Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/88
ness, not consciousness in general. The fact that the Cartesians attributed psychical life to human beings alone was due, according to Leibnitz, to their failure to observe the innumerable gradations of psychical life. Here, even as in material nature, the clear and sensibly apparent is a resultant, an integration of small magnitudes. The apparent evanescence of psychical life is merely a transmutation into more obscure, more elementary forms. The minute distinctions escape observation, and yet we are never wholly indifferent to them (just as in material nature there is no such thing as absolute rest). It is only when the distinctions become great and sharp that we are clearly aware of ourselves and feel the contrast between the self and the rest of the universe.
Leibnitz applies the principle of continuity consistently throughout, both in psychology and in the philosophy of nature, on the basis of the concept of minute differentia. As a mathematician the same thought process led him to the discovery of the integral calculus. His “differentials” are infinitely small magnitudes (or changes of magnitude), but they eventually constitute a finite magnitude through summation (integration). His great mind was occupied with problems in widely different fields of knowledge, but the general type of his thought was everywhere the same.
In referring all the distinctions of mental life to distinctions of obscurity and clearness, he is a forerunner of the century of enlightenment. But we must not overlook the fact that the obscure states have an infinite content, for each Monad is a mirror of the whole universe, even though it is conscious of only a part of it. A finite being is therefore incapable of complete and perfect enlightenment; its sole prospect consists of continuous