Volume 84, Issue 3, Summer 2010
Leibniz’s Philosophy of Purgatory
As a lifelong Lutheran who resisted numerous attempts by Catholic acquaintances to convert him, one might reasonably expect Leibniz to have followed
the orthodox Lutheran line on disputed doctrinal issues, and thus held amongst other things that the doctrine of purgatory was false. Yet there is strong evidence
that Leibniz personally accepted the doctrine of purgatory. After examining this evidence, I determine how Leibniz sought to justify his endorsement of purgatory
and explain how his endorsement sits alongside his frequent rehearsal of familiar Protestant arguments against the doctrine. I then examine some of Leibniz’s other theological and philosophical commitments, including those on the afterlife, in order to tentatively tease out further details of the form of purgatory that won
his approval. In considering these issues, I aim to make clear the extent to which Leibniz’s philosophical thinking underpins and shapes his theological beliefs.