The Rationalism Of Descartes And Leibniz Essay — страница 3

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parts separately, and so placed that they do not see or even hear one another…nevertheless [they] keep perfect together, by each following their own notes, in such a way that he who hears them all finds in them a harmony that is wonderful, and much more surprising than if there had been any connection between them.” Different monads have greater or less ability to see what’s going on around them. Those monads with the most ability to think and perceive are human souls. All monads, reflect the world, they are “windowless”. In his philosophy, each monad seems to be like a point of view for seeing everything, and everything is actually made up of an infinite number of different points of view. Leibniz believed that the world has infinite variety. At the same time,

everything is connected, not only in fact, but logically too, in that it all makes sense together. Leibniz said that if people (or monads) had infinite minds like God, we would be able to understand everything in its infinite variety just by looking at one individual thing. Nevertheless, we don’t have infinite minds and can only understand certain things about the world. Only God can see the big picture. This means that things that may seem accidental to us are still part of God’s plan. This way of looking at things means that there is no real difference between innate and acquired characteristics. What happens to you is just as much a part of you as what you already are. The difference is in how people see things. Different things might happen to you in another possible

world, but that world would not be as good as this one. Leibniz said that God chose to make the world be the way it is because this world is “the best of all possible worlds.” According to Leibniz, a better world could not possibly have existed. Leibniz’s ideas about what makes for the best possible world are based on mathematical ideas. As a mathematician, Leibniz looked for the simplest explanations that would account for the greatest number of numerical relationships. And as a philosopher, he believed God set up the world so that the simplest reasons would account for the most variety. Like Descartes, Leibniz didn’t leave much room in his world for free will. Leibniz believed that everything that happens is a result of what already exists. In turn, what exists depends

on God. Because God might have caused things to be different, there is a certain amount of free play in Leibniz’s system. The facts might have been different, but logically it must make the best sense for them to be the way they are. The dualism of their rationalist philosophies made a neat separation between physical and metaphysical reality. An important result of this separation was that it allowed philosophers and scientists to study the natural world without having to worry about supernatural questions. In fact since their time, many philosophers have argued that we should stop asking metaphysical questions. While the contributions of Descartes and Leibnitz created a new path for the philosophers to come, their philosophies have not escaped the criticisms and arguments of

others. The empiricists main complaint was that the rationalists had no hard evidence for their theories. One opposing view which was held by Hume is that no investigation could reveal an immaterial, indivisible, imperishable soul-substance. He writes, “When I enter intimately upon what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception of pain or pleasure. I never catch myself, at any time, without a perception, and never can observe anything but the perception.” The rationalists seemed to have no problem with an illogical leap of faith. It was needed to continue the journey. Since the philosophies of Descartes and Leibniz were built around this idea of an immaterial, indivisible God, the philosophy that followed seemed to many to be shaky and speculative by their

own definition. But considering the time period and the pressure involved in philosophizing at all, we must admire and respect the great advancement in thinking that was prompted by these great men. Mates, B. The Philosophy of Leibniz. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986. Descartes, Rene. The Philosophical Writings, tr. John Cottingham and Dugald Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Bricke, John. Hume’s Philosophy of Mind. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980. Matson, Wallace. A New History of Philosophy. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1987.