Leibniz Body, Substance, Monad

Research output: Book/ReportBook

219 Scopus citations


This book studies Leibniz's conception of the physical world. Leibniz's commentators usually begin with monads, mind-like simple substances, the ultimate building-blocks of the Monadology. But Leibniz's apparently idealist metaphysics is very puzzling: how can any sensible person think that the world is made up of tiny minds? This book tries to make Leibniz's thought intelligible by focusing instead on his notion of body. Beginning with Leibniz's earliest writings, it shows how Leibniz starts with a robust sense of the physical world, and how, step by step, he advances to the monadological metaphysics of his later years. Much of the book's focus is on Leibniz's middle years, where the fundamental constituents of the world are corporeal substances, unities of matter, and form understood on the model of animals. It is argued that monads only enter fairly late in Leibniz's career, and when they enter, the book argues, they do not displace bodies but complement them. In the end, though, it is argued that Leibniz never works out the relation between the world of monads and the world of bodies to his own satisfaction: at the time of his death, his philosophy is still a work in progress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages464
ISBN (Electronic)9780191722035
ISBN (Print)9780199566648
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Idealism
  • Leibniz
  • Monadological Metaphysics
  • Monadology
  • Notion Of Body
  • Physical World


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