Phil 753 Home

CLASSES: T 11:30-14:30 UH 316 OFFICE HOURS: T 15:00-16:00

INSTRUCTOR: Richard T. W. Arthur rarthur at mcmaster dot ca OFFICE: UH 305; ext. 23470.

About the Course

In this course we will be exploring Leibniz's philosophy, taking as our starting point his claim that heintroduced his 'monads' in order to resolve the problem of the composition of the continuum. This is the premise of myMonads, Composition and Force: Ariadnean Threads through Leibniz’s Labyrinth, forthcoming with Oxford University Press, our main secondary source, to be made available on Avenue. Through this text and appropriate primary texts, we will be studying Leibniz's views on the composition of matter, atoms, substance, forms, force, and the infinite.We will also be looking at rival interpretations of his metaphysics in articles by other leading Leibniz scholars, such as Garber, Rutherford, Phemister and Levey.

We will begin with an overview of Leibniz's extremely wide-ranging thought, using my Leibniz (Polity Press, 2014), which assumes no prior knowledge of his thought (Leibniz seems to be embarrassingly absent from undergraduate curricula, which is odd given the high esteem he was held in by thinkers as various as Diderot, Cantor, Russell, Feuerbach, Weyl, Whitehead, Borges and Deleuze). This book situates his thought in its historical context, as well as exploring its contemporary relevance. Using it we will also study other aspects of Leibniz's thought, such as his views on language, logic, free will, theology, space and time, and much besides.

Since Leibniz wrote no single magnum opus, we will be reading from a selection of his writings. The Ariew and Garber volume gives a good selection. For other early texts we have the writings I compiled forLeibniz: the Labyrinth of the Continuum(Yale UP, 2001), texts from which will be made available online.

Richard T. W. Arthur 2014