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Discourse on Metaphysics

Strickland, Lloyd (2020) Discourse on Metaphysics. In: Leibniz's Key Philosophical Writings: A Guide. Oxford University Press (OUP), Oxford. ISBN 9780198844983

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Abstract

The “Discourse on Metaphysics” is widely considered to be Leibniz’s most important philosophical work from his so-called middle period. Written early in 1686, when Leibniz was 39 years old, it consolidates a number of philosophical ideas that he had developed and sketched out in the years beforehand in a host of short private essays, fragments, and letters. This essay guides the reader through the key themes of the “Discourse”, such as God’s choice of the best, the nature of substance, final causes, and the relationship between soul and body. The essay concludes with a consideration of what prompted Leibniz to write the “Discourse”; I suggest that the Discourse is likely to have been conceived as an attempt to reach supporters of Descartes and Malebranche, not only to challenge key tenets of their respective philosophies but also to present a viable alternative.

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