Volume 7, 2000
Robert Merrihew Adams
Leibniz’s Conception of Religion
Leibniz’s religious cosmopolitanism is one of the main ways in which his thought foreshadows the Enlightenment. Of the controversial issues of his time, it is the one on which he was boldest. His commitment to it is discussed here in relation to both the Chinese Rites Controversy and the reunion of Christendom, and the main features of his conception of religion are discussed. (1) It is a religious and normative conception. (2) Its main principle is “the love of God above all things.” (3) It involves a principled pragmatism on many, perhaps most, religious issues. The implications of this pragmatism are traced for (4) Leibniz’s ecclesiology and (5) his strategies for interpreting religious concepts. (6) The relatively abstract and ahistorical character of religious essentials on Leibniz’s view is acknowledged.