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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 76, Issue 4, Fall 2002


Maria Rosa Antognazza
Pages 601-622

Leibniz and Religious Toleration
The Correspondence with Paul Pellisson-Fontanier

As one might expect, throughout his life Leibniz assumed an attitude of religious toleration both ad intra (that is, toward Christians of other confessions) and ad extra (that is, toward non-Christians, notably Muslims). The aim of this paper is to uncover the philosophical and theological foundations of Leibniz’s views on this subject. Focusing in particular on his epistolary exchange with the French Catholic convert Paul Pellisson-Fontanier, I argue that neither toleration ad intra nor toleration ad extra is grounded for Leibniz in indifference toward the content of revealed religion. On the contrary, Leibniz remained convinced of the objective truth of the Christian religion as it is handed down by the millennia-old tradition of the truly universal church. In his view, reasons internal to the very nature of salvation and to the conception of God and man explicitly contained in or, at least, in accord with this tradition present religious toleration as the only justifiable answer to the differences among religions.

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