Living Mirrors: Infinity, Unity, and Life in Leibniz's Philosophy

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    This work presents Leibniz’s view of infinity and the central role it plays in his theory of living beings. Chapter 1 introduces Leibniz’s approach to infinity by presenting the central concepts he employs; chapter 2 presents the historical background through Leibniz’s encounters with Galileo and Descartes, exposing a tension between the notions of an infinite number and an infinite being; chapter 3 argues that Leibniz’s solution to this tension, developed through his encounter with Spinoza (ca. 1676), consists of distinguishing between a quantitative and a nonquantitative use of infinity, and an intermediate degree of infinity—a maximum in its kind, which sheds light on Leibniz’s use of infinity as a defining mark of living beings; chapter 4 examines the connection between infinity and unity; chapter 5 presents the development of Leibniz’s views on infinity and life; chapter 6 explores Leibniz’s distinction between artificial and natural machines; chapter 7 focuses on Leibniz’s image of a living mirror, contrasting it with Pascal’s image of a mite; chapter 8 argues that Leibniz understands creatures as infinite and limited, or as infinite in their own kind, in distinction from the absolute infinity of God; chapter 9 argues that Leibniz’s concept of a monad holds at every level of reality; chapter 10 compares Leibniz’s use of life and primitive force. The conclusion presents Leibniz’s program of infusing life into every aspect of nature as an attempt to re-enchant a view of nature left disenchanted by Descartes and Spinoza.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationNew York
    StatePublished - 2019


    • Descartes
    • Spinoza
    • Galileo
    • Pascal
    • infinity
    • unity
    • natural machines
    • monads
    • living mirror
    • force


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