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Reflection, Intelligibility, and Leibniz’s Case Against Materialism

In: History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
Author:
Julia BorcherdingNew York University

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Leibniz’s claim that it is possible for us to gain metaphysical knowledge through reflection on the self has intrigued many commentators, but it has also often been criticized as flawed or unintelligible. A similar fate has beset Leibniz’s arguments against materialism. In this paper, I explore one of Leibniz’s lesser-known arguments against materialism from his reply to Bayle’s new note L (1702), and argue that it provides us with an instance of a Leibnizian “argument from reflection”. This argument, I further show, does not constitute a flawed appeal to mere introspection, but is in fact securely grounded in an important corollary of the Principle of Sufficient Reason: Leibniz’s Principle of Intelligibility.

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