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Metaphysics

Leibniz and his Monad -Iris

Born in July 1646, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was German mathematician and philosopher. Since he was young, Leibniz absorbed philosophical and theological influences from his father, a Professor of Moral Philosophy. Welcome to explore the works of his father’s library at the age of seven, he became well-versed in the written philosophy of his time and soon became proficient in the language of Latin. At the age of 15, he had his bachelor’s degree, and a year later, he had his master’s. From the University of Altdorf, Leibniz earned his license to practice law and his Doctorate in Law. A academically successful and likable man, he was soon able to apprentice under a chief minster as well as receive patronage from two nobleman. During this time, he worked with mathematicians Christiaan Huygens and Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, and began to develop his mathematical discoveries that he would continue to write about throughout his life. Throughout his life, Leibniz was a firm believer of God.

Leibniz’s collection of philosophical writing consisted of various short pieces including journals, manuscripts and letters in correspondence. Though somewhat fragmented, he explored seven fundamental philosophical Principles in his writing. His most interesting philosophical idea, however, was the monad, which he wrote about in the Monadologie Leibniz’s Monad is a elementary particle that is eternal, in-decomposable, individual, subject to their own laws, and un-interacting. Most importantly, monads function on a pre-established harmony, following a pre-programmed set of instructions. They are made of no material or spatial character. They also differ from atoms by their complete mutual independence from each other. Each human being constitutes a monad. God, too, is a monad, and the existence of God can be inferred from the harmony prevailing among all other monads.

Leibniz’s monad’s falls under the Neutral Monism category. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind-body_dichotomy

Leibniz’s theory of monads is not widely believed today – if it all, though there are some similarities to what we know now. The monad can be looked at as a kind of fate, or similar to a godly power. Scientifically, the pre-programmed “instructions” of a monad can be seen as analogs of the scientific laws governing subatomic particles.

To me, it seems hard to believe such a thing exists, with all it’s untied ends and blatantly simple answers. It seems to be another thing of blind belief, based more on faith than reason. However, this particle opens up very much to the possibility of the unknown. This monad questions not only our free will, but the reason of our existence, and the meaning of it. Whether or not our existence is actually controlled by these little particles, monads provide a little change to what we believe today.

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Discussion

4 thoughts on “Leibniz and his Monad -Iris

  1. In some ways, even though it is something of an ‘antique’ in the theories-department, the idea of monads does serve some sort of mythical place-holder for mysteries that science more and more figures out in our modern age; but it also reminds me of another similar metaphysical idea (that @drgarcia turned me onto) called the Music of the Spheres.

    Allow Wikipedia:

    “…an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the Sun, Moon, and planets—as a form of musica (the Medieval Latin name for music). This ‘music’ is not usually thought to be literally audible, but a harmonic and/or mathematical and/or religious concept. The idea continued to appeal to thinkers about music until the end of the Renaissance, influencing scholars of many kinds, including humanists.”

    Physicists may one day discover that the universe is vibrating in some sort of unified frequencies that are perceptible to humans; but there is beauty, I think, to a belief in – or maybe at least the yearning for – such grand harmonies, even if in the meantime we do so only out of faith. Isn’t part of this need to discover an underlying order in a chaotic experience similar to the Narrative perspective Jen writes about (https://talonsphilosophy.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/jennifer-tell-your-own-story/), where “you are who you think you are”?

    Interesting theory and philosopher to unearth for us, Iris – thanks!

    Posted by Bryan | October 27, 2012, 12:01 am
  2. Thanks for the comment, Mr J!

    I’ve heard about the “Music of the Spheres” before, I think. I love how it is not thought to be “literally audible” – it throws a graspable understanding into the air, yet still intrigues enough to be pursued.
    It also reminded me of some experiments done by a professor of science at the University of Taiwan on Extrasensory Perception, which is the “reception of information through sensory with the mind” (Wikipedia). Chinese characters were hidden in a non-see-through bag, and children were asked what the characters were. After meditation and some basic training (of which I have no specifics), some of the children were able to consistently see the words. The children were just regular kids off the street that were signed up. I realize the experiment can easily be considered pseudoscience, and I know I have to do more digging online, but there is an interesting idea that arises from it. Whether Leibniz’s monads really exist, or whether humans are really born with a “sixth sense,” perhaps there is something bigger out there than what we, developed, trained, and boxed in, humans can currently accept. But just because we can’t quite see it, doesn’t make it any less real.

    Posted by irishung | October 29, 2012, 7:37 am

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