A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz

A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz

A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz

A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz

Excerpt

Shortly after the publication of the first edition of this book, its principal thesis -- namely, that Leibniz's philosophy was almost entirely derived from his logic -- received overwhelming confirmation from the work ofLouis Couturat. His La Logique de Leibniz (1901), supported by his collection of MSS. overlooked by previous editors, entitled Opuscules et Fragments inédits de Leibniz (1903), showed that the Discours de Métaphysique and the letters to Arnauld, upon which I had to rely almost exclusively for my interpretation, were mere samples of innumerable writings expressing the same point of view, which had remained buried among the mass of documents at Hanover for over two centuries. No candid reader of the Opuscules can doubt that Leibniz's metaphysic was derived by him from the subject-predicate logic. This appears, for example, from the paper Primae Veritates (Opuscules, pp. 518-523), where all the main doctrines of the "Monadology" are deduced, with terse logical rigour, from the premiss:

"Semper igitur praedicatum seu consequens inest subjecto seu antecedenti, et in hoc ipso consistit natura veritatis in universum.... Hoc autem est in omni veritate affirmativa universali aut singulari, necessaria aut contingente" (Ib. p. 518).

Wherever my interpretation of Leibniz differed from that of previous commentators, Couturat's work afforded conclusive confirmation, and showed that the few previously published texts upon which I had relied had all the importance that I had attributed to them. But Couturat carried inorthodoxy further than I had done, and where his interpretation differed from mine, he was able to cite passages which seemed conclusive. The Principle of Sufficient Reason, he maintains, asserts simply that every true proposition is analytic, and is the exact converse of the Law of Contradiction, which asserts that every analytic proposition is true. The Identity of Indiscernibles, also, is expressly deduced by Leibniz from the analytic character of all true propositions; for after asserting this he proceeds: "Sequitur etiam hinc non dari posse duas res singulares solo numero differentes: utique enim oportet rationem reddi posse cur sint diversae, quae ex aliqua in ipsis differentia petenda est" (Ib. p. 519).

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