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.
G.W. Leibniz’s legacy to philosophy is extraordinary for his vast body of work, for his originality and prescience, and for his influence. The aim of this volume is to provide a state-of-the-art exploration of Leibniz’s philosophy and its legacy, especially in the period up to Kant. The essays collected here offer new insights into signature elements of Leibniz’s thought – the theory of contingency, anti-materialism, the principle of sufficient reason, the metaphysics of substance, and his philosophy of mind – as well as the influence of predecessors such as Lull, Descartes, and Malebranche, the reckoning of his ideas in the works of Wolff and Kant, and the contributions of Clarke, Baumgarten, Meier, Du Châtelet, and others to the content, transmission, and reception of Leibnizian philosophy.