Volume 21, December 2011
The Non-Aristotelian Novelty of Leibniz’s Teleology
My aim in this paper is to underscore the novelty of Leibniz’s teleology from a historical perspective. I believe this perspective helps deliver a better understanding of the finer details of Leibniz’s employment of final causes. I argue in this paper that Leibniz was taking a stance on three central teleological issues that derive from Aristotle, issues that seem to have occupied nearly every advocate of final causes from Aristotle to Leibniz. I discuss the three Aristotelian issues, and how major thinkers treated them in the medieval period. I argue that Leibniz rejected all of the mainstream Aristotelian teleological views on these issues. I conclude that Leibniz broke with longstanding threads of teleological thinking in ways that were often extreme.