From the beginning of Leibniz's dynamics, his program for a science of force, there was a metaphysics of body. When the program first emerged in the late 1670s, Leibniz argued that his science of force entailed the reestablishment of substantial form. But in the same period, Leibniz's interest in genuine unities as the ultimate constituents of the world led him to posit a world of corporeal substances, bodies made one by virtue of a substantial form. In this way, by the early 1680s, there seemed to be two convergent paths to a single metaphysics: the revival of substantial form. Over the succeeding years, both of these metaphysics evolved. By the mid-1690s, to substantial form, understood as active force, the dynamical metaphysics added materia prima, understood as passive force. Meanwhile unities that ground the world evolved from corporeal substances to monads, now considered non-extended, mindlike, and the ultimate constituents of things. When this happened, I argue, it was no longer obvious that these two metaphysical pictures were still consistent with one another: the dynamical metaphysics, grounded in force, and the metaphysics of unity, now understood in terms of monads, seemed increasingly to be in tension with one another.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- History and Philosophy of Science
- materia prima
- substantial form