Syllabus (in process)

Ariadnean Threads can be found on Avenue.

Week 1                Sept 5             Introduction and overview

Week 2                Sept 12          First Thoughts: Language and Logic

Reading:              Letter to Foucher [1675] (AG 1-5); Preface, & Samples of the Universal Characteristic (AG 5-18); “Meditations on Knowledge, Truth and Ideas” (AG 23-27; Bennett-leibniz1684.pdf); New Essays, Book 3 (Bennett-leibniz1705book3.pdf)

                             Arthur, Leibniz, 1. Introduction (online).

                             Arthur, Leibniz, 2. Logic, Language and the Encyclopedia Project (online).

                             Samuel Levey, "Logical Theory in Leibniz (2011)" (online).

Week 3               Sept 19          Mathematics, Contingency, and Moral Philosophy

Reading:             From “The Theory of Abstract Motion” [1671] (LoC 339-343; online); “On Minimum and Maximum” [1672-3] (LLC 9-19; online); "On Freedom and Possibility" [1680-84] (AG 19-23; Bennett-leibniz-1680.pdf); "On Contingency" [1689] (AG 28-30; Bennett-leibniz1686b.pdf); “The Source of Contingent Truths” (AG 98-101); “On Freedom” (AG 94-98); “Dialogue on Human Freedom” (AG 111-117); Letter to Coste [1707] (AG 193-95).

                             Arthur, Leibniz, 4. Mathematical Philosophy.

                             Arthur, Leibniz, 8. Morals and Politics.                      

Week 4               Sept 26           Natural Philosophy, Spinoza and the Reform of Metaphysics

Reading:            Bennett-leibniz1695a);  “On Spinoza’s Ethics; and on the Infinite” [Feb 1676] (LLC 41; online); “Annotated Excerpts from Spinoza” [April 1676] (LLC 101-117; online);  Letters to Arnauld [1686-87] (AG 69-90); "Primary Truths" [1689] (AG 30-34); "Discourse on Metaphysics" [1686] (AG 35-68); “Comments on Spinoza’s Philosophy” (AG 272-281).

                             Arthur, Leibniz, 3. Natural Philosophy.

                             Arthur, Leibniz, 5. The Reform of Metaphysics.

                             Ohad Nachtomy, “A Tale of Two Thinkers” (online).


Week 5               Oct 3            Dynamics; Philosophy of Space and Time

Reading:             “Space and Motion are Really Relations” [1677?], (LLC 224; online); “On Time, Place, Duration and Space” [c. 1686?] (LLC 334; online); “On Copernicanism and the Relativity of Motion” [1689] (AG 90-94); “Absolute and Relative Motion, from Letters to Huygens” [1694] (AG 307-09); “On Planetary Theory”  [1690] (AG 309-12); “Against Barbaric Physics” [1710] (AG 312-20); Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence [1715-16] (AG 320-347). 

                            Arthur, Leibniz, 6. Dynamics.        

                            Arthur, Leibniz, 7. Philosophy of Space and Time


Midterm Break                  Oct 9-15 

Week 6              Oct 17          On  the Composition of Matter (intro, ch 1)

 Reading:           “On Primary Matter” [1670-1] (LLC 343-44) and “A Hypothesis of the System of the World” [1671] (LLC 344-5; both online here); “On the Secrets of the Sublime” [February 1676] (LLC 45-53; online); "On the Plenitude of the World” [1676] (LLC 59-63; online); “On Body, Space and the Continuum” [1676] (LLC 117-123; online); .

                            Arthur, Monads, Composition and Force (MCF)1. Composition and division (on Avenue).


Week 7            Oct 24       Leibniz on Aggregation and Constitution

Reading:              “Metaphysical Definitions…” [1678-81] (LLC 236-257; online); ; “There is no such thing as One Body” [c. 1678-9?]  (LLC 257-8; online); “Created Things are Actually Infinite” [1678-81] (LLC 234; online); “A Body is not a Substance” [1678-9?] (LLC 259-261; online); Letter to the Electress Sophie [1705] (online); .

                             Arthur, MCF2. Aggregation, body and substance (on Avenue).

                             Donald Rutherford, “Leibniz’s ‘Analysis of Multitude and Phenomena into Unities and Reality’”, J. Hist. Phil. 28: 4, 1990 (available through the library's e-resources).


Week 8                Oct 31        Leibniz on Atoms and Substance

Reading:              “Wonders Concerning the Nature of Corporeal Substance” [March 1683] (LLC 263-265; online); “Annotated Excerpts from Cordemoy” [1685] (LLC 275-283; online); "New System of Nature” (AG 138-145; Bennett-Leibniz1695c).

                              Arthur, MCF, 3. Atoms and Souls (on Avenue).

                              Andreas Blank, “Sennert and Leibniz on Animate Atoms” (online).

Week  9               Nov 7        Leibniz's Rehabilitation of Forms

Reading:              “Discourse on Metaphysics” [1686] (AG 35-68; Bennett-leibniz1686d); “A Specimen of Discoveries” [c. 1689] (online).; "New System of Nature” (AG 138-145; Bennett-Leibniz1695c). 

                               Arthur, MCF, 4. Forms and the Scholastic tradition (on Avenue).


Week 10                Nov 14        Leibniz's Metaphysics of Motion

Reading:                “On Motion and Matter” [April 1676], (LLC 75-83; online; “Pacidius to Philalethes: A First Philosophy of Motion” [1678-81] (LLC 127-221; online); “Motion is Something relative” [1677] (LLC 228; online); “Motion is not Something Absolute” [1687?] (LLC 352; online); "Notes on Foucher's Objections" [1695] ( (AG 145-47).

                                 Arthur, MCF, 5. Motion, relativity and force (on Avenue).

                                 Samuel Levey, “The Interval of Motion in Leibniz’s Pacidius Philalethi,” Noûs 37 (2003), 371-416. (online).


Week  11                Nov 21       Corporeal substance; dynamics

Reading:                  “A Specimen of Dynamics” [1694] (Bennett-Leib1695b);  "On Nature Itself" (AG 155-67; Letters to de Volder [1699-1706] (AG 171-86); "On the Nature of Body and the Laws of Motion" [1678-82] (AG 245-250); “On Body and Force, Against the Cartesians” [1702] (AG 250-256).

                                Arthur, Leibniz, 6. Dynamics.

                                Arthur, MCF, 6. Passive force and corporeal substance (on Avenue); §§1-2 only.

                                Donald Rutherford, “Leibniz as Idealist”, Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy IV, ch. 5, 2008 (online).

                                Pauline Phemister, “Corporeal Substances and the ‘Discourse on Metaphysics’”, Studia Leibnitiana , XXXIII/1, (2001), 66-83 (online). 

Week  12                Nov 28       Continuity of existence through time

Reading:                 "There is no Perfect Shape in Bodies"[1697] (online);  "On the Ultimate Origination of Things" [1697] (AG 149-155);     “Metaphysical Foundations of Mathematical Things” [1714] (online); 

                                 Arthur, MCF, 7. Continuous existence (on Avenue).

                                 Arthur, Leibniz, 7. Space and Time.

                                 Jan Cover, “Non-Basic Time and Reductive Strategies: Leibniz’s Theory of Time”. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 28, 2 (1997), 289-318. Available from library.

Week 13            Dec 5         Leibniz’s Mature Metaphysics & Posterity

Reading:                  Letters to Des Bosses [1712-16] (AG 197-206); on Berkeley (AG 306-07); Letter to Queen Sophie Charlotte [1702] (AG 186-92); Letters to Countess Elisabeth and to Molanus [1678, 1679?] (AG 235-45); "The Monadology” [1714] (AG 213-25).

                                Brandon Look and Don Rutherford, “Introduction", sections 1, 6-9, The Leibniz-Des Bosses Correspondence (online).

                                Arthur, MCF, §6.3 + Conclusion (on Avenue).

                                Arthur, Leibniz, 9. Leibnizian Posterity.

© Richard T. W. Arthur 2014