Leibniz and Clarke: A Study of Their Correspondence

Oxford University Press, 1997 M11 27 - 268 páginas
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The correspondence between Leibniz and Samuel Clarke was the most influential philosophical exchange of the eighteenth century, and indeed one of the most significant such exchanges in the history of philosophy. Carried out in 1715 and 1716, the debate focused on the clash between Newtonian and Leibnizian world systems, involving disputes in physics, theology, and metaphysics. The letters ranged over an extraordinary array of topics, including divine immensity and eternity, the relation of God to the world, free will, gravitation, the existence of atoms and the void, and the size of the universe. This penetrating book is the first to offer a comprehensive overview and commentary on the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence. Building his narrative around general subjects covered in the exchange--God, the soul, space and time, miracles and nature, matter and force--Ezio Vailati devotes special attention to a question crucial for Leibniz and Clarke alike. Both philosophers, worried by the advance of naturalism and its consequences for morality, devised complex systems to counter naturalism and reinforce natural religion. However, they not only deeply disagreed on how to answer the naturalist threat, but they ended up seeing in each other's views the germs of naturalism itself. Vailati rigorously tracks the twists and turns of this argument, shedding important new light on a critical moment in modern philosophy. Lucid, taut, and energetically written, this book not only examines the Leibniz-Clarke debate in unprecedented depth but also situates the views advanced by the two men in the context of their principal writings. An invaluable reference to a fascinating exchange of ideas, Leibniz and Clarke makes vital reading for philosophers and historians of science and theology.

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Página 135 - As for the objection that space and time are quantities, or rather things endowed with quantity, and that situation and order are not so, I answer that order also has its quantity; there is in it that which goes before and that which follows; there is distance or interval. Relative things have their quantity as well as absolute ones. For instance, ratios or proportions in mathematics have their quantity and are measured by logarithms, and yet they are relations.
Página 114 - ... among themselves, and that another thing, newly come, acquires the same relation to the others as the former had, we then say it is come into the place of the former; and this change we call a motion in that body wherein is the immediate cause of the change.
Página 201 - For while comets move in very eccentric orbs in all manner of positions, blind fate could never make all the planets move one and the same way in orbs concentric, some inconsiderable irregularities excepted which may have risen from the mutual actions of comets and planets upon one another, and which will be apt to increase till this system wants a reformation.
Página 38 - The notion of the world's being a great machine, going on without the interposition of God, as a clock continues to go without the assistance of a clockmaker; is the notion of materialism and fate, and tends, (under the pretense of making God a supramundane intelligence) to exclude providence and God's government in reality out of the world.
Página 140 - ... a work effected in a manner unusual, or different from the common and regular method of Providence, by the interposition either of God himself, or some intelligent agent superior to man, for the proof or evidence of some particular doctrine, or in attestation of the authority of some particular person.
Página 113 - I will here show, how men come to form to themselves the notion of space. They consider that many things exist at once and they observe in them a certain order of co-existence, according to which the relation of one thing to another is more or less simple. This order, is their situation or distance.
Página 48 - Sir Isaac Newton says that space is an organ which God makes use of to perceive things by. But if God stands in need of any organ to perceive things by, it will follow that they do not depend altogether upon Him, nor were produced by Him.
Página 141 - Done in the World, are done either immediately by God himself, or by created Intelligent Beings: Matter being evidently not at all capable of...
Página 49 - ... they are, without the intervention or assistance of any organ or medium whatsoever. In order to make this more intelligible, he illustrates it by a similitude: that as the mind of man, by its immediate presence to the pictures or images of things, form'd in the brain by the means of the organs of sensation, sees those pictures as if they were the things themselves; so God sees all things, by his immediate presence to them...

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