The New Synthese Historical Library

Leibniz and the Natural World

Activity, Passivity and Corporeal Substances in Leibniz's Philosophy

Authors: Phemister, Pauline

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About this book

In the present book, Pauline Phemister argues against traditional Anglo-American interpretations of Leibniz as an idealist who conceives ultimate reality as a plurality of mind-like immaterial beings and for whom physical bodies are ultimately unreal and our perceptions of them illusory. Re-reading the texts without the prior assumption of idealism allows the more material aspects of Leibniz's metaphysics to emerge. Leibniz is found to advance a synthesis of idealism and materialism. His ontology posits indivisible, living, animal-like corporeal substances as the real metaphysical constituents of the universe; his epistemology combines sense-experience and reason; and his ethics fuses confused perceptions and insensible appetites with distinct perceptions and rational choice. In the light of his sustained commitment to the reality of bodies, Phemister re-examines his dynamics, the doctrine of pre-established harmony and his views on freedom. The image of Leibniz as a rationalist philosopher who values activity and reason over passivity and sense-experience is replaced by the one of a philosopher who recognises that, in the created world, there can only be activity if there is also passivity; minds, souls and forms if there is also matter; good if there is evil; perfection if there is imperfection.

Reviews

"[Leibniz and the Natural World] lives up admirably to its ambitious aims. [...] in arguing for her main thesis, Phemister also provides an original and fascinating approach to two formidable challenges in Leibniz's scholarship. [...] There is much more to be found in this rich book, which any serious student of Leibniz's metaphysics should study." (Ohad Nachtomy, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, in British Journal for the History of Philosophy 16:1, 2008)

"[...] Phemister's book is a defiant attempt to free Leibniz from the fetters of this misinterpretation, and her eloquent arguments will do much to turn the tide in favour of a more balanced assessment of his natural philosophy." (Richard Arthur, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, in The Philosophical Quarterly 57:226, 2007)

"Phemister's book is a clear and insightful study [...], and deserves the attention of everyone who wishes to appreciate Leibniz in all his depth and range." (Justin E.H. Smith, Concordia University, Canada, in The Leibniz Review Vol. 16, 2006)


Table of contents (11 chapters)

Table of contents (11 chapters)
  • Introduction

    Pages 1-6

  • Substances: Public and Private

    Pages 7-29

  • Primary Matter

    Pages 31-56

  • Extension

    Pages 57-80

  • The Composition of Bodies

    Pages 81-103

Buy this book

eBook $169.00
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-3401-5
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $219.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-1-4020-3400-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $219.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-90-481-6855-2
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Leibniz and the Natural World
Book Subtitle
Activity, Passivity and Corporeal Substances in Leibniz's Philosophy
Authors
Series Title
The New Synthese Historical Library
Series Volume
58
Copyright
2005
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
eBook ISBN
978-1-4020-3401-5
DOI
10.1007/1-4020-3401-6
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4020-3400-8
Softcover ISBN
978-90-481-6855-2
Series ISSN
1879-8578
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XVI, 298
Topics