Sources:

Die Leibniz-Handschriften der Königlichen Öffentlichen Bibliothek
Eduard Bodemann (ed)
p 119

Sämtliche schriften und briefe series VI volume 4
Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften (ed)
pp 2706-2707



Date: 1677-1716?

Translated from the French



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METAPHYSICS
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LEIBNIZ: INOPPORTUNE REFLECTIONS ON HUMAN MISERY


[BH p119] [A VI 4, p2706]

     Experience has taught me that there is nothing which destroys courage more, and which, furthermore, removes the taste of beautiful things, than the inopportune reflections we make on [A VI 4, p2707] human misery and on the vanity of our enterprises. This is the only stumbling block of great souls, on which it is so much easier to fail the greater one's genius. For ordinary minds do not focus on this great consideration of the future which in some way embraces the whole universe; but as a reward they are more satisfied, for they taste apparent goods without intending to destroy the pleasure in them by too exact a reflection. And as a happy act of folly is better than a morose prudence, I believe that we would do well to close our ears to reason in order to abandon ourselves to custom, or else to reason only in order to amuse ourselves, if there is no way of reconciling wisdom with contentment. But thanks to God we are not so unfortunate, and nature would be a cruel mother if what brings about our perfection would be the cause of our misery.


© Lloyd Strickland 2005
With thanks to Geert de Wilde