Advertisement

Space, Imagination and the Cosmos in the Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence

  • Carla Rita PalmerinoEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 48)

Abstract

The famous correspondence between Leibniz and Clarke deals with fundamental physical and metaphysical questions, such as the soul-body interaction, the freedom of will, the composition of matter, the possibility of a vacuum, miracles, gravity, and the nature of space and time. With respect to most of these issues the disagreement between Leibniz and Clarke results from their conflicting views on God’s role in the world. While Clarke blames Leibniz for turning God into a necessary agent, Leibniz accuses Clarke of having a wrong notion of God’s power and wisdom. The aim of this chapter is to show how theological, metaphysical and cosmological considerations shape Leibniz’ and Clarke’s respective theories of space. In his letters, Leibniz repeatedly invokes the Principle of Sufficient Reason and the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles in order to argue, against Newton and Clarke, that space cannot exist independently from, and prior to, physical bodies. Clarke, in turn, appeals to imaginary scenarios of medieval origin in order to show that the metaphysical principles that underlie Leibniz’s theory of space imply a limitation of God’s freedom. The chapter analyses in detail the role that imaginary scenarios play in the discussion concerning the ontological status of space, and attempts to provide a new interpretation of the function of the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles in the Correspondence.

References

  1. Alexander, Robert Gavin, ed. 1956. The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence, With Extracts from Newton’s Principia and Opticks. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Arthur, Richard. 1994. Space and Relativity in Newton and Leibniz. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45: 219–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. ———. 2001. Leibniz on Infinite Number, Infinite Wholes, and the Whole World: A Reply to Gregory Brown. The Leibniz Review 11: 103–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. ———. 2017. Thought Experiments in Newton and Leibniz. In The Routledge Companion to Thought Experiments, ed. Michael T. Stuart, Yiftach Fehige, and James Robert Brown, 111–127. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown, Gregory. 2016. Leibniz on the Possibility of a Spatial Vacuum, the Connectedness Condition on Possible Worlds, and Miracles. In Leibniz on Compossibility and Possible Worlds, ed. Gregory Brown and Yual Chiek, 201–226. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chernoff, Fred. 1981. Leibniz’s Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles. The Philosophical Quarterly 31: 126–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke, Samuel. 1998. A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God. And Other Writings, ed. Ezio Vailati. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cook, John W. 1979. A Reappraisal of Leibniz’s Views on Space, Time, and Motion. Philosophical Investigations 2: 22–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dainton, Barry. 2010. Time and Space. 2nd ed. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Futch, Michael J. 2008. Leibniz’s Metaphysics of Time and Space. Dordrecht/Boston: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Grant, Edward. 1976. Place and Space in Medieval Physical Thought. In Motion and Time, Space and Matter, ed. Peter K. Machamer and Robert G. Turnbull, 136–166. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 1979. The Condemnation of 1277, God’s Absolute Power, and Physical Thought in the Late Middle Ages. Viator 10: 211–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. 1981. Much Ado about Nothing: Theories of Space and Vacuum from the Middle Ages to the Scientific Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. ———. 1996. The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ierodiakonou, Katarina. 2011. Remarks on the History of an Ancient Thought Experiment. In Thought Experiments in Methodological and Historical Contexts, ed. Katarina Ierodiakonou and Sophie Roux, 37–49. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  16. Jolley, Nicholas. 2005. Leibniz. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Khamara, Edward J. 2006. Space, Time and Theology in the Leibniz-Newton Controversy. Frankfurt: Ontos.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. 1875–1890. Die philosophischen Schriften, ed. Carl Immanuel Gerhardt, 7 vols. Berlin: Weidmann.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 1989. Discourse on Metaphysics. In Philosophical Essays, eds. and trans. Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber. 35–68. Indianapolis: Hackett.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 1996. New Essays on Human Understanding, eds. and transl. Peter Remnant and Jonathan Bennett. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Lin, Martin. 2016. Leibniz on the Modal Status of Absolute Space and Time. Noûs 50: 447–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Locke, John. 1975. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter Nidditch. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  23. Newton, Isaac. 1999. The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, ed. and trans. I. Bernard Cohen and Anne Whitman. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Rescher, Nicholas. 1967. The Philosophy of Leibniz. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  25. Rickles, Dean. 2008. Symmetry, Structure, and Spacetime. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  26. Rodriguez-Pereyra, Gonzalo. 2014. Leibniz’s Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shapin, Steven. 1981. Of Gods and Kings: Natural Philosophy and Politics in the Leibniz-Clarke Disputes. Isis 72 (2): 187–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Soles, David, and Katherine Bradfield. 2001. Some Remarks on Locke’s Use of Thought Experiments. Locke Studies 1: 41–61.Google Scholar
  29. Suarez, Francisco. 1597. Metaphysicarum disputationum, in quibus et universa naturalis theologia ordinate traditur, et quaestiones omnes ad duodecim Aristotelis libros pertinentes accurate disputantur tomus prior. Salamanca: Renaut.Google Scholar
  30. Vailati, Ezio. 1997. Leibniz and Clarke: A Study of Their Correspondence. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Van Atten, Marc. 2011. A Note on Leibniz’s Argument against Infinite Wholes. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19: 121–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the History of Philosophy and ScienceRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations