Source:

Sämtliche schriften und briefe series VI volume 4
Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften (ed)
pp 1352-1353



Date: 1677

Translated from the Latin



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LEIBNIZ: THAT NOT ALL POSSIBLES ATTAIN EXISTENCE


[A VI 4, p1352]

That not all possibles attain existence, or that there are certain possibles which neither exist nor have existed nor will exist.

     I call "possible" that which can be supposed or understood without contradiction, for example that in the whole world there is nothing except globules or round bodies; nothing in that contains anything that includes a contradiction. From this I now prove that some of these kinds of possibles have never existed or will exist. For if we suppose that all things are globules, it is impossible that they ever cease to exist by the forces of nature, and therefore all the other shapes of atoms neither have existed naturally (otherwise globules would never have thence been made) nor will exist. On the other hand, if some other shape is assumed, it is impossible that the globule-shape ever existed or will exist. So either way, it will be impossible for something from among the possibles in themselves to exist on account of other assumptions or on account of the state of the universe. And once we have admitted this, we have a God not such as Descartes and Spinoza conceive of him, but such as Christians teach.

[A VI 4, p1353]

     If it can be demonstrated that any part of matter separated from any other cannot be understood, yet that there are certain atoms, the same thing is considered manifestly demonstrated. But even if we suppose that all things are again subdivided, since subdivision can be established in various ways, then all possibles certainly do not occur.


© Lloyd Strickland 2017