Review of Christia Mercer’s Leibniz’s Metaphysics

leibnizThe dominant portrayal of the philosophy of Leibniz in the United Kingdom for the past century has been that outlined in Bertrand Russell’s A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz, published in 1900. This commentary, acting in tandem with that offered by Courturat in La logique de Leibniz d’aprés des documents inédits of 1901 and ‘Sur la metaphysique of Leibniz’ of 1902, segregates the philosophy of Leibniz into two distinct domains, those of logic and metaphysics. Russell claims that Leibniz’s metaphysics, for the little that it is worth, is grounded upon his logic (as an ornament of his ‘deductive system’), and, not vice versa. For Russell, the fairy tale of the Monadology (1714) is grounded upon the properly logical philosophy of the Discourse on Metaphysics (1686). Indeed, that which is significant for Russell is the analytic judgement, or, the concept containment notion of truth. He claimed that the entire philosophy of Leibniz could be deduced from, and hence, reduced to, a definite set of axioms. All else may be jettisoned to the wasteland of the history of ideas, especially his idiosyncratic fascinations pertaining to scholasticism and theology.

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