Volume 14, Issue 2, 2017
Peter A. Kwasniewski
Divine Wisdom, Natural Order, and Human Intervention
Leibniz on the Intersection of Theology, Teleology, and Technology
In the Discourse on Metaphysics Leibniz addresses how human beings ought to intervene in a preharmonized world and contribute to the unfolding of its goodness. His view exhibits an instructive tension between belief in a providentially fixed natural order, on the one hand, and, on the other, a characteristically early modern belief in a world of infinite possibilities for human actors, that is, developers of technology. Other texts in Leibniz, as well as comparison with Aristotle, Aquinas, and Kant, helps to reveal the extent to which Leibniz is torn between venerating the ancient tradition of natural philosophy, a purely “contemplative” discipline, and embracing the modern project of mastery of nature, a pragmatic and transformative enterprise.