Volume 28, December 2018
Dedicated to Richard T. W. Arthur
Organism and Harmony
Leibniz's Thought at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
This paper examines the role that Leibniz’s philosophy played in the debate between the Idealists and their opponents at the turn of the twentieth century. While it is Russell’s The Philosophy of Leibniz (1900) which is most frequently referred to in this context, this paper focuses on John Dewey’s Leibniz’s New Essays which was written twelve years earlier, during the Hegelian phase of Dewey’s career. It is important to shift our attention to Dewey’s commentary not only because it has been almost entirely neglected, but also because it provides a broader perspective on the role of the Leibnizian system in one of the leading debates in the history of philosophy, namely the debate over the intelligibility of the idea of internal relations. In particular, Dewey’s book reveals Leibniz’s involvement in the emergence of the notion of organism which was at the heart of the debate.