseofLeibniz'sargumentforthe
presumptionofpossibility,that"nothingisrequiredforthepossiblebutthatitbesupposed"(A
VI,i,471).Iwilltakeitasapplyingtothepossibiityofanindividualsubstanceorakindof
substance.Thecontextoftheargumentmightbethoughttotellagainstthisinterpretation.Leibniz
isdiscussingtherelationoflegalmodalitiestologicalmodalities.Seeingtheanalogybetween
deonticlogicandmodallogic,hesupportsthethesisthatitiseasierforanacttoberight[justus,
permitted]thanwrong[injustus]byarguingfirstthatitiseasierforsomethingtobepossiblethan
impossible(AVI,i,470f.).ThismightbetakenassuggestingthatLeibnizwasthinkingofacts
ratherthansubstancesaspossibleorimpossible.Butthatisnotrequiredbyhisanalogybetween
deonticandmodallogic,and,inanyevent,IamheredevelopingsuggestionsinLeibniz'sworkofa
positionthatwouldhaveenabledhimtorejecttheobviousobjectiontohispresumptiveargument
fortheism,reservingforlateranydoubtsastowhetherhedidholdtheposition.

Appliedtosubstances,Leibniz'spremiseimpliesthatinthatcasetherequirementsofthepossibility
aresimplythepropertiesthatconstitutetheessenceofthesubstanceorkindofsubstanceitself.
Thisisthesimplestandthereforetheeasiestcase,and,otherthingsbeingequal,themostprobable.
Forothercasesthereareadditionalrequirements.Fortheimpossibilityofathing,Leibnizimplies,
arerequirednotonlythepropertiesthatwouldconstituteitsessenceifitwerepossible,butalso
theirimplying(inconsistently)theiropposites.

Similarly,itmaybesuggested,boththeexistenceandthenonexistenceofathingrequire
somethingmorethanitssimplepossibility.Theactualexistenceofapossiblethingrequiresbothits
possibility,oritsessence,andsomereasonwhyitisactual.Andtherequirementsofathing's
nonexistenceincludebothitsessence(whichdefineswhatitisthatdoesnotexist)andsomereason
whyitisnotactual.Thepossibilityofathing'snonexistence,therefore,willrequireboththe
essenceofthethingandthepossibilityofareasonwhythethingwouldnotactuallyexist.Thusthe
sumoftherequirementsofthepossibilityofthething(thatis,itsessence)isaproperpartofthe
requirementsofthepossibilityofitsnonexistence.Thepossibilityofthethingisthereforeeasier,
havingfewerrequirements,thanthepossibilityofitsnonexistence;andthereiscorrespondingly
lessreasontopresumethepossibilityofitsnonexistencethantopresumethepossibilityofthe
thing.Thisisanargumentforacceptingaruleofpresumptionthatwouldfavor

208

thepossibilityofanecessarybeinginpreferencetothepossibilityofthenonexistenceofsucha
being.

5.ObjectionsConsidered

Itisnotdifficulttothinkofobjectionstothisargument.Itreliesonsomeasymmetries,asyet
undefended.OneisalreadypresentinLeibniz'sexplicitargumentforpresumingpossibility,asI
understandit.Theimpossibilityofathingrequiresthatthething'sdefiningproperties,collectively,
implytheiropposites.Theargumenttakesthattobeanewrequirement,overandabovethe
definingpropertiesthemselves,butitdoesnottakethemutualconsistencyofthedefining
propertiesasanewrequirement,overandabovethepropertiesthemselves,forthepossibilityofthe
thing.Thisasymmetryhassomeintuitiveappeal:implyingsomethingmayseemtobeanadditional
requirementinawaythatnotimplyingsomethingisnot.ButIwouldnotknowhowtodefendthis
intuition,anditseemstobeaweakpointoftheargument.Thereissomeintuitiveappealonthe
otherside,forexample,totheclaimthatinconsistencyisnotamoreextraneousfeatureofthe
propertyset(spherical,pyramidal),thanconsistencyisoftheset(triangular,equilateral).

AsimilarasymmetrymaybefoundintheargumentIhavesuggestedforregardingthepossibility
ofathingashavingfewerrequirements,andhenceaspreferablepresumptively,incomparisonwith
thepossibilityofitsnonexistence.Itsupposesthatapossiblereasonwhyitwouldnotexistmustbe
givenasarequirementinadditiontoathing'sessencetoyieldapossibilityofitsnonexistence,but
thattheessence,withoutanycorrespondingaddition,sufficesasthesumoftherequirementsfor
thething'spossibility.Thisisquestionable.SinceLeibnizcertainlysupposesthatthepossibilityof
athinginvolvesthepossibilityofitsexistence,wemayaskifapossiblereasonwhythething
wouldexistshouldn'tbeconsideredanadditionalrequirementforthepossibilityofthething.

HereIimagineLeibnizwouldreplythatapossiblereasonwhyathingwouldexistisindeeda
requirementofthething'spossibility,butnotanadditionalrequirement,asitisalreadyincludedin
theessence.(Exceptinthecaseofanecessarybeing,ofcourse,theactualityofthereasonfor
existencewillnotbeincludedintheexistence,andhencewillbeanadditionalrequirementforthe
actualexistenceofthething.)TherearepassagesinLeibniz'swritingsthatcouldbeinterpretedas
supportingthisviewoftheessencesofthings(LA51;GIII,572/L661).Wemayask,however,
whetheritisfairtorelyonitatthispoint.Iftheessenceincludesapossiblereasonfortheexistence
ofthething,oughtweperhapstoexcludethatpartoftheessencefromtherequirementsforthe
possibilityofthething'snonexistence?Thatwouldenableustoavoidtheconclusionthatthe
possibilityofathing'snonexistencerequirespossiblereasonsbothforitsexistenceandits
nonexistence,whereasthepossibilityofthethingrequiresapossiblereasononlyforitsexistence.
ThisasymmetryiscrucialtotheargumentIhavesuggestedforthepreferentialpresumptionin
favorofthepossibilityofbeingsassuch.Thedefensibilityofthatargumentmaydependon
whetherLeibnizcouldargueplausiblythatapossiblereasonforathing'sexistenceisessentialto

209

thesubjectmatterofbothitsexistenceanditsnonexistenceinawaythatapossiblereasonforits
nonexistenceisnot.

Anotherobjectionisrelatedtobothoftheseasymmetries.SupposewegrantLeibnizthatthe
requirementsofanimpossibility,orofapossiblenonexistence,includealltherequirementsofthe
correspondingpossibility,orpossiblebeing,plusanadditionalrequirement.Wemaystillask
whetherthisadditionalrequirementeffectsareductioninthediversityofpossiblerealizations.In
bothcases,Ithink,theanswerisno.Ifthedefiningpropertiesofathingimplytheiropposites
(whichistheadditionalrequirementforanimpossibility),thatisalreadyimplicitinthedefinition,
evenifitisnotspelledoutthere.Likewise,ifthereisapossiblereasonforthenonexistenceofa
thing(whichistheadditionalrequirementforapossibilityofnonexistence),thatispresumablya
necessaryfeatureofthetotallogicalormetaphysicalsetup,evenifitisnotpartoftheessenceof
thething.SoevenifLeibnizcoulddefendtheclassificationoftheserequirementsas"additional,"
theiradditiondoesnoteliminatepossibilitiesastheadditionofequilateralitytothedefinitionofa
triangleasaclosed,threesidedplanefigurereducesthevarietyofwaysinwhichthedefinition
couldpossiblybesatisfied.Andwherethe"addition"ofdefiningoressentialrequirementsdoesnot
eliminatepossibilities,IthinkthereislittleplausibilitytoLeibniz'sthesisthatwhathasmore
requirementsistherebymetaphysicallymoredifficultorinherentlylesslikely.Forthisreasonmore
thananyother,thereasonthatLeibnizofferedforpresumingpossibility,andthereasonIhave
suggestedhemighthaveofferedforpresumingpossibilityofexistenceinpreference,ifneedbe,to
possibilityofnonexistence,bothseemtomequiteweak.

Leibnizseemstohavealwaysbelieveditatruthofreasonthatthereisapresumptionfavoring
possibility.Thereisanobjectionyettobecanvassed,however,toincludinginhisphilosophythe
viewthatpresumptionfavorspreferentiallythepossibilityofbeingsassuch,orofexistence.In
"ThePrinciplesofNatureandofGrace"(7),bywayofmotivatingthequestion,whythereis
somethingratherthannothing,asastartingpointforhiscosmologicalargumentfortheexistenceof
God,Leibnizsays,"Fornothing[lerien]issimplerandeasierthansomething."Thisseemstomean
thattheexistenceofnothingisinherentlyeasierthantheexistenceofsomethingfromwhichit
wouldseemtofollow,givenLeibniz'sotherviews,thatiftherulesofpresumptionhaveany
systematicpreferencebetweenexistenceandnonexistence,theywouldfavornonexistence.This
apparentimplicationofaverylate(1714)textseemstobeconfirmedbyLeibniz'sstatementin
1670that"theexistenceofathingthatisnotperceivedisnotpresumed,"where"whateverisnot
presumedisinpracticetobeheldfornothing"(AVI,ii,431/L129).

Forseveralreasons,however,Ihesitatetoregardthesetextsasdecisiveinthematter.Inthefirst
place,theyconcernthecomparativecaseorpresumabilityofactualexistenceandnonexistence,
whereastheargumentweareconsideringisaboutthecomparativeeaseandpresumabilityof
possibleexistenceandnonexistence.IfLeibnizembracedthatargumenthewouldsay,asIhave
suggested,thatapossiblereasonofnonexistenceis,andapossiblereasonofexistenceisnot,an
additionalrequirementoverandabovetheessenceofthethingthatisthesubjectofbothputative
possibilities.Theactualexistenceofathing,how

210

ever,hastheactualityofareasonforitasarequirement,and,exceptinthecaseofanecessary
being,thatisplainlyanadditionalrequirementoverandabovetheessenceofthething.Leibniz
mighthavethoughtthattheactualityofareasonfornonexistenceisingeneraleasierthanthe
actualityofareasonforexistence,eveniftherequirementsforthepossibleexistenceofathingare
aproperpartoftherequirementsforitspossiblenonexistence.

Inthesecondplace,Leibniz'sattempttomotivatethecosmologicalargumentbysayingthat
nothingiseasierthansomethingmaybeanillconsideredappealtoreceivedopinion,andnotreally
consistentwithhisphilosophy.Forheholdsindeeditispartofhisfullestpresentationofthe
cosmologicalargumentthat"inpossiblethings,orinpossibilityitselforessence,thereisa
demand[exigentia]forexistence,or(sotospeak)aclaim[praetensio]onexistence,and,toputitin
aword,thatessenceofitselftendstowardexistence."Thismayatfirstseemtousfarfetched,but
Leibnizhasareasonforitthatdeservescarefulreflection.Heinfersit"fromtheveryfactthatsome
thingexistsratherthannothing"(GVII,303/L487).Ifnonexistenceisindeedinherentlyeasierthan
existence,wemightask,Howisitthatanythingexistsatall?"Iftherewerenotintheverynature
ofEssencesomeinclinationtoexist,nothingwouldexist,"Leibnizdeclares(GVII,194).Howthis
demandorclaimorinclinationtoexistenceistobeunderstoodisadifficultissueinthe
interpretationofLeibniz,whichIhavediscussedinChapter6.Hereitisenoughtoremarkthat
someonewhothoughtthatessencehasofitselfaninclinationtoexistmightbeexpectedtodeny
thatnonexistenceiseasierthanexistence.Indeed,Leibnizwrote,atleastonce,inacontextofthis
sort,that"everythingiseasier,themoreithasofreality"(Gr17)thatis,themoreperfectits
essenceis.

Itmayalsoberemarked,inthethirdplace,thattheideaofNothing,ofastateofaffairsinwhich
nothingexists,assimpleandeasydoesnotfitverywellintheLeibnizianstructureofpossibility.
Forinthatstructure,ifIhaveunderstoodit,everypossibilityisgroundedinareason,andthemost
basicreasonsofpossibilityaretheessencesofthings.Butallessencesareessencesofpossible
things,andhenceofrealities.Althoughsomeessencescontainorexpressmore"reality"or
perfectionthanothers,thereisnoessencethatcontainsorexpressesnorealityatall.Hencethereis
noessenceofNothing,noessencewhosefirsttaskistobethespecificreasonofthepossibilityof
anemptyuniverse.Ifsuchastateofaffairsispossibleatall,itcannotbeforLeibnizaprimitive
possibility.Itspossibilitymustbeconstructedorderivedfromtheessencesthatarethespecific
reasonsofmorepositivepossibilities.Itisnotdifficulttoseehowsuchaconstructionmightgo.I
discussedearlierhowthenonexistenceofathingmightbeconstructed,havingtheessenceofthe
thingamongitsrequirements.Astateofaffairsinwhichnothingwouldexistmightbeconstituted
bytheconjunctionofthenonexistencesofallpossiblethings.Thiswouldbeaverycomplexstate
ofaffairs,andnoteasyatallbyLeibnizianstandards,sincetheessences,andthustherequirements,
ofallpossiblethingswouldbeamongitsrequirements.Intheend,ofcourse,Leibnizmustsaythat
itisnotevenapossiblestateofaffairs,sincesomething(namely,God)existsnecessarily.

AlthoughthereisarichsystemofthoughtbehindLeibniz'stalkaboutpresumption,asystemwhose
juridicalaspects,particularly,Ihavehardlybegunto

211

explore,Idonotthinkwearelikelytofindinitacompellingargumentfortherationalnecessityof
therulethatpresumptionfavorspossibility,letaloneforapresumptionpreferentiallyfavoringthe
possibilityofbeingsassuch.Certainlytherearetoomanyweakanddoubtfulpointsinthe
argumentspresentedearlierinsections3and4.Theoppositesuggestion,thatpresumptionfavors
thepossiblenonexistence,inpreferencetothepossibleexistence,ofaNecessaryGod,wasnot,to
myknowledge,consideredbyLeibniz,andwillthereforenotbediscussedhere.AsIhave
explainedelsewhere,IthinkitcanbemademoreplausiblethanLeibniz'spresumptiveargument,
butIamnotintheendpersuadedbyit.27Indeed,Inotonlydoubtthattheclichthatpresumption
favorspossibilityorcontingencycanbeprovedbyaLeibnizianargument;Idoubtitsapplicability
tothecaseathand.Ithinkitdoesnotingeneralprovideareasonablebasisfordeciding
metaphysicalissuesthataremodalincharacter,suchasthatoftheexistenceornonexistenceofa
necessaryGod.

Nodoubttherearecasesinwhichitisplausibletopresumepossibilityintheabsenceofproof.Or
perhapsitwouldbemoreaccuratetosaythattherearecasesinwhichourfailuretofindaproofof
impossibilityisagoodreasonforassumingpossibility.Itseemstobemetaphysicallypossible,for
example,forOrelHershisertopitchthirtyfivenohitmajorleaguegamesinoneyear.One
importantreasonforassumingthistobepossibleisthatwecanseenogoodreasonwhyitwouldbe
impossible.

Butthatisbecauseitisplausibletoassumethatifitwereimpossiblewewouldseeagoodreason
forthinkingso.Incidentalfeaturesaside,thesupposedpossibilitydiffersonlyquantitativelyfrom
events(individualnohitters)thatweknowtobepossiblebecausetheyareactual.Thereis
thereforenoreasontosuspectthatweareenteringintoanareaofdeepperplexityaboutmodalityin
thiscase.Thequantitativeaspectsofthecasealsoseemfairlysimple,sothatiftherewerea
mathematicalimpossibilitywewouldprobablyhavefoundit.

Itisworthnotingthatweoftenhavesimilarreasonsforpresumingimpossibility.Canideassleep
furiously?Mostofusthinknot;whyisthat?Iwouldnotexpecttofindastrictproofinthismatter,
butIthinkwecanreasonablyrejectanysupposedpossibilityofideassleepingfuriously,onthe
groundthatwecan'tseehowanythingwouldcountasideassleepingfuriously.Hereweassume
thatiftherewereawayinwhichideascoulddosomethingthatwouldcountassleepingfuriously,
wewouldseethatthatwasso.Ourinabilitytoseeanysuchpossibilityisareasonforthinking
thereisnone.

Metaphysicallyinterestingissuesaboutpossibilityandnecessityaremorebaffling.Wecannot
reasonablyassumethatiftherearepossiblephenomenalcolors,verydifferentfromorange,that
wouldfallbetweenredandyellowonaspectrum,wewouldseethatthatwasso.Andwecannot
reasonablyassumethatifthereissomethingthatkeepstraveltothepast,orthenonexistenceof
God,frombeingpossible,wewouldhavediscoveredit.ThereforeIthinkweshouldbevery
suspiciousofanypresumptiveargumentonthesematters.

____________________
27
R.Adams,"PresumptionandtheNecessaryExistenceofGod,"pp.2327.Thesubsequent
paragraphsofthepresentsectionaredrawn(inabbreviatedform)fromthatpaper.
212

Abetterapproachfordealingwithsuchissuesistolooktobroadertheoreticalconsiderations,
askingwhetherthereareattractivetheoriesinmetaphysicsoranyrelatedsubjectthatimplyone
positionortheotheronthemodalissue,orthatatleastworkbestontheassumptionofone
position.Thisapproach,inmyopinion,offersthebrightestprospectsforjustifyingbeliefina
necessaryGod.28Leibnizpursuedit,too,arguingthattheexistenceofcontingentbeings,andthe
ontologicalstatusofpossibilitiesandtheobjectsoflogic,couldbestbeexplainedonthehypothesis
ofanecessaryGod(GIV,406;NE447,Mon4344).Ihavehadalittletosayabouttheformer
argumentatthebeginningofChapter5,section2,andquitealotaboutthelatterinChapter7.

____________________
28
Forafullerdiscussionofthispoint,seeR.Adams,"PresumptionandtheNecessaryExistenceof
God,"pp.30f.
213

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214

III
Idealism:MonadsandBodies
215

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216

9
Leibniz'sPhenomenalism
ThemostfundamentalprincipleofLeibniz'smetaphysicsisthat"thereisnothinginthingsexcept
simplesubstances,andinthemperceptionandappetite"(GII,270/L537).Itimpliesthatbodies,
whicharenotsimplesubstances,canonlybeconstructedoutofsimplesubstancesandtheir
propertiesofperceptionandappetition.('Constructed'isourwordforit.Leibnizcommonlysays
thatbodiesorphenomena"result"fromsimplesubstancesandtheirmodifications,butresultingis
1
notwhatwewouldcallacausalrelationinthiscontext.)

Howarebodiesconstructedoutofsimplesubstancesandtheirproperties?Inthischapterandthe
nextIwillpresentthemainoutlinesofthecomplexanswergiventothisquestioninLeibniz's
maturephilosophy.ManyofLeibniz'sbestinterpreters2haveseeninthiscomplexstructure
irreconcilabletheses,forwhichtheyhavetriedtoaccountintermsofchangeofmindoroneor
anotherformofpermanenttension.WhatIpropose,bycontrast,isaunitaryinterpretation,a
metaphysicalschemetowhich,initsessentials,IbelieveLeibnizadheredthroughoutthelastthirty
yearsofhislife.Thereweresomevariationsanddevelopmentsindetailandterminologyduringthe
period,butnone,Ibelieve,assubstantialorrevolutionaryasothershaveargued.Someissuesof
changeanddevelopmentwillbediscussedinChapters9and10,butthemostseriouschallengeto
Leibniz'sconstancyinthesematters,from1686tohisdeath,willbeexaminedprincipallyin
Chapters1113.

Aconstructionofthewholeofrealityoutofperceivingsubstancesandtheirperceptionsand
appetitesexemplifiesabroadlyidealistapproachtometaphysics.Leibnizwasthefirstofthegreat
modernphilosopherstodevelopanidealistmetaphysics.Idealiststrandsappearveryearlyinhis
thought(asearlyas1670),thoughtheykeepcompanyintheearlyyearswithlessidealiststrands.I
willfocusheremainlyonthematureperiodofhisthought(beginningabout1686);but

____________________
1
"Inactualrealitiesthewhole,"forexample,"isaresultoftheparts"(GVII,562),butthatdoesnot
meanthatthepartsare(efficient)causesofthewhole.Ithinkthedatafromwhichsomething
"results"inLeibniz'ssensearejointlysufficientfortheresult,andtheresultaddsnothingtothem.
(Cf.GMVII,21f./L669thoughtheLatinprosultareisusedthereinplaceofthemoreusual
resultare.)Perhapsthedatawillalsobeindividuallynecessaryfortheresult,butIdoubtthatthatis
impliedinthenotionof"result."Certainlytheresultneednotbecapableofdefinitionintermsof
thedata,inafinitelanguage,forthedatawillcommonlybeinfinite.
2
E.g.,Hochstetter,"VonderwahrenWirklichkeitbeiLeibniz";Broad,Leibniz:AnIntroduction,pp.
4992;Loeb,FromDescartestoHume,pp.299309;Garber,"LeibnizandtheFoundationsof
Physics";Robinet,Architectoniquedisjonctive;andC.Wilson,Leibniz'sMetapbysics.
217

themostphenomenalistoftheseearlystrandswillbethetopicofsection2.Itmakesclearthat
Leibnizhadarticulatedmuchofthestructureofaphenomenalisttheoryofbodieslongbefore
3
reachingthematureperiodofhisthought.

ItisalsoclearthatphenomenalismretainsanimportantplaceinLeibniz'smaturephilosophy,as
statedforinstanceintwoofhisletterstoBurcherDeVolder:

Matterandmotionarenotsomuchsubstancesorthingsasthephenomenaof
perceivers,whoserealityislocatedintheharmonyofperceiverswiththemselves(at
differenttimes)andwiththeotherperceivers.(GII,270/L537)

ThereforeIfeelthatthebodiesthatarepopularlyregardedassubstancesarenothing
butrealphenomena,andarenomoresubstancesthanparheliaandrainbowsare.(G
II,262)

ThematureLeibniztriedtocombinehisphenomenalismwithatheoryofcorporealsubstances,but
inawaythatleavesintactthebasicidealismofthesystem.Iwilldiscussthetheoryofcorporeal
substanceinChapter10,focusinginthepresentchapteronLeibniz'sconceptionofacorporeal
phenomenon.AnotherthesisofthematureLeibnizthatmightseemtobeinconflictwithhis
phenomenalismcannotwaitsolongfordiscussion.Itisinfactsointimatelyboundupwithhis
conceptionofbodiesasphenomenathatitmustbetakenupinthischapter.Thisisthethesisthat
4assuchareaggregatesofsubstances.
bodiesormassesofmatter

Howcanbodiesbebothmerephenomenaandaggregatesofsubstances?Inthisconnection
interpretershavespokenofavacillationinLeibnizorhavetriedtodocumentachangeofmind,
5Iamconvinced,however,that
assigningthedifferenttheoriestodifferentperiodsinhiscareer.
Leibnizdidnotvacillateorchangehismindonthispoint.Tobesure,heisoftencarelessor
imprecise,sayingthingsinwaysthatignoreaspectsofhisviewsthathedoesnotwanttopresentat
themoment.ButLeibnizbelieved(rightlyorwrongly)thatthetwotheses,thatbodiesare
phenomenaandthattheyareaggregatesofsubstances,areconsistent,andheheldbothofthem
throughoutthematureperiodofhisthought(say,from1686on).

____________________
3
Otherearlyidealiststrandsmaybenoted.SeeAVI,i,509/L116,apaperof1670onEucharistic
theology(discussedfurtherinChapter12,section2.3):"theSubstanceofabodyisunionwitha
sustainingmind."ForanotherstrandseeAVI,ii,266/L141,atreatiseinphysicsof1671,which
exhibitswhatDanielGarberhascalleda"mentalizationofbody,"declaringthat"everybodyisa
momentarymind;thatis,onelackingmemory."However,thecontextofthelatterstrandin
Leibniz'spreParisianphysicaltheorizing,heavilyinfluencedbyHobbes,maysuggestthatthe
mentalizationofbodyisaccompaniedbyaphysicalizationofmind.Onthiswholesubjectinthe
youngLeibniz,seeGarber,"MotionandMetaphysicsintheYoungLeibniz,"esp.pp.16878(this
notequotesp.168);Robinet,Architectoniquedisionctive,esp.pp.12564;andC.Wilson,Leibnizs
Metaphysics,pp.4570.
4
Tobemoreprecise,massesofsecondarymatter,asweshallseeinChapter10.
5
Forexample,Hochstetter,"VonderwahrenWirklichkeitbeiLeibniz,"esp.thereferencesto
LeibnizSchwanken,pp.422and440;andLoeb,FromDescartestoHume,pp.299309to
mentiontwoworksthatIholdinhighregard.NicholasJolley,inhisinterestingpaper,"Leibniz
andPhenomenalism,"alsotreatsthesetheoriesasinconsistent,butclaimsthat"Leibnizneverdid
morethanflirtwithphenomenalism"(p.51).
218

InthischapterIwilltrytoshowhowthesetwothesesbelong,forLeibniz,toasingle,
phenomenalistictheory,whichseemstometobereasonablycoherent.Insection2Iwilltracethe
transitiontothistheoryfromanearlier,simplerconceptionofphenomenalism,andinsection3I
willtrytoexplainwhyLeibnizthoughtthatbodiesareonlyphenomenapreciselybecausetheyare
aggregatesofsubstances.Insection4Iwillexaminethedistinctionbetweenrealandimaginary
bodiesinhissystem,whichistheprincipalpointatwhichhemightbesuspectedofusingtwoor
moremutuallyinconsistentconstructions.Beforethat,however,ImusttrytoexplainwhatLeibniz
doesanddoesnotmeanbycallingbodies"phenomena."Section1willbedevotedtothistopic,
whichcontains(inmyopinion)someofLeibniz'smostvaluablecontributionstometaphysics.

1.Phenomena
1.1WhatArePhenomena?

Leibniz'sphenomenalismisquitedifferentfromthesortsofphenomenalismwithwhichEnglish
speakingphilosophersarelikelytobemostfamiliar,andIthinkitissuperiortotheminimportant
respects.Weneed,therefore,toclearourmindsofpreconceptionswhenweconsiderwhatLeibniz
meantbycallingbodiesphenomena.Theword'phenomenon'playsanimportantpartinLeibniz's
discussionofthenatureofbodies,asitdoesnot,forexample,inBishopBerkeley's.'Phenomenon'
isaGreekwordthatmeans'appearance',ormoreliterally'thingthatappears'.Thingsthatappear
areobjectsofawarenesstosomeonetowhomtheyappear.Thefirstthingtobesaidabout
6Inthisrespect
phenomena,asLeibnizconceivesofthem,isthattheyareintentionalobjects.
(thoughofcoursenotinallrespects)IbelievethatLeibniz'sphenomenalismisaforerunnerofthe
phenomenalismofKant.Leibnizcertainlydidnotdevoteasmuchattentiontotherelevantconcept
of"object"asKantdid,thoughhedidatleastoncecharacterize"phenomena"as"objectsoflimited
minds"(GVII,563,italicsadded).Forpresentpurposes,bodies,asphenomena,maybethoughtof
astheobjectsofastoryastorytoldorapproximatedbyperception,commonsense,andscience.
IncallingthemphenomenaLeibnizmeansthattheyhavetheirbeinginperceptionsthatrepresent
thisstorytoperceivingbeings.

Leibnizdoesnotgiveusawelldevelopedaccountofthenatureofthedependenceofbodies,as
phenomena,onperception.Asimpleidentificationofphenomena(andhenceofbodies)with
perceptions,orwithcollectionsofthem,wouldpositionLeibniz'sphenomenalismclosertothe
idealismofBerkeley.Theinterpretationofphenomenaasintentionalobjects,whichIfavor,
7
requiresamorenuancedaccountoftheirrelationtoperceptions.

____________________
6
Cf.Furth,"Monadology,"p.172.
7
Thisisapointonwhichitseemshistoricallytohavebeendifficulttoattainclarity.Wecanfind
Kanttendingtolapseintoasimpleidentificationofappearanceswithrepresentations,evena
passageinwhichheisatleastbeginningtoseethatamorenuancedaccountoftherelationbetween
themisessentialtohisargument(CritiqueofPureReasonA190f.=B235f.).
219

Thetextsthatseemtotelluswhatphenomenaareareofdoubtfulrelevancetothisissue.Thereare
textsthatcouldbereadassimplyidentifyingphenomenawithperceptions,whereLeibnizsaysthat
"phenomenaarenothingbutthoughts"(LA70)andseemstofavortheviewthatthe"phenomena"
thatarealwaysproducedinuswhenweseebodies"aresimplynewtransitorymodificationsofour
souls"(RML457/L626).8Itmaybedoubted,however,whether'phenomena'isusedinthesame
senseinthesepassagesasinthoseinwhichbodiesaresaidtobe"phenomena."

Therearealsotexts,mostofthemearly,inwhichitisvirtuallyexplicitthatphenomena'signifies
intentionalobjectsofperception,ratherthantheperceptionsthemselvesaspsychologicalstates.
Leibnizdefines"phenomena"in1672as"whatarecertainbyvirtueofsensation"(AVl,iii,3)and
in1679as"propositionsthatareprovedbyexperience"(C33).Herethereisclearlynothoughtof
identifyingphenomenawithmentalimageslikethe"ideas"ofBerkeley'sphilosophy.Examplesof
"phenomena"thatLeibnizmentionsintheperiod167172include"thelightofthestars(especially
ofthesun)andthesolidityandresistanceoftheearth"(AVl,ii,329)andthatfactthat"thelightof
9WritingaboutNicolas
dayismoveddailyaroundtheglobeoftheearth"(AVI,iii,69).
Malebranchein1697,Leibnizexplicitlycontrasts"thephenomenathattakeplaceinbodies"with
whatis"inus"inperception(RML321f.).Butthesearenotovertlyphenomenalisttexts,andare
thereforeoflimitedrelevancetothemeaningof'phenomena'inphenomenalistcontexts.Abetter
text,perhaps,formypurposesisalistofdefinitions,relatedbywatermarktotheperiod168386,
whichsaysthat"athingisacongruentphenomenon"(VE180=LHIV,7c,101).Thiscertainlyhas
aphenomenalistflavor,and"thing"canhardlybemeantheretoreferonlytopsychologicalstates
assuch.

ItisrelevantthatLeibnizsaysthatdifferentperceivers"allexpressthesamephenomena"(DM14).
Whattheyallexpressispresumablyacommonintentionalobject,butLeibnizcertainlydoesnot
thinktheyallexpressitbyqualitativelythesamepsychologicalstates.Tobesure,heisalsowilling
tospeak,eveninthesameparagraph,ofaperceiver'sownphenomena,saying,that"allour
phenomena...areonlyconsequencesofourbeing."10Butourownphenomenacanstillbe
understoodastheintentionalobjectsorrepresentationalcontentsofourperceptionswhatappears
toustheobjectiveratherthantheformalrealityofourperceptions,inCartesianterms.

Inanyevent,itisdifficulttoacceptthatLeibnizsimplyidentifiedbodies,asphenomena,with
perceptionsoraggregatesofperceptions.Oneobviousreason

____________________
10
DM14;cf.GII,444/L602.RobertMcRae,whocallsattentiontothisterminologicalvariation,in
hisLeibniz:Perception,Apperception,andTbougbt,p.141f.,takesitmoreseriouslythanIdoasa
signofinconsistency.
8
Littleweight,insuchasubtlequestion,canbeplacedonsuchacasualequivalenceas"perceptions
or[seu]phenomena"(C14/MP176).(Onthedateofthistext,seenote55below.)Seunormally
signifiesanequivalence,butinafairlyvagueway.Itisnoteworthyalsothatinthesameparagraph
Leibnizsaysthat"everysoulwillrepresentproximatelythephenomenaofitsownorganicbody,"
apparentlytakingthephenomenaofthebodyasobjectsrepresentedbytheperceptionsofthesoul.
9
Mostofthesetexts,andothersofrelatedcontent(andearlydate)arenotedinRobinet,
Architectoniquedisjonctive,p.154n.
220

forthisjudgmentisthat,asnotedandaswillbediscussedinsection3,Leibnizidentifiedbodies,as
phenomena,withaggregatesofsubstances.Itisalsoclearthatthepropertiesheascribestobodies
aredifferentfromthoseheascribestoperceptualmodificationsofthemind.Perceptions,butnot
bodies,aredistinctorconfused.Bodies,butnotmodificationsofthemind,havephysical
properties.Mostimportant,asIshallargue,Leibnizshowsnoconcernforsometypesof
psychologicalanalysisthatarecrucialforBerkeleyanreductionsofbodiestoperceptions.

OnepromisingwayofaccountingforLeibniz'svariousutterancesonthissubjectistosupposethat
whenhespeaksofmaterialthingsasphenomena,henormallythinksofthosephenomenaas
perceptions,orasqualitiesormodificationsofaperceivingsubstance,consideredonlyinacertain
respect.Specifically,corporealphenomenaareperceptionsconsideredwithregardtotheir
objectiverealityorrepresentationalcontent,orinsofarastheyexpresssomenature,form,or
essence.HereIamextrapolatingfromthingsLeibnizsaysabout"ideas."Hisnotionofideaisbyno
meansthesameashisnotionofphenomenon.Thelatternotionismorecloselyconnectedwith
perceptionthantheformer;andsomephenomenaaretransitory,whereasideasingeneralarenot.
Butideas,likephenomena,canbeconstruedbothaspropertiesofthemindandasobjectsofthe
mind;andLeibnizgivesmuchfullerdiscussiontotherelationbetweenideasandthemindthanI
havefoundhimtogivetotherelationbetweenphenomenaandtheperceivingsubstance.

AfamouscontroversybetweenMalebrancheandAntoineArnauldprovidesthestartingpointfor
muchofwhatLeibnizsaysaboutideas.Malebrancheheldthatideasofbodiesareobjectsof
awarenessdistinctfromanymodificationsofourmindsbywhichweareawareofthem.Hehadto
regardthemasdistinct,sinceheheldthattheideasareinGod'smindandnotinours.Arnauld
maintainednotonlythatwehaveideasofbodiesinourownminds,butalsothattheyare
modificationsofourminds.LeibnizdeclaredhimselfforArnauldinthisdebate:"Itsufficesto
considerideasasNotions;thatistosay,asmodificationsofoursoul.ThatishowtheSchool,M.
Descartes,andM.Arnauldtakethem"(GIII,659;cf.GIV,426/L294).11

ThisdeclarationdoesnotfullyreflectthecomplexityofLeibniz'sposition,however.Inthefirst
place,heagreedwithMalebranchethat,ifideasaretaken"astheimmediateexternalobjectofour
thoughts,itistruethattheycouldonlybeplacedinGod,sincethereisnothingbutGodthatcanact
immediatelyuponus"(RML317).Andinconciliatorymoodshewaspreparedtosaythat"itcan
verywellbemaintainedinthissensethatweseeeverythinginGod"(RML490).ButLeibniz
insiststhatwealsohaveanimmediateinternalobjectofourthought(RML317):"Ihold,however,
thattherealsoisalwayssomethinginusthatcorrespondstotheideasthatareinGodaswellasto
thephenomenathattakeplaceinbodies"(RML321f.).Inthissensewehaveourownideasinour
ownminds(DM2829),andourideasaremodificationsofourminds,or(RML490)

____________________
11
OnLeibniz'srelationtothiscontroversy,seeRML133ff.Evenbeforeseeingthedocuments,
Leibnizwroteinaletterthat"Mons.Arnauldwriteswithmorejudgment"thanFatherMalebranche
(RML150).
221

relationsofcorrespondencetoGod'sideas,whichareincludedinmodificationsofourminds.

Inthesecondplace,Leibniz'scallingideasmodificationsofthesoulshouldnotleadustosuppose
thatheidentifiedthemwithconsciousepisodes.In26oftheDiscourseonMetaphysicshe
distinguishestwosensesof'idea':

Sometaketheideafortheformordifferenceofourthoughts,andinthiswaywehave
theideainourmindonlyinsofaraswearethinkingofit,andeverytimewethinkofit
anew,wehaveotherideasofthesamething,althoughsimilartothosethatwentbefore.
Butitseemsthatotherstaketheideaforanimmediateobjectofthoughtorforsome
permanentformwhichremainswhenwearenotcontemplatingit.

Leibnizprefersthesecondoftheseconceptions.Anidea,properlyspeaking,isa"qualityofour
soul,"butapermanentqualityandnotatransitorymodification(DM26).Itmanifestsitselfin
distinctsuccessivemodificationswhenwethinkofitconsciously,andevenwhenwearenot
thinkingofit,thereremainsinusaproperty[habitudo]thatexpressesthecontentoftheidea(G
VII,263/L207).Theconcreterealizationoftheideainourmindsisthusquitedifferentatdifferent
times.

Inthethirdplace,itisonlyconsideredinacertainrespectthatqualitiesofthesoulareideas.Ifwe
askwhatitisthatispermanentinanideathattakessuchdifferentformsastheconsciousandthe
unconsciousatdifferenttimes,theansweris,first,thattherepresentationalcontent,orinCartesian
termstheobjectivereality,oftheideaisconstantand,second,thatthemindalwayshasinita
certainpotentialityformakingthatcontentconscious,"thequality,"asLeibnizputsit,"of
representingtoitselfwhatevernatureorformitis,whentheoccasionarisesforthinkingofit"(
DM26).Leibnizhimself,inthepassagequoted,connectsthepermanenceoftheideawithits
characterasobjectofthought.Wemaysaythattheideaisapermanentqualityofthemind
consideredwithregardtoitsrepresentationalcontent.Leibnizsays,"Thisqualityofoursoul
insofarasitexpressessomenature,form,oressence,isproperlytheideaofthething,whichisin
us,andwhichisalwaysinus,whetherwearethinkingofitornot"(DM26,italicsadded)."An
ideaisthatinwhichoneperceptionorthoughtdiffersfromanotherbyreasonoftheobject"(
RML73).

Similarly,whenLeibnizspeaksofbodiesasphenomena,wemayunderstandthosephenomenaas
qualitiesormodificationsoftheperceivingsubstanceconsideredwithregardtotheirobjective
realityorrepresentationalcontentorinsofarastheyexpresssomenature,form,oressence.
AdaptingCartesianterms,onecansaythatintheirobjectiverealityorasphenomena,perceptions
havepropertiesthattheydonothaveintheirformalrealityorasmodificationsofthemind,and
viceversa.Amongthemostimportantoftheseproperties,forLeibniz,arecausalproperties,for
theyarethebasisofthepreestablishedharmonybetweenbodyandsoul.StudentsofLeibnizhave
sometimeswonderedwhatthethingsarethatneedtobeharmonized,ifbodiesarephenomenaand
phenomenaaremodificationsofthesoul.Leibnizholdsthatcorporealphenomenaassuchare
causedmechanicallybyprecedingcorporealphenomena,whereasmodificationsofthesoulassuch
aretobeexplainedteleologicallybyprecedingappetites(Mon

222

79,87;GIV,391/L409f.;C12f./MP173f.).Godpreestablishesaharmonybetweensoulandbody
bysoprogrammingperceptionsthat,whiletheirformalrealityfollowsfromtheformalrealityof
previousperceptionsandappetitesofthesamesubstancebylawsofteleologicalexplanation,their
objectiverealityfollowsfromtheobjectiverealityofpreviousperceptionsbylawsofmechanical
explanation.

Inspiteofthesefundamentaldifferencesbetweenperceptionsasphenomenaandperceptionsas
modificationsoftheperceivingsubstance,Leibnizwillresistanyattempttotreatthemasfully
distinctentities.Thepointofhissayingthatphenomenaaremodificationsofoursoulsisthatasa
conceptualistaboutallsortsofabstractentitiesandmerelyintentionalobjects,Leibnizdoesnot
believethatphenomenahaveanybeingexceptintheexistenceoroccurrenceofqualitiesor
modificationsofperceivingsubstances.Theexistenceofaphenomenonmustconsistinthe
occurrenceofcertainperceptions:"OurMindmakesaphenomenon"(C528).

Nonetheless,Leibnizdistinguishes,amongphenomena,betweenrealandmerelyimaginarybodies
andholdsthatsomestoriesinwhichtherealonesfigurearetrue.ThetaskofLeibnizian
phenomenalistanalysisistoexplainwhatthisrealityandtruthconsistin.Itisnottoanalyzethe
contentofthetruestories.Consideredasphenomena,bodiesstillhavethepropertiesofbodies.I
havefoundinLeibniznoattempttoreducethosepropertiestopsychologicalpropertiesof
perceptions.ThisisaprincipaldifferencebetweenLeibnizandmanyotherphenomenalists.

IdonotmeantodenythatLeibnizmayhavethoughtthattheobjectiverealityofperceptionsmust
result,inhissense,fromtheirformalreality.Itakehimtobecommittedtotheviewthatthe
objectiverealityofaperceptionmustbeexpressedbytheformalrealityoftheperception(cf.
RML321f.),whereonethingexpressesanotherifandonlyifthereisaonetoonemappingfrom
elementsofthelattertoelementsoftheformeraccordingtoappropriaterules(GVII,263f./L207f.;
LA112).Thisisanecessaryconditionforaperception'shavingacertainobjectivereality.Leibniz
seemsalsotohavethoughtthatexpressionofanobjectiverealityinasimplesubstanceissufficient
foraperceptionhavingthatobjectivereality,thoughwemaydoubtthatanadequateaccountof
intentionalitycanreallybeprovidedinthatway."Wecouldnotsaywhattheperceptionofplants
consistsin,andeventhatofanimalswedonotconceivewell.Fortheretobeaperception,
however,it'senoughthattherebeavarietyintheunity"(GIII,581/L664;cf.Mon14).

EvenifLeibnizthoughtthattheremustbeareductionoftheobjectiverealityofperceptionstotheir
formalreality,basedonthenotionofexpression,itisnopartofhisphilosophyofbodytogivesuch
areduction.Givingitwouldrequireidentifying(withoutreferencetoobjectiverealityor
representationalcontent)theformal,psychologicalfeaturesofperceptionsthatcorrespondwiththe
corporealfeaturesofrepresentedobjects,andLeibnizmakesnoattempttodothat.Inhis
philosophyofbody,theobjectiverealityorrepresentationalcontentofaperceptionistreatedforall
workingpurposesasaprimitivefeatureofthatperception.Leibnizprovidesatleastoneanalysisof
thenotionoftherealityofacorporealuniversethatappearstous(asweshallseelaterinsections2
and4).

223

Butheprovidesnoanalysisofthenotionofacorporealuniverse'sappearingtous(asopposedto
somethingelseappearingtous).Hethustreatsthenotionofacorporealuniverse'sappearingtous
asconceptuallypriortothenotionofsuchauniverse'sbeingreal.
1.2LeibnizandBerkeley
ForfurtherexplorationofthedistinctivefeaturesofLeibniz'sconceptionofphenomena,letusturn
tohisexplicitdisagreementswithBerkeley.HisbestknowncommentonBerkeley,inaletterof15
March1715toBartholomewDesBosses(GII,492/L609),suggeststhatLeibnlzfailedtorealize
thestrengthofBerkeley'sdesiretobefoundinagreementwithcommonsenseandoverlooked
Berkeley'seffortstodefineasenseinwhichbodiescanbecalled"real."Otherevidencedoesnot
contradictthesesuggestions,butdoesmakeclearthatLeibnizactuallyreadBerkeleyandsawmore
thanhehascommonlybeenthoughttohaveseenofthesimilarities,aswellasthedifferences,
betweenBerkeley'sviewsandhisown.Thisevidenceisprovidedbythefollowingcommentsthat
LeibnizwroteonthelastpageofhiscopyofBerkeleyTreatiseConcerningthePrinciplesof
HumanKnowledge:

Muchherethat'srightandagreeswithmyviews.Buttooparadoxicallyexpressed.For
wehavenoneedtosaythatmatterisnothing;butitsufficestosaythatitisa
phenomenonliketherainbow;andthatitisnotasubstance,butaresultofsubstances;
andthatspaceisnomorerealthantime,i.e.,thatitisnothingbutanorderof
coexistences,astimeisanorderofsubexistences.ThetruesubstancesareMonads,or
Perceivers.Buttheauthoroughttohavegoneonfurther,namelytoinfiniteMonads,
constitutingallthings,andtotheirpreestablishedharmony.Hewrongly,oratleast
pointlessly,rejectsabstractideas,restrictsideastoimaginations,despisesthesubtleties
ofarithmeticandgeometry.Hemostwronglyrejectstheinfinitedivisionofthe
extended,evenifheisrighttorejectinfinitesimalquantities.12

LebnizdidnotfailtoseethatheBerkelywerefundamentallyonthesameside.13Hethoughtmuch
oftheirdisagreementwasinpresentation,style,andtactics.Berkely"expressed"theircommon
beliefs"tooparadoxically."SeveralsubstantialdisagreementsarereflectedinLebniz'scritique,
however.Iwilldiscussthreeofthese.
TheperceptualatomismofBerkerly'sconstructionofphysicalobjectsevokesLeibniz'sstrongest
protest.Berkerley"mostwrongly[pessime]rejectstheinfinitedivisionoftheextended."For
Berkerley,extendedthingsareideasorcol
____________________
12
TheLatinoriginalispublished,withafullreportofthediscovery,byWillyKabitz,"Leibnizund
Berkeley";thequotedtextisonp.636.Ithasbeenrepublished,andfurtherannotated,byAndr
Robinet,"Leibniz:LectureduTreatisedeBerkeley."AnEnglishtranslationhasbeenpublishedin
AG307.
13
MargaretWilsonvaluablepaper,"LeibnizandBerkeley,"istosomeextentaprotestagainstthis
evaluation.SherightlypointsoutanumberofimportantdifferencesbetweenLeibnizandBerkeley,
includingsomethatIdiscusshere,aswellassomethatarenotrelevanttomypresentpurpose,
whichistheexpositionofLeibniz'sconceptionofaphenomenon.SofarasIcansee,the
disagreementbetweenherreadingofthetextsandmine,thoughsignificant,ispurelyamatterof
emphasis.
224

lectionsofideas,andtheseideasinturnarecomposedofpartsthatareonlyfinitelysmall
becausetheycannotbesmallerthanthemindinwhichtheyexistcandiscriminate(Principles,
124).Individinganyextendedthing,therefore,wecomeeventuallytopartsthatarestill
extendedbutsosmallthattheycannotbedividedanyfurther;Berkeleymaintainsthatthereare
nodistinctpartswithintheseleastdiscernibleparts,onthegroundthatasanideaexistsonlyin
themind,"consequentlyeachpartthereofmustbeperceived"(ibid.).

Leibnizacceptsnosuchconstructionofextendedthingsfromextendedbutindivisible
perceptions.Hecanbeseenasconstructingcorporealphenomenafromindivisible,simple
substancesinasmuchasheregardstheformerasaggregatesofthelatter(asIwilldiscussin
section3).Butthisisaconstructionfromsubstances,notfromideasorperceptions.Moreover,
thesimplesubstancesmustbeunextendedpreciselybecausetheyareindivisible;divisibilityisof
theveryessenceofextensionforLeibniz.ThisisonereasonwhyLeibnizcanviewbodiesas
infinitelydivided.

ThereisinLeibniz'sviewanextendedbutmerelyidealobjectthatentersintotheconstructionof
corporealphenomena(asIwillalsoargueinsection3.4).Thisisspace.Ithasextendedparts,but
isnotconstructedfromthem.Leibnizregardsitaspriortothem:

Indeedspaceissomethingcontinuous,butideal....Inactualthings,simplethings
arebeforeaggregates;inidealthingsthewholeispriortothepart.(GII,379)

Intheidealorcontinuousthewholeispriortotheparts,astheArithmeticalunitis
priortothefractionsthatdivideit,whichcanbeassignedarbitrarily,thepartsbeing
onlypotential;butintherealthesimpleispriortothegroups,thepartsareactual,
arebeforethewhole.(GIII,622;cf.GVII,562f.)14

Thisisnottosaythatwehaveaverycomprehensivespatialperceptionthatisprior,inits
"formal"reality,tootherperceptionsthatareitspsychologicalparts.SpaceisidealforLeibnizin
thesensethatitismerelyanobjectofthoughtorperception.Hispriorityclaimisthatthe
representingofspacebyourthoughtsorperceptionsispriortotherepresentingofpartsof
spaceandthatthereisnothingmoretospaceoritsparts,assuch,thanarepresentational
content.

TherearethusintheLeibnizianschemeofthingsnopsychologicalentitiesthatserveasbuilding
blocksintheconstructionofextendedthingsinthewaythatideasdoforBerkeley.

2.Leibniz'sinsistenceon"theinfinitedivisionoftheextended"isbasedontheintellectual
demandsofhisgeometryandmetaphysics,notonthephenomenologyofsensation.Thisis
relatedtohisviewthatBerkeleyiswrongto"restrictideastoimaginations."Leibnizrejectsthe
sensationalismofBerkeley'stheory.IfbodiesarephenomenaforLeibniz,the"perceptions"of
whichtheyareobjects

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14
Bodiesthatarewellfoundedphenomenafallontherealratherthantheidealsideofthiscontrast,
andthereforearenotpriortotheirpartsorconstituentsinLeibniz'sview(seesections1.3.2and
2.1inthischapter).In"PhenomenalismandCorporealSubstanceinLeibniz,"pp.222f.,I
mistakenlyappliedtocorporealphenomenaassuchwhatLeibnizsayshereaboutidealthings.
GlennA.HartzandJ.A.Cover,intheirvaluablepaperon"SpaceandTimeintheLeibnizian
Metaphysic,"showedmetheerrorofmyprevioustreatmentofthesetextsthoughIstilldisagree
withthemonsomerelatedpoints,asdiscussedinsection3.4inthischapter.
225

arebynomeansonlysensations,thoughhewascertainlycapableofputtingaphenomenalist
pointintermsof"thephenomenaofthesenses"(NE392).InLeibnizianterms,perceptionsof
bodiesmaybeeithertooconfusedortoodistincttobesensations.Leibnizheld,famously,that
thelargestpartofour(andothercreatures')perceptionsofbodiesaretooconfusedtocountas
sensations,buthedidspeakof"phenomena"representedbythem(GII,521/AG206).Weneed
notpauseheretoworryabouttheimportantandobviousdifficultiesofascribingrepresentational
contenttounconsciousperceptions,foritissurelyLeibniz'sdeparturefromsensationalisminthe
otherdirection,thedirectionofgreaterdistinctness,thatmotivateshiscriticalcommentabout
Berkeley's"restrict[ing]ideastoimaginations."

Leibniziancorporeal"phenomena"areobjectsoftheintellectaswellasofsensationand
unconsciousperception.WritingtoArnauldinApril1687,Leibnizexplicitlyassignsreasoninga
roleintheconstructionofcorporealaggregatesasphenomena(LA101).Theintellect'spartin
ourperceptionofcorporealphenomenaisparticularlyimportantandincludesbothmathematics
andphysics.

Amongthefeaturesofphenomenathatweperceiveprimarilybytheintellectareforces.Forceis
characteristicofmonads,butthereareforcesthatarepropertiesofphenomena:

AsItakebodiestobe,soalso[Itake]corporealforces[tobe]:thatis,inthe
phenomena.15(GII,276/AG182)

Asmatteritselfisnothingbutaphenomenon,butwellfounded,resultingfromthe
monads,itisthesamewithinertia,whichisapropertyofthisphenomenon.(G
III,636/L659)

CertainlyLeibnizdidnotthinkwehaveasensoryimageofinertia.Heregards"theessenceof
body"asconstitutedbya"forceofactingandresisting,whichweperceive,notbyimagination,
butbytheintellect"(GVII,314f./MP82).16Itisby(rudimentaryorsophisticated)scientific
thinkingthatweperceiveforcesassuch.

Indeed,IbelievethatforLeibniztheuniverseofcorporealphenomenaisprimarilytheobject,
notofsense,butofscience.Thisisanotherpointofsimilaritybetweenthephenomenalismof
LeibnizandthatofKant,forwhomthephenomenalworldincludesobjectsnotperceptibleby
oursensesbutpostulatedonscientificgrounds.17Therealityofcorporealphenomenadepends
forLeibniz,

____________________
15
AtthispointLeibnizadds,"thatis,iftheyareunderstoodassuperaddinganythingtothesimple
substancesortotheirmodifications,"whichItaketobeasomewhatobscurewayofunderlining
thecorporealcharacteroftheforcessaidtobephenomena.Theseforcesarephenomenalinsofar
astheyareunderstoodasdistinctfromtheforcesinternaltosimplesubstances,whichconstitute
themostfundamentalpropertiesofthesimplesubstances.
16
Itcouldconceivablybearguedthatthereferencehereistointramonadicratherthantocorporeal
forces.Giventheplaceof"theessenceofbody"inthestatement,however,itseemsmore
plausibletotaketheremarkaboutourperceptionofforcesasdirectedeitherspecificallyat
corporealforcesorelseindiscriminatelyatalltheforcesthatmightbecloselyconnectedwith
bodies.Thephenomenalcharacterofcorporealforcesmayalsonotbeinviewinthistext,which
ismuchearlierthanthoseinwhichLeibnizexplicitlyspeaksofcertainforcesasphenomena;but
Iseenoreasontosupposethathewouldhavehesitatedatanytimetosaythatforcesingeneral
andassuchareperceived"notbyimagination,butbytheintellect."
17
Kant,CritiqueofPureReason,A226=B273.Unfortunately,Kant'sexampleofsuchanobject,
"amagneticmatterpervadingallbodies,"isonenolongerpostulatedbyourscience.It
226

aswewillseeinsection4,ontheirfindingaplaceinthestorythatwouldbetoldbyaperfected
physicalscience.
3.PartofLeibniz'spointinsayingthatbodiesarephenomenaistoclaimthattheyhavetheir
existenceonlyinsubstancesthatperceivethem,andinthisheagreeswithBerkeley.18Butthereis
somethingelsegoingoninLeibniz'stalkofphenomena,somethingthatisreflectedinhiscomment
thatBerkeley"oughttohavegoneonfurther,namelytoinfiniteMonads,constitutingallthings."
'Phenomenon'contrastsnotonlyas'intramental'with'extramental';italsocontrastsas'apparent'
with'real'.AndwhileLeibniz'smetaphysicsiscertainlyaformofidealism,italsoincludesasortof
qualifiedrealismaboutbodiesandaboutphysicalscience.PartofwhatisgoingoninLeibniz's
maturethoughtisthathedoesassumethatinourperceptionofbodiesweareatleastindirectly
perceivingsomethingthatisprimitivelyrealindependentlyofourminds,andheaskswhatsortof
thingthatmaybe.19Hisansweristhatitis"infiniteMonads,"whoseharmoniousperceptionsare
the"foundation"ofcorporealphenomena.

Thisanswer,however,doesnotadequatelyrepresenttheinterplayofappearanceandrealityin
Leibniz'sthought.Likealmostallmodernphilosophers,hebelievedthatgoodsciencerequiresus
tosupposethatthereareveryconsiderablequalitativedifferencesbetweenbodiesastheyappearto
naivesenseperceptionandbodiesastheyshouldbeseenbyscience.Inthecorporealworldas
describedbymodernsciencethereis,inacertainsense,nopartforcolorsandtheothersocalled
secondaryqualitiestoplay.Ontheotherhand,modernsciencepostulatesvastnumbersofmotions
ofminuteparticlesinportionsofmatterthatappeartooursensestobeperfectlyquiescent
internally.ThiswastrueofwhatLeibnizregardedasmodernscience,anditistrueofwhatwe
thinkofasmodernscience.

Manyamongusrespondtothissituationbysupposingthat,whereaswhatweperceivenaivelyby
oursensesisonlyanappearance,whatisdescribedbyscienceorwhatwouldbedescribedbya
perfectedscienceisreality.Leibnizhasafundamentalreasonforrejectingthisstrongformof
scientificrealismareasonfornotexpectingsciencetogiveusknowledgeofrealityasitisin
itself.Scientificknowledge,asLeibnizseesit,isrelativelydistinct,butbuysitsdistinctnessatthe
priceofstudyingamathematicalidealization."Abstractionsareneededforthescientific
explanationofthings"(GII,252/L531).Thecomplexityof

____________________
17
shouldalsobenotedthatbecauseofKant'sdistinctionbetweenintuitionsandconcepts,andhis
treatmentofit,regardedbyKanthimselfasamaindifferencebetweenhisphilosophyandthatof
Leibniz,itisimportanttoKant,thatanyphenomenonnotinfactperceptiblebyoursensesbesuch
that"wewould...also,inanexperience,encountertheimmediateempiricalintuitionofit,ifour
sensesweremoreacute"(ibid.).(Leibnizwouldsaythattoo,butfordifferentreasonshavingto
dowithhisowntheoriesofuniversalharmonyandperception.)Itremainsclearthatsomethingcan
beaphenomenonforKantbyvirtueofitsappearingtotheintellectandnottosensationthoughof
courseitmustappearinsuchawayastobeplacedbytheintellectwithinthespatiotemporal
"form"ofsensation.
18
M.Wilson("LeibnizandBerkeley,"p.7)isunwillingtosaythatLeibnizandBerkeley"agree"on
thispoint,becausethereissuchalargedifferenceinwhattheymeanby'perception'.Iagreethat
thedifferenceislarge,butIthinkitisnotlargeenoughtokeeptheperceptiondependenceof
bodiesfrombeinganimportantpointofmetaphysicalagreementbetweenthetwophilosophers.
19
Foranicestatementonthispoint,seeAntonioLamarra,"LeibnizonLockeonInfinity,"p.181.
227

reality,hethinks,isinfinite,intensivelyaswellasextensively.Itisnotjustthatthereareinfinitely
manyobjectsinfinitespace.Evenwhenweperceiveabodyoflimitedextension,suchasthebody
ofahumanbeing,Leibnizbelievesthattherealityrepresentedbyourperceptionisinfinitely
complex,andthatallofthatinfinitecomplexityisrelevanttotheexplanationofsomeofthesalient
featuresofthebody'sbehavior.Humanmindsarefinite,however,andthedefinitivemarkoffinite
mindsisthattheycannotdistinctlyknowaninfinitecomplexity.Soifscienceisdistinct
knowledge,theonlysortofsciencethatispossible,eveninprinciple,forhumanbeingswillhave
asitsimmediateobjectafinitelycomplexrepresentationoftheinfinitelycomplexreality.Atleast
tothisextent,theobjectsofscientificknowledgewillbephenomena.Leibniz'sopinion,thatthe
objectofscientificknowledgeisnotrealityasitisinitselfbutamathematicalabstractionfromits
infinitecomplexity,isplausibleenoughinitsownright,Ithink,butitisalsorootedinotheraspects
ofhisphilosophy,whichneednotberecountedindetailhereinhistheoryoffreeactionand
infiniteanalysisconceptionofcontingency,20forexample,andinhisdoctrinethateachthing
expressesthewholeuniverse.

1.3ThePhenomenalityofPhysicalQualities

Leibniz'streatmentoftherelationofthedifferentsensiblequalitiestorealitycanbeunderstoodin
thislight.Itwouldbeconvenienttobeabletodiscussitintermsofthedistinctionbetween
"primary"and"secondary"qualitiesofbodieswhichhasbeenestablishedinEnglishspeaking
philosophybyBoyleandLocke,butthatterminologyisnotLeibnizian.Leibnizuseditin
discussingLocke,butwithsomereservations(NE13033).Hethoughtthattheonlyfundamental
differencebetweenthetwosortsofsensiblequalitiesisinthedegreeofconfusionwithwhichthey
expressadeeperreality.Heregardedthedegreeofthatdifferenceaslarge(NE403f.),21butplaced
itwithinaspectruminwhichnosensiblequalityoccupiesasufficientlydistinguishedpositionto
meritthedesignationof"primaryquality."Hethoughtthattherearequalities(namely,forces)that
belongtobodiesinamoreprimarywaythananystrictlysensiblequalitydoes.Inarticulatinghis
viewsIwillthereforerefertosize,shape,andmotionsimplyassuch,oras"theCartesianmodesof
extension,"andtothesocalled"secondaryqualities"simplyas"theothersensiblequalities."
In12oftheDiscourseonMetaphysicsLeibnizwrote:

Itcanevenbedemonstratedthatthenotionofsize,shape,andmotionisnotsodistinct
asoneimagines,andthatitincludessomethingimaginaryandrelativetoour
perceptions,asarealso(thoughmuchmoreso)color,heat,andothersimilarqualities
ofwhichitcanbedoubtedwhethertheyaretrulyfoundinthenatureofthingsoutside
us.

____________________
20
SeeChapter1,section2.4.
21
ThisisapointrightlyemphasizedbyM.Wilson,"LeibnizandBerkeley,"p.12.Moreimportant,
shepointsoutamajordifferenceinLeibniz'sandBerkeley'streatmentsofsensiblequalities.While
theybothcriticizethemetaphysicsofprimaryqualitiesthatwasthestandard"modern"viewof
theirtime,theydeveloptheircriticism"incompletelyoppositedirections,"Berkeleyascribingall
thesensiblequalitiesequallyto"real"bodies,andLeibnizdistancingallthesensiblequalities,
thoughnotequally,fromwhatheregardsasrealinbodies(ibid.,p.12f.).
228

Manysimilarstatementsarefoundinotherplacesinhiswork.Itseemstobeimpliedherethatthe
othersensiblequalitiesareevenlessrealthantheCartesianmodesofextension,althoughbothsorts
areinsomedegreeapparentratherthanultimatelyreal.22Size,shape,andmotion,Ithink,canbe
morerealonlyinthesensethattheyrepresentrealitymoredistinctlythantheothersensible
qualities.They"containmoreofdistinctknowledge"thantheothers,buttheyboth"holdsomething
ofthephenomenal[tiennentduphnomne]"(LA119).

AccordingtoLeibniz,theperceptionofothersensiblequalities,astheyappeartous,isaconfused
perceptionofminutemotionsortexturesaconfusedperceptionofsizes,shapes,andmotionsthat
aretoosmallforustoperceivethembysense(NE13133).Wemightputthisbysayingthatthe
othersensiblequalitiesareappearancesofsizes,shapes,andmotionsandassuchareappearances
ofappearances.IdonotknowthatLeibnizeversaidexactlythat,butinthelastletterthathewrote
toDesBosses(29May1716)hedidsuggestrelatingothersensiblequalitiestothecorresponding
sizes,shapes,andmotionsas"resultantphenomena"to"constitutivephenomena."Thusthe
"observedperception"ofwhiteandblackresultsfrombumpsanddepressions,tootinytobe
(consciously)observed,whichreflectandtrapraysoflight,respectively,butthesegeometrical
texturesthemselvesarestillonlyphenomena(GII,521/AG206;cf.C489).

1.3.1Shape

EvenwithintherealmofCartesianmodesofextensionthereareveilsbehindveilsofappearance
betweenusandrealityintheLeibnizianuniverse.Inspectthelegofaflywiththenakedeyeand
underamicroscope;youwillseeratherdifferentshapes.23YetLeibnizwouldsurelysaythatwhat
youseewiththenakedeyeisaconfusedrepresentationofthemorecomplexshapethatappears
underthemicroscope,andthatthelatterisstillnotcomplexenoughtobemorethananappearance.
ThisisindeedoneofLeibniz'sreasonsforholdingthatshapeisonlyaphenomenon.24

Forevenshape,whichisoftheessenceofaboundedextendedmass,isneverexactand
strictlydeterminedinnature,becauseoftheactualdivisiontoinfinityofthepartsof
matter.Thereisneveraspherewithoutinequalities,norastraightlinewithout
curvaturesmingledin,noracurveofacertainfinitenaturewithoutmixtureofany
otherandthatinthesmallpartsasinthelargewhichbringsitaboutthatshape,far
frombeingconstitutiveofbodies,isnotevenanentirelyrealanddeterminedquality
outsideofthought.(LA119)

Oneofthereasons,Itakeit,whyLeibnizthoughtthatfinitelycomplexshapescannotbe"entirely
real...outsideofthought"isthattheycannotexpressa

____________________
22
IseeonlyaverbalinconsistencywiththiswhenLeibnizwritesthatshapeandmotion"involve
somethingoftheimaginary,nolessthanheatandcolorandothersensiblequalities"(GVII,314/
MP82,italicsadded).Itisequally(thatis,absolutely)trueofbothsortsofqualitythattheyinvolve
somethingoftheimaginary,buttheothersensiblequalitiesinvolvemoreoftheimaginarythanthe
Cartesianmodesofextensiondo.
23
Cf.Berkeley,Works,vol.2,p.189.
24
ForadiscussionofLeibniz'sreasonsforholdingthatmotionisonlyaphenomenon,seeSleigh,
LeibnizandArnauldpp.111f.,andMcGuire,"'LabyrinthusContinui',"esp.p.323f.
229

relationtoeveryeventinaninfinitelycomplexuniverseasthequalitiesofarealthingoughtto.
"Thereisnoactualdeterminateshapeinthings"hewrote,"fornoneisabletosatisfyinfinite
impressions"(C522/L270).

Theshapesthusexcludedfromnaturearefinitelycomplexshapes;"thereisnolineorshapein
naturethatgivesexactlyandkeepsuniformlyfortheleastspaceandtimethepropertiesofa
straightorcircularline,orofanyotherlinewhosedefinitionafinitemindcancomprehend"(G
VII,563).TheconclusionthatIthinkLeibnizdrawsisnotthatrealshapesareinfinitelycomplex,
thoughsomethingshesays(e.g.,inDM6)mightleaveuswiththatimpression.Rather,he
concludesthatshapeassuchisonlyaphenomenon.Isupposethataninfinitelycomplexshape
wouldinvolvealinesegmentoffinitelengththatchangesnotmerelyitscurvaturebutalsothe
directionofitschangeofcurvatureinfinitelymanytimes,andthatLeibnizwouldhavethoughtthat
anabsurdandimpossiblemonstrosity.WhatIassumehewouldsay,insteadofpostulating
infinitelycomplexshapes,isthatforeveryfinitelycomplexshapethatmightbeascribedtoabody
thereisanotherstillmorecomplexthatmoreadequatelyexpressesreality.

Thisissuggestedbyhisuseoftheideaofaninfiniteseriesinaninterestingtextthatmayhavebeen
writtenshortlybeforetheDiscourseonMetaphysics,25andwhichexpresseswhatisprobablythe
correctLeibniziananswertothequestion,Doesshape,asaphenomenalproperty,belongtobodies
(sinceafterallbodiesthemselvesareonlyphenomena)oronlyappeartobelongtothem?"No
determinateshapecanbeassignedtoanybody,"Leibnizclaimsinthistext,andthenaddsthe
qualification,"althougheveninaninfiniteseries'departurefromapath[deviatio]somerulesare
observedbynature"(GVII,314/MP81),suggestinganinfiniteseriesofshapesmoreandmore
adequatelyexpressingreality.Everyshapeintheseries,however,willstillbeonlyfinitely
complex,andforthatreasonamongotherswillstillbeonlyanappearance,qualitativelydifferent
fromtherealityexpressed,whichisinfinitelycomplexanddoesnotliterallyhaveashapeatall.
Leibnizdoesnotconsistentlyadhere,however,tothedoctrinethatdeterminateshapesdonot
belongtobodies,consideredasphenomena,for(evenapartfromcasualandpresumably
unmetaphysicalcommentsabouttheshapesofbodies)hestates,inamuchlaterdocument,that
finitelycomplexshapes"arefoundinphenomenaorintheobjectsoflimitedminds"(GVII,563).

Bodiesorganicorlivingbodiesinparticularareappearancesofmonads.26Amonadis
representedbyitsbody;weperceiveitbyperceivingitsbody.Thisispossiblebecausethemonad
anditsbodyexpresseachother;thebodyistheexpressionofthesoul.Wehavejustseen,however,
thatabodyconceivedasaphenomenonhavingacertaindefiniteextension,shape,andmotionis
notcomplexenoughtobeanadequateexpressionofanyrealthing,accordingtoLeibniz.Itisnot
complexenoughtoexpresssomethingthatexpressesthewholeuniverse

____________________
25
Robinet(Architectoniquedisionctive,p.34n)arguespersuasivelyforthisdating.Iamindebtedto
Sleigh,(LeibnizandArnauld,p.114)forpointingoutthe"suggestion,"whichSleighindeedtakes
tobemorethanasuggestion.
26
HereIdisagreewithHochstetter,"VonderwahrenWirklichkeitbeiLeibniz,"p.436.Itmustbe
grantedtoHochstetterthatLeibnizdidnotexplicitlyspeakofphenomenaas"appearancesof
monads."
230

asamonaddoes.Itisamathematicalabstraction.Perhapsthebodythatadequatelyexpressesa
monadisaninfiniteseriesofsuchabstractions,eachmorecomplexthanitspredecessors.

ItshouldbenotedthatthefullestdevelopmentIhavefoundinLeibnizofanargumentagainstthe
realityofshapeisbasedonadiachronicaccountofhowbodieswouldexpressaninfinitely
complexuniverse,ratherthanonthesynchronicconsiderationspresented(rathersketchily)to
Arnauldin1687anddevelopedinmyexpositionabove.Itisopentoseriousobjection,inmy
opinion,butitmaybetheargumentthatinfactlaybehindLeibniz'sstatementofabout1689that
"thereisnoactualdeterminateshapeinthings,fornoneisabletosatisfyinfiniteimpressions"(
C522/L270).Thediachronicallybasedargumentisfoundinadocumentdated(onthebasisof
watermark)about1686:

Thereisnopreciseandfixedshapeinbodies,becauseoftheactualdivisionoftheparts
toinfinity.
SupposeforexampleastraightlineABC;Isaythatitisnotexact[i.e.,notexactly
straight].Foraseachpartoftheuniversesympathizeswithalltheothers,itmust
necessarilybethatifthepointAtends[tomove]inthestraightlineAB,thepointBhas
anotherdirection.ForaseachpartAtriestocarrywithiteveryother,butparticularly
thenearestpartB,thedirectionofBwillbecomposedofthatofAandofsomeothers.
ItisnotpossiblethatB,indefinitelyneartoA,beexposedtothewholeuniversein
preciselythesamefashionasA,insuchawaythatABwouldcomposeawholewithout
anysubdivision.(VE1478=LHIV,3,5B,1)

Leibnizarguesherethatinorderforthephysicalstateofbodiestoexpressadequatelytheir
relationstoeachother,thematteratanytwopoints,AandB,howeverclose,mustbetendingin
differentdirections,atanygiventime.Presumablyhewouldextendtheargumenttoanythree
pointssupposedtolieinastraightline,assuggestedbytheintroductionofhisexample,andargue
thatthematteratthemmustbetendinginthreedifferentdirections,andsimilarlyforanynpoints
andndirections.

InhisnextparagraphLeibnizexplainswhyhethinksitfollowsfromthisthatthesupposedstraight
lineisnotphysicallyrealafterall.

Itistruethatitwillalwaysbepossibletodrawanimaginarylineateachinstant;but
thatline,withthesameparts,willnotendurebeyondthatinstant,becauseeachparthas
adifferentmotionfromeveryotherbecauseitexpressesthewholeuniversedifferently.
Thusthereisnobodythathasanyshapeduringacertaintime,howevershortitmaybe.
NowIbelievethatwhatisonlyinamomenthasnoexistence,sinceitbeginsandends
atthesametime.(VE1478=LHIV,3,5B,1)

Leibnizarguesthatifallthematteratallthepointsthatmightbethoughttolieinaphysicallyreal
shapeismovingindifferentdirectionsateverytime,ashearguedinthepreviousparagraph,it
followsthatnosuchshapeenduresbeyondaninstant.Togettheconclusionthatnophysicallyreal
shapeexists,headdsanotherkeypremise,that"whatisonlyinamomenthasnoexistence."This
lastisalargeanddubiousassumption,however.IthinkLeibnizhimselfmustprobablyascribeto
monadsperceptualstatesthatdonotendure,unchanged,

231

beyondaninstant.Iamthereforereluctanttoregardthisargumentastheprincipalsupportof
Leibniz'sthesisofthephenomenalityofshape,thoughitmaybehismostfullydevelopedargument
onthesubject.

1.3.2Continuity

Leibniz'slistofmerelyphenomenalphysicalqualitiesgoesbeyondeventheCartesianmodesof
extension.Itextendstoextensionitself,27andthedynamicpropertiesofbodies:

Withmanyancientsages,however,Ijudgethatextensionand,init,Mass[Moles28]or
impenetrabilitywiththeothercorporealpredicatesarisingthence,whichseemtomany
toconstitutecorporealsubstance,andbyothersareheldtobeabsoluterealqualities,
areinfactnothingbutphenomenawellfounded,tobesure,andnotdeceptive,but
havingnootherobjectiverealitythanthatbywhichwedistinguishdreamingfrom
waking,amutualmetaphysicomathematicalagreementofeverythingthatthesoulsor
Entelechiesperceive.[GVII,468(1705)]

Thephysicalqualitiesthataremostreal,inLeibniz'sview,areforces;butevenforces,asfoundin
bodies,arephenomenal(GII,276/AG182).Thequestionoftherelationofphysicalforcesto
appearanceandtoultimatelyrealqualitiesofsubstanceswillbeamajortopicofChapter13.

AnotherimportantqualitytowhichLeibnizascribesdiminishedrealityiscontinuity.29Continuity
isoffundamentalimportancetoextension.Extensionwastraditionallyconceivedasaspeciesof
continuousquantity,andLeibnizfrequentlydefinesextensionas"thesimultaneouscontinuous
repetitionofposition"and"aplurality,continuity,andcoexistenceoftheparts."30Repetition,says
Leibniz,iseitherdiscreteorcontinuous.Incontinuousrepetition"thepartsareindeterminateand
canbeassumedininfiniteways"(GIV,394/AG251).Thereareothernecessaryconditionsof
continuity,ofcourse,butindeterminacyofthepartsisthefeatureofcontinuitythatdiminishesits
realityinLeibniz'seyes.Realthingsarediscrete,andanythingcomposedofrealthingsistherefore
notcontinuous,buthasfixedanddeterminatedivisions.Itis"ideal"wholes,asLeibnizputsit,that
aredivisibleinindefinitelyvariouswaysintomerelypossibleparts.

Inmatterandinactualrealitiesthewholeisaresultoftheparts;butinideasorin
possibles...theindeterminatewholeispriortothedivisions....The

____________________
27
Leibnizthinksextensioncanbeprovedto"enterintotheessenceornatureofbody"thoughitdoes
notconstitutethewholeessenceofbody(RML437/L619).1willofferalotofevidencethat
Leibnizregards,andmustregard,extensionasnomorethanaphenomenon.Iamnotsurewhatto
makeofhiswritingtoRmondin1715thatextension"isanattributeofsubstances"(RML480).
28
MolesistheLatintermusuallytranslatedas'mass'indynamiccontexts.InsomecontextsIfollow
AGintranslatingitas'bulk',todistinguishitfromtheLatinmassa,whichhasadifferent
(nonquantitative)meaningforLeibniz.
29
ForhelpfulaccountsofLeibniz'sphilosophicaltreatmentofcontinuityingeneral,seeBreger,"Das
KontinuumbeiLeibniz,"andLamarra,"LeibnizonLockeonInfinity."
30
GII,339;GIV,467/W104;seealsoC361;B124;GIV,394,364f.;GII,169f.,183/P52;AG251;
L390,516,519textsdatingfrom16861707.
232

bettertoconceivetheactualdivisionofmattertoinfinity,andtheexclusionthatthereis
ofallexactandindeterminatecontinuity,wemustconsiderthatGodhasalready
producedthereasmuchorderandvarietyasitwaspossibletointroducethereuntil
now,andthusnothinghasremainedindeterminatethere,whereastheindeterminateis
oftheessenceofcontinuity.(GVII,562f.)31

Continuity,therefore,is"anidealthing"(GMIV,93/L544),notafeatureoftheultimatelyreal.It
mightstillbethoughtafeatureofbodies,ifbodiesareonlyphenomena;andLeibnizcanbequoted
onbothsidesofthequestionwhetherbodiesarecontinuousoronlyappeartobecontinuous.An
importanttextof1702classifiesbodyascontinuous(GIV,394/AG251).Theotheranswerisgiven
intextsof1705,atleastasregards"matter":"Infactmatterisnotacontinuum,butissomething
discrete,actuallydividedtoinfinity"(GII,278)."Matterappearstous[tobe]acontinuum,butit
onlyappearsso"(GVII,564).32ThisissueisdeeplyinvolvedwithissuesaboutLeibniz's
conceptionofbodiesasaggregatesofsubstances,soIwillhavetoreturntoitinsection3.Forthe
timebeing,Iwilljustsaythatasinsection1.3.1Ipreferredtheviewthat(determinate,finitely
complex)shapeonlyappearstobelongtobodies,sohereIthinkLeibnizprobablyoughttohold
thatbodiesonlyappeartobecontinuous.33

Thisview,inbothcases,isassociatedwithanaccountintermsofaninfiniteseriesofbetterand
betterapproximations,anaccountthatissomewhatmoreexplicitlydevelopedforcontinuitythan
forshape.Animportanttextrejectingcontinuity"ineveryaggregatethatissensibleorcorresponds
tophenomena"goeson,"Meanwhiletheknowledgeofcontinua,thatisofpossibles,contains
eternaltruths,whichareneverviolatedbyactualphenomena,sincethedifferenceisalwaysless
thananyassignablegivendifference"(GII,282f./L539).34Thepointpresumablyisthatwhilein
actualphenomena(bodies)thedivisionintopartsisgivenanddeterminate,thereissomesuch
actual,givendivision(orseriesofdivisions)ascloseasyoupleasetoanyarbitrarylinethatmight
bedrawn

____________________
31
Forsimilarstatements,seeGIV,491f./AG146f.;GII,379;GIII,622f.Inthelastofthesepassages,
Leibnizbothdeniesthat"thecontinuumissomethingreal"andstatesthat"continuityisnotan
idealthing,butwhat'srealinitiswhatisfoundinthatorderofcontinuity."Thepointofthelatter
statementseemstobethatifanaggregateofrealthingsisviewedasarrayedinacontinuousorder
suchasthoseofspaceandtime,thecontinuousorderinheritsameasureoftheirreality(thoughit
surelyisnotthereforerealinthemostfundamentalsense).ButLeibniz'sconsistencyheremaybe
doubted.
32
Itisinteresting,andperhapsrevealing,thatthediminishedrealityofbothshapeandcontinuityare
discussedtogetherinGVII,56264.Ironically,however,thistext,whichclearlystatesthatmatter
"onlyappears"tobeacontinuum,seemstogivetheoppositeanswertotheanalogousquestion
aboutshape,allowingthatdeterminateshapes"arefoundinphenomenaorintheobjectsoflimited
minds,"whichpresumablyincludebodies.
33
Thisisacorrectionofmy1983paper,"PhenomenalismandCorporealSubstanceinLeibniz,"p.
242,whereIoverlookedalotofthematerialdiscussedhereandtriedtomaintainthecontinuityof
Leibnizianbodies,evenwheretheyareunderstoodasaggregatesofsubstances.Insodoing,I
alloweddensitytocountasasortofcontinuity,somethingthatLeibnizhimselfmaysometimes
havedone(asIwillsuggestbelow).IamindebtedtothecriticismsofHartz,"Leibniz's
Phenomenalisms,"forforcingmetorethinkthetopic.
34
Theimportanceofthispointisemphasizedbythenextsentence,whichmentionsagreementwith
eternaltruthsasamarkoftherealityofphenomena.Agreementwithmathematicaltruthfigures
similarlyasamarkofreality,inconnectionwithsimilarviewsaboutcontinuity,atGIV,569.
233

throughthebody,becausethebodyisactuallydividedtoinfinity.Thisimplies,inmodern
terminology,thattheactualdivisionsineverybody,thoughnotcontinuous,aredense.

WemaywonderwhetherLeibnizoccasionallyreferredtothedenseas"continuous."ToDes
Bosses,in1707,hewrites:

WhenIsaythatExtensionisthecontinuationoftheresistant,youaskwhetherthat
continuationisonlyamode.WhatIthinkisthatitisrelatedtothethingscontinuedor
repeatedasnumberistothethingsnumbered:thatis,asimplesubstance,eventhough
itdoesnothaveextensioninitself,stillhasposition,whichisthefoundationof
extension,sinceextensionisthesimultaneouscontinuousrepetitionofposition.(G
II,339)

Number,conceivedasrelatedtothingsnumbered,issurelydiscrete.Leibnizusesthecomposition
ofnumber"fromunities"asanexampleofdiscretestructure,ascontrastedwiththecompositionof
number"fromfractions,"whichiscontinuous(GII,282/L539;cf.GVII,562;GIII,622).
Moreover,heisspeakinghereofarepetitionofsimplesubstances,whichmustcertainlybe
discrete.Itappearsthereforethatthe"continuation"thathediscussesheremustbeadiscrete
operationorconstruction;andthatisnotproblematicinitself,sincecontinuation[continuatio]is
notcontinuity.WhatisproblematicinthispassageisthatLeibnizgoesontosaythatanextension
whichmust,inthecontext,beformedbythisdiscreteoperationonthepositionsofsimple
substances,is"continuous."Itishardtoseehow'continuous'canmeanmoreherethanthatthe
repetitionofthepositionsofsimplesubstancesisdense,asLeibnizsurelybelievedittobe.

Definingextensionintermsofsuchaweakenedsenseofcontinuity(thatis,intermsofdensity)
wouldavoidtheimplicationthattheextendedmusthaveindefiniteparts.Andthatwouldeliminate
oneobjectiontotherealityoftheextended.35Thisconsiderationmayhavemotivatedanumberof
formulationsinwhichLeibnizsaysthatwhatisextendediscontinued,orcontinuallyrepeated,but
doesnotsaythatitiscontinuous.36Butsuchtreatmentofthedefinitionofextensiondoesnotleave
Leibnizinapositiontoholdthatextensionismorethanaphenomenon.Forextension,asdefined
here,consistsinarelationamongthesubstancesrepeated,andLeibnizheldthatrelationsdepend
onperceiverswhoapprehendthem,asweshallseeinsection3.2.WritingtoDeVolderin1704or
1705,accordingly,Leibnizexplicitlyconnectstherelationalcharacterofextensionwithitsbeing
somethingintrinsicallyideal[resperseidealis].Thenextparagraphofthesameletter,itmaybe
added,suggestsanothergroundofthephenomenalityofextension:therepetitionordiffusion
involvedinextensionrequiresahomogeneityofthatwhichisrepeatedordiffused;37this
homogeneityisonlyapparentand"obtainsonlybyanabstractionofthemind"(GII,277/AG183).

____________________
35
Insomecontexts,Leibnizmay,ofcourse,havewishedtousethisobjectionasanargumentforthe
phenomenalityordiminishedrealityofextension.SuchanargumentisdevelopedbyMcRae,
Leibniz:Perception,Apperception,andThought,p.40f.
36
GIV,589(1702);GII,269/L536(1704);RML443/L621(1712).
37
Onthisrequirement,cf.C542f.
234

2.EsseIsPercipi
ThesimplestandstarkestversionofphenomenalismtobefoundinLeibniz'swritingsbelongsnot
tohismaturephilosophy,buttotheyears167579.Manyofitsideaspersistinhisthought.His
laterphenomenalismgrowsoutofitmuchmorebyadditionthanbysubtraction,anditprovidesan
illuminatingbackgroundtothecomplexitiesofhislaterthought.

ThisearlyphenomenalismisconnectedwithanotableanticipationofBerkeley'sfamousdoctrine
that(forsensiblethings)"esseispercipi"tobeistobeperceived.38Thereisalongseriesoftexts,
runningfromLeibniz'syouthtohisoldage,inwhichheidentifiesexistencewithbeingperceived
or(insometexts)perceivable,andoftenconnectsthiswiththeideathatwhatexistsiswhatisbest
ormostharmonious.In1672,forexample,earlyinLeibniz'sstayinParis,hewrites:

IseemtomyselftohavediscoveredthattoExistisnothingotherthantobeSensed
[Sentiri]tobesensedhowever,ifnotbyus,thenatleastbytheAuthorofthings,tobe
sensedbywhomisnothingotherthantopleasehim,ortobeHarmonious.(AVI,iii,56)

Inmostofthesetexts,concernedwithdefiningexistence,thereisnoclearphenomenalistintent,
despitethestrikingresemblancetoBerkeley.Insomethereisreasontodoubtthepresenceofany
sortofreductiveintent.Forinstance,VE171(=LHIV,7C,71f.),whichbelongs,Ithink,toafamily
oftextsfromtheearly1680s,hastheinterestingfeaturethatthesamedocumentcontainsa
definitionofexistenceintermsofperfection.Thatbothtypesofdefinitioncouldbeappropriateat
onceisexplicitinVE1086(=LHIV,8,6061),probablyfromthelastyearorsoofLeibniz'slife
andcertainlyafter1706,whereLeibnizsays,"IoncedefinedanEntity(Ens)aswhateveris
distinctlythinkable,Existentaswhatisdistinctlysensibleorperceivable.Explainingthemattera
priori,anEntityiswhateverispossible,butthereactuallyexistswhateverisinthebestseriesof
possiblethings."Explainingthematterapriorihereclearlymeansexplainingitfromitscausesor
reasons(cf.theappendixtoChapter3ofthisvolume);anda"real"definitionofexistencedoes
that.Butanothersortof"definition"followstheorderofknowledgeratherthanofcausality,
identifyingexistenceintermsofacriterion(perceivability)bywhichitisrecognized.VE404f.(=
LHIV,7C,73f.),ofuncertaindate,admitsbothtypesofdefinitioninsimilarterms.39

Therearetwoimportantmanuscriptsfromthemidtolate1670s,however,inwhichthe
identificationofexistencewithbeingperceivable,andharmoniouslyso,isclearlyintheserviceof
aphenomenalistargument.Therelationbetweenperceivabilityandexistenceliesattheheartofthe
argumentinafragmententitledbyLeibniz"BodyisnotaSubstancebutonlyamodeofaBeingor
____________________
38
Berkeley,Works,vol.2,p.42(ATreatiseconcerningthePrinciplesofHumanKnowledge,partI,
3).
39
ThereareatleastfourotherpassagesinVEinwhichLeibnizoffersadefinitionofexistencein
termsofperceptionorperceivability.ThewatermarkofVE1339(=B123f.)isattestedfortheearly
1690s.ThereissomereasontodateVE146(=LHIV,7C,47)inthelate1670s.VE476f.(partof
which=GVII,319/L363)andVE180(=LHIV,7C,101)havewatermarksattestedforthe
mid1680s.SeealsoseeC437,of17024.InChapter6,section2Ihavediscussedsomepassages
ofthissortinrelationtoissuesaboutexistence.
235

acoherentappearance,"althoughthethoughtofofferingadefinitionoraccountofthenatureof
existence(and,inthiscase,truth)doesnotemergeuntiltheendofthetext,andtheninconnection
withharmonyandpleasingGodratherthanwithperceivability.

Iunderstand,however,bybody,notwhattheScholasticscomposeofmatteranda
certainintelligibleform,butwhattheDemocriteans[i.e.,atomists],inanothercontext,
callmass[moles].ThisIsayisnotasubstance.ForIshalldemonstratethatifwe
considermassasasubstancewefallinto[views]implyingacontradiction,justbecause
ofthelabyrinthofthecontinuum,wherewemustconsiderespecially,first,thatthere
cannotbeAtoms,fortheyconflictwiththedivinewisdom.Next,thatbodiesare
actuallydividedintoinfiniteparts,yetnotintopoints,andthereforethatthereisnoway
inwhichasinglebodycanbemarkedout,butthatanyportionwhateverofmatterisa
beingbyaccident,andeveninperpetualflux.Butifwesayonlythis,thatbodiesare
coherentappearances,thatputsanendtoallinquiryaboutinfinitelysmallthings,which
cannotbeperceived.ButherethereisaplacealsoforthatHerculeanargumentofmine,
thatallthosethingsaboutwhichitcannotbeperceivedbyanyonewhethertheyareor
not,arenothing.Nowthatisthenatureofbodies,forifGodhimselfwilledtocreate
corporealsubstancessuchaspeopleimagine[fingunt],hewoulddonothing,andeven
hewouldnotbeabletoperceivethathehaddoneanything,sincenothingisperceived,
intheend,butappearances.Thesignoftruth,therefore,iscoherence,butitscauseis
thewillofGod,anditsformaldefinition[formalisratio]isthatGodperceivesthat
somethingisbestormostharmonious,orthatsomethingpleasesGod.Thereforethe
divinewillitself,sotospeak,istheexistenceofthings.(VE1872=LHIV,1,14B,1)

Severalpointsinthisremarkabletextdeservecommenthere.
1.
TheAcademyeditorsdateitnoearlierthan1677,afterLeibnizfirstsettledinHannover.Butthe
textcontainsnotraceoftheinterestinfindingsomethingsubstantialinbodies,andinaffirmingthe
existenceofsomesortofcorporealsubstance,soevidentinLeibniz'scorrespondencewithArnauld
andothertextsfrom1686andlater.Theonlyreferencestotheideaofcorporealsubstancehereare
hostile.Andwhilethe"Scholastic"conceptionofcorporealsubstanceascomposedofmatterand
substantialformisexplicitlyexcludedfromthescopeofthiscriticaldiscussion,thereisnopositive
indicationherethatLeibnizhasdecidedtorehabilitatethenotionofsubstantialformadecisionhe
apparentlymadeinsummer1679.40Thissuggeststhatthetextbeforeusshouldbedatednolater
thanthefirsthalfof1679.
2.
Thisdatingisconfirmedbythetreatmentofthefirstofthetwoargumentsforphenomenalism
offeredinthetext,whichisanearlyversionofLeibniz'sargument(discussedmorefullyinChapter
11,section2.2)againstthesubstantialityofextendedthingsassuch,fromtheirinfinitedivision
intoparts.WhilethepresenceofthisargumentlinksthistextwithLeibniz'smaturephilosophy,its
employmenthereisnotablydifferentfromitslateruse.Hereitissimplyan
____________________
40
ThispinpointingofthemomentousdecisionisduetoRobinet(Architectoniquedisjonctive,pp.
24551).HisargumentispersuasiveandstronglysupportedbyacomparisonofAII,i,469f.and
490.GiventhedateofdeathofDukeJohannFriedrich,itsaddressee,thelattertextshowsthat
Leibniz'sdecisioncanhardlyhavebeenmadelaterthan1679.
236

argumentforphenomenalism,andthehypothesis"thatbodiesarecoherentappearances"is
presentedasacompletelysatisfyingsolutiontotheproblemposedbytheinfinitedivisionof
extendedthings.Inlatertextsthisinfinitedivisionisindeedpresentedasareasonwhyextended
thingsassucharemerelyphenomena(becausemerelyaggregates).Indeed,asweshallsee,this
argumentisamorecrucialsupportofphenomenalisminLeibniz'slaterthoughtthanitishere.But
phenomenalismisrarelythewholepointoftheargumentinthelatertexts.Morestressisusually
laidontheconclusionthatifthereistobeanythingsubstantialinbodies(asthereshouldbe,in
Leibniz'slaterview),theremustbeinbodiessomethingindivisible,asubstantialform,orsoul,or
monad(andindeedmanysuch).Thiscontrastingstrategyofargumentisevidentinapassagefrom
oneoftheearliesttextsreflectingLeibniz'sdecisiontotrytorehabilitatesubstantialforms:

Herewemusttreatofthesoul,andshowthatallthingsareanimated.Iftherewereno
soulorform,abodywouldnotbeanybeing,sincenopartofitcanbemarkedout
whichwillnotconsistinturnofmany,andsonothingcouldbemarkedoutinabody
whichcouldbecalledthissomethingorsomeonething.(VE651=LHXXXVII,3,910)
41

3.
Theotherphenomenalistargumentinourtextdeservesseveralparagraphs.ItistheoneLeibniz
callshis"Herculeanargument,"basedontheprinciplethat"allthosethingsaboutwhichitcannot
beperceivedbyanyonewhethertheyareornot,arenothing."Thisofcourseexpressesonehalfof
theequivalenceofexistencewithperceivability,thethesisthatexistenceentailsperceivability,
thoughwearenottoldherewhetheritrestsonadefinitionofexistence.Claimsofthissortin
Leibnizhaveevokedthecommentthat"Leibnizcomesclosetoemployingwhatisnowcalledthe
Verifiabilitycriterionofmeaning."42Thecommentiscorrect,aslongasthe"closeness"isnot
exaggerated,butweshouldbeclearthatLeibnizneveroffersacriterionofmeaningintheseterms.
Inthepresentcase,thethesisisnotaboutmeaningbutaboutexistenceandabouttherealityof
differences.
AsLeibnizbeginsthisargument,wemayexpectittobebasedalsoontheclaimthat"infinitely
smallthings...cannotbeperceived,"43butthatclaimdriftsoutofsightastheargumentproceeds.
ThereasonemphasizedforthinkingthatevenGodcouldnotperceiveanydifferencebetweenthere
beingandtherenotbeinganybodiesmoresubstantialthanmereappearancesisthat"nothingis
perceived,intheend,butappearances."Thismustbeunderstood,Ithink,asaclaimthattheobject
ofperception,assuch,ismerelyanappearance,whoseexistenceisnotdistinctfromitsbeing
perceived.NotonlythisclaimbutalsoitsapplicationtoGod'sperceptionsisechoed
(independently,ofcourse)byBerkeley,

____________________
41
CitedbyRobinet,Architectoniquedisjonctive,p.246.Thewatermarkofthistextisattestedfrom
theperiodJuly1678June1682.
42
Mates,PhilosophyofLeibnizp.234.MatesiscommentingonLCV,29.
43
Leibnizhereclearlyrejectsinfinitelysmallthings,asBerkeleywouldlater.Itisequallyclearhere,
however,thatheisnotpostulatingfinitelysmallindivisibleobjectsofperception,asBerkeley
would,butalreadyaffirmstheinfinitedivisionoftheextended,ashedideventuallyinhissharpest
disagreementwithBerkeley,asnotedinsection1.2inthischapter.
237

who,inthesecondofhisThreeDialoguesbetweenHylasandPhilonous,arguesthathisidealismis
superiortooccasionalismbypointingoutthat

it[is]not...easytoconceivehowtheexternalorabsoluteexistenceofanunthinking
substance,distinctfromitsbeingperceived,canbeinferredfrommyallowingthat
therearecertainthingsperceivedbythemindofGod,whicharetoHimtheoccasionof
producingideasinUS.44

This"Herculeanargument"doesnot,tomyknowledge,recurasanargumentforphenomenalismin
Leibniz'smaturephilosophy.Hecontinuedinothercontextstogivefavorableattentionto
definitionsofexistenceintermsofperceivability(e.g.,C437),andtogiveargumentsthatseemto
restontheassumptionthatadifferencenotinprincipleperceivableisnorealdifference(GIV,514/
L505f.;LCV,29).Buthenolongerfollowsadirectroutefromthatassumptiontothe
phenomenalityofbodies;themostprominentthoughtaboutthenatureofexistenceinhislater
metaphysicsofbodyisthatsubstantialexistenceentailspowertoact(and,infinite,imperfect
substances,tobeactedon).45

Thethemeofharmonyisnotabsentfromthistextof167779.Itemergesexplicitlyattheend,but
ispresentmorecentrallyintheidentificationofbodies,notmerelywithappearances,butwith
"coherentappearances."Theemphasisofthetext,nonetheless,fallsontherelationofexistenceto
perceivability,ratherthantoharmony.Bywayofcontrast,therelationofexistencetoharmony,
hereconceivedas"congruence,"regularity,and"beauty,"dominatesatextwritteninParisin1676:
Rightlyconsidered,allthatiscertainisthatwesense,andsensecongruently,andthat
someruleisobservedbyusinsensing.Tobesensedcongruentlyistobesensedin
suchawaythatareasoncanbegivenforeverything,andeverythingcanbepredicted.
Andexistenceconsistsinthis,insensationkeepingcertainlaws,forotherwise
everythingwouldbelikedreams.Furtherthatmanysensethesamething,andsense
thingsthatagree....Moreoversleepneednotdifferfromwakingbyanyintrinsic
reality,butonlybytheformororderofsensations;whereforethereisnoreasontoask
whetherthereareanybodiesoutsideus....Henceitisclearthatsofarfrommaterial
thingsbeingmorerealthanothers,onthecontrarytherecanalwaysbedoubtoftheir
existenceorrathertheirexistencedoesnotdifferatallmaterially,orinitself,fromthe
existenceofdreams,eveniftheydiffer,ofcourse,inbeauty.(AVI,iii,511)46

Thispassagepresentsatheoryofthenatureofthedistinctionbetweenrealandunrealphenomena.
Phenomenathatreallyexistcanbesensed.Leibnizfrequentlycontrastedtheexistent,assomething
thatcanbesensedorperceived,withessenceorentity[ens]assomethingthatcanbethoughtor
conceived.47Buttheemphasis

____________________
44
Berkeley,Works,vol.2,p.220.
45
E.g.,GIV,508/L502.ThisthoughtisnotabsentfromLeibnizearlythoughtaboutbody;see,e.g.,A
VI,i,509/L116.
46
Castaeda,"Leibniz'sMeditationonApril15,1676,"isanextendeddiscussionofthepassagefrom
whichthisquotationistaken.
47
AVI,i,285;AVI,ii,487;B123f.;C437;VE146,171,404,180,1086(=LHIV,7C,pp.47,7174,101;
LHIV,8,6061).
238

fallshereonafurtherthesis.Notonlycanreallyexistentphenomenabesensed;theycanbesensed
harmoniouslyor"congruently,"andthatdistinguishesthemfromdreams.Thesepointswillremain
apartofLeibniz'smatureaccountofthedifferencebetweenrealandimaginaryphenomena,aswe
shallseeinsection4.Themostinterestingthing,metaphysically,abouttheearlyformofthis
theoryisthatitsstronglyreductivecharacterconstitutesitaclearlyphenomenalisttheory,even
thoughtheonlythingthatreceivesareductiveanalysishereisthedifferencebetweenthereally
existentandthenonexistent(ornotreallyexistent)amongostensiblebodies.Itisstrikinghow
completeaphenomenalismcanbeconstitutedbyatheoryofthenatureofthisdifference,anditis
characteristicofLeibniz'sphenomenalismthatthisiswherethereductiveanalysisisdone,asI
arguedinsection1.1.

LegitimatequestionscanberaisedabouttheextenttowhichLeibnizwascommittedto
phenomenalisminthemid1670s.Thereseemtohavebeenother,lessidealisticstrandsinhis
thoughtduringtheperiod.Sometextsof1675and1676,growingoutofLeibniz'srelationswiththe
skepticalphilosopherSimonFoucher,suggestaviewofmaterialthingsasexternalcausesof
perception,"somethingotherthanthatwhichthinks"(AII,i,246f./L152;cf.AVI,iii,318f.).Itis
clearinthesetextsthatLeibnizisquiteconsciousofthepossibilityofskepticismaboutthe
extramentalexistenceofbodies,butphenomenalismisnotproposedhereastheonlyresolutionof
theproblem.CatherineWilsonseesinthesetendenciesoftheParisperiodthegroundworkofa
permanentambiguityinLeibniz'sthought"onthequestionoftheindependentexistenceof
'external'things."48ClearlyIrejectthehypothesisofpermanentambiguity,butIdonotpretendto
offeracomprehensiveaccountofLeibniz'sphilosophyofbodyatanystageofhiscareerbeforethe
mid1680s.Formypresentpurpose,whatismostsignificantaboutLeibniz'sthoughtinthe1670sis
that,whetherornothewascommittedtothem,hehadcertainlyarticulatedtheoriesofadeveloped
phenomenalistcharacter.

ThemostfundamentaldifferencesofLeibniz'smaturephenomenalismfromthephenomenalism
workedoutinhiswritingsof167679arisewithhisdecisiontotrytorehabilitatetheScholastic
notionofsubstantialform.Substantialformsaretobeprinciplesofunity,andLeibnizconceivedof
themonthemodelofsouls(aswillbediscussedinChapter11,section1).Twoimplicationsof
theirrehabilitationmaybestressedhere.

1.WiththeacceptanceofsubstantialformsLeibniz"goesontoinfinitemonads,"ashelater
thoughtBerkeleyoughttohavedone.Theonlysoulsorperceivingbeingswhoseexistenceis
entailedinthephenomenalistwritingsof167679areminds.49Butwhileallsubstantialformsare
tocarrypowersofperception,mostofthemarenottocountasminds,orevenassouls,strictly
speaking,becausetheirpowersofperceptionaretooimperfect.Mostsubstantialformsaretohave
onlypowersofunconsciousperception.Thusthereistobeaddedtothemindsamultitudeof
inferiorprinciplesofunityandperceptionaninfinite

____________________
48
C.Wilson,Leibniz'sMetaphysics,p.67).
49
Foratextof1678(thoughoneinwhichphenomenalistissuesareavoided)inwhich"minds"are
clearlytheonlysuchbeingsthatareallowed,seeAII,i,400/L189.
239

multitude,forsubstantialformsaretobefound"in"everyportionofmatter,nomatterhowsmall,
accordingtoLeibniz'smaturephilosophy.Thismultiplicationofperceivingbeingsisoften
emphasizedinLeibniz'sdiscussionsofsubstantialforms,asinthefollowingearlyendorsementof
theirrehabilitation:

ThereforeIjudgethatineverybodythereissomesensationandappetite,orsoul,and
accordinglyitisasridiculoustoattributeasubstantialformandperception,orasoul,to
manalone,astobelievethateverythingwasmadeforthesakeofmanaloneandthat
theearthisthecenteroftheuniverse.(VE642=LHXXXVII,3,16)

Leibnizseemsnevertohaveforgottenthatthisvastexpansionofhisontologybroughtwithitan
increasedvulnerabilitytoskepticaldoubts.Forthisreason,hisearlier,moreaustere
phenomenalismissometimesvisiblebehindthecomplextheoryofhislateryears,asarejectedbut
respectedalternative,orevenasafallbackpositionkeptinreserve.Thisisparticularlytrueof
someofLeibniz'swritingsofthemid1680s(e.g.,GVII,31922/L36365,whichwillbediscussed
insection4).RobertSleigh,Jr.,notesthatatheorylikethatwhichIhaveidentifiedasLeibniz's
earlierphenomenalism"isinthebackground,thoughnotoutrightassertedatDM14and34,"
andclaimsthat"acarefulreadingof[theoriginalautograph]version[oftheDiscourse]indicates
thatnothesisassertedthereinentailsthatthereare"substancesotherthanminds.50Sleighalso
pointsoutthatLeibniz'slettersanddraftsofletterstoArnauldcontainanumberofindicationsthat
thequestionwhethertherearetruesubstantialunitiesinnatureotherthan(human)mindswas
regardedbyLeibnizasapivotalquestioninthephilosophyofbody,whichheansweredinthe
affirmative,butonlywithmanyexpressionsofcaution.51

2.Withtheadditionofaninfinitemultitudeofinferiorsubstantialunities"in"everyportionofthe
corporealuniverse,therelationofphenomenatosubstancebecomesmorecomplicated.Inthe
phenomenalismarticulatedbyLeibnizin167679,mostbodies(stonesandtrees,forexample)had
nosubstances"in"them;butinthematureviewthereissomethingsubstantial"in"everyparticleof
matter.Ithinkitisclearthatthedesiretofindsomethingsubstantialinbodiesassuchwasamain
motiveforLeibniz'srehabilitationofsubstantialformsandhisacceptanceofamoreexpansive
ontology.

Intheearlierview,therelationofsubstancetophenomenawassimplyaperceptualoneofsubject
toobject.Thephenomenawerethe(internal)objectsofsubstances'perceptions.Thesubstances
werethesubjectstowhichthephenomenaappeared.ThisrelationremainsinLeibniz'smature
phenomenalism,butisjoinedtherebyotherrelations.Sinceallbodieshavesubstances"in"them,
theycanberegardedasappearancesofsubstancesaswellasappearancestosubstances.Theycan
evenbetreatedasaggregatesofsubstances.Inordertomaintainaphenomenalistpositioninhis
maturephilosophy,therefore,Leibnizmustarguethataggregatesofsubstancesaremerely
appearances.Weshallseeinsection3thathedoesjustthat.Fromthispointonweshallbe
concernedalmostexclusivelywithLeibniz'smaturephilosophy.

____________________
50
Sleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,p.98;seealsopp.1013.
51
SeeSleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,pp.1036,formuchdocumentation.
240

3.Aggregates

ThematureLeibnizholdsthat"thebodyisanaggregateofsubstances"(LA135).52Thisapplies
notonlytodisorganizedmasses,butalsotoorganicbodies:"thehumanbodyisanaggregate"(G
VII,468n).Wemaybetemptedtothinkthiscontradictsthethesisthatbodiesarephenomena,but
Leibnizdidnotthinktheseviewsinconsistent.Hespeaksofmassesas"onlybeingsbyaggregation,
andthereforephenomena."53Indeed,hefrequentlyassertsthatpreciselyasaggregatesof
substances,bodiesarephenomena.Intryingtounderstandthisdoctrine,itwillbehelpfultoattend
tothreequestions:Ofwhatsortofsubstancesarebodiesaggregates?Whatistheontologicalstatus
ofaggregatesingeneral?Whatistheprincipleofaggregationthatdetermineswhichindividual
substancesaregroupedtogethertoformaparticularcorporealaggregate?Thenextthree
subsectionsaredevotedtothesequestions,andafourthsubsectionwillconsideranobjectiontomy
answertothethirdquestion.

3.1AggregatesofWhat?

Leibniziscommonlyreadasholdingthatbodiesareaggregatesofmonads.Onemightthinkthatan
aggregateofthoseultimatelyrealsubstanceswouldbemorethananappearance.Butitmaybe
questionedhowfaritiscorrecttosaythatLeibnizthoughtofbodiesasaggregatesofmonadsor
simplesubstances.Thereareindeedplacesinhisworkswherehespeaksofacorporealmassas
aggregatedfrom"unities"[GII,379(1709)]or,moreclearly,as"aresultorassemblageofsimple
substancesorindeedofamultitudeofrealunities"[GIV,491/AG146(1695)].Othertexts
containingthisideawerewrittenin1705(GIII,367;GVII,561),1706(GII,282/L539),and1714
(PNG1;GIII,622).Therearealsomanytexts,however,thatsupporttheviewthat"amassisan
aggregateofcorporealsubstances,"whereacorporealsubstance"consistsinasimplesubstanceor
monad...andanorganicbodyunitedtoit"[GVII,501f.,italicsadded(1711)].54Othertexts
expressingthisviewwerewrittenin1699(GIII,260/AG289)oraboutthen(GIV,572f.),in1700
(GII,205f.),in1705orlater(GVI,550),andin1712(GII,459/L607;C13f./MP175).55The
organicbody,whichisoneoftheconstituentsofacorporealsubstanceonthisaccountisa
phenomenonaccordingtoLeibniz(GIII,657).ThismightsuggesttousthatLeibnizthought
corporealmassesarephenomenabecausetheyareaggregatesofcorporealsubstancesthatare
partlycomposedofphenomena.

____________________
52
Inarrivingatthepresentformofthissection(andalsoforsection1.3.2)Iamindebtedto
discussionwithMarianneKooij,andtoGlennHartzpaperon"Leibniz'sPhenomenalisms."Neither
ofthem,ofcourse,isresponsiblefortheviewsIexpress,andIremaininsubstantialdisagreement
withHartz.
53
GII,252/L531,emphasisadded.Itakethesephrasestoapply,inthecontext,tomasses.Literally,
Leibnizsaysthisabout"therest"[reliqua]bycontrastwith"simplethings."Cf.GVII,344/AG319,
and,fromasearlyas168085,VE1299=LHIV,7C,105f.
54
OfthearguablyLeibniziantheoriesofcorporealsubstancetobediscussedinChapter10,thistext
expressesthe"twosubstance"theory.
55
OnthedateofC13f.,seeMP258.Theuseofthetermsubstantiatummayindicatearelation
betweenthedocumentandcorrespondenceof1712withDesBosses.Thedocumentwasdated
about1708byHochstetter,"VonderwahrenWirklichkeitbeiLeibniz,"p.427n.
241
ThisexplanationofLeibniz'sbeliefinthephenomenalityofbodiesisunacceptable,however,forat
leastfourreasons.(1)Ifbodiesarephenomenabecausetheyarecomposedofcorporealsubstances
thatarepartlycomposedofphenomena,thecorporealsubstancesthemselvesshouldalsobe
phenomenabecausetheyarepartlycomposedofphenomena;Leibnizdidnotholdthatcorporeal
substancesarephenomena,however.(2)SofarasIknow,Leibnizneversaysthatcorporeal
aggregatesarephenomenabecausetheyarepartlycomposedofphenomena,butheoftensaysthey
arephenomenabecausetheyareaggregates.(3)Indeed,aviciouslookingcirclewouldariseif
Leibniztriedtoexplainthephenomenalityofcorporealaggregatesonthegroundthattheyare
partlycomposedoforganicbodiesthatarephenomena,forheexplainsthephenomenalityof
organicbodiesonthegroundthattheyare(corporeal)aggregates.(4)Ingeneral,itseemsthat
Leibniz'streatmentofbodiesasaggregatesofcorporealsubstancesisnotmeanttoexcludethe
claimthatatbottomtheyareentirelyreducibletosimplesubstancesormonads,relatedincertain
ways.ThusLeibnizcansaythateachbody"isnothingbutanaggregateofanimalsorotherliving
andthereforeorganicthings,orelseoffragmentsormasses,butwhichalsothemselvesarefinally
analyzedintolivingthings"whereItakethe"livingthings"tobecorporealsubstances.Buthe
immediatelyaddsthat"thelastthingintheanalysisofsubstancesisthattherearesimple
substances,namelysoulsor,ifyoupreferamoregeneralword,Monads,whichlackparts"(C13f./
MP175).ForallofthesereasonsIthinkwemusttrytounderstandwhyLeibnizwouldhave
thoughtthataggregatesassuchcannotbemorethanphenomenaeveniftheyareaggregatesof
simplesubstancesormonads.

ThisconclusionwillsurviveexaminationoftwotextsinwhichLeibnizdeniesthatbodyormatter
is"composedof"monads,andwhichmightseemtobeevidencethatLeibnizwoulddenythat
bodiesareaggregatesofmonads.Bothtextsarerelatedtotheproblemofthecontinuum,butIthink
theymustbeunderstoodinratherdifferentsenses.Iwillbeginwiththelaterofthetwotexts,from
aletterof1712toBartholomewdesBosses,inwhichLeibnizhadjustintroducedforthefirsttime
thetheoryofsubstantialbonds,analternativetohispurelymonadologicalmetaphysics,whichwill
bediscussedinChapter10,sections5.3and5.4.Eveniftherearenosubstantialbonds,Leibniz
states,"monadsshouldnotbesaidtobepartsofbodies,totoucheachother,ortocomposebodies,
anymorethanitisrighttosaythataboutpointsandsouls"(GII,436/AG199).Why,inthis
context,woulditbewrongtosaythat"monadscomposebodies"?Wecannotbecertain,butone
possiblerationaleisrelatedtothequestiondiscussedearlier,insection1.3.2,whetherbodiesare
continuousoronlyappeartobeso.Leibnizheldthataggregatesofrealsubstancesarenot
continuous,becausetheyareactuallydividedintodiscreteuntities,whereasthecontinuousassuch
isonlypotentiallydividedintoindeterminateparts.Hence,ifbodiesreallyarecontinuous,they
cannotbeaggregatesofrealsubstances,andinthatsensetheycannotbe"composedofconstitutive
unities."

ThistrainofthoughtisstronglysuggestedbyapassageinLeibniz'slastlettertoDesBosses,in
1716:"Besides,ifmonadsaloneweresubstances[andtherewerenosubstantialbonds],theneither
bodieswouldhavetobemerephenomenaorthecontinuumwouldhavetoarisefrompoints,which
isknowntobeabsurd.

242

Realcontinuitycannotariseexceptfromasubstantialbond"(GII,517/AG203).Whyisitthat,
underthestatedcondition,"eitherbodieswouldhavetobemerephenomenaorthecontinuum
wouldhavetoarisefrompoints"?Presumablyitisbecause,inordertobemorethanmere
phenomena,intherelevantsense,56bodieswouldhavetobecomposed,asaggregates,ofmonads,
andthenamathematicalcontinuumwouldhavetoarisefromunextended,indivisibleunities.But
thatpresupposesthatbodiesarefully,mathematicallycontinuous.

InthecontextoftheDesBossescorrespondence,thispresuppositioncanbeviewedasalargely
terminologicalaccommodationtotheconcernsofthetheoryofsubstantialbonds.Itappearsfrom
the1716passagequotedthatobtaining"realcontinuity"isoneoftheaimsofthetheory.Thismay
beseenasservingthemainaimofthetheory,whichisobtainingrealunityand,hence,
substantialityforbodies.For,accordingtoLeibniz,acontinuouswholeispriortoitsparts,andits
unityisthusoriginalandnotconstitutedmerelybyrelationsamongtheparts.Itwouldthereforebe
naturalforasubstantialbondtheoristtodefinebodiesascontinuousthingsandinferthatbodiesare
lessrealeventhanaggregatesofsubstances,unlesstherearesubstantialbondstogiveriseto"real
continuity."

Itstrainscredulity,however,tosupposethatduringtheperiodofthedesBossescorrespondence
Leibnizwasreallynotwillingtocountdiscontinuousaggregatesofsubstancesasbodies.Forin
othertextsfromthatperiodheaffirmsthatbodiesareaggregatesofsubstances[C13f./MP175
(1712);PNG1(1714);GIII,622,657(1714,1715);cf.RML447/L623(171215)],andLeibniz
certainlydidnotthinkthataggregatesofsubstancesarecontinuous.Theseconsiderationssupport
theviewthatLeibnizoughttosaythatbodiesonlyappeartobecontinuousandalsotheviewthat
thetheoryofsubstantialbondsisnotpartofhisphilosophy.

Inanyevent,theargumentthatbodiesarecontinuousandthereforemustnotbeaggregatesof
substancescannotmotivateLeibniz'searlierstatement,inaletterof1704toBurcherDeVolder,
that"accuratelyspeaking,matterisnotcomposedofconstitutiveunities,butresultsfromthem"(G
II,268/L536).Ibelievethat"constitutiveunities"refersheretosimplesubstancesormonads.The
statementiscertainlyrelatedtotheproblemofthecontinuuum,whichLeibnizhasjustbeen
discussing.ButLeibnizhasalsojustimplied,unambiguously,thatbodieslackoneofthe
characteristicsthatdefine,forhim,thecontinuous,declaringthat"inrealthings,namelybodies,the
partsarenotindefinite(as[theyare]inspace,amentalthing),butareactuallyassignedinacertain
way"(GII,268/L536).Thecluetothecorrectinterpretationofthepassage,Ithink,isgivenwhen
Leibnizgoesontosay,"Phenomenathereforecanalwaysbedividedintosmallerphenomena
whichcouldappeartomoresubtleanimals,andonewillneverarriveatsmallestphenomena.But
substantialunitiesarenotparts,butfoundations,ofphenomena"(GII,268/L536).Thepartsof
phenomenaaresmallerphenomena;"substantialunities"standinsomeotherrelationto
phenomena.

Arelatedtreatmentofthepart/wholerelationisilluminating.In1690Leibnizwrote,"Furthermore
evenifanaggregateofthesesubstancesconstitutesabody,

____________________
56
Asenseimplyingmoredistancefromreality,obviously,thanthesenseinwhichanaggregateof
substances,asanaggregate,ismerelyaphenomenon.
243
theystilldonotconstituteitinthemannerofapart,sinceapartisalwayshomogeneouswiththe
whole,inthesamewaythatpointsarenotpartsoflines"(VE2156/AG105).Apartofaline,on
thisview,mustbehomogeneouswiththeline,andthereforemustbealinesegment,andnota
point.57Similarly,Isuppose,apartofaphenomenonmustbeaphenomenon,andapartofan
aggregatemustbeasubaggregate.Specifically,apartofabodymustbeabody.Ifabodyisan
aggregateofsubstanceswhicharenotaggregates,thosesubstanceswillnotbepartsofthebody,
andthebodywillnotbecomposedofthemifbeing'composedof'meanshavingasparts.

Butthereissurelyabroadersenseinwhichanaggregateofsubstancesiscomposedofthose
substances,andiftheyarenotpartsofit,theyaresomeothersortofconstituentofit.Leibnizused
'composedof'inboththenarrowerandthebroadersenseintheDeVoldercorrespondence.When
hewrotetoDeVolderthat"matterisnotcomposedofconstitutiveunities,"Iamarguing,hemust
havemeantthattheunitiesarenotpartsofthematter.ButwhenhewrotetoDeVolder,lessthan
eighteenmonthslater,that"actualthingsarecomposed...ofunities"(GII,282/L539),hewas
presumablyusing'composedof'inabroadersenseandwasnotgivingupthethesisthatsubstantial
unitiesarenotpartsofcorporealaggregates.Inneithercase,Ibelieve,washedenyingthatbodies
areaggregatesofsubstances,orindeedofmonads.

Ifnotparts,whatarethesubstancestotheaggregates?Leibnizoccasionallyusestheword
'elements'inthiscontext,sayingthat"itisnecessaryforallaggregatestoresultfromsimple
substancesasfromthetrueelements"(GVII,502),orreferringto"primitiveunities"or"simple
substances"as"thefirstelementsofsubstantialthings"(GIV,491/AG146).58Thepicturethat
emergesisoneinwhichbodiesareaggregatesof(infinitelymany)simplesubstances.These
substancesareelements,butnotparts,oftheaggregates.Thepartsoftheaggregates(orofthe
bodies)aresubaggregates(orsmallerbodies)whichhavesimplesubstancesastheirfirstelements.
59Ibelievethatthis,ratherthananythingbelongingtothetheoryofsubstantialbonds,isthe
dominantschemeforthesetopicsinLeibniz'sphilosophy.

3.2TheOntologicalStatusofAggregates

Theapparentconflictbetweenthethesisthatbodiesarephenomenaandthethesisthattheyare
aggregatesofsubstancesspringsfromtheassumptionthatanaggregateofFsmusthavethesame
ontologicalstatusastheFs.Thisisatbestacontroversialassumption.Thereisnothingatallodd
aboutLeibniz'srejectingit.

____________________
57
Thiswasatraditionalview,maintainedinAristotlePhysics,bookVI,ch.1.
58
Itisinterestingthatinthistextof1695(asalsoinGMIII,536of1698),Leibnizseemstodenythat
pointsare"thefirstelementsoflines,"therebyabandoningthecloseparallelismbetweenthe
point/lineandsubstance/bodyrelationsassertedin1690(VE2156/AG105).Thismayinfact
reflectachangeinhisviewofthoserelations;cf.HartzandCover,"SpaceandTimeinthe
LeibnizianMetaphysic,"pp.49397.Othertextsof16981705(GMIII,524;GII,276)inwhich
'element'seemstobeusedintherelevantsense,butnotinreferencetotherelationofmonadsto
corporealaggregates,arequotedinLamarra,"LeibnizonLockeonInfinity,"p.183n.
59
FormorediscussionofthedistinctionsIhaveintroducedhere,andmoreevidencebearingonthem,
seeChapter10,sections3.1and3.2.
244

Aggregatesarepresumablycloseontologicalkintosets,andwearefamiliarwiththefactthatthe
assumptionthatasetofpencilsmusthavethesameontologicalstatusasthepencilsishighly
controversial.Weshouldnotexpectittobeassumedwithoutargumentthatanarmy,oneof
Leibniz'sfavoriteexamplesofanaggregate,60hasthesameontologicalstatusasthesoldiersthat
areitselements.Infact,Leibnizmakesclearrepeatedlythathebelievesthatallaggregates,assuch,
areatmostphenomena,andhencethatanaggregateofsubstancesdoesnothavethesame
ontologicalstatusasthesubstances.

AnotherreasonforfindingthisstrangemightarisefromthefactthatLeibnizthinksrealityinsome
senseaccruestocorporealaggregatesfromthesubstancesofwhichtheyareaggregates(asweshall
seeinsection4).Again,Ithinkthereisnothingreallyoddhere.Anaggregateofsubstancesisfor
Leibnizasortoflogicalormetaphysicalconstructionoutofsubstances,andthusoutofultimately
realthings.Suchaconstructionhasmorerealitythanaconstructionoutofthingsthatarenotreal,
butitisstillnotultimatelyrealinitsownright.The"reality"oftheconstructedaggregateisnotthe
sameontologicalstatusastheultimateororiginalrealityofthesubstancesthatareelementsofthe
aggregate.Leibniz'stheoryofbodiesisreductionist,andinareductionistphilosophy,beinga
logicalormetaphysicalconstructionoutofultimatelyrealthingsisadifferentontologicalstatus
fromthatoftheultimatelyrealthings.

ThereasonLeibnizusuallygivesforthinkingthataggregatesassuchareonlyphenomenaisthat
theylackintrinsic[perse]unity.OnereasonwhytheidealisticcharacterofLeibniz'sphilosophy
maybelessthanobvioustousisthatweexpectidealismtoberootedprimarilyinthephilosophy
ofperception,whereasforthematureLeibnizitismotivatedlargelybyworriesabouttheunityof
bodies.Claimsaboutperceptionplayedamorecentralroleinthephenomenalismarticulatedin
Leibniz'swritingsof167679,discussedinsection2.Butwiththepostulationofsubstantialforms
"in"allbodies,sothatthebodiescanberegardedasaggregatesofsubstances,thethesisofthe
pheneomenalityofbodiesrestsheavilyonanargumentthataggregates,byvirtueoftheirdisunity,
areonlyphenomena.

"Finally,"Leibnizwrites,"bodiesarenothingbutaggregates,constitutingsomethingthatisone
accidentally[peraccidens]orbyanexternaldenomination,andthereforetheyarewellfounded
Phenomena"(GVII,344/AG319).Theunityofanaggregatecomestoitbyan"external
denomination"namely,byrelationtoamindthatperceivesrelationshipsamongthethingsthatare
aggregated.SinceLeibnizadheredtotheScholasticmaximthat'being'and'one'areequivalent
[Ensetunumconvertuntur](GII,304;cf.GII,300),heinferredthataggregatesthathavetheir
unityonlyinthemindalsohavetheirbeinginthe

____________________
60
See,e.g.,LA97.Incountingarmiesasaggregates,Leibnizignoressomedistinctionsfoundin
Scholasticphilosophy.ForFranciscoSurez(MetaphysicalDisputations,IV,iii,14),unityby
aggregationistheweakestsortofaccidentalunity;theunityofanarmy,thoughstillaccidental,is
stronger,becausethereis"someorder"amongtheentitiesmakingupthearmy.Foranevenmore
elaboratearrayofScholasticdistinctions,seetheCoimbracommentaryonAristotlePhysics,
I,9,11,2,quotedinGilson,Indexscolasticocartsien,pp.304f.Leibnizdoes,however,recognize
different"degreesofaccidentalunity,"basedonstrongerandweakerrelationsamongthe
constituentsofanaggregate(LA100).
245

mind.Historically,atleast,thisinferenceisnotbizarre.AlongAristoteliantraditionconnects
beingandunitysocloselythatforFranciscoSurezanentitycanbesaidtohavebeingperseor
peraccidensonthebasisofitshavingunityperseorperaccidens.61

ThisreasoningisclearlyexpressedinLeibniz'slongletterof30April1687toAntoineArnauld.

Tobebrief,Iholdasanaxiomthisidenticalpropositionwhichisdiversifiedonlyby
emphasis,namelythatwhatisnottrulyonebeing[unestre]isnottrulyabeing[un
estre]either.Ithasalwaysbeenbelievedthatoneandbeingaremutuallyconvertible
[reciproques]things....IhavebelievedthereforethatIwouldbepermittedto
distinguishBeingsofaggregationfromsubstances,sincethoseBeingshavetheirunity
onlyinourmind,whichreliesontherelationsormodesofgenuinesubstances.(LA97)
62

Leibniz'sclaimisthataggregateshavetheirunity,andthereforetheirbeing,onlyinthemind,and
thatthisistrueevenofaggregatesofrealthings.

WhydidLeibnizthinkthataggregateshavetheirunityonlyinthemind?Anotherpassageinthe
samelettertoArnauldremindsusthatLeibnizwasaconceptualistaboutabstractobjectsingeneral
andalsoaboutrelations(cf.NE145;GII,438/AG199),believingthattheyhavetheirbeingonlyin
themind(especiallyinthedivinemind).Thesametreatmentistobeaccordedtotheunityofan
aggregateand,hence,totheaggregateitself.

Ourmindnoticesorconceivessomegenuinesubstancesthathavecertainmodes.These
modescontainrelationstoothersubstances.Fromthisthemindtakestheoccasionto
jointhemtogetherinthoughtandtoputonenameintheaccountingforallthesethings
together,whichservesforconvenienceinreasoning.Butonemustnotletoneselfbe
deceivedtherebyintomakingofthemsomanysubstancesortrulyrealBeings.Thatis
onlyforthosewhostopatappearances,orelseforthosewhomakerealitiesofallthe
abstractionsofthemind,andwhoconceiveofnumber,time,place,motion,shape,
sensiblequalitiesassomanyseparatebeings.(LA101;cf.AI,ix,16)

InLeibniz'sontology,theonlythingsthathavebeingintheirownrightareparticular"substances
orcompleteBeings,endowedwithatrueunity,withtheirdifferentsuccessivestates"(ibid.).
Everythingelse,includinguniversals,andalsoincludingaggregates,islogicallyormetaphysically
constructedfromtheindividualsubstances.Thisconstruction,inLeibniz'sview,isamental
operation.Theontologicalstatusofentitieslogicallyormetaphysicallyconstructedfrom
substances,"beingnothingbutphenomena,abstractions,orrelations"(ibid.),isthereforeatleast
partlymental.63Theyexistinthemindandaredependent

____________________
61
Surez,MetaphysicalDisputations,IV,iii,23.
62
Ihavesuppressedsomeunimportantemphasesinthetext,inordertolettheemphaseson"one"
and"being"standoutmoreclearly.Thelastsentenceinthequotationwasnotinthecopyofthe
lettersenttoArnauld,butsimilarmaterialatLA101,whichIwillquotesoon,wassent(seeRL69,
73f.).SimilarideasarefoundinGVI,516(1702);NE146,211(1704);andRML447/L623
(1715).
63
AtNE146thementalorphenomenalcharacterofbeingsbyaggregationisgroundedsimplyinthe
relationalcharacterofaggregation,aspointedoutbyMcRae,Leibniz:Perception,Apperception,
andThought,p.135f.
246

onbeingthoughtof.Doubtsmayremain,nevertheless,abouttheconsistencyoftheviewthat
bodiesareaggregatesandthereforephenomena.Atleasttwoquestionsarisehere.
1.
Ifbodiesasphenomenaaretheobjectsofstoriestoldbyperception,bycommonsense,and
especiallybyscience,asIsuggestedinsection1,cantheyalsobeaggregatesofsubstances?
Certainlytheycanalsobeaggregates,for,accordingtoLeibniz,itispartofthestorytoldby
science,andlessdistinctlyalsobycommonsenseandperception,thateveryextendedthingis
composedofactualparts,andthatisenoughtomakeextendedthingsaggregatesinLeibniz'sbook.
Ontheotherhand,itdoesnotseemtobepartofthestorytoldbyperception,commonsense,or
sciencethatextendedthingsarecomposedofmonads,norperhapseventhattheyarecomposedof
substancesatall.TothisIthinkLeibnizmightsaythatthosestoriesdonotexcludethethesisthat
bodiesareaggregatesofsubstances.Itisatleastvaguelypartofthestoriestoldbycommonsense
andsciencethattheappearancesofbodieshaveormayhavesomefurtherfoundationinreality.
ButnohypothesisofthenatureofthatfoundationispartofthestoriesofLeibnizianscienceand
commonsense;itislefttometaphysicstoconsiderwhatthefoundationmightbe.
2.
Canaggregatesofsubstancespossessthephysicalpropertiesthatbodieshaveinthestorytoldby
science?Themostimportant,andmostreal,ofthoseproperties,forLeibniz,areforces,andhe
doesascribephysicalforcestoaggregatesofsubstances(GII,251/L530).Therelationofforcesto
substancesontheonehandandtophenomenaontheotheristoolargeasubjecttobedealtwith
here,however.ItwillbeamajortopicofChapter13.

3.3ThePrincipleofAggregation
HavingexaminedLeibniz'sreasonsforholdingthatallaggregates,assuch,arenomorethan
phenomena,weshouldnotethathehasanadditionalreasonforassigningthestatusofappearances
tocorporealaggregatesinparticular.TherainbowprovidesLeibnizwithafavoriteexampleofa
phenomenon,towhichhefrequentlylikensbodies(e.g.,GII,262,390).Histreatmentofthe
exampleisnotperfectlyconsistent.Atleastonce(LA58)heseemstocontrasttherainbowwith
aggregates,butmoreoftenitispresentedassomethingthatisaphenomenonbecauseitisan
aggregate:

Therainbowisanaggregateofdropswhichjointlyproducecertaincolorsthatare
apparenttous....Hencetherainbowisofdiminishedrealityundertwoheadings,both
becauseitisaBeingbyaggregationofdrops,andbecausethequalitiesbywhichitis
knownareapparentoratleastofthatkindofrealonesthatarerelativetooursenses.
(VE188=Gr322)

ThefirstofthesereasonsforthediminishedrealityoftherainbowcorrespondstoLeibniz'sgeneral
thesisofthephenomenalityofaggregates;64itisthesecondreasonthatIwanttodevelopnow.

____________________
64
ItmaybesignificantthatLeibnizspeakshereof"diminishedreality"ratherthanphenomenality.
Thenextparagraphofthistextisaramblingdiscussionofthequestion,"howaBeingby
aggregation...isone,"inwhichLeibnizdiscussesmorethanonewayinwhichanarmyhasless
247

Thisreasonhastodowiththeperceptualrelativityofcolors.Colors,Leibnizindicatesinthesame
text,are"apparentqualities"inthesensethatthey"arenotinthingsabsolutely,butinsofarasthey
actonus;thusthesamewaterwillseemcoldortepidorhotaccordingtothedispositionofmy
hands.Yetthisisrealinit,thatitisnaturallyapttoproducethissensationinmewhenIamthus
disposed."Colorsingeneralareapparentqualitiesinthissense,accordingtoLeibniz;buthe
neglectstoemphasizethatthecolorsoftherainbowareevenmorethanordinarilyrelativeto
perception.Anyparticularaggregateofdropsofwaterintheairwillbecoloredasarainbowonly
relativetoperceptionsfromaparticularplace.AsIhavenotedinsection1.3,however,Leibniz
thinksthateventhemorefundamentalqualitiesofsize,shape,andmotion,havesomethingofthe
phenomenalandarerelativetoperception;yettheaggregationofsubstancestoformabodyis
basedforLeibnizonsuchspatialpropertiesoftheirbodies,asIshallargue.Becausethe
aggregationofdropsinarainbow,andofsubstancesinabody,isbasedonpropertiesthatare
relativetoperceptionintheseways,Leibnizinfersthattherainbowandthebodyarephenomena
andhavediminishedreality.

Itismisleading,Ithink,thatLeibnizsaysinpresentingthisargumentthatthequalitiesbywhich
therainbowisknownorrecognized[noscitur]arerelativetooursenses.Whatiscrucialhereisnot
thatweknoworrecognizetherainbowbymerelyapparentqualities.Leibnizmustsaythatin
generalweknoworrecognizeevenmonadsbypropertiesoftheirbodiesthataremerelyapparent,
andthemonadsarenonethelessrealforthat.Thecruxoftheargumentisthattheexistenceofthe
aggregatedependsonpropertiesthatarerelativetoourperceptions.Therelationtoperception
providestheprincipleofgroupingthatdefinestheaggregate.Ifwethinkofarainbowasan
aggregateofdrops,whatisitthatpicksthemoutfromalltheotherdropsofwaterintheskyand
groupsthemasanobjectthatwecallarainbow?Itistheirrelationtothecolorperceptionsthatan
observer(inoneplacebutnotinothers)wouldhave.Itisthusonlyrelativetoappearancesthat
thereismorereasontoaggregatethesedropstogetherthantoformsomeothergroupfromthe
dropsinthesky.Likewise,theaggregationofsubstancesasbelongingtoasinglecorporealmass
dependsonlargelyphenomenalpropertiesthattheirbodiesappeartohave.

Supposethroughacleverlycontrivednetworkofglassfiberstheimagesofathousanddifferent
peoplewalking,talking,andgesturingonathousanddifferentstreetsofahundreddifferentcities
werecombinedtogiveyouanimageofanangrymob.This"mob,"wemightsay,isanaggregate
ofrealhumanbeings,buttherealityoftheindividualpersonsdoesnotkeepthemobassuchfrom
beingamerephenomenon.Thisisbecausetheexistenceofamobdependsonrelationsamongits
membersinawaythattheexistenceofamathematicalsetdoesnot,andIthinktheexistence
conditionsforaLeibnizianaggregatearelikethoseforamobinthisrespect.Ifsetsexistatall,the
existenceofallthemem

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x
unitythanasoldier,butdoesnotexpresstheviewthattheunityofanaggregateismental.The
secondreasonforthediminishedrealityoftherainbow,whichexplicitlyinvolvesrelativityto
perception,maythereforebemoreimportantinthistextthanitwouldbeinLeibniz'slaterwork.
Themanuscript'swatermarksuggestsadateintheperiod168386,whenLeibniz'smature
philosophywasstillinformation.
248

bersofasetsufficesfortheexistenceoftheset.ButthatLeibnizianparadigmofanaggregate,a
pileofwood,ceasestoexistwhenthelogsinitarescattered,eventhoughthelogsarenot
destroyed.Apileormobexistsonlywhileitsmembersaregroupedbyacertainproximity.Inthe
casethatIdescribed,themobisamerephenomenonbecauseitsgroupingismerelyapparentand
existsonlyintheimagepresentedtoyoubytheopticalapparatus.Thiswouldbeanaptexample
forLeibniz,because,onhisview,theaggregationofsubstancestoformbodiesisnolessdependent
onperception,beingbasedonthewaythatthesubstances,ortheirorganicbodies,arespatially
representedinourperceptions.

ThisargumentrestsonapremisewhoseLeibniziancharacterIhaveyettoestablish,thatthe
aggregationofsubstancestoformbodiesisindeedbasedonthewaythatthesubstances,ortheir
bodies,areperceived.Leibnizseemstosayasmuch,writing,inthelastyearofhislife,that"the
aggregatesthemselvesarenothingbutphenomena,sincebesidesthemonadsthatenterintothem,
therestisaddedbyperceptionalone,bytheveryfactthattheyareperceivedtogether"(GII,517/
AG203).65Thepointisworthdiscussing,however,asitinvolvesabasicissueaboutLeibniz's
theoryofcorporealaggregates,whichwemaycallthequestionoftheprincipleofaggregation:
Whatdetermineswhichindividualsubstancesaregroupedtogethertoformaparticularcorporeal
aggregate.

ThatLeibnizneedsaprincipleofaggregationisintuitivelyobvious,Ithink,fromwhathasbeen
saidaboveaboutrainbowsandmobsandpilesofwood.Noteveryrandomlyselectedsetof
substancesconstitutesatanygiventimeanaggregate,letaloneacorporealmassorbody.
Substancesthatconstituteabodymuststandinsomemutualrelationthatdistinguishesthemfroma
setofsubtancesnotsoaggregated,aslogsthatformapilearedistinguishedfromarandom
selectionoftheworld'slogs.Leibnizseemstoassumethisinpresentinghisaccountofcorporeal
aggregatestoArnauld,forhewritesthatrelationsbetweensubstancesgivethemind"theoccasion
tojointhemtogetherinthought"(LA101).Inthisconstructionourmind"reliesontherelationsor
modesofgenuinesubstances"(LA97).ItistruethatLeibnizalsosaysthat"noorderedprinciple
[rienderegl]willeverbefoundformakingagenuinesubstanceofmanybeingsbyaggregation"(
LA101).Butthisisnotarenunciationofprinciplesofaggregation;66inthecontextitisrathera
denialthatanygenuinesubstancecanbeformedbyaggregation.

What,then,aretherelationsamongsubstances,onthebasisofwhichtheyareaggregatedtoforma
body?AlthoughLeibnizdoesnotgivemuchexplanationonthispoint,Ithinkitisfairlyclearthata
bodywillbeanaggregateofallormostofthesubstanceswhosepositionsarewithinsome
continuousthreedimensionalportionofspace.Thisisthenaturalassumption,and,sofarasIknow,
Leibnizneversuggestsanyalternativetoit.Whatportionofspacethebodyoccupies,andwhich
substancesaremembersoftheaggregate,maychange

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65
TheLatinofthelastphraseiseoipsodumsimulpercipiuntur.Simulusuallyhasatemporal
meaning,andRogerAriewandDanielGarber(AG)havetranslatedit,defensibly,as"atthesame
time."Itcanjustmean"together,"however,andIhavetranslateditthatway.Allmonadsare
perceivedatthesametime,afterall;notjustthosebelongingtothesamebody.Iwillarguethatthe
togethernessinvolvedatthispointinLeibniz'stheoryisspatial,orbasedonspatialappearance.
66
AsclaimedbyHartz,"Leibniz'sPhenomenalisms,"p.538.
249

overtime,ofcourse.Spatialtogethernessisanecessaryconditionforanycorporealaggregation,
butitispresumablynotasufficientconditionforeventheaccidentalunitythatLeibnizascribesto
astone.Forsuchunity,additional,quasicausalconditionsonthewayinwhichthemembersofthe
aggregatechangetheirpositionsrelativetoeachotherwillalsobenecessary.67

Iftheaggregationofsubstancesintobodiesdependsonthepositionsofthesubstances,thenext
thingwewillwanttoknowiswhatdeterminesthepositionsofthesubstancesinspace.Itisnot
hardtofindananswertothisquestionifitisaboutcorporealsubstances.Acorporealsubstanceis
composedofamonadandtheorganicbodyofthatmonad(aswemayassumefornow,following
GVII,501).Thespatialpositionofthecorporealsubstancewillsurelybethespatialpositionofits
organicbody.Theorganicbodyisitselfanaggregate,andhenceaphenomenon;andspatial
positionissurelyasmerelyphenomenalapropertyassize,shape,andmotion.Wemayplausibly
concludethatthespatialpositionoftheorganicbody,andhenceofthecorporealsubstance,is
giveninappearance,andistheoneitappearstohave,orperhapstheoneitwouldappeartohavein
asufficientlyperfectedscience.

Insection3.1,however,IarguedthatwewoulddowelltotrytounderstandLeibniz'sconception
ofbodiesasaggregatesontheassumptionthathethoughtthattheelementsoftheaggregatesare
simplesubstancesormonads,ratherthancompositeorcorporealsubstances.Onthisunderstanding
wewillneedtoassociatethesimplesubstancesaswellasthecorporealsubstanceswithspatial
positions.Thiscanbeaccomplished,eventhoughmonadspersedonothaveanylocation(G
II,444,450f./L602,604).Wecanassigntoeachsimplesubstancethespatialpositionofitsorganic
body,for,accordingtoLeibniz,eachsimplesubstancehasanorganicbody.68Spiritual,aswellas
material,changehas"itsplaceintheorderofcoexistencesorinspace,"LeibnizwritestoDe
Volder."Foreventhoughmonadsarenotextended,theystillhavesomekindofpositionin
extensionthatis,someorderedrelationofcoexistencetootherthingsthroughtheMachine,that
is,overwhichtheypreside"(GII,253/L531)."TheMachine"istheorganicbody,asisclearinthe
contextofthisstatement,andLeibnizissayingthatmonads"havesomekindofpositionin
extension"whichtheygetthroughtheirrelationto"their"organicbodies.

Thisconstructionofbodiesasaggregatesofeithercorporealorsimplesubstanceshasthe
metaphysicalpeculiaritythatthegroupingofsubstancesintoaggregatesdependsonthespatial
appearanceofthebodies.ThosewhoseekalessphenomenalisticreadingofLeibnizmightwishto
findaconstructionofcorporealaggregatesthatisindependentofsuchphenomenalpropertiesof
bodies.Oneapproachwouldbetosupposethatmonadsareaggregatedtogetheronthebasisof
similaritiesamongtheirperceptions.Inabroadenoughsenseof'similarity',thisissurelycorrect,
butthequestionis,Whichsimilaritiesarerelevant?Theperceptionsofallmonadsareprecisely
similarinthatallperceiveexactlythesameuniverse,inallitsinfinitedetail.Theydifferonlyinthe
distinctnessorconfusednessofperceptions.Soifmonadsaretobeaggregatedonthebasisof

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67
ForthislastpointIamindebtedtothelateWallaceAnderson.Cf.LA100.
68
Therelationbetweenasimplesubstanceand"its"bodywillbediscussedinChapter10,section4.
250

similarityofperceptions,thebasismustbefoundinthedistinctnessorconfusednessoftheir
perceptions.Inthemosteasilyspecifiablerespect,themonadsmostsimilartoeachotherarethose
whoseperceptionshaveapproximatelythesamedegreeofdistinctness.Thusthemonadsmost
similartomysoulareotherhumansouls.Butnogroupingofhumansoulsisacorporealaggregate
orbody.Moregenerally,everyaggregateconstitutingaLeibnizianbodywillincludesubstances
thatdifferwidelyinthegeneraldistinctnessoftheirperceptions.Forwhateversubstancesit
includes,itwillalsoincludethesubstancescontainedintheirbodies(GMIII,542/AG167f.);and
theperceptionsoftheformerwillbemoredistinctthantheperceptionsofthelatter,inasmuchas
eachmonadperceivestheuniversemoredistinctly,ingeneral,thanthosemonadsthatare
aggregatedtoformitsorganicbody.

Reflectiononthisproblem,Ithink,leadstotheconclusionthatiftheaggregationofsubstancesinto
corporealmassesistobebasedonsimilaritiesamongtheirperceptions,thesemustbesimilarities
amongtheirpatternsofperceivingsomethingsmoredistinctlythanothers.Andthesimilarities
mustberelevanttoassigningspatialpositionstothesubstances,sinceweclearlywillnotcountan
aggregateofsubstancesasabodyifwedonotassignthemappropriatelyrelatedspatialpositions.
Isthere,then,awayofassigningspatialpositionstosubstancesonthebasisoftheirperceptions,
andthusofconstructingcorporealaggregates,withoutpresupposingphenomenalpropertiesof
bodies?

IoncethoughtIhaddiscoveredawayofdoingthat.ItstartswithBertrandRussell'sstatementthat
forLeibniz"placesresultfrompointsofview,andpointsofviewinvolveconfusedperceptionor
materiaprima."69Inthisconstructionallspatialrelationsaretobedefinedintermsofthepoints
ofviewofmonads.Thesepointsofviewwillbethepositionsofthemonads,andwillbe
conceptuallypriortothepositionsofbodies.Thepointsofviewofmonadswillbepositions
determinedbycomparisonofthedegreeofconfusionoftheirperceptionsofeachother,in
accordancewiththeprinciplethatifmonadA'sperceptionofmonadCismoreconfusedthan
monadA'sperceptionofmonadB,thenmonadAisclosertomonadBthantomonadC.

WilliamIrvine70haspersuadedmethatthisconstructionismathematicallypossible.Thatis,ifwe
aregivenenoughmonadsforthemtobecorrelatedonetoonewitheverypointofspace,plus,for
everytripleofmonads,A,B,andC,theinformationwhetherthedistanceABisgreaterorless
than,orequalto,thedistanceAC,thatwillsufficefortheconstructionofallspatialrelations.
Furthermore,Leibnizoftenindicatesthatdistanceiscorrelatedwithconfusionofperceptions.
Nevertheless,IhavenotfoundthisconstructioninLeibniz,andIhavecometobelievethatitdoes
notcorrespondtohisintentions,forseveralreasons.

1.Inordertomakethepointsofviewofthemonadscompletelypriortobodies,Iwastryingto
definethemintermsofmonads'perceptionsofeachother,ratherthanintermsoftheirperceptions
ofbodies.Butitisnotcleartomethat

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69
Russell,PhilosophyofLeibniz,p.147.
70
InanunpublishedpaperwrittenatUCLA.Aconstructioninsomewayssimilar,butnotclaimingto
beLeibniz'sownandnotmakinguseofconfusedness,oranyotherinternalfeatureofperceptions
suggestedbyLeibnizinthisconnection,isdevelopedbyHacking,"ALeibnizianSpace."
251

Leibnizthoughtthatanymonad,exceptGod,everperceivesanyothermonaddirectly.Inthe
Monadology(62)hedepictsthemonadasrepresenting"thewholeuniverseinrepresenting"its
ownorganicbody;andinChapter10,section4.1,IwillargueforaninterpretationofLeibniz's
systeminwhichIperceiveeveryothercreatedmonadbyperceiving,moreorlessdistinctly,its
organicbody.

Thisargumenthaslimitedforceinthepresentcontext.Thewholesubjectofdirectnessof
perceptionisveryobscure(aswewillalsoseeinChapter10,section4.1).Therecouldbea
questionoftherelevanceofapassageIhavealreadyquoted(LA101),inwhichLeibnizdoesspeak
ofthemind'sperceptionof"somegenuinesubstances"andtheirmodesandrelationsaspriortoits
constructionofaggregatesofsubstances(thoughthecontextisambiguousattowhetherthese
genuinesubstancesaremonadsorcorporealsubstances).Thisofcoursedoesnotexclude,but
certainlydoesnotconvey,theideathatthemind'sperceptionofthe"genuinesubstances"isbyway
ofanappearanceoftheirorganicbodiesthatprecedestheinterpretationofthosebodiesas
aggregates.Twootherargumentsseemmoreconclusive.

2.Itisnotplausibletosupposethatwealwaysperceivenearerthingsmoredistinctlythananything
thatisfartheraway,andLeibnizdoesnotseemtohavebelievedit.Inresponsetoarelated
objectionbyArnauld,hewrotethatindistinctnessofperception"thedistanceofsomeis
compensatedforbysmallnessorotherobstaclesinothers,andThalesseesthestarswithoutseeing
theditchinfrontofhisfeet"(LA90).Inotherplaceshesaysthatthethingsamonadperceives
distinctlyare"somethatarenearerormoreprominent,accommodatedtoitsorgans,"or"the
nearest,orthelargestwithrespecttoeachoftheMonads"(C15/MP177;Mon50,italicsadded).
Thusdistanceandconfusionofperceptionarenotalwaysdirectlyproportionaltoeachother,andit
isnotclearthatdegreesofconfusionofperceptionwillprovideenoughusabledatafora
mathematicallysatisfactoryconstructionofspatialrelations.

3.Theconstructionofallspatialrelations,andthereforeofbodies,fromthepointsofviewof
monadsdependsonassigningtoeachmonadapointinspaceasitspreciseposition.Leibniznoted
in1709,however,thatalthoughhehadonce"locatedSoulsinpoints,"thatwas"manyyears
[before],when[his]philosophywasnotyetmatureenough."71Onmorematureconsideration,he
did"notthinkitappropriatetoconsidersoulsasinpoints."Abetterapproachwouldallowthemto
"beinaplace"insuchawayasto"beinthewholeorganicbodythattheyanimate"(GII,37072/
L598f.).Similarly,in1695,inadraftofthe"NewSystem,"Leibnizreferredto"thebodythat
makes[orconstitutes,fait]its[thesoul's]pointofviewintheworld"(GIV,477;cf.NE221f.;G
III,357).

Iconcludethattheconstructionofthespatialpositionsofsubstancesintermsofastraightforward
metricofcomparativedistinctnessoftheirperceptionsof

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71
ThereferenceheretoLeibniz'searlierviewsisprettyclearlytoideaspresentinhiswritingsasfar
backas166971(AVI,i,496;AII,i,113).Theseideasinvolvedamuchdeepermetaphysical
connectionbetweensoulsandpointsthanwouldbesuggestedinanyofLeibniz'sworksofthe
1680sorlater.OnthisseethefascinatingdiscussioninRobinet,Architectoniquedisjonctive,pp.
19095.Thoughmorethanmerelocationisinvolvedintheearlierwritings,Ithinkitisclearfrom
thecontextthatin1709Leibnizisdenyingthatmonadshaveanysortoflocationinpoints.
252

eachotherisnotplausibleasaninterpretationeitherofexperienceorofLeibniz.Still,itmaybe
argued,Leibniziscommittedtothethesisthatallthepropertiesandrelationsofsubstances'bodies
arerepresentedbyintrinsicfeaturesofthesubstances'perceptions.Whycouldn'ttheaggregationof
substancesintobodiesbegroundeddirectlyinthoseintrinsicperceptualfeatures,andindependent
ofthephenomenalrepresentationalcontentoftheperceptions?Thisamountstothesuggestionthat
intrinsicfeaturesofsubstances'perceptionsprovideareasonforgroupingthemincorporeal
aggregates,areasonthatisindependentofthephenomenalspatialpositionsrepresentedbythe
perceptions.Thosephenomenalpositionsprovidetheonlyreasonwehaveforaggregatingthose
substances,andtheonlyreasonthatLeibnizmakesclear.Thepossibilityofanindependentreason
intrinsictotheperceptionsofmonadscannotbeabsolutelyexcluded,butitissurelynotun
Leibniziantoseephenomenalfeaturesofthecorporealworldasprovidingreasonsoffundamental
metaphysicalimportance.Leibnizthinks,forinstance,thatthepreestablishedharmonyis
prominentamongGod'sreasonsforchoosingthisworldtoactualize,andoneofthemain
excellencesofthepreestablishedharmonyisthatthecorporealworldobeysmechanicallaws(
Mon87;C12f./MP173f.)whichconcernphysicalpropertiesthat(aswehaveseeninsection1.3)
arephenomenalratherthanultimatelyreal.

Onbalance,IthinkthebestconstructionofLeibniziancorporealaggregatesistheoneIinitially
proposed,whichbeginswiththespatialpositionsofsubstances'bodies.Thesepositions,and
thereforetheaggregationofsubstancesintobodies,dependontheapparentpositionofbodiesas
phenomena.Andthisisareasonforcountingthebodiesthemselvesasphenomena,sincetheir
constitutiondependsinthiswayonperceptualappearances.

3.4Space

GlennHartzhasobjectedtothisargumentonthegroundthatitdependsonassigningpositionsin
spacetobodies,andatleastderivativelytosubstances.72HartzholdsthatLeibnizassignsspace,
bodies,andsubstancestothreedifferentmetaphysicallevels.Substances"areatthegroundfloor
metaphysicallevel";73spaceisatthemerelyideallevel,farthestremovedfromultimatereality;
andbodiesareataphenomenallevelbetweentheothertwo.74Thereissometextualbasisforthis
stratification.HartzandJ.A.Coverhaverightlypointedoutthatwhereasin1687,writingto
Arnauld,Leibnizclassifiedspaceandtimeas(wellfounded)phenomena(LA118f.),fromthe
mid1690sonheusuallyclassifiedspaceandtimeratheras"ideal"things.75Itisidealthings,not
usuallyphenomena,thatarecharacterizedfromthenonascontinuousandhavingonlyindefi

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72
Hartz,"Leibniz'sPhenomenalisms,"pp.52737.
73
HartzandCover,"SpaceandTimeintheLeibnizianMetaphysic,"p.503.
74
SuchathreelevelinterpretationispresentedbyMcGuire,"LabyrinthusContinui,"pp.30811,and
byA.T.Winterbourne,"OntheMetaphysicsofLeibnizianSpaceandTime,"aswellasbyHartz
andCover,"SpaceandTimeintheLeibnizianMetaphysic."
75
HartzandCover,"SpaceandTimeintheLeibnizianMetaphysic,"pp.493ff.Note,however,atext
of1712,inwhichLeibnizseemstoclassifyspaceandtimeamong"God'sphenomena"andas
havingacertain"reality"(GII,438/AG199).
253

nite,merelypotentialpartsandthatarerepeatedlycontrastedinthisrespectwith"real"or"actual"
things.76Moreover,Leibnizsometimesplaces"matter"(GII,278;GIV,562)or"phenomena"(G
II,282)ontherealoractualsideofthiscontrastfromwhichHartzandCoverrightlyinfer,notthat
Leibnizisplacingmatterorphenomenaatthegroundfloormetaphysicallevel,butthatheascribes
morerealitytothemthantomerelyidealthings.

MydisagreementwithHartzandCoverbeginswiththeirascriptiontoLeibnizofa"metaphysical
apartheidbeweenidealthingsandwellfoundedphenomena."77Itisonaccountofthisapartheid,I
takeit,thatHartzthinksitamistakenmixtureoflevelstoascribespatialproperties,orapositionin
space,tocorporealphenomenaintheLeibniziansystem.Iseenosuch"metaphysicalapartheid"in
thetexts.ItistruethatLeibnizregardsspace,andotheridealentities,aspurelymental,whereashe
spokeattimesofphenomena,particularlybeingsbyaggregation,as"semimental"(e.g.,GII,304).
Semimentalbeingsarealso"semibeings"(GII,506/L617);theyhavetheirmetaphysicalplace
somewherebetweenthepurelymentalormerelyidealandtheultimatelyreal.Butthatisnot
becausetheyaremetaphysicallyisolatedfromeither;itisratherbecausetheypartakeofboth.In
thecaseofbeingsbyaggregation,beingphenomenal[dephnomne]canbetreatedasequivalent
tobeing"insomefashionmental"(NE146)."Thewellfoundedphenomenon,"asRobertMcRae
putsit,"ispartwaybetweentherealandtheidealormental,abeingwhichparticipatesinboth."78
Boththeultimatelyrealmonadsandmerelyidealspaceareinvolvedintheconstructionofsuch
phenomena.IwouldaddthatLeibnizianphenomenaarebestseen,notasasingle"level"between
themonadsandpurelyidealobjects,butasaninfinitegradationofapproximationstoreality.

TherearemanyplacesinLeibniz'slaterwritingswhereheimpliesthatbodiesarelocatedinspace.
Perhapstheclearest(acknowledgedbyHartz79)isaletterof1705toDeVolderinwhichLeibniz
saysthat"noassignablepartofspaceisemptyofmatter,"whilealsoaffirmingthat"matterisnot
continuousbutdiscrete"andthatspaceissomething"ideal"(GII,278).Hartzdoubtsthatlocation
inspaceisimpliedwhenLeibnizascribestounextendedmonads"somekindofposition[situs]in
extension,thatis,somerelationofcoexistencetoothers"(GII,253/L531),orwhenheseemsto
allowthatasoulisinaplace[inloco]throughitsrelationtoitsorganicbody(GII,371/L598).80
Butthereareothertypesoftexttobetakenintoaccount.Inthelastmonthsofhislife,discussing
withLouisBourguethiscorrespondencewithSamuelClarke,Leibnizwrotethat"spaceisnotan
absolutebeing,butanorder,orsomethingrelative,andwhichwouldbemerelyidealifbodiesdid
notexistinit[y]"whichseemsbyitscounterfactualconditionalformtoimplythatbodiesdoexist
inspace(GIII,595).ToClarkehimselfLeibnizwrotethat"spaceistheplaceofthings,

____________________
76
GIV,491f./AG146f.(169596);GVII,562(1705);GII,278f.,379(1705,1709);GIII,622(1714).
77
HartzandCover,"SpaceandTimeintheLeibnizianMetaphysic,"p.512.
78
McRae,Leibniz:Perception,Apperception,andThought,p.132.
79
Hartz,"Leibniz'sPhenomenalisms,"p.528.
80
Hartz,"Leibniz'sPhenomenalisms,"pp.528f.WithregardtoGII,253/L531,Iwouldpointoutthat
itascribesto"spiritualchanges"a"placeintheorderofcoexistencesor[seu]inspace."
254
addnottheplaceofGod'sideas"(LCIV,29).Ifspaceistheplaceofthings,presumablythethings
areinspace;andwhatarethese"things,"ifnotbodies?SimilarlyLeibnizwritestoClarkeof"the
spaceoccupiedbyabody"(LCV,37).Moreover,whenLeibnizwritestoDesBossesin1709that
"space,justliketime,isacertainorder,specifically(inthecaseofspace)anorderofcoexisting,
whichembraces[complectitur]notonlyactualsbutalsopossibles"(GII,379),hecertainlyseems
toimplythatactualsaswellaspossiblesarerangedintheorderthatisspace.

Hartzseemstosupposethatifactualbodieswereinspace,theywouldhavetobe"indifferently
divisibleintoaninfinitevarietyofparts,"asspaceis.81ButIcannotseethegroundsforthis
assumption,andLeibnizassertstheopposite:"Spacecanintelligiblybefilledininfinitewaysby
matteractuallydividedintoparts"(GII,279).82Thatiswhatweshouldexpect.Theclaimthat
spaceisindifferentlydivisible,orhasindefinite,merelypotentialparts,ismostnaturally
understoodasmeaningthatthereareindefinitelyvariouswaysinwhichspacecouldbeoccupied
bythingshavingdefiniteparts.

ItiscertainlythedominantviewofLeibniz'slateryearsthatspaceissomethingmerelyideal,an
orderimposedbythemind,thoughgroundedinrelationsofrealthings.Therearenospatialfactsat
thegroundfloorlevelofLeibniz'smetaphysics,exceptinsofarasfactsaboutmonads'perceptions
havingspatialrelationsaspartoftheirrepresentationalcontentmaybelongtothatlevel.In
themselvesthemonadshavenospatialpositionandnootherspatialproperties.Itisonlybya
mentalconstructionthatsubstancesandaggregatesofsubstancesreceivespatialproperties.Soif
(asIclaim)theaggregationofsubstancestoformaggregatesdependson(apparent)spatial
propertiesofbodies,thatwilltendtoinfecttheaggregateswithminddependence,anddiminish
theirreality.ButthatisnotanobjectiontomyinterpretationofLeibniz.Itispartofmy
interpretation,providingoneofthereasonsforthephenomenalityofcorporealaggregates.

4.TheRealityofPhenomena

Phenomenalistsandidealistsdonotgenerallyleaveuswithoutasystematicdifferencebetweenthe
physicalobjectsthatappeartousinnormalexperienceandthosethatappeartousindreamsand
hallucinations.InLeibniz'sthoughtthereisadistinctionbetween"real"phenomenaand
"imaginary"(GVII,319/L363)or"false"or"apparent"phenomena(VE188=Gr322).AsIstated
earlierinsection1.1,theanalysisofthisdistinctionisthemainreductionisticanalysisinLeibniz's
phenomenalism.Indeed,areductiveanalysisofthisdistinctioncanconstituteacomplete
phenomenalism,aswesawinsection2,withreferencetoatextfrom1676.

Theanalysisofthedistinctiongiveninthattextisclassicallyphenomenalisticinthesensethatitis
termsofthecontentsofperceptionandtheir"harmony"

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81
Hartz,"Leibniz'sPhenomenalisms,"p.533.
82
Leibnizsupportsthisclaimwithanargument,havingtodowithalternativegeometrical
constructionsforfillingaspace.Buttheargumentisdifficulttofollow.Itissupplemented,inthe
manuscript,byadiagram,whichGerhardtdoesnotprint;butthevisualaiddoesnothelpmuch.
255
oragreementswithotherperceptions.In1704LeibnizstillgaveDeVolderrecognizablythesame
analysisofwhatitisforphenomenatobe"real":"Matterandmotionare...thephenomenaof
perceivers,whoserealityislocatedintheharmonyofperceiverswiththemselves(atdifferent
times)andwiththeotherperceivers"(GII,270/L537).InLeibniz'smaturethought,asweshall
see,thisaccountoftherealityofphenomenaintermsoftheirharmonyisonlythefirstlayerofa
morecomplexconstruction.Butitremainsamainfeatureofhisphenomenalismandisfoundinhis
writingsallthroughhismatureyearsintheearlytomid1680s(VE188=Gr322,andDM14),in
criticismsofDescartesabout1692(GIV,356/L384),andinasketchofhismetaphysicsprepared
forRmondin1714(GIII,623),tomentiononlyafew.

Leibniz'sfullestdiscussionofcriteriafortherealityofphenomenaisinanessayof168386,"On
theMethodofDistinguishingRealfromImaginaryPhenomena."Heofferscriteriasimilartothose
proposedbyotherearlymodernphilosophers.Theinternalmarksofarealphenomenonarethatit
isvivid,complex,andharmonious[congruum].

Itwillbevividifqualitiessuchaslight,color,heatappearintenseenough.Itwillbe
complexiftheyarevaried,andsuitedforsettingupmanyexperimentsandnew
observations;forexample,ifweexperienceinthephenomenonnotonlycolorsbutalso
sounds,odors,tastes,tactilequalities;andthatbothinthewholeandinvariouspartsof
it,whichwecaninvestigateagainwithvariouscauses.(GVII,319f./L363)

VividnessandcomplexityarenotmentionedinmostofLeibniz'sformulationsabouttherealityof
phenomena.IntheNewEssayshedisparageslivelinessasacriterionforreality,onthegroundthat
"althoughsensationsareusuallylivelierthanimaginations,oneknowsstillthattherearecases
whereimaginativepersonsarestruckbytheirimaginationsasmuchas,orperhapsmorethan,
someoneelseisbythetruthofthings"(NE374).83

HarmonyisthecriterionforrealitythatLeibnizmentionsmostoften.Internally,"aphenomenon
willbeharmoniouswhenitconsistsofseveralphenomenaforwhichareasoncanbegivenfrom
eachotherorfromsomesufficientlysimplecommonhypothesis"(GVII,320/L364).Themain
externalmark,andthemostimportantmark,oftherealityofaphenomenonisalsoasortof
harmony

ifitkeepsthecustomofotherphenomenathathaveoccurredtousfrequently,sothat
thepartsofthephenomenahavethesameposition,order,andoutcomethatsimilar
phenomenahavehad....Likewiseifareasonforthis[phenomenon]canbegivenfrom
thosethatprecede,oriftheyallfitthesamehypothesisasacommonreason.The
strongestevidence,however,issurelyagreementwiththewholeseriesoflife,
especiallyifmostother[people]affirmthatthesamethingagreeswiththeir
phenomenatoo....Butthemostpowerfulevidenceoftherealityofphenomena,which
evensufficesbyitself,issuccess

____________________
83
Cf.Naert,MmoireetconsciencedesoiselonLeibniz,p.97.Naertsuggeststhatconcernaboutthe
imaginativeness"oftheVisionariesandtheEnthusiasts"ledLeibniztoabandonvividnessasa
criterionofreality.Shecitesaletterof1691whereLeibniznotesthefallibilityofthevividness
criterioninconnectionwiththecaseofavisionary(AI,vii,34).
256

inpredictingfuturephenomenafrompastandpresentones,whetherthatpredictionis
foundedonreasonorahypothesisthathassucceededthusfar,oronacustomthathas
beencompliedwiththusfar.(GVII,320/L364)84

Thenotionsofcomplexityandharmonyareclearlyconnectedinthesestatementswithnotionsof
explanatoryandpredictiveorder.Realphenomenaarethosethatformpartofacoherent,
scientificallyadequatestorythatappearsallormostofthetime,atleastinaconfusedway,toallor
mostperceivers.Thatisthestorythatwouldbetold,orapproximated,byaperfectedphysical
science.Imaginaryphenomenaarethosethatdonotfitinthisstory.85

ThereisaproblemabouthowLeibnizcanadmitimaginaryphenomenainthissenseatall,sincehe
holdsthateverymonadalwaysperceivesthewholeuniverse.Itfollowsthatthetruephysicalstory
appearsatalltimestoallperceivers,notjusttomostofthematmosttimes.Howthencantherebe
anyfalsephenomena?Hesaysthat"asGod'sviewisalwaystrue,ourperceptionsarealso,butitis
ourjudgmentsthatarefromusandthatdeceiveus"(DM14).Thisformulationcorresponds
accuratelywiththedemandsofLeibniz'sphilosophyinonerespect,inthatitpostulatestrueand
falsementalcontentsatdifferentlevels,butitishardlyacompletesolutiontotheproblem.

SupposeIhallucinateapinkrat.Leibnizmustsaythatthisperceptionexpresses,andisa
perceptionof,someeventinmybody,towhichitcorrespondsaccordingtothepreestablished
harmony;butitisaconfusedperceptionofthatevent."Itisnotthatevendreamsarenotrelatedto
theorgansandtotherestofthebodies,but[itis]inalessdistinctmanner"(GIV,519).Though
confused,myperceptionofthatevent,assuch,isatrue,notafalse,perception,andtheeventisa
real,notanimaginary,phenomenon.Whatappearstomeconsciously,however,isnottheeventin
mybody,butapinkrat.InthiscaseLeibnizhastosaythatmysoulrepresentstwodifferent
phenomena.Thefirst,aneventinmybody,cohereswiththestorythatwouldbetoldbyanideal
physicalscience,andsoitisreal,butlessdistinctlyperceived.Thesecond,apinkrat,doesnot
coherewiththatstory,andthusitishallucinatoryandfalse.Whatislessclear(tome,atanyrate)is
whethertheprocessthatproducestheappearanceofthepinkratisadequatelycharacterizedas
"judgment"(asimpliedinDM14).Butthatquestioncouldnotbesettledwithoutamoreextensive
explorationofLeibniz'sepistemologyandtheoryofperceptionthanIwillattemptinthisbook.

TheproblemoferrorseemstoplayapartinsometextsinwhichLeibnizproposes,notanideal
humanscience,but"God'sview"(DM14),asastandardoftruthofphenomena.In1712,inastudy
foralettertoDesBosses,Leibnizwrote,

Ifbodiesarephenomenaandareevaluatedonthebasisofourappearances,theywill
notbereal,sincetheyappeardifferentlytodifferentpeople.Thereforetherealityof
bodies,space,motion,[and]timeseemstoconsistintheirbeingGod'sphenomena,or
theobjectofintuitiveknowledge[scientiavisionis].(GII,438/AG199)

____________________
84
Cf.GII,270/L537;VE296=LHIV,3,5E,2.
85
Thisisaconvenientwayoftalking.Leibniz'sconceptualismmightgiverisetosomeproblems
abouttheontologicalstatusofsuchastory,ifwerelyheavilyon"wouldbetold."
257

Thispassageraisesanobviousinterpretiveproblem:howcanitbereconciledwiththeviewthat
Leibnizseemstoholdelsewhere(e.g.,DM14;GII,451f./L605),thatthereisenoughagreement
amonghumanperceiversfortheirphenomenatosatisfytheintersubjectiveharmonyconditionfor
reality?

Morethanoneanswertothisquestionispossible.86GregoryBrownpointsoutthatinthequoted
textof1712,Leibnizgoesontosaythat"Godviewsnotonlytheindividualmonadsandthe
modificationsofeachMonad,butalsotheirrelations,andinthisconsiststherealityofrelations
andtruths"(GII,438/AG199).BrownarguesthatforLeibniz,onlyGodseestherelations
betweencreatedsubstances;andtherealityofthoserelations,includingtherealityoftheharmony
amongtheperceptionsofcreatedmonads,consistsinGod'sperceptionofthem.Brownargues
furtherthattheharmonyamongmonads'perceptionsdependsonthedivinemindinasmuchasthe
lawsofnaturedetermineforLeibnizthecorrectinterpretationofwhatisexpressedbyeach
monad'sperceptions,andwhatarethecorrectlawsofnaturedependsonGod'sunderstanding,and
choice,ofwhichlawsarebest,anunderstandingthatexceedsthepowerofanycreatedmind.87

ThereistextualbasisforBrown'sinterpretation.ButIthinktherearealsogroundsforanother
interpretationinotherthingsthatLeibnizsaystoDesBossesaboutGod'sphenomena.In1713,
offeringhisJesuitfriendapossibleaccountoftheCatholicdoctrineoftransubstantiationinpurely
monadologicalterms,without"substantialbonds,"Leibnizsaysthatonthisaccount

thesubstanceofbodiesshouldbesaidtoconsistintruephenomena,namelythosethat
Godhimselfperceivesinthembyintuitiveknowledge,andtheAngelsandtheBlessed
likewise,towhomitisgiventoseethingstruly;andthusGod,withtheBlessed,
perceivestheBodyofChrist,wherebreadandwineappeartous.(GII,474/L607f.;cf.
GII,482)

ThephenomenathatGodissaidheretoperceivecanhardlybeintersubstantialrelationsthatare
perceivedbyGodalone,sincetheangelsandtheblessedinheavenarealsosaidtoperceivethem.
Rathertheirperceiving"truly"iscontrastedwithwhatappearstous.Thiscanbereconciledwith
thedoctrinethatweperceive,atleastunconsciously,everythingasitis,ifweassumethattruthin
thedistinctandconsciousknowledgeoftheblessedisbeingcontrastedwitherrorinourconscious
beliefs.Divineknowledgeisthustheidealtowhichthetruephysicalstorytoldbyharmonious
phenomenamustapproximate.Onthisinterpretation,asonBrown's,thethoughtthatthereal
phenomenaareGod'sphenomenarepresentsadevelopment,notanabandonment,ofthe
harmoniousperceptionsaccountofrealphenomena.

TherearemanypassagesinwhichLeibnizseemstosaythatinternalandexternalharmony,
supplementedperhapsbyvividnessandcomplexity,oragree

____________________
86
Thisiscontrarytomyprevioustreatmentofitin"PhenomenalismandCorporealSubstancein
Leibniz,"p.245f.,whereItooktheproblemasgroundsforregardingGII,438/AG199asan
aberranttextinthisrespect.
87
Brown,"God'sPhenomenaandthePreEstablishedHarmony."Brownalsoprovidestherean
illuminatingdiscussionofthedifficultquestion,whatGod'scorporealphenomenawouldbe.Iam
indebtedtoBrown'sinterestingarticleforforcingmetothinkmoreaboutLeibniz'sstatements
aboutGod'sphenomena.
258

mentwithmathematicaltruth(amarkaddedinsomelatertexts),issufficienttoconstitutethe
realityofaphenomenon.Intheessay"OntheMethodofDistinguishingRealfromImaginary
Phenomena,"however,hespeaksmorecautiously.Therethemarksofrealityarepresentedas
epistemiccriteriabywhichwemaytellwhenaphenomenonisreal;itisnotassertedthatthey
definewhattherealityofaphenomenonconsistsin.Indeed,itisvirtuallyimpliedthata
phenomenoncouldpossessthemarksofrealityandyetnotbefullyreal:"Itmustbeadmittedthat
theproofsofrealphenomenathathavebeenadducedthusfar,eventakeninanycombination
whatever,arenotdemonstrative."Theyhave"thegreatestprobability,"or"moralcertainty,"but
not"Metaphysical"certainty;therewouldbenocontradictioninsupposingthemfalse:

Thereforeitcannotbeabsolutelydemonstratedbyanyargumentthattherearebodies;
andnothingpreventssomewellordereddreamsfrombeingobjectstoourMind,which
wewouldjudgetobetrueandwhichwouldbeequivalentforpracticalpurposestotrue
thingsbecauseoftheirmutualagreement.

LeibnizrejectsDescartes'sclaimthatinsuchacaseGodwouldbeadeceiver:

Forwhatifournaturehappenednottobecapableofrealphenomena?SurelyGod
shouldbethankedratherthanblamedinthatcase;forbycausingthosephenomenaat
leasttoagree,sincetheycouldnotbereal,hehasfurnisheduswithsomethingequally
asuseful,foralloflife,asrealphenomena.(GVII,320f./L364)

VerysimilarideasarefoundinLeibniz'swritingsasearlyasaletterof1675toSimonFoucher(A
II,i,248f./L153f.)andaslateastheNewEssaysof1704(NE379f.)andaletterof1715toDes
Bosses(GII,496/L611).

IthasbeenthoughtthatLeibnizvacillatedorchangedhismindaboutthesufficiencyofthe
harmonyandagreementofphenomenafortheirreality,butIthinkitismoreaccuratetoseehimas
constantlyawareoftheepistemologicalvulnerabilityofthefullontologythatheheldthroughout
hismatureyears,andwantingthereforetomaintaintheavailabilityofastarkerphenomenalismasa
fallbackposition,asIsuggestedinsection2ofthischapter.Forthispurposeitwasimportantto
haveasenseof'real'inwhichbodiescouldbereal,asopposedtoimaginary,inthecontextofthe
starkerphenomenalism;itseemstomeprobablethatLeibnizused'real'instrongerandweaker
sensesinexpressingdifferentaspectsofafairlyconstant,andconsistent,systemofthought.

Astatementinthepreviousparagraphof"OntheMethodofDistinguishingRealfromImaginary
Phenomena"isparticularlyrevealing:"Indeedevenifitweresaidthatthiswholelifeisnothingbut
adream,andthevisibleworldnothingbutaphantasm,Iwouldcallthisdreamorphantasmreal
enoughifwewereneverdeceivedbyitwhenweusedourreasonwell"thatis,ifpredictions
reasonablybasedonpastexperiencegenerallysucceededsofarasfutureexperienceisconcerned(
GVII,320/L364).Tosaythatthiswholelifeisadreamispresumablytosaythatitsphenomena
lackakindofrealitythatphenomenacouldhave;butLeibnizindicatesasenseinwhichour
phenomenawouldstillbe"realenough,"providedonlythatourexperiencehasalltheinternal
marksofreality.Asimilar,weaksenseof'true'asappliedtophenomenaappearsinthe
DiscourseonMetaphysics

259

onMetaphysicswhenLeibnizsaysthatifourphenomenaareinternallyharmoniousenoughsothat

wecanmakeobservationsthatareusefulforregulatingourconductandthatare
justifiedbythesuccessoffuturephenomena,andthatthuswecanoftenjudgeofthe
futurebythepastwithouterror,thatwouldbeenoughtosaythatthesephenomenaare
true,withoutworryingaboutwhethertheyareoutsideusandwhetherothersperceive
themtoo.(DM14)

ThishelpsmakesenseofthefactthatLeibnizseemstoacceptanotheraccountofwhatthereality
ofbodiesconsistsin.Thisaccount,Isuggest,shouldbeseenasstatinganadditionalconditionthat
harmoniousphenomenamustsatisfyinordertoberealinthefullestsense,althoughtheirharmony
issufficientfortheirrealityinaweakersensethatisenoughforallpracticalpurposes.Itmustbe
admitted,however,thatbothaccountsareusuallypresentedasiftheywerecompletely
independent.Theadditionalaccountapplieschieflytoaggregatesassuchandsaysthattheirreality
consistsintherealityofthesubstancesthatenterintothem.Aggregates"havenootherrealitythan
thatwhichbelongstotheUnitiesthatareinthem"(GII,261).GiventhatLeibnizsaysthatbodies
areaggregatesofsubstances,indeed,itishardtoseehowhecouldfailtothinkthattheirreality
consistsatleastpartlyintherealityofthesubstancesthatareaggregatedinthem.Thisthesisplays
apartintheargumentformonads.Itispartlybecauseanaggregate"hasnorealityunlessitis
borrowedfromthethingscontained"initthatLeibniz"inferred,thereforethereareinthings
indivisibleunities,sinceotherwisetherewillbeinthingsnotrueunity,andnorealitynot
borrowed"(GII,267).Thereareseveralreasonsforthinkingthatthisisnotacompletely
independentaccountoftherealityofbodiesthatitdoesnotconflictwiththeaccountintermsof
harmoniousperceptions,butsupplementsitandevendependsonit.
1.
Leibnizseemstohaveregardedthetwoaccountsasconsistent.Hesometimesgivesbothofthemin
thesamedocument.Ihavequotedexpressionsofbothofthemfromhisletterof30June1704to
DeVolder(GII,267,270).Andinasingletwopagepiecewrittenin1714Leibnizsaysboththat
"whatwecallbodies"areassemblagesofmonadsandthatmaterialthings"havetheirrealityfrom
theagreementoftheperceptionsofapperceivingsubstances"(GIII,622f.).
2.
IthinkLeibnizbelievedthatthetwoaccountsareatleastmateriallyequivalent.Hebelievedthat
thereisascientificallyadequatestorythatisalwaysatleastunconsciouslyperceivedbyall
monads,andthereforecountsas"true,"andthatmostofwhatappearsconsciouslytoconscious
perceiversfitsatleastapproximatelyintothatstory.Healsobelievedthatthereareinfinitelymany
monadswhoseinternalpropertiesareexpressedbyorganicbodiesthatwouldfigureina
sufficientlydetailedextensionofthetruescientificstory,andthataggregatesofthesemonads(or
ofthecorporealsubstancesthattheyformwiththeirorganicbodies)canthereforeberegardedas
thebodiesthatfigureinthetruescientificstory.Thusthebodiesofthetruescientificstoryarereal
accordingtobothaccounts,bothascoherent,harmoniousphenomenaandasaggregatesofreal
things.
260

3.
Theclaimthattherealityofbodiesconsistsintherealityofthesubstancesthatareaggregatedin
thempresupposesthatsubstancesareaggregatedinthem,andthisaggregationpresupposesthe
harmonyofperceptions.AsIarguedinsection3.3,thegroupingofsubstancesintocorporeal
aggregatesdependsonthespatialpositionsthesubstances'organicbodiesappeartohave.Ifa
singlesystemofaggregatesofsubstancesistobereal,asopposedtoanyothers,whichmaybe
imaginary,itissurelynotenoughthatthesubstancesbelongingtotherealaggregatesbereal.We
coulddoubtlessdreamupimaginaryaggregatesofrealsubstances,whichwouldstillbeunreal,
despitetherealityoftheirelements.Realaggregatesmustnotonlyhaverealelements,butmustbe
formedbyarealortruegroupingofthoseelements.Andthetruegroupingofsubstancesinto
corporealaggregatescanhardlydependonthepositionsthesubstances'organicbodiesappearto
havejustalittleofthetimetojustanyperceiver.Itmustdependonsomethingmoredefinitive,and
thisforLeibnizinvolvesthepositionsthebodieshaveinacoherentsystemofphenomenathatis
representedbyallormostoftheperceptionsofallperceivers.Inorderfortheretobecorporeal
aggregatesthatarerealbyvirtueoftherealityofthesubstancesaggregatedinthem,theymust
appearasmaterialmassesinthiscoherentsystemofphenomena.Thereforetheymustsatisfythe
harmoniousperceptionsconditionforreality.

Consideringallthesereasons,IthinkwefindinLeibniznottwocompetinganalysesofthereality
ofcorporealphenomena,butoneanalysisintwoorthreelayers.Phenomenaarereal,inaweak
sense,ifandonlyiftheyfitintoasinglescientificallyadequatesystemofharmoniousphenomena
ofallperceivers.Thosephenomena,andonlythose,thatarerealinthisweakersensearealsoreal
inafullersensetotheextentthatthereexistrealmonadsthatareappropriatelyexpressedby
organicbodiesbelongingtothesystemofphenomenathatisatleastweaklyreal.Andperhaps
Leibnizalsorecognizesastillweakersenseinwhichphenomenaare"realenough"iftheybelong
toascientificallyadequatesystemofharmoniousperceptionsofasingleperceiver.

261
10
CorporealSubstance
Therehabilitationofsubstantialforms,onwhichLeibnizseemstohaveresolvedin1679,asI
notedinthelastchapter,generallycarriedwithitanaffirmationofcorporealsubstances,
composed,inAristotelianterms,offormandmatter.Indeed,asIalsosuggestedthere,the
rehabilitationoftheformsseemstohavebeenmotivatedlargelybyadesiretoaccommodate
realisticintuitionsbyfindingsomethingsubstantialinbodies.SomescholarshavereadLeibniz's
accountofcorporealsubstancesassorealistic(andsoAristotelian)astobeinconsistentwiththe
phenomenalismIhaveascribedtohiminChapter9.IthinkthatexaggeratesLeibniz's
accommodationtorealism.ThischapteroffersaninterpretationofLeibniziancorporealsubstance
asametaphysicalconstructionfromsimple,perceivingsubstances,consistentwiththeidealistic
foundationsofhisphilosophy.

Iwouldnotdeny,however,thatatensionbetweentheidealisticfoundationsandthe
accommodationofrealismcausesproblemsinLeibniz'stheoryofcorporealsubstance.Asweshall
seeinsection5,thereissomeevidencethatsuchproblemsmayhaveweakenedLeibniz'sown
adherencetohisconceptionofcorporealsubstanceinhislastyears,thoughheneverreally
abandonedit.

1.BodiesandCorporealSubstances

ItisnotLeibniz'sviewthatbodiesingeneralaresubstances.Theclearestreasonforthisisthat
onlythingsthatare,insomesense,alivearecorporealsubstances.

"Icallthatacorporealsubstance,"Leibnizwrotein1711,"whichconsistsinasimplesubstanceor
monad(thatis,asoulorsomethinganalogoustoaSoul)andanorganicbodyunitedtoit"(G
VII,501).Corporealsubstancesarefoundwherethereare"bodiesthatareanimated,oratleast
endowedwithaprimitiveEntelechyorwithavitalprinciple(ifyouallowthename'life'tobeused
sogenerally)";theycanthusbecalled"living"(LA118).ButwhenLeibnizsaysthatcorporeal
substancesarelivingthingsandthat"allnatureisfulloflife"(PNG1),heemphaticallydoesnot
meanthateverymaterialobjectisalivingthing.Herejectstheviewof"thosewhoimaginethat
thereisasubstantialformofapieceofstone,orofanothernonorganicbody;forprinciplesoflife
belongonlytoorganicbodies"(GVI,539/L586;cf.LA76).(Here,asinmanyotherplaces,Leibniz
usestheAristotelianterm'substantialform'tosignifythesoul,

262

orthatwhichisanalogoustoasoulorprincipleoflife,inanycorporealsubstance;thiswillbe
discussedmuchmorefullyinChapter11.)Headdsthat

itistrue(accordingtomySystem)thatthereisnoportionofmatterinwhichthereis
notaninfinityoforganicandanimatedbodies;amongwhichIincludenotonlyanimals
andplants,butperhapsothersortsaswell,whichareentirelyunknowntous.Butitis
notrighttosay,onaccountofthat,thateveryportionofmatterisanimatedjustaswe
donotsaythatalakefulloffishisananimatedbody,althoughthefishis.(GVI,539f./
L586)

Stonesandlakes,then,arenotcorporealsubstances."Eachanimalandeachplanttooisacorporeal
substance"(GIII,260);IbelievetheyaretheonlycorporealsubstancesofwhichLeibnizclaims
empiricalknowledge,ifweincludeamonganimalsandplantsthetinylivingthingswhose
discoveryunderseventeenthcenturymicroscopessoexcitedhim(LA122).Inalakefulloffishthe
waterbetweenthefishisnotacorporealsubstance,butitiscomposedofcorporealsubstances,
whichmaybeverydifferentfromthethingsthatweknowasanimalsandplants(Mon68).In
particular,theymaybeevensmallerthanmicroscopicorganisms;thereisindeednominimumsize
forcorporealsubstances.

Still,allcorporealsubstancesarealive,inabroadsense.AndLeibnizseemstohaveassumedthat
wecandetectthepresenceorabsenceoflifeinbodieslargeenoughtobedistinctlyperceivedby
oursenses.Hespeaksofastudyofnaturethatwouldenableusto"judgeoftheforms[ofcorporeal
substances]bycomparingtheirorgansandoperations"(LA122).

TheprincipalcharacteristicoflivingbodiesthatLeibnizmentionsasdistinguishingthemfrom
otherportionsofmatteristhattheyare"organized"or"organic.""Thereis...noanimatedbody
withoutorgans"(LA124);"Irestrictcorporealorcompositesubstancetolivingthingsalone,or
exclusivelytoorganicmachinesofnature"(GII,520/AG205f.).Ihavefoundlittleexplanationin
Leibnizofwhatdistinguishesorganicfrominorganicbodies.Itisnotaradicaldifferenceinthe
kindofcausalitythatoperatesinthem.Leibnizalwaysinsiststhateverythingcanbeexplained
mechanicallyinorganicaswellasininorganicbodies.Thereisnoneedtorefertothesubstantial
formsorsoulsofcorporealsubstancesinexplainingtheirphysicalbehavior(e.g.,LA58,77f.):"And
thisbodyisorganicwhenitformsakindofAutomatonorMachineofNature,whichisamachine
notonlyasawholebutalsointhesmallestpartsthatcanbenoticed"(PNG3;cf.GIII,356).
Similarly,hespeaksof"Organism,thatistosay,orderandartifice"(GIII,340).Presumably,an
organicbodyisonesoorganizedmechanicallythatitcontinuesovertimetocohereandretaina
sortofunityinphysicalinteractions.Butstoneshavethatproperty,too,soitisnotenoughto
distinguishorganicbodiesfromothers.

Perhapsthebestaccountthatcanbegivenofthenotionoforganismhereisthatanorganicbodyis
abodysostructuredmechanicallythatitcanbeinterpretedasalwaystotallyexpressingandbeing
expressedbytheperceptionsandappetitesofasoulorsomethinganalogoustoasoul.We
recognizelivingthingsbyobservingthattheirbehaviorcanbeinterpretedasacoordinated
responsetotheirenvironmentonthebasisofsomethinglikeperceptionoftheenvironmenttogether
withatendencytowardsomethinglikeagoalthoughLeibnizwould

263

insistthattheirbehaviorcanalsobeexplainedmechanically.Thisaccountfitsanimalsbetterthan
plants,butitisclearinanycasethatLeibniz'sprincipalmodelofcorporealsubstanceistheanimal.
Hementionsplantsonlyoccasionallyandseemsfavorablydisposedtowardthesuggestionthat
they"canbeincludedinthesamegenuswithanimals,andareimperfectanimals"(LA122).

Soinorganicbodies,bodiesinnosensealive,arenotcorporealsubstances.Butmorethanthatin
thetermsthatLeibnizultimatelypreferrednobodiesatallaresubstances,notevenorganic
bodies.Thereareimportanttextsfrom1686inwhichLeibnizframesthecorporealsubstance
hypothesisintermsof"bodies"beingsubstances(DM34,LA58,71),butinamorecarefully
regimentedvocabularyusually(thoughnotinvariably 1)employedfrom1690on,corporeal
substancesarenotsaidtobebodies,butrathertobeendowedwithbodies.

ThisregimentationismanifestedinverysimilartermsintwodocumentsofMarch1690,oneof
whichisLeibniz'slastlettertoAntoineArnauld:"Thebodyisanaggregateofsubstances,andthat
isnotasubstance,properlyspeaking"(LA135)."Thebodyisnotasubstance,butsubstancesoran
aggregateofsubstances"(VE2156=FC322/AG105).Thesedocumentsarenotplausibly
interpretedasabandoningtheprojectofconstructingatheoryofcorporealsubstance.Itisunlikely
thatLeibnizwouldhavesignaledsuchanabandonmenttoArnauld,especiallywhentheirrelations
wereasdistantastheyhadbecomeby1690.Thereisstillacorporealsubstance,butitisnot"the
body."ThechangeinLeibniz'spositionismerelyverbal,oratmostaclarification.Thedistinction
markedbythelaterterminologyisanticipatedinlettersof168687toArnauld.Ourbodyisnota
substancereallydistinctfromoursoul:

Ourbodyinitself,settingasidethesoul,orthecadaver,cannotbecalledonesubstance
exceptbyanabuse[ofwords],likeamachineorapileofstones,whichareonlybeings
byaggregation.(LA75)

Asforcorporealsubstances,Iholdthatthemass,whenoneconsidersinitonlywhatis
divisible,isapurephenomenon.(LA126)

Insofarasthebodyisconsideredapartfromthesoul,thedivisiblefromtheindivisible,thebodyis
notasubstance.Thisnonsubstantialitemisthe"bodyinitself"or,inthetermsLeibnizultimately
preferred,simply"thebody."Thecorporealsubstanceissomethingmore.

Insometextsfromthemid1680sphenomenalismandthehypothesisofcorporealsubstanceseem
tobepresentedasmutuallyexclusivealternatives,aswhenLeibnizsays,"ifbodyisasubstance
andnotasimplephenomenonliketherainbow"(LA58;cf.LA77,andDM34draft).Butthisisa
misleadingappearance,duetoLeibniz'sfailureinthesetextstodistinguishthecorporealsubstance
fromitsbodyasheeventuallywouldwhenspeakingcarefully.Whenthatdistinctionismade,the
bodyassuchisonlyanaggregate,andhenceonlyaphenomenonandthatappliestobothorganic
andinorganicbodies(GIII,657).Thesubstantialityofthecorporealsubstanceiscontributedbyits
indivisible,soullikeconstituents.Thusthecorporealsubstanceremainsametaphysical
constructionoutofsimplesubstances.

____________________
1
In1711,forexample,wefindhimallowingthealternative:"Abody,however,iseitheracorporeal
substance,oramassgatheredfromcorporealsubstances"(GVII,501).
264
"Thebody"appearsasmerelyoneingredientinafullydevelopedaccountofLeibniziancorporeal
substance.Itistimetoexaminethecomplexstructureimpliedinsuchanaccount.

2.TheStructureofaCorporealSubstance:AlternativeInterpretations
2.1TheTwoSubstanceConception

Leibniz'sfulleststatementaboutthestructureofacorporealsubstanceisinaletterof20June1703
toBurcherDeVolder:

Idistinguishtherefore(1)theprimitiveEntelechyorSoul,(2)Matter,i.e.primary
matter,orprimitivepassivepower,(3)theMonadcompletedbythesetwo,(4)theMass
[Massa]orsecondarymatter,ororganicmachine,forwhichcountlesssubordinate
Monadscometogether[adquam...concurrunt],(5)theAnimalorcorporeal
substance,whichismadeOnebytheMonaddominatingtheMachine.(GII,252/
L530f.)

Thefirstthreeoftheseitems,andtheirrelationtoeachother,willoccupyusintensivelyin
Chapters1113;theycanbediscussedquitebrieflyhere.Themonad(3)is"asimplesubstance...;
simple,thatistosaywithoutparts"(Mon1).Theprimitiveentelechy(1)andprimarymatter(2)
mustnot,therefore,beconceivedaspartsthatcomposethemonad,butratherasaspectsor
propertiesofthemonad.Inparticular,primarymatterisnottobeunderstoodhereasasubstanceor
extendedstuff.Itisprimitivepassivepowerandisafundamentalpropertyoraspectofthemonad.
'Entelechy'issometimesusedbyLeibniz(asinMon18,6263)asasynonymfor'monad'or'simple
substance';butheretheentelechyclearlyisnotthecompletemonad,butapropertyoraspectofit.
Sinceitgoestogetherwithprimitivepassivepowertoformthemonad,theentelechyhereis
presumablythemonad'sprimitiveactivepower.Inotherpassagesthe"substantialform"isgiven
therolethatisassignedheretothe"entelechy."Itisstrikingthatthe"soul"isnotidentifiedhere
withthemonad,butwithanaspectofit,andispresumablynotasubstancebutsomethingthatcan
beconsideredasanentityonlybyabstractionfromacompletesubstanceormonad.Thisisone
wayinwhichLeibnizsometimesspeaksofthe"soul,"thoughitappearsinothertextsasasimple
substanceormonad(e.g.,Mon19).

Theprimitiveforcesthatcombinethusto"complete"themonadaremostfundamentalfeaturesof
theLeibnizianschemeofthings.Leibnizheldthat"theverysubstanceofthingsconsistsinthe
forceofactingandbeingactedon"(GIV,508/L502;cf.GII,248f.AL528).Theproperties
possessedbymonadsassuchareperceptionsandappetites,oranalogoustoperceptionsand
appetites,asLeibnizwrotetoDeVolderon30June1704(GII,270/L537).Inhisnextletter,
Leibnizdrewtheconsequencethat"primitiveforcesmanifestlycannotbeanythingbutinternal
tendenciesofsimplesubstances,bywhichaccordingtoacertainlawoftheirnaturetheypassfrom
2
perceptiontoperception"(GII,275/AG181).

____________________
2
Therelationbetweenforcesaspropertiesofmonadsandforcesaspropertiesofbodieswillbe
discussedinChapter13.
265
Mypresentpurposedemandsmoreattentiontothemass,orsecondarymatter(4),whichcombines
withthemonadtoformthecompletecorporealsubstance.Thisis"thebody,"whichisnotitselfa
substancebutbelongstothecorporealsubstance.

Inspeakinghereof"secondaymatter,"andearlierof"primarymatter,"Leibnizpicksupa
Scholasticdistinction.Inrelationtoastatue,thebronzeofwhichitiscomposedismatter;butas
bronzeitisnotpurematter,foritmusthaveasubstantialformtoconstituteitasbronze.Something
whichinthiswayismatterforsomethingelse,butwhichhasitsownformorformsinit,is
secondarymatter.Primaryorprime 3matterispurematter,matterconsideredapartfromallforms
thatmayinhereinit.The"mass"mentionedhereissecondarymatterinsofarasithassubstantial
forms"in"itbyvirtueofthecountlesssubordinatemonadsthat"cometogether"toformit.

Itisimportant,however,tonoteamajordifferencebetweentheScholasticconceptionofthe
relationbetweenprimaryandsecondarymatterandtheconceptioninthefivefoldoutlinethat
LeibnizgaveDeVolder.ForScholasticismtheprimarymatterofasubstanceisasubstratum,and
henceaconstituent,ofanysecondarymatterithas.ButLeibnizdescribesthemtoDeVolderas
muchmoreseparatethanthat,presentingtheprimarymatterofacorporealsubstanceasanaspect
ofitsdominatingmonad,whereasitssecondarymatterisformedbythecomingtogetherofother
(subordinate)monads.

Themassofsecondarymatterofacorporealsubstanceisanorganicmachine,asLeibnizsaysin
hisfivefoldoutline,ortheorganicbodyofthesubstance,ashemoreoftensays.Noteverymassof
secondarymatterisanorganicbody;inorganicbodiesarealsomassesofsecondarymatter.But
onlyanorganicbodycanbethebodyofacorporealsubstance.Nomassofsecondarymatter,
organicorinorganic,isinitselfasubstance.Theorganicbody,"takenseparately(thatis,apart,or
isolated,fromthesoul)isnotonesubstancebutanaggregateofmany"(GIV,396/AG252f.)."And
secondarymatter(asforexampletheorganicbody)isnotasubstance"because"itisamassof
severalsubstances,likealakefulloffish,orlikeaherdofsheep,andconsequentlyitiswhatis
calledOneperaccidensinaword,aphenomenon"(GIII,657).Amassofsecondarymatter,as
such,isthusmerelyaphenomenonbecauseitisanaggregateofsubstancesandperhapsforother
4
reasonsaswell.

AccordingtoLeibniz,everycreatedmonadhasanorganicbodyofthissort,withwhichitformsa
corporealsubstance(GIV,395f./AG252f.;GVII,502,530;cf.Mon6263).Themonadalwayshas
itsbody,andhencetheorganicbodyisanenduring,thoughconstructedandmerelyphenomenal,
objectpermanentlyattachedtoitsdominantmonad(GII,251/L530).Evenindeath,itdoesnot
ceasetoexist,itdoesnotceasetobeorganic;itjustundergoesasudden,drasticreductioninsize
andachangeinitsoperations(e.g.,PNG6).Thepartsofanorganicbodydonotbelongtoit
permanently,however."Itistruethatthewholewhich

____________________
3
Theterms,inScholasticLatin,andinLeibniz'sLatinandFrench,literallymeanfirstmatterand
secondmatter;butIthinkitworksoutbesttouse'primary'and'secondary'intranslatingand
discussingLeibniz.
4
Ontheconnectionbetweenbeinganaggregateandbeingaphenomenon,seeChapter9,section
3.2.
266

hasatrueunitycanremainstrictlythesameindividualeventhoughitlosesorgainsparts,aswe
experienceinourselves;thusthepartsareimmediaterequisitesonlyforatime"(LA120).The
substancesthatareincludedinanorganicbodycanbereplacedwithothersubstancesaslongasthe
bodyretainsthenecessaryorgansandthesamedominantmonad(Mon7172).

Thecorporealsubstance(5)formedinthiswayisnotanaggregate,butoneperse,accordingto
Leibniz.Henceitisnotamerephenomenon;corporealsubstanceisregularlycontrastedwiththe
phenomenal(LA77;GVII,314,322/MP81,L365;GII,435/L600).Butthecorporealsubstance
appearstobecomposedofamonadandanorganicbody,andthusnottobesimpleinthewaythat
monadsare.Howthencanitbeoneperse?Theanswergiveninthisoutlineisthatthecorporeal
substance"ismadeOnebytheMonaddominatingtheMachine."Thisstatementgivesrisetoat
leasttwoquestions:Howdoesamonad"dominate"itsorganicbodyor"Machine"?Howdoesthis
dominationmakethecorporealsubstanceoneperse?Thesequestionswillbethemaintopicsof
sections4and5,respectively,inthischapter.Butanotherissuewilloccupyusintherestofsection
2andinsection3.

IntheoutlineIhavebeenfollowing,Leibnizclearlydistinguishesthecorporealsubstance(5)both
fromitsorganicmachineandfromitsdominantmonad.Itissomethingformedbythecombination
ofthesetwoandcanbedescribedas"theCompositeof"them(GIII,657).Twodifferentsortsof
"substance"appearintheaccountwhenLeibnizsaysthatacorporealsubstance"consistsina
simplesubstance....andanorganicbodyunitedtoit"(GVII,501).This"composite"or"two
substance"conceptionofthestructureofacorporealsubstance,aswemaycallit,clearlyappearsin
anumberofplacesinLeibniz'swritingsunambiguously,forexample,inatextdatingverylikely
fromabout1712inwhichhesays,"Asubstanceiseithersimple,likeasoul,whichhasnoparts,or
composite,likeananimal,whichisconstitutedofasoulandanorganicbody"(C13/MP175). 5I
knowofnotextthatisflatlyinconsistentwithit,butalltheclearestarticulationsIhavefoundofit
areintextsof1703orlater.Some,thoughnotall,earliertexts,maybemorenaturallyinterpreted
asexpressingalternativeconceptions,whichIwantnowtoexplore.

2.2OneSubstanceConceptions

Insomeofthemostinterestingpassagesfromthe1680sand1690sinwhichLeibnizpresentsa
conceptionofcorporealsubstance,thereisnounambiguousindicationthathethinksofthe
corporealsubstanceashavingaconstituent,distinctfromit,thatisanindividualsubstanceof
anothersort.Thesetextsseemtoinviteinterpretationintermsofaonesubstanceconceptionof
corporealsubstance.Butwhatistheonesubstance?Intermsofthefivepartoutlineof1703,isit
themonad?Orisitthecompositesubstanceofthetwosubstanceconception?Bothinterpretations
havesomeclaimonourattention.

ThosewhoemphasizetheAristoteliancharacterofLeibniz'sthoughtinthe1680sand1690smight
betemptedtoembracewhatcouldbecalledtheAristotelian

____________________
5
AnothertextforthetwosubstanceconceptionisRML451/AG264(1712and1715).
267

6Itrecognizesnothingcorrespondingtothemonadofthetwo
telianonesubstanceinterpretation.
substanceconception,becauseitsonesubstanceresemblesthecompositesubstanceofthetwo
substanceconceptioninhavingtheorganicbodyasaconstituent.Thedistinctivefeatureofthis
viewisthatthesubstantialformorsouldoesnotformaconcreteindividualsubstanceatallexcept
byunitingwiththesecondarymatterthatconstitutestheorganicbody.Thatisarguablypartof
Aristotle'sownconceptionoftherelationofasubstantialformtoabodyofwhichitistheform;
andLeibnizsometimesspeaksofthesoulasthesubstantialformofthebody.Hedoesso,for
instance,intheletterofNovember/December1686inwhichhefirstexplainshisconceptionof
corporealsubstanceatlengthtoArnauld(LA77),whichisalsoadocumentthatcontainsnoexplicit
indicationthatLeibnizistalkingabouttwodifferentkindsofsubstance.

ThisisnotagoodargumentfortheAristotelianonesubstanceinterpretation,however.Leibnizwas
notgenerallyscrupulousaboutinterpretingaccordingtotheirownintentionsthosephilosophers
withwhomheclaimedanagreement.InanyeventtheAristotelianismthathemeantinsome
measuretorevivewastheChristianAristotelianismofthelaterMiddleAges,forwhichatleastone
substantialform,thehumanrationalsoul,wascertainlyaconcreteindividualsubstancethatcould,
anddid,survivewithoutitsbody.Sinceitisabundantlyclearthatthehumanrationalsoulwas
alwaysregardedasthemodelforallsubstantialformsinLeibniz'srehabilitationproject,his
awarenessoftraditionalantecedentswouldinclinehimtoconceiveofsubstantialformsasconcrete
individualsubstances.

Moreover,thereiscompellingevidencethatinhisletterstoArnauld,Leibnizrecognizedasa
concreteindividualsubstancesomethingcorrespondingtothemonadofthetwosubstance
conception.Thisisexplicitwhenhesaysof"asoulorsubstantialformaftertheexampleofthat
whichiscalledI[moi]"that"thesearetheonlygenuinecomplete[accompli]beings"(LA76).The
soulorsubstantialformhereispresumablythethirditeminthefivefoldoutline,thecomplete
monad,asitisinanumberoftextsofLeibniz(e.g.,GVI,550).Itcannotbethefirstitem,the
primitiveactiveforce,whichisnotacompletebeing,butonlyanaspectofone.Moreover,inhis
lastlettertoArnauld(23March1690),Leibnizsaysthat"everywhereinbodytherearesubstances,
indivisible,ingenerable,andincorruptible,"which"havealwaysbeenandalwayswillbeunitedto
organicbodies,diverselytransformable"(LA135f.).HereLeibnizspeaksexplicitlyofsubstances
whoserelationtoorganicbodiesisbeingunitedtothem,nothavingthemasconstituents. 7

____________________
6
DanielGarberdoesnotembraceit,butseemstofavortheAristotelianversionofthetwosubstance
interpretationdiscussedinsection2.3inthischapter.SeeGarber,"LeibnizandtheFoundationsof
Physics,"p.58.
7
Thatacompletebeingorsubstancethatcanbeidentifiedwiththesoulorsubstantialformis
presentinLeibniz'sviewinhisletterstoArnauldisconvincingly,andmorefully,arguedbyRobert
Sleigh,LeibnizandArnauld,pp.109f.WhatIamcallingtheAristotelianonesubstance
conceptionisroughlyequivalenttothe"unmodifiedcorporealsubstancetheory"whichSleigh
arguesisnotfavoredbythetextsofDMandLA.Theonlyotherconceptionofcorporealsubstance
thatSleighconsiders,however,isatwosubstanceconception.Hedoesnotdiscussthe"qualified
monadconception"thatIamabouttodescribe.TheexistenceofSleigh'silluminatingandclosely
arguedstudyisonereasonwhyIhavenotselectedthesetextsformoreintensivetreatmenthere.
268

IftheAristotelianinterpretationisuntenable,asIbelieveittobe,onemightthinkthatnoone
substanceinterpretationcouldbeaccepted.Weareconcerned,afterall,withtextsinwhichLeibniz
presentsaconceptionofcorporealsubstance.Sohowcouldtherebeonlyonetypeofsubstance
recognizedinthemifitisnotthecompletecorporealsubstanceofthetwosubstanceconception?
Thereremainsanalternative,however,whichwassuggestedlongagobyErnstCassirer.He
identifiedcorporealsubstancewiththemonaditself"insofarasitisendowedwithaparticular
organicbody,accordingtowhichitrepresentsanddesires." 8Themonadcanbecalledacorporeal
substanceinasmuchasithasabody.Acorporealsubstance,onthisview,isnotamonadplusa
body,butamonadashavingabody.Wemaythereforecallthisthe"qualifiedmonadconception"
ofcorporealsubstance.

ItmaybedoubtedthatLeibnizwouldapplythelabel'corporeal'toanentitythatdidnothavea
bodyasaconstituent,butthereisapassagefrom1686inwhichhesaysthat"therealityofa
corporealsubstanceconsistsinsomeindividualnature,thatis,notinmass[moles]butinthepower
ofactingandbeingactedon"(GVII,314/MP81).In1696,likewise,helocates"thenotionof
corporealsubstance....intheforceofactingandresistingratherthaninextention"(GIV,499/
L460).Ineachofthesestatementscorporealsubstanceissaidtoconsistin,belocatedin,orbe
completedbyadualpowerorapairofentitiesinwhichwecanunmistakablyrecognizethe
entelechyandprimarymatterbywhich,inthefivefoldoutlineofthetwosubstancetheory,the
monad,notthecompositesubstance,iscompleted. 9?Theorganicbodyorsecondarymatterisnot
mentionedasaconstituentofcorporealsubstanceinthesestatements.

Similarpointscouldbemadeaboutapassagefrom1702inwhichLeibnizsaysthat"theprimitive
activeforce,whichiscalledthefirstentelechybyAristotle,andpopularlythesubstance'sform,is
theothernaturalprinciplewhich,withthematterorpassiveforce,completesthecorporeal
substance."Inthiscase,however,Leibnizgoesontosaythatthesoulorentelechy"always
naturallyactuatessomeorganicbody,whichitself,takenseparately(thatis,apart,orisolated,from
thesoul),isnotonesubstancebutanaggregateofseveralinaword,amachineofnature"(G
IV,395f./AG252f.)."Actuates"[actuat]isScholasticterm,rarelyusedbyLeibniz,forwhataform
doestomatterwhosepotentialityitactualizes.10TheclauseinwhichLeibnizusesitherecertainly
seemstoimplythatbyitsrelationtothesoulorentelechy,theorganicbodyenters(presumablyas
aconstituent)intosomethingmoresubstantialthanitcouldbebyitself.

2.3CompleteandIncompleteSubstances

ThereisarefinementinScholasticAristotelianaccountsofcorporealsubstancethatIhaveignored
thusfar.AccordingtoFranciscoSurez,forexample,both

____________________
10
See,e.g.,Surez,MetaphysicalDisputations,XV,vii,3.
8
Cassirer,Leibniz'sSystem,p.408.In"PhenomenalismandCorporealSubstanceinLeibniz,"p.
229,1tookalessfavorableviewofCassirer'sinterpretationthanIdonow.
9
Somethingsimilarcouldbesaidaboutapassagewrittenin1699or1700andtransmittedtoLocke
byThomasBurnett,amutualfriend(AVl,vi,32=GIII,227).Butarelatedletterof1699toBurnett
(GIII,260)isnotsonaturallyinterpretedintermsofthequalifiedmonadconception.
269

thecorporealsubstance(suchasahumanbeing)anditssubstantialform(suchasthehumansoul)
aresubstances,butonlythewholecorporealsubstanceisacompletesubstance.Notthatthe
substantialformisamereabstraction;ittooisaconcrete,individualsubstance,asisclearinthe
caseofthehumansoul.Butitisanincompletesubstancebecauseitis"byitsnatureconstructed
[institutus]toinformmatter,"andthustobecompletedbythematter.Ithasthisnatural"aptitude"
evenifitisabletoexistwithoutthematter;"andthustherationalsoulisincluded[intheclassof
incompletesubstances]evenifitisseparatedfromthebody."Athirdtypeofconcretesubstance
alsoentersthepictureforSurez;thematter,likethesubstantialform,is"asimpleandincomplete
substance"incompletebecauseithasanaturalaptitudetobecompletedbytheform.11

LeibnizcertainlydoesnotshareSurez'sviewofmatter.MatterforLeibniziseithersecondary
matter,whichisnotasimplesubstancebutonlyapluralityoraggregateofsubstances,orprimary
matter,whichforLeibniz(unlikeSurez)isnevermorethananabstraction,andthusnotaconcrete
substance,aswillbediscussedmorefullyinChapter12.ItmightbethoughtthatLeibnizand
Surezareasfarapartonsubstantialformsasonmatter,sinceLeibnizreferstosubstantialforms
as"complete[accompli]beings"(LA76).Butsuchstatementsmustbereadinthelightofother
textsinwhichLeibnizseemstofollowScholasticprecedentinviewingsubstantialformsas
incompletesubstances.

WritingtoDamarisCudworthMasham,forexample,on30June1704,Leibnizagreeswithherthat
thereareno"completesubstanceswithoutextension...amongcreatures,"andgoesontosaythat
"soulsorformswithoutbodieswouldbesomethingincomplete,inasmuchas,inmyopinion,the
soulisneverwithoutananimalorsomeanalogue"(GIII,357).Thisseemstoimplythatthesoul
needsits(organic)body,andnotjustitsprimarymatter,toformacompletesubstance,andthus
thatnothinglikethe"monad"ofthetwosubstanceconceptioncouldbeacompletesubstance.

Itisnotplausibleinthiscontext,however,toseeLeibnizasholdingtheAristotelianonesubstance
conception,inwhichthereisnoconcretesubstanceatallcorrespondingtothe"monad"ofthetwo
substanceconception.ForthistextisdatedontheverysamedayastheletterinwhichLeibnizsaid
toDeVolderthat"thereisnothinginthingsexceptsimplesubstances,andinthemperceptionand
appetite"(GII,270/L537).These"simplesubstances"aresurelythe"monads"ofthetwo
substanceinterpretation.InthislettertoLadyMasham,moreover,Leibnizsays,"Iholdthatitis
notmatterthatthinks,butaBeingthatissimpleandapartbyitselforindependent,joinedto
matter"(GIII,355/AG290).Thissimpleandseparatebeingissurelythe"monad"ofthetwo
substanceconception,whichappearstobepresentinthisletter,butregardedasanincomplete
substance,inlinewithScholasticconceptions.

AfullerexpressionofLeibniz'sinterestinthedistinctionbetweencompleteandincomplete
substancesisfoundinapassagewrittenprobablyabout1699.12Inthecourseofarguing,against
occasionalism,thattheagreementofsoulandbodyisnotsupernaturalbutnatural,Leibnizsays:

____________________
11
Surez,MetaphysicalDisputations,XV,v,12;cf.XXXIII,I,11.
12
Thedateissuggestedbythefactthatthetextisaresponsetosomethingthatappearedinthe
journaldesSavantsinSeptember1698.
270

TheopinionoftheSchool,thatthesoulandmatterareincompleteinaway[ont
quelquechosed'incomplet],isnotsoabsurdasisthought.Formatterwithoutsoulsand
formsorentelechiesisonlypassive,andsoulswithoutmatterareonlyactive,sincethe
completecorporealSubstance,trulyone,whichtheSchoolcallsoneperse(asopposed
toaBeingbyaggregation)mustresultfromtheprincipleofunitywhichisactiveand
themass[masse]whichmakesthemultitudeandwhichwouldbepurelypassiveifit
containedonlyprimarymatter.(GIV,572)

LeibnizpurportsheretobedefendingtheScholasticviewofformandmatterasincompletebeings.
Butthematterandformsofwhichheproceedsatoncetospeakarenottheconcretebutincomplete
substancesofSurez,butratherthefirsttwoofthefiveitemsoftheoutlineof1703,theentelechy
orsoulwhichismerelyactiveandtheprimarymatterwhichismerelypassive.Thesearemere
abstractions(asIwillshowinChapter12,sections23),andassuchtheyarecertainlyincomplete,
butwithanincompletenessmoreradicalthanthatofSurez'smatterandsubstantialform,which
areparticularconcretebeings.

Theoneitemofthefiveintheoutlineof1703thatisnotmentionedinthepassagebeforeusisthe
third,the"monad"ofthetwosubstancetheory."Themasswhichmakesthemultitude"isplausibly
takentobethefourthitem,secondaryratherthanprimarymatter,andthisinterpretationis
confirmedbythestatementthatitwouldbepurelypassiveifitcontainedonlyprimarymatter,
whichcarriestheimplicationthatitinfactcontainssomethingmorewhichmakesitpartlyactive.
"ThecompletecorporealSubstance"mentionedhereispresumablythefifthitemoftheoutlineof
1703,thecompositesubstanceratherthanthesimplesubstanceofthetwosubstancetheory.The
passage'ssilenceaboutthelattersuggeststhequestionofwhetherthetextexpressesthe
Aristotelianonesubstanceconceptionofcorporealsubstance.

ThatconceptionisfurthersuggestedbythefactthatLeibnizsaysherethatthecorporealsubstance
resultsfromtheactiveprincipleofunityandthemassthatmakesthemultitude.Thisseemsto
implythattheorganicbodyormultitudinousmassofsecondarymatterunitesdirectlywiththe
(abstract)soulorsubstantialformthatis,withthefirstratherthanthethirditemintheoutline.
ThatisadistinctivefeatureoftheAristotelianonesubstanceconception.Inboththetwosubstance
andthequalifiedmonadconception,the(abstract)soulorsubstantialformunitesfirstwiththe
primarymattertoformthemonad,andthemonadasawholerelatestotheorganicbody.

TheAristotelianonesubstancereadingofthedocumentisnotplausible,however.Adirectunion
oftheabstractsubstantialformorentelechywithsecondaryratherthanprimarymatterdoesnotfit
thedemandsoftheargumentaboutincompleteness.Foritisasmerelyactivethattheentelechyis
incomplete,anditisprimarymatterthatistheprincipleofpassivity.Henceitshouldbeaunion
withprimaryratherthansecondarymatterthatisrequiredtobringthesoulorformtocompletion.
Theapparentimplicationofourtext,thatthesoulorsubstantialformunitesdirectlywiththe
secondarymatterororganicbody,mayperhapsbestbeaccountedforasanellipsisormetonymy
thatleavestheprimarymatteroutofaccount,lettingthesoulorformstandforthecomplete

271

monad.Leibnizwascapableofthis,Ithink,becausehewasalwaysmuchmoreinterestedinthe
substantialformthanintheprimarymatter.

Moreover,theconcretesimplesubstance,the"monad"ofthefivefoldoutline,isimplicitlypresent
inthecontinuationofourtext.Leibnizsays:

Whereasthesecondarymatterormass[masse]whichconstitutesourbodyhasparts
throughoutwhicharecompletesubstancesthemselves,whiletheseareotheranimalsor
separatelyanimatedoractuatedorganicsubstances.Butthemass[amas]ofthese
organizedcorporealsubstanceswhichconstitutesourbodyisnotunitedwithourSoul
exceptbythatrelationwhichfollowstheorderofphenomenathatarenaturaltoeach
substanceseparately.Andallofthisshowshowitcanbesaid,ontheonehand,thatthe
soulandthebodyareindependentofeachother,andontheotherhand,thattheoneis
incompletewithouttheothersincetheoneisnevernaturallywithouttheother.(G
IV,572f.)

TwofeaturesofwhatissaidhereaboutincompletenessdistinguishitfromLeibniz'sstatementson
thesamesubjectearlierinthedocument.

1."Thesoulandthebody"thataresaidheretobeincompletearenotthefirsttwoitemsofthe
fivefoldoutline,butthethirdandfourth.That"thebody"hereisthefourthitem,theorganicbody,
isobvious.ThisofcourseisneverasubstanceinLeibniz'smaturewritings,butatmostan
aggregateofsubstances.Itisthereforenotanincompletesubstance,andLeibnizdoesnotsaythat
itis,butonlythatitis"incomplete."

"Thesoul,"Ithink,isnotonlyincompletebutanincompletesubstancehere,beingthe"monad"of
thefivefoldoutline.Thismaybelessobvious,butpresenceofthe"monad"inthispassageis
impliedbythestatementthatthesoulisunitedtothesecondarymatterororganicbodyonlybya
harmonyoftheinternalproperties(the"phenomena")ofseparatesubstances.Itfollowsthatthe
soulmusthavesomephenomenaseparately,andmusthavethemprior,metaphysically,toitsunion
withthemassofothersubstancesthatconstituteitsorganicbody.Thisitcandoonlyifitis(orisa
constituentof)aconcreteindividualsubstancethatisconstitutedindependentlyoftheorganic
body.Whatwouldthissubstancebe,ifnotthe"monad"ofthetwosubstancetheory?Andthe
ascriptionofincompletenessheresurelyappliestothissubstance.

Whatweseemtohaveinthispassage,therefore,isnotanAristotelianonesubstanceconceptionof
thestructureofacorporealsubstance,butaversionofthetwosubstanceconceptioninwhichthe
simplemonadisanincompletesubstance,andonlythewholecompositecorporealsubstanceisa
completesubstance.WemightthinkofthisasanAristoteliantwosubstanceconception,asitis
arguablymoreAristotelian,ormoreScholastic,thanthesimplerversionofthetwosubstance
conceptionpresentedearlierinsection2.1.Althoughhedoesnotexpressitveryfullyorveryoften
inhiswritings,IbelievethatthisAristotelianversionofthetwosubstanceconceptionistheview
thatmostadequatelyrealizesLeibniz'saimsintryingtoincorporateaversionoftheScholastic
theoryofcorporealsubstanceintohisphilosophy.

2.Theotherdistinctivefeatureoftheclaimabouttheincompletenessofsoulandbodythat
concludesthequotedpassageisthereasongivenforit:"sincetheoneisnevernaturallywithoutthe
other."Theword'naturally'isimportanthere;

272

itisnotanidlequalifier.Sayingthatthesoulisnever"naturally"withoutthebodyleavesopenthe
possibilitythatthesoulcouldexistwithoutthebodybythepowerofGod,thoughthatwouldbe
unnatural.13TheLeibnizianreasonforthinkingitunnaturalisthatitwouldbeinconsistentwith
theharmonyofthings,assuggestedbytheimplicationinourtextthatthesoulisunitedwithits
bodybytheharmonyoftheperceptionsofthesubstancesinvolved.

ThisisimportantforLeibniz'sconceptionoftheunityofacorporealsubstance,andinthat
connectionIwillreturntothistextinsection5.ForthepresentIwantrathertoemphasizethatthe
incompletenessthatsoulandbodyhavebyvirtueofthefactthattheharmonyofperceptions
demandsthateachbe"completed"orcomplementedbytheotherismuchlessradicalthanthe
incompletenessthatmerelyactiveandmerelypassiveprinciplesinasubstancehavebyvirtueof
theirbeingmereabstractions.Theincompletenessofmereabstractions,assertedearlierinthetext,
issoradicalthatitmaybedoubtedwhethertheycouldbemadetoexistseparatelyevenbythe
powerofGod.14Itisthusmoreradicalalsothantheincompletenessofincompletesubstancesfor
Surez,sinceheheldthatsubstantialformsand(primary)mattercanbemadetoexistseparately
fromeachotherbythepowerofGod.15

Inthisrespect,indeed,evenLeibniz'sclaimof"natural"inseparabilityseemsstrongerthanSurez
wouldacceptwithoutqualification,forSurezheldthatonesubstantialform,therationalsoul,"is
ableevennaturallytoremainwithoutmatter,"16thoughithasanatural"aptitude"toinformmatter.
Comparisononthispointisdifficult,andperhapsdubious,however,becausewecannotassume
thatSurezandLeibnizhadthesameconceptionofthedifferencebetweenwhatisnaturaland
whatisnot.
Notonlydowethushavemoreandlessradicalclaimsofincompleteness,butalso,Ib