The Leibniz Review

Volume 30, December 2020

Thomas Feeney
Pages 1-28

Leibniz’s Early Theodicy and its Unwelcome Implications

To explain why God is not the author of sin, despite grounding all features of the world, the early Leibniz marginalized the divine will and defined existence as harmony. These moves support each other. It is easier to nearly eliminate the divine will from creation if existence itself is something wholly intelligible, and easier to identify existence with an internal feature of the possibles if the divine will is not responsible for creation. Both moves, however, commit Leibniz to a necessitarianism that is stronger than what prominent interpreters such as Robert Sleigh and Mogens Lærke have found in the early Leibniz, and stronger than the necessitarianism that threatens his later philosophy. I defend this reading of Leibniz and propose that some features of Leibniz’s later metaphysics, including his “striving possibles” doctrine, are an artifact of the effort to rescue the early theodicy from its unwelcome implications.