Volume 76, Issue 4, Fall 2002
Leibniz, Bayle, and Locke on Faith and Reason
This paper illuminates Leibniz’s conception of faith and its relationship to reason. Given Leibniz’s commitment to natural religion, we might expect his view of faith to be deflationary. We show, however, that Leibniz’s conception of faith involves a significant non-rational element. We approach the issue by considering the way in which Leibniz positions himself between the views of two of his contemporaries, Bayle and Locke. Unlike Bayle, but like Locke, Leibniz argues that reason and faith are in conformity. Nevertheless, in contrast to the account that he finds in Locke’s Essay, Leibniz does not reduce faith to a species of reasonable belief. Instead, he insists that, while faith must be grounded in reason, true or divine faith also requires a supernatural infusion of grace.