Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/87

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
84
THE GREAT SYSTEMS

the hypothesis of identity just as Spinoza had done. He however gives it an idealistic cast, since he regarded the absolute reality as psychical, and denied the Spinozistic coordination of the two attributes.

d. A perfect continuity pervades the separate Monads, i.e. the individual life of the soul, just as the Monads among themselves form a complete continuous series. Every conceivable degree of soul-life exists, unconscious as well as conscious. Leibnitz developed his views on psychology and the theory of knowledge, as a polemic directed against Locke, in his Nouveaux Essais (which only appeared long after his death). He criticizes the assertion that the soul is originally a blank tablet. The obscure impulses of the soul must not be ignored. Just in proportion as the distinction and contrast between our sensations are small, the less a single element is distinguishable from the remaining content of the soul, or, more briefly, the more obscure the psychical states are, so much the more readily is their existence denied. But there are no absolute divisions, but rather every possible degree of variation between obscurity and clearness. Leibnitz calls the obscure changes within ourselves, which do not really rise to consciousness, perceptions; they correspond to the phantasmata of Hobbes. The lowest forms of being, the Monads of the lowest degree, never rise above such perceptions. We approach a higher level when perceptions are combined with memory and consequently possess more than mere momentary significance; consciousness is then present (sentiment, cf. Hobbes’ sensio). The highest degree is characterized by attention to its own states; here Leibnitz uses the terms apperception and conscience; conscience is connaissance reflexive de l’etat interieur, i.e. self-conscious-