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The Leibniz Review

Volume 26, December 2016

Dedicated to G. W. Leibniz

Stephen Puryear
Pages 99-127

Leibnizian Bodies
Phenomena, Aggregates of Monads, or Both?

I propose a straightforward reconciliation of Leibniz’s conception of bodies as aggregates of simple substances (i.e., monads) with his doctrine that bodies are the phenomena of perceivers, without in the process saddling him with any equivocations. The reconciliation relies on the familiar idea that in Leibniz’s idiolect, an aggregate of Fs is that which immediately presupposes those Fs, or in other words, has those Fs as immediate requisites. But I take this idea in a new direction. I argue that a phenomenon having its being in one perceiving substance (monad) can plausibly be understood to presuppose other perceiving substances (monads) in the requisite sense. Accordingly, a phenomenon in one monad can indeed be an aggregate of other monads, in Leibniz’s technical sense, just as the latter monads can be constituents of the phenomenon. So understood, the two conceptions of body are perfectly compatible, just as Leibniz seems to think.

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