Leibniz, Monadologie

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every simple substance (monad) is different from every other; every simple substance changes; therefore every monad "must include a multiplicity within a unity (or something simple). For since every natural change happens gradually, something changes and something remains. Consequently, a simple substance must contain a multiplicity of affections and relations, even though it does not contain any parts." (13)

transitory state of a monad, plurality of its properties: its perception

internal principle that brings about change: appetition [desire, appetite]

"We ourselves experience a multiplicity in a simple substance, when we find that the least thought of which we are conscious includes a variegation within its object. So anyone who accepts that the soul is a simple substance must accept this multiplicity within the monad." (16)

perceptions of monads cannot be explained through mechanistic causation (example of blowing something up, walking into it the way one walks into a mill, seeing all its parts in operation -- none of the machinery explains the being's perception) (17)

(monads are not called "souls" because souls have memory, 19)

human reasoning grounded on two principles:

  • principle of contradiction: if one thing contradicts another, one of them must be false (31)
  • principle of sufficient reason: must have good reasons for believing something (32)

two sorts of truth (33):

  • those of reasoning: necessary, opposite is impossible
  • those of fact: contingent, opposite is possible

primary principles for which there is no argument, cannot be broken down; like assertions of identity

proof for God's existence, 45

God has power, knowledge and will (48)

activity attributed to monads with distinct perceptions, passivity to those with confused perceptions (49)

monads are separate; so how do they "communicate" to construct things in the world?

  • God orders them, builds these instructions into the monads (51)
"Now this interconnectedness, or this accommodation of all created things to each, and of each to all the rest, means that each simple substance has relations to all the others, which it expresses. Consequently, it is a permanent living mirror of the universe." (56)
"The same town looked at from different angles appears completely different, and is, as it were, multiplied perspectively. In the same way, it emerges that, because of the infinite number of simple substances, there seem to be as many different universes as there are substances. However, these are only different perspectives on a single universe, according to the different points of view of each monad." (57)
"This is the means for obtaining as much variety as possible, but with the greatest order as possible. In other words, it is the means for obtaining as much perfection as possible." (58)

every body affected by every other body:

"In this respect, compounds are analogous to simples. The fact that there is no vacuum means that the whole of matter is interconnected. Each body is affected by its neighbours, and in one way or another it registers everything which happens to them. But in a plenum, every motion has some effect on distant bodies in proportion to its distance. So each body also registers what happens to its neighbours’ neighbours, through their mediation. It follows that this communication extends to any distance whatever. Consequently, all bodies register everything which happens in the universe — so much so, that someone who could see everything could read off from any individual what is happening everywhere, and even what happened in the past, and what will happen in the future. What is distant in time and place is observable in the here and now. As Hippocrates said, ‘Everything breathes together.’ But a soul can read in itself only what is represented there distinctly. It cannot suddenly unfold all that is folded within it, since it extends to infinity." (61)

distinction between living beings and animals -- the former are made up of entelechies, the latter of souls (63)

divine vs human technology:

"Thus the organic body of each living being is a sort of divine machine, or a natural automaton, which is infinitely superior to any manufactured automaton. This is because a machine made by human technology is not a machine in each of its parts. For example, the tooth of a brass cog wheel has parts or smaller bits; but as far as we are concerned, these are no longer something manufactured, and no longer have any anything which characterises them as a machine in relation to the intended function of the wheel. But machines of nature, that is to say living bodies, are still machines in their smallest parts right down to infinity. This is what makes the difference between nature and technology — that is to say, between divine and human technology." (64)
"From this you can see that there is a world of created things — living beings, animals, entelechies, souls — in the smallest part of matter." (66)
"Each portion of matter can be conceived as like a garden full of plants, or like a pond full of fish. But each branch of a plant, each organ of an animal, each drop of its bodily fluids is also a similar garden or a similar pond." (67)
"And although the earth and the air separating the plants in the garden, or the water separating the fish in the pond, are neither plant nor fish, yet they still contain them — though they are usually far too small for us to be able to perceive them." (68)
"Thus there is nothing uncultivated, sterile, or dead in the universe. If anywhere seems empty or confused, this is mere appearance. It is rather like how a pond might appear from a distance: you see a confused motion, and, so to speak, a threshing around of fish in the pond, without being able to make out the fish themselves." (69)
"You can see from this that each living body has a dominant entelechy, which is the soul in the case of an animal. But the parts of this living body are full of other living beings, plants, animals, of which each in its turn has its own dominant entelechy or soul." (70)
"But you mustn’t suppose (along with some who have misunderstood my thoughts) that each soul has a hunk or portion of matter, which is peculiar to it and assigned to it for ever, and consequently that it possesses other, inferior living beings which are permanently devoted to its service. All bodies are perpetually changing, like rivers; and particles join and leave them all the time." (71)

"generation" is unfolding, growth; "death" is infolding, shrinkage (73)

74: preformationist theory; no spontaneous generation, but seed contains the whole; "The conclusion has been drawn that, not only does the organic body already exist before conception, but also a soul in this body — in a word, the animal itself. The only function of conception is to precipitate a major transformation, so that the animal becomes an animal of a different species."

soul and the animal are indestructible, though it goes through death (infolding, shrinkage)

soul and organic body coincide through pre-established harmony (78)