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Leibniz Notes


Zz87, Leibniz found certain fields of human knowledge in a mess and tried to set them in order.

Zz91, Sees all possible views as perspectives, parts of a whole. Concerned with Church unity, which is like exalting the view of the whole, or the idea of the whole. If you have the right to adopt any positon, any opinion you please, this only depends on your acknowledgment of this. If this is denied your right goes too. You may have a practice, a form of life, but it has no just claim to authority because it can always be opposed by the opposite idea. We cannot even begin with a concept like 'freedom' if our only ground for recommending it is its inherent attractiveness.

Ak7, In Descartes himself is Leibniz's idea that God created this world because it is the best of all possible.

As9 Kant as deriving from a criticism of Leibniz. Leibniz and his desire for rational transparency that leads to the bizarre metaphysics of the monadology. Data must be manageable. Extraordinary attraction of Leibniz's genius. But made scholastic, as by Wolff, it seems baroque and irritates as the baroque could irritate.
Kant's denial of the meaningfulness of certain types of speculation, how far does it reach? One imagines he is getting at Leibniz with his wonderful theory of possibility, why there is anything at all. But he clears the air for a peculiar nihilism about values. Reality as primarily in negation. Limitation of possibility. Denial of all sufficiency of some doctrine. Instead of looking for facts to which a theory relates, as a verificationist or Popperian would, he has a clear metaphysical doctrine which denies meaning

An39, Hegel on Leibniz. One suspects even Hegel's huge intellect has not properly grasped Leibniz's explanation of the problem of evil, or his conception of possibility. Is there any other philosopher with so fantastically ingenious a system? Reality from possibility.
Metaphysics of the understanding. Suppose one actually could solve a problem on this level, without recourse to irrationalism. Logical possibility reducing to psychological possibility. The so called antinomies. Hegel craves specific content.. Perhaps he could get it, though in an opposite way from what he thinks.

An335, Pope's Essay on Man In some ways most commendable. It expresses the philosophy of its age, for all that Johnson found it so shallow. This philosophy, this Leibnizian optimism. Whatever is is right. This pre Darwinian outlook. The philosophy of the self confident 18th century. In some ways less interesting than the philosophy of Thomas Browne. But we understand how that 'metaphysical' outlook had to be left behind. Leibniz greater than Pico. Think what succeeded. What Darwinism did. Then Wittgenstein. What would be a modern equivalent of the Essay on Man?
Darwinism. The materialism which makes of matter a God. Wittgenstein claims to destroy only houses of cards. The corollary of this is that every value that is worth having is capable of being rescued. There is nothing to regret in the destruction of illusions. Whatever joy there was therein can be saved. The true philosophy of the modern era is to mine the spiritual treasure of the ages. Pope's ideas on self love. Much better than post Kantian ethics. He preaches virtue and moderation. 'To justify God's ways to man'. No one could now do that or even want to. That kind of God as personification of nature, is irrelevant now. Nor is there really any romance in sub-atomic physics. Yet the God concept could still have a place. Deism has no longer any meaning. God can be a moral pressure to believe, or a liberation from such pressure. As for ethical exhortation, that is hardly meaningful or required, It sounds like so much cant. One wants what will satisfy and its hard to get….The famous parody on Essay on Man was Wilkes' Essay on Woman.

Ab111 The Rosicrucian framework of Chrysal. How the sprit of the gold remains the same, despite additions and subtractions to its matter and the changes in its form. This is surely reminiscent of Leibniz's monads? Ruth Saw (Leibniz) points out that Leibniz's metaphysics sits well into modern ideas about telepathy and other psychic phenomena. But even more, perhaps, it chimes in with certain Rosicrucian and Swedenborgian conceptions.

Ab215, From Copleston (History of Philosophy). Interesting section on Wolffian scholasticism. Wolff, an unoriginal follower of Leibniz, who put Leibniz into a highly systematized form as a kind of educational programme. Such an enterprise is interesting in itself. Insofar as a great philosopher produces a system, A. as a finished set of ideas, one may view this from various points of view . A, as a part of a never ending search for final truth (Such an idea tends to render all philosophy futile). or B,. as a possible programme a foundation for cultural possibilities. The mediaeval scholastics put Aristotle to such a use, neoplatonism put Plato, Plotinus and a few others.

Ae118, Leibniz on possibility. Can one say that possibility has any reality? That which is not perceived. Does it have reality or not? When one is trying to escape the pressure of some particular point of view how can one say some other point of view is true, or real? How can anything be true that is not immediately perceived? What is the possibility of other points of view, other states of mind? It is a higher court of appeal than the immediate reality, or the proposition one feels compelled to assent to. What justification is there for holding there to be such a higher court of appeal? The past and future have no reality we say, But possibility is the seed of the future. D. S Shwayder (in Studies in the Philosophy of Wittgenstein, ed Winch 1969) said that Wittgenstein was Kantian from beginning to end . What does this mean? It means there is a certain amount that is just given. Conditions of any possible experience. Thus we may be saved by ordinary language. What kind of reality has possibility? I feel tempted to say a purely conventional reality, like mathematics. (on some m theories of mathematics). I would not want to say the possible has some kind of absolute of metaphysical reality. I would not venture to assert hat it is a higher or deeper reality than the immediate

Ae121&, Leibniz and the principle of sufficient reason. Does this mean intellectually satisfying reason? If Heisenberg's uncertainty principle is intellectually satisfying then it would provide a sufficient reason for the phenomenon it describes.

The real danger of scepticism. Not in doubting the reality of the external world, or of other minds. For it is quite possible to believe in these. It is in being unable to repudiate what seems omnipresent but repels us, the ugly cliché, modern America. In being unable to advance beyond any immediately given, such as whatever happens to possess authority at the moment.

I want to read more deeply in philosophy, to deepen my thought, Leibniz, Kant, Schopenhauer.

A particular possibility, say one man's thought, one man's mind like Hitler's, can dominate the whole of reality, become the whole universe of truth. Each possibility has that capacity. But it has it from this viewpoint that I can think it. To say they are wrong does not necessarily mean very much. As possibilities they are not immediate realities. If they became immediate realities they might blot out our perception of infinite possibilities.

Ae128 The obvious power of Leibniz's intellect. His religion. It is a form of religious vision equal to any. There is full religious creativity there, not just apologetic for doctrines devised at an earlier time and place.

Russell in his History of Western Philosophy says that all monads are conscious. This flatly contradicts what I read elsewhere. Also Russell distinguishes between an exoteric and an esoteric doctrine. I am not sure the distinction holds. Leibniz's 'God ' is everywhere a highly sophisticated concept. I doubt if even the 'exoteric' doctrine was as crudely religious as Russell makes it. And Leibniz does have a way out of determinism. And I doubt if the subject predicate logic is the whole explanation of this system.
But mystery enters with the identity of indiscernibles. It is senseless to complain I might be a different possibility. For If I were you and you me, how could it be discerned? I think I can make sense of the idea. But I am not sure.
The concept of possibility does offer a fullness of explanation, while cause and effect are essentially mysterious.
Think of this possibility. Man is God. But he has descended into matter for sheer playfulness, and in his playfulness he has made the possible mistake of cutting himself loose. Like the Pistis Sophia, in that deeply moving allegory. He enters in a world of pure possibility, and one of those is hell, the end of all playfulness, the beginning of seriousness.
We are gods who have lost our way in nets of our own devising. Enlightenment is better, more completely satisfying than it is possible for us to think or imagine. It will satisfy more impulses, overcome more reservations, than seems possible,

Ae145, Possibility The subject predicate logic. Not that, I think. The doctrine of possibility removes all the problems in the concept of causality. The ground is possibility, this ground we call God. The principle of sufficient reason may in fact not have universal application. But when we try to explain why things are as they are, the most obvious ground of their being is possibility. A possible idea has a form of existence that is apparently transparent. So we say reality has its source in possibility. So possibility is God. Here there is no mystery about the existence of God, or the origin of reality. The mystery is the principle of God's creation. Possibility is possible ideas, what it is possible to be thought. Reality is limitation. My own life history everything about myself, if it is like a story, made up like that, there is no mystery in it. But to make me a substance to which things happen is to reintroduce mystery. To avoid solipsism I must assume there are other people with equal reality, likewise grounded in possibility, or God. So already there is more than one monad, more than one substance.

Leibniz probably was heretical, if not in the way Russell suggests. If we conceive of God as possibility there would seem to remain the prospect of absorption back into God The individual personality would not do this, because that is a limitation. But the ground of this personality is possibility. (Averroism?)

One searches for the language in which to express this. Individual personalities are nothing but these stories. God is in each one as the root and source. There is no unfairness, because we are all equally God at play. By the identity of indiscernibles, if the limitation ceases we revert to possibility, i.e. to God. And God is all possibilities in every monad. So behind the individual personality there is an I that is God (Purusha, Atman) Insofar as I am God my total enjoyment is in nowise limited to this monad, this personality, which preoccupies me here, now.
 

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