Volume 17, December 2007
Why Shouldn’t Leibniz Have Studied Spinoza?
The Rise of the Claim of Continuity in Leibniz’ Philosophy out of the Ideological Rejection of Spinoza’s Impact on Leibniz
In light of the growing interest in the relation between Leibniz and Spinoza in recent years, I would like to draw attention to earlier discussions of this topic in Germany and France during the 19th century. Stein and Erdmann argued that Spinoza had an impact on Leibniz. According to their critics Guhrauer, Trendelenburg and Gerhardt in Germany, as well as Foucher de Careil in France, Leibniz studied Spinoza only after the main points of his system were already developed. I will show that the well known thesis about the amazing continuity in Leibniz’ thinking is due to this claim of a general chronological impossibility of any impact of Spinoza on Leibniz. This thesis was then canonized in Mahnke’s book about the young Leibniz and has determined the view of Leibniz since the end of the 19th century. It has only in recent years come to be increasingly challenged.