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The Leibniz Review

Volume 22, December 2012

Irena Backus
Pages 67-96

The Mature Leibniz on Predestination

This essay investigates how Leibniz and Daniel Ernst Jablonski handled the ironing out of intra-protestant religious differences, notably on predestination in the years ca. 1697-1702. I shall be focusing on the recently published union document between the Lutherans of Hanover and the Calvinists of Brandenburg, entitled the Unvorgreiffliches Bedencken (hereafter UB) and on the equally recently published and hitherto practically unknown Meditationes pacatae de praedestinatione et gratia, fato et libero arbitrio of 1701-ca. 1706 2. This is a series of Leibniz’s annotations on Jablonski’s Latin translation of article 17 (predestination) of the bishop of Salisbury, Gilbert Burnet’s Exposition of the 39 Articles of the Church of England. I shall try to show how the issue of predestination is handled in the UB by Leibniz and how his notes on the Meditationes complement and modify Jablonski’s Latin edition of the 17th article of Burnet’s Exposition the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England. This will enable us to isolate the set of theological problems faced by the Lutheran and Calvinist participants in the negotium irenicum of 1697 -1702 and to point to the specific nature of the solutions proposed by Leibniz which were philosophical rather than theological. The underlying issue here is that of coexistence of philosophy and theology in Leibniz’s system. Indeed, one of the persistent questions about this philosopher concerns the exact relationship between his metaphysics (including physics and mathematics) and his theological views: which determined which? I hope to take the debate further here by analysing Leibniz’s contribution to the specifically theological issue of predestination, which, it will emerge, has direct bearing on Leibniz’s Essais de théodicée of 1710.

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