Presentation of the Texts Relevant for the Concept of ananima mundi. The Immediate Natural Theological Setting of the Problem
Our analysis of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s (1646–1716) position on the world soul will be restricted here to his mature views, as they are expounded in three texts, in which he is explicitly confronted with, and either rejects or just tolerates the theory of an anima mundi or ame du monde:the short manuscript note God is Not the Soul of the World (Deum non esse mundi animam, of appr. 1683–1686); the better known Nature Itself, or, The Inherent Force and Activity of Created Things (De ipsa natura, sive de vi insita actionibusque creaturarum, published in the Acta eruditorum, Leipzig 1698, as a contribution to the philosophical debate on the concept of ‘nature’ between Altdorf professor J. Ch. Sturm and chief physician of the city of Kiel and professor of medicine G. Ch. Schelhammer);2 the lesser cited Considerations of the Doctrine of a Unique Universal Spirit (Considerations sur la doctrine d’un Esprit Universel Unique, a manuscript of 1702). We have chosen these texts because, together, they present Leibniz’s most important, mature arguments against the soul of the world theory in the context of his natural as well as moral philosophy. In fact, however, he had dealt much more with this theory, which attracted his philosophical interest from his earlier years till the very end of his life. Probably the last, unfavourable mentions of the Ame du Monde theory are found in his famous 1715–1716 debate by correspondence with Samuel Clarke concerning space as the sensorium of God (cf.Section 9 of Chapter 6).