The Leibniz Review

Volume 31, December 2021

Dedicated to Donald Rutherford

Donald Rutherford
Pages 5-34

Why the World Is One: Leibniz on the Unity of the Actual World

Leibniz denies that the actual world possesses the per se unity of a substance. Instead, he seems to hold, the world is limited to the mind-dependent unity of an aggregate. Against this answer, criticized by Kant in his Inaugural Dissertation, I argue that for Leibniz the unity of the actual world is not grounded simply in God’s perception of relations among created substances but in the common dependence of those substances on a unitary cause. First, the actual world is one because every created substance is continuously dependent on God for its perfection. Without being the soul of the world, God is an emanative cause through which the created world is unified. Second, every substance is a unique “concentration” of an ideal world that is God’s model for creation. Consequently, while extensionally many, created substances are versions of the same one world chosen by God for creation.