With the arrogance of youth, I determined to do no less than to transform the world with Beauty. If I have succeeded in some small way, if only in one small corner of the world, amongst the men and women I love, then I shall count myself blessed, and blessed, and blessed, and the work goes on. -- William Morris

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Leibniz: Can't Touch This

I've read selections from the Leibniz's Monadology multiple times in the past, and I will undoubtedly have more to write on this later when I will be studying Leibniz a bit more in depth. But my hunch is that the metaphysics of the monad is a good example of what happens when one tries to address questions of substance and accidents with the blinders of the Cartesian ego tightly affixed. When the "clarity" and "distinction" of ideas (and the imagination) become the filter of all possibility, one begins to articulate a world in which substances are reclusive principles, metaphysical "shut-ins," quarantined from everything outside their doors. In an interesting twist, the distinctions drawn in our musing give birth to an exile in reality, and the intimate union between subject and accident in act which is precious to Aristotelian and Thomist realism becomes the fantasy: such things only seem to be hand-in-hand (but in truth, its all a prearranged dance of cosmic harmony, where things come only so close to touching)! Leibniz may have been trying to overcome a Cartesian problem, but by conceding so much to the fundamentals of the Cartesian turn, he doomed himself from the get-go. Repackaging occasionalism never offers anything close to an adequate description of how things really interact. That should never be appealed to, even as a last resort. It's like Sisyphus concocting more effective ways to get the boulder up the hill. Good luck, buddy!

The Monadology strikes me as a lesson why we should never presume to conflate logical possibility and real or actual possibility. One's head only dictates the full range of possibilities when one has already agreed to strip everything else of its stake in the real.

It marks a failure to think from the between, where mind and being flow into one another; where they interact on a two-way street, and do not lock each other out.

Pax Christi,


Post a Comment

<< Home