July 11, 2010

posted by caroline picard

The following text was excerpted by Leibniz’s essay, “Principles of Nature and Grace, Based on Reason” (1714)

1. A substance is a being capable of action. It is simple or composite. A simple substance is that which has no parts. A composite substance is a collection of simple substances, or monads. Monas is a Greek word signifying unity, or what is one. Composites or bodies are multitudes; and simple substances–lives, souls and minds–are untiies. There must be simple stances everywhere, because, without simples, there would be no composites. As a result, all of nature is full of life.

2. Since the monads have no parts, they can neither be formed nor destroyed. They can neither begin nor end naturally, and consequently they last as long as the universe, which will be changed but not destroyed. They cannot have shapes, otherwise they would have no parts. As a result, a monad, in itself and at a moment, can be distinguished from another only by its internal qualities and actions, which can be nothing but its perceptions (that is, the representation of the composite, or what is external, in the simple) and its appetitions (that is, its tendencies to go from one perception to another) which are the principles of chance. For the simplicity of substance does not prevent a multiplicity of modifications, which must be found together in this same simple substance, and which must consist in the variety of its relations to external things. Similarly, in a center or point, though entirely simple, we find an infinity of angles formed by the lines that meet there.


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