Re-locating my disagreement with Leibniz

Yesterday I found myself trying to explain substance realism and, as should be no surprise by now, I found myself again having to appeal to Leibniz’ thinking to make my own view intelligible. However, since I was thinking about how close I am to Leibniz (having been profoundly moved by that man’s thinking), I thought I should be careful to draw the lines somewhere and make it clear where I am not willing to follow Leibniz. To that end, here’s a brief list of disagreements I have with Leibniz’ philosophy.

  1. Modal Collapse – although he never admitted to it, he also didn’t really defend his view against this inevitable consequence, since if God is a necessary being and his choice to create follows of necessity from his nature, and he must create the best of all possible worlds, then everything is necessary.
  2. There is no best of all possible worlds – the concept is incoherent. This is often referred to by analytic philosophers as Leibniz’ Lapse.
  3. Leibniz thought that any two substances were non-identical if and only if there was at least one predicate which they did not hold in common. However, this means that in the logically possible world where I chose A, I am not identical to the person in a near logically possible world who stood in my situational circumstance (was identical to me) and chose ~A. I would like to think, though, that Aristotle was right about how substances have essential and accidental properties, and I don’t see Leibniz being able to make that distinction coherently (though I could be wrong, perhaps he could appeal to substantial form to do it; I’ll have to think about that avenue).
  4. Leibniz’ view of transubstantiation is not sufficient to satisfy the Catholic Dogma of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, since even though he affirms the transubstantial change of bread/wine into the body blood soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, it isn’t the case, for him, that one smallest piece of bread is the entire body and all the blood and the whole person of Christ. Instead, it’s only juts a ‘part’ of Jesus’ body by reason of the monads in the aggregate belonging to the most clearly perceiving monad ‘Christ’.
  5. While I want to agree with the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles in a qualified sense, I have some doubts about it’s application to mundane senses of identity. For example, I think that I am identical with myself over time, and I am also metaphysically identical with the version of me we can conceive of existing in a near possible world but where, over time, I make at least one libertarian free choice differently. I’m not sure Leibniz can countenance this, since he thinks the identity of a substance is bound up with all of it’s predicates. I think we must find a way to project identity across those logically possible worlds in some sense, so that we must say that there are some predicates which are essential to my identity, and others which are accidental to it. Maybe this isn’t such a big problem though.
  6. Leibniz argued that Mind-Body interactionism (or Mind-Brain interactionism, or substance dualism, etc.) is incoherent. Even if I’m tempted to say I am not a substance dualist, I don’t think substance dualism is incoherent.
  7. Technically, since Leibniz thought no two substances could causally interact (hence why substance-dualism was incoherent to his mind), Leibniz did not believe that there were such things as ’causes’ at all, but believed only that there were sufficient explanations. No two monads, being different substances, could cause any effect in one another, but rather God created each monad with all the properties necessary to make it seem as though it had causal interactions with other monads. One monad has the property of perceiving another monad at time t1, and that other monad has the property of impressing itself at time t1. The monads just have all these perceptions of interacting, which correspond to each other because God has made it thus, but there are no causal interactions. However, for Leibniz obviously God has caused the world to exist, so I wonder if he can really deny all causes (efficient causes). In any case, I do want to say that things have potentialities and that causes really exist (for instance, I accept the principle of causal adequacy that no effect can be greater than it’s cause, and the language I prefer to use to describe causation is the Aristotelian/Thomistic language of actuality and potentiality).
  8. Leibniz denied that Monads could at any time come into existence, but it is a Catholic doctrine that when a man and a woman conceive a child, that person begins to exist at the moment of conception. Not a big problem really. One can just stipulate that and no consequences follow from it for the monadology. Besides, the monadology is clearly B-theoretic, so the difference would really be that instead of having petites perceptions prior to conception, the person would literally have no perceptions at all (i.e., not ‘exist’) prior to the time of conception.
  9. Leibniz was a Lutheran, and so I disagree with both his soteriology and his ecclesiology, and both of those are Theological disagreements.
  10. Leibniz thought that an actually infinite number of things could exist, and I’m not sure if that’s coherent, so I’m also not sure if I would say there exist an infinite number of substances.
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About tylerjourneaux

I am an aspiring Catholic theologian and philosopher, and I have a keen interest in apologetics. I am creating this blog both in order to practice and improve my writing and memory retention as I publish my thoughts, and in order to give evidence of my ability to understand and communicate thoughts on topics pertinent to Theology, Philosophy, philosophical theology, Catholic (Christian) Apologetics, philosophy of religion and textual criticism.
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