Volume 15, December 2005
Brandon C. Look
Leibniz and the Shelf of Essence
This paper addresses D. C. Williams’s question, “How can Leibniz know that he is a member of the actual world and not merely a possible monad on the shelf of essence?” A variety of answers are considered. Ultimately, it is argued that no particular perception of a state of affairs in the world can warrant knowledge of one’s actuality, nor can the awareness of any property within oneself; rather, it is the nature of experience itself, with the flow of perceptions, that guarantees our actuality. A consequence of this view is that no non-actual individuals can truly be said to experience their worlds, nor can they ask the question if they are actual or not.