In the 1750s Optimism, the Leibnizian doctrine that the actual world is the best possible world, popularized by Pope in 1733 in his Essay on Man, was a hot topic. In 1759 Kant wrote and published a brief essay defending Optimism, Attempt at some Reflections on Optimism. Kant’s aim in this essay is to establish that there is one and only one best possible world. In particular, he argues against the claim that, for every possible world, there is a possible world better than it and against the claim that there are two or more equally good possible worlds that are better than all the rest. Although it is not clear why, Kant was later dissatisfied with his essay. In this article I shall reconstruct, discuss, and evaluate Kant’s arguments. My evaluation will be negative, and so I think Kant had reasons to be dissatisfied with his essay.
This essay argues that, with his much-maligned “infinite analysis” theory of contingency, Leibniz is onto something deep and important – a tangle of issues that wouldn’t be sorted out properly for centuries to come, and then only by some of the greatest minds of the twentieth century. The first two sections place Leibniz’s theory in its proper historical context and draw a distinction between Leibniz’s logical and meta-logical discoveries. The third section argues that Leibniz’s logical insights initially make his “infinite analysis” theory of contingency more rather than less perplexing. The last two sections argue that Leibniz’s meta-logical insights, however, point the way towards a better appreciation of (what we should regard as) his formal theory of contingency, and its correlative, his formal theory of necessity.
The aim of this paper is to shed light on Leibniz’s justification of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. It approaches this issue through a close textual analysis of the correspondence with Samuel Clarke and a more abstruse and lesser-known writing, ‘Leibniz’s Philosophical Dream’.
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.
This article aims to make further progress in revising the standard account of Wolff’s philosophy as a popularisation and systematisation of Leibniz’s doctrines. It focuses on the topic of the communication among substances and the metaphysics of simples and activity underlying it. It is argued that Wolff does not accept the pre-established harmony (PEH) in its orthodox Leibnizian version. The article explains Wolff’s departure from Leibniz’s PEH as stemming from his rejection of Leibniz’s construal of the activity of every simple as representational power and of the metaphysics of unity and activity in which that construal is rooted.
Philosophers after Leibniz used a technical idiom to classify and explain the nature of mental content. Substantive philosophical claims were formulated in terms of this vocabulary, including claims about the nature of mental representations, concepts, unconscious mental content, and consciousness. Despite its importance, the origin and development of this vocabulary is insufficiently well understood. More specifically, interpreters have failed to recognize the existence of two distinct and influential versions of the post-Leibnizian idiom. These competing formulations used the same technical terms and taxonomic relations but assigned different connotations to those terms and employed different criteria for their application. This paper explains the two most influential versions of the post-Leibnizian idiom.