The Philosophy of Leibniz: Metaphysics and Language

The Philosophy of Leibniz: Metaphysics and Language

The Philosophy of Leibniz: Metaphysics and Language

The Philosophy of Leibniz: Metaphysics and Language

Synopsis

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) is one of the most imposing figures in the history of Western thought. In this definitive treatment of his wide-ranging philosophical ideas, Benson Mates has brought his own formidable abilities to bear on the unwieldy--and virtually inaccessible--corpus of Leibniz's work. The result is an elegantly written and meticulously reasoned exegesis of the fundamental Leibniz, one that is destined to be a cornerstone of Leibniz scholarship for years to come.

Excerpt

1. In recent years there has been a remarkable rebirth of interest in the philosophy of Leibniz. This is due to several mutually reinforcing factors. Logicians and philosophers of logic have found that his views on some of the matters that concern them most, such as identity, truth, and necessity, were well thought out, systematic, and, when considered together with the reasons behind them, deeply intuitive. Philosophers of language have become aware that his writings are a mine of sophisticated and valuable ideas in that area. Metaphysicians, especially those of nominalistic bent, have been interested to see how this great mind attempted to cope with the obvious problems involved in nominalism and nominalistic reductions. And epistemologists and philosophers of science are finding that he discusses, in a very modern way, a wide variety of issues that are central to their interests, too.

Accelerating all of this have been the renewed progress of the great Berlin Academy edition of Leibniz's works and also the appearance of Studia Leibnitiana, a journal devoted principally to the intellectual history of his time. We owe these welcome developments primarily to the scholars of the Leibniz Archive (Hanover) and the Leibniz Research Center (Münster) in Germany. Besides their editorial work and the books and articles they themselves have contributed, these experts are providing very complete bibliographic information that is extremely helpful, even essential, to anyone doing serious work on the subject. They also organize congresses and symposia, at which the growing numbers of researchers in this field can exchange ideas and keep up with the latest developments. In short, their service has been, and will continue to be, indispensable for the success of these studies.

The aim of the present work is to add its bit to this Leibniz renaissance by offering a critical account of some of the fundamentals of his philosophy. Such criticism as is included will be, for the most part, internal, taking note of contradictions and other unwelcome consequences that seem to follow from . . .

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