Kant's Metaphysics and Theory of Science


At the head of our enquiries we place Leibniz. In so doing we are following Kant's own procedure, which takes the form of a continuous discussion with Leibniz. The centre of Leibniz's philosophy is the doctrine of monads. A monad is a simple substance -- so it is defined at the beginning of both the treatises on the monad. The term 'monad' takes up the Greek term monas. Monas means both unity as such and that which is single, primarily therefore substance in its unity (Monadology, § if., Principles of Nature and of Grace, § 1). This double meaning of monas is continuously effective throughout Leibniz's doctrine of monads.

The archetype of unity for the Greeks and for Leibniz is the living human being in the comprehensive unity of his existence. From this starting-point all monads are first defined as living. By a bold leap the whole universe is then filled with a dense sea of living things, that is to say with a dense sea of monads. Everything is alive; everything unfruitful, everything sterile, everything dead in the universe is only outward illusion (Monadology, § 69). To see into the things that seem to be dead is to become aware even there, in what seems to be dead, of an infinite fullness of living things. In this great ocean of living things there are no empty places. Wherever one looks there surges an infinite world of creatures, of living beings, of animals, of entelechies, of souls. Every single particle of matter, however small, is a garden full of plants, a pond full of fishes, and every twig of these plants in this garden and every drop in the blood of these fishes is another garden full of plants, another pond full of fishes, and so forth to infinity (§ 67). Everywhere, in the infinitely great and in the infinitely small, there is life, everywhere there are monads.

The two fundamental determinations of our being, namely thinking and willing, belong to every monad in their universal form as perception and appetition (§§ 15, 16). Every monad perceives and every monad wills, but not all of them in the same way, and thus there arises a graduated series of monads. The lowest grade consists of . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Manchester, England
Publication year:
  • 1955


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