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The Leibniz Review

Volume 24, December 2014

Patrick Riley
Pages 1-27
DOI: 10.5840/leibniz2014242

Leibniz’ “Monadologie” 1714-2014

It is well-known that Leibniz ends and crowns the 1714 “Monadologie” with a version of his notion of jurisprudence universelle or “justice as the charity [love] of the wise:” for sections 83-90 of the Vienna manuscript claim that “the totality of all spirits must compose the City of God . . . this perfect government . . . the most perfect state that is possible . . . this truly universal monarchy [which is] a moral world in the natural world”—a moral world of iustitia in which “no good action would be unrewarded” for those “citizens” who “find pleasure . . . in the contemplation of [God’s] perfections, as is the way of genuine ‘pure love.’” But the opening four-fifths of the work offer Leibniz’ theory of “substance” (or monad) viewed as the necessary pre-condition of justice: for “on the knowledge of substance, and in the consequence of the soul, depends the knowledge of virtue and of justice” (to Pierre Coste, 1712). Thus without a complete and correct notion of substance/monad, no complete and correct notion commune de la justice would be conceivable. Hence the entire “Monadologie” can be understood as a theory of justice underpinned by a Grundlegung of moral “monads” or justice-loving rational “substances.” In this connection it is revelatory that Leibniz cites the relevant sections of the 1710 Théodicée in most of the 90 articles of the “Monadologie” (beginning indeed with article #1): for Théodicée (theos-dike) is (Leibniz says) “the justice of God,” and Leibniz makes that justice “appear” in the opening lines of the “Monadologie” (in effect) by referring the reader immediately to Théodicée #10 (“Preliminary Dissertation”) —which relates “im­mortal spirits” to a just God who is cherished through “genuine pure love.” This means that “the justice of God” as “higher love” colors the “Monadologie” instantly. Thus one need not “wait” for sections 83-90 to arrive in order for the “Monadologie” to be(come) a “theory of justice:” it is such ab initio.

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