Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 36, 2011

John Whipple
Pages 1-30

Continual Creation and Finite Substance in Leibniz’s Metaphysics

This paper examines Leibniz’s views on the theistic doctrine of continual creation and considers their implications for his theory of finite substance. Three main theses are defended: (1) that Leibniz takes the traditional account of continual creation to involve the literal re-creation of all things in a successive series of instantaneous states, (2) that a straightforward commitment to the traditional account would give rise to serious problems within Leibniz’s theory of finite substance and his metaphysics more generally, and (3) that Leibniz does not straightforwardly affirm the continual creation doctrine, despite certain texts that initially seem to suggest otherwise. I also present a more speculative interpretive hypothesis about what Leibniz’s considered view of creation might have been, namely that in a single act, God creates and conserves substances that are non-spatial and atemporal at the deepest level of reality.