Sämtliche schriften und briefe series III, volume 6
Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften (ed)
Date: 12/22 July 1695
Translated from the French
View this translation in PDF format (12k)
Back to home page
Search texts by category:
MIND, BODY AND SOUL
FREE WILL AND NECESSITY
POLITICS, LAW AND ETHICS
LEIBNIZ TO THE MARQUIS DE L'HOSPITAL
[A III 6, p451]
Extract from my letter to the Marquis de l'Hospital, 12/22 July 1695.
I shall be delighted to learn of your opinion on my meditations which were recently included in your journals of June and July.1 It is the mathematicians who should be asked to judge, and not the common run of philosophers. Metaphysical thoughts cannot fail to appear strange to minds which are little accustomed to deep thinking. But I hope that they do not give themselves a headache with it. I am very much of Father Malebranche's view in that he believes that it is only God who acts immediately on substances by a real influence. But leaving aside the dependence that we have on him, which means that we are conserved by a continual creation, leaving that aside, I say, in order to speak only of secondary causes or of the ordinary course of nature, I hold that, without needing any new operations from God, in order to explain things we can be satisfied with what God gave to them from the start. Thus in my view, every substance [already expresses in advance and]2 produces by itself in an orderly way everything that will ever happen to it internally. God intended to concur with it only in accordance with [these primitive delineations or] the primitive nature of the thing, the consequences of which are only its future developments. Mr Arnauld believed at first sight that this could undermine grace, and favour the Pelagians, but having received my clarification he released me from this accusation. Nevertheless I consider myself able to say that there is nothing which is more favourable to our freedom than the view that I have just mentioned. The key part of my doctrine on this subject consists in this consideration: that what is properly a real unity, a Monad...3
1. That is, the issues of the Journal des Savants which contained Leibniz's 'New System of the Nature of Substances and their Communication, and of the Union which Exists between the Soul and the Body'. English translation in Lloyd Strickland (ed), The Shorter Leibniz Texts (Continuum: London, 2006) pp68-77.
2. Leibniz wrote 'I omitted this' on his copy, presumably referring to all of the material in square brackets.
3. The text breaks off here.
© Lloyd Strickland 2006