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28 February 2006

paragraphs 52-80 from Leibniz' "The Monadology"

Mechanical calculator
invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz,
philosopher and co-discoverer (with Newton)
of the differential and integral calculus.
It works, and is one of the direct
ancestors of the modern digital computer.

The Monadology
by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Written in French, 1714

German translation 1720, Latin 1721
This, by Robert Latta in 1898, is the first English translation.

52. Accordingly, among created things, actions and passions are mutual. For God, comparing two simple substances, finds in each reasons that oblige him to accommodate the other to it, and consequently what is active in certain respects is passive from another point of view; active insofar as what is known distinctly in it serves to explain what happens in another, and passive insofar as the reason for what takes place in it is found in what is distinctly known in another. (sec. 66)

53. Now, as there is an infinity of possible universes in the Ideas of God, and as only one of them can exist, there must be a sufficient reason for God's choice, which determines him toward one rather than another. (secs. 8, 10, 44, 173, 196 sqq., 225, 414-416)

54. And this reason can be found only in the fitness, or the degrees of perfection, that these worlds contain, since each possible thing has the right to claim existence in proportion to the perfection it involves. (secs. 74, 167, 350, 201, 130, 352, 345 sqq., 354)

55. And this is the cause of the existence of the best, which God knows through his wisdom, chooses through his goodness, and produces through his power. (secs. 8, 78, 80, 84, 119, 204, 206, 208; Summary, Objs. 1, 8)

56. Now this connection or accommodation of all created things to each and of each to all the others, means that each simple substance has relations that express all the others, and, consequently, that it is a perpetual living mirror of the universe. (sec. 130, 360.)

57. And just as the same town looked at from different sides appears completely different, and as if multiplied in perspective, so through the infinite multitude of simple substances, it is as if there were so many different universes, which nevertheless are only perspectives on a single universe, according to the different point of view of each monad. (sec. 147)

58. And by this means there is obtained as much variety as possible, along with the greatest possible order; that is, it is the means of obtaining as much perfection as possible. (secs. 120, 124, 241 sqq., 214, 243, 275)

59. Besides, only this hypothesis (which I venture to call demonstrated) suitably exalts the greatness of God; and this Monsieur Bayle recognized when, in his Dictionary (article 'Rorarius'), he raised objections to it, in which he was inclined even to think that I was attributing too much to God?more than it is possible to attribute. But he was unable to explain why this universal harmony, according to which every substance exactly expresses every other through the relations it has with them, was impossible.

60. Further, one sees in what I have just said the a priori reasons why things could not be otherwise than they are. For God in regulating the whole has had regard for each part, and in particular for each monad, whose nature being representative, nothing can limit it to representing only a part of things, although it is true that this representation is only confused as regards the detail of the entire universe, and can be distinct only as regards a small part of things, namely, those that are either nearest or greatest in relation to each of the monads; otherwise each monad would be a divinity. It is not in their object, but in the mode of their knowledge of the object, that monads are limited. They all move confusedly toward the infinite, the whole; but they are limited and distinguished through the degrees of their distinct perceptions.

61. And composites agree in this respect with simple substances. For all is a plenum (and thus all matter is connected) and in the plenum every motion has some effect upon distant bodies in proportion to their distance, so that each body not only is affected by those which are in contact with it and in some way feels the effect of everything that happens to them, but also is indirectly affected by bodies touching those with which it is in immediate contact. It follows that this communication extends to any distance, however great. And consequently every body feels the effect of all that takes place in the universe, so that one who sees all could read in each what is happening everywhere, and even what has happened or will happen, observing in the present that which is far off in time as well as in place: sympnoia panta, as Hippocrates said. But a soul can read in itself only what is represented there distinctly; it cannot unpack all at once all its implications, for they extend to infinity.

62. Thus, although each created monad represents the whole universe, it represents more distinctly the body which is specially assigned to it, and of which it is the entelechy; and as this body expresses the whole universe through the connection of all matter in the plenum, the soul also represents the whole universe by representing this body, which belongs to it in a particular way. (sec. 400)

63. The body belonging to a monad, which is its entelechy or soul, constitutes with the entelechy what can be called a living thing, and with the soul what is called an animal. Now this body of a living thing, or animal, is always organic; for as every monad is, in its own way, a mirror of the universe, and as the universe is regulated according to a perfect order, there must also be an order in that which represents it, i.e., in the perceptions of the soul, and consequently in the body, according to which the universe is represented in the soul. (sec. 403)

64. Thus the organic body of each living thing is a kind of divine machine or natural automaton, which infinitely surpasses all artificial automata. For a machine made by human art is not a machine in each of its parts. For instance, the tooth of a brass wheel has parts or fragments which for us are no longer artificial things, and which have nothing to indicate the machine in relation to which the wheel was intended to be used. But machines of nature, that is, living bodies, are still machines in their smallest parts, to infinity. It is this which constitutes the difference between nature and art, that is, between divine art and ours. (secs. 134, 146, 194, 403)

65. And the Author of nature has been able to practice this divine and infinitely marvelous art, because each portion of matter is not only infinitely divisible, as the ancients recognized, but also actually subdivided without end, each part into parts, of which each has some motion of its own; otherwise it would be impossible for each portion of matter to express the whole universe. (Prelim. Disc., sec. 70; sec. 195.)

66. From this we see that there is a world of creatures, living things, animals, entelechies, souls in the smallest portion of matter.

67. Each portion of matter can be conceived as a garden full of plants, and as a pond full of fishes. But each branch of a plant, each member of an animal, each drop of its humors is also such a garden or such a pond.

68. And although the earth and the air which are between the plants of the garden, or the water which is between the fish of the pond, are neither plants nor fish, yet they also contain plants and fishes, but most often so minute as to be imperceptible to us.

69. Thus there is nothing fallow, nothing sterile, nothing dead in the universe, no chaos, no confusion save in appearance, somewhat as might it appear in a pond at a distance, in which one would see a confused movement and, as it were, a swarming of fish in the pond, without separately distinguishing the fish themselves. (Pref. [GP V 40, 44])

70. Hence we see that each living body has a dominant entelechy, which in an animal is the soul; but the members of this living body are full of other living things, plants, animals, each of which also has its entelechy, or its dominant soul.

71. But it must not be imagined, as has been done by some who have misunderstood my thought, that each soul has a mass or portion of matter belonging exclusively to itself or assigned to it forever, and that it consequently possesses other inferior living things, destined to serve it forever. For all bodies are in a perpetual flux like rivers, and parts enter them and leave them continually.

72. Thus the soul changes its body only little by little, and by degrees, so that it is never deprived at once of all its organs; and there is often metamorphosis in animals, but never metempsychosis or transmigration of souls; nor are there entirely separated souls or spirits without bodies. God alone is completely without body. (secs. 90, 124.)

73. It also follows from this that there is never absolute generation nor, strictly speaking, complete death, involving the separation of the soul. What we call generations are developments and growths; what we call deaths are envelopments and diminutions.

74. Philosophers have been much perplexed about the origin of forms, entelechies, or souls; but today when it has become known through careful studies of plants, insects, and animals that the organic bodies of nature are never products of chaos or putrefaction, but always come from seeds, in which there was undoubtedly some preformation, it is judged that not only was the organic body already there before conception, but also a soul in this body, and, in short, the animal itself; and that through conception this animal has merely been prepared for a great transformation, in order to become an animal of another kind. Something like this is seen even apart from generation, as when worms become flies and caterpillars become butterflies. (secs. 86, 89; Pref. [GP V 40ff]; secs. 90, 187, 188, 403, 86, 397)

75. Those animals of which some are raised by means of conception to the rank of larger animals may be called spermatic; but those among them which remain in their own kind (that is, the majority) are born, multiply, and are destroyed like the large animals, and it is only a few elect that pass to a greater theater.

76. But this was only half the truth: I judged, therefore, that if the animal never begins naturally, it no more ends naturally, and that not only will there be no generation, but also no complete destruction or death in the strict sense. And these a posteriori reasonings, drawn from experience, agree perfectly with my a priori principles, as deduced above. (sec. 90)

77. Thus it may be said that not only is the soul (mirror of an indestructible universe) indestructible, but also the animal itself, even though its machine may often perish in part and cast off or put on organic coverings.

78. These principles have given me a way of explaining naturally the union or rather the conformity of the soul and the organic body. The soul follows its own laws, and the body likewise follows its own laws; and they agree with each other in virtue of the harmony preestablished among substances, since they are all representations of the same universe. (Pref. [GP V 39]; secs. 340, 352, 353, 358)

79. Souls act according to the laws of final causes through appetitions, ends and means. Bodies act according to the laws of efficient causes or motions. And the two kingdoms, that of efficient causes and that of final causes, are in harmony with one another.

80. Descartes recognized that souls cannot impart any force to bodies, because there is always the same quantity of force in matter. Nevertheless he believed that the soul could change the direction of bodies. But this is because in his time it was not known that there is a law of nature which affirms also the conservation of the same total direction in matter. Had Descartes noticed this he would have come upon my system of preestablished harmony. (Pref. [GP V 44]; secs. 22, 59, 60, 61, 63, 66, 345, 346 sqq., 354, 355)


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