Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/84

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
81
LIEBNITZ

in prescience in the corrected basal principle of mechanical natural science. In explaining particular facts he would apply the strict mechanical method, but the principle of mechanism itself requires the principle of teleology for its explanation.

b. Leibnitz carries his analysis further than his predecessors at still another point. They had regarded extension as a fundamental attribute of Being. Leibnitz challenges this assumption. Extended things are always manifold and complex, and the true realities are the elements which constitute things. If there were no absolute units (which cannot be extended), there would be no real existence. It is only these ultimate units that can be regarded as Substance (in its strict significance). Inasmuch therefore as Force persists, it follows that this persistent Substance must likewise be Force; it would be utterly impossible for activity to originate from Substances in a state of absolute rest. Leibnitz calls these substantial units, whose objective manifestation constitutes matter, Monads. Each Monad is a little universe; its nature is revealed in the laws which govern its inner successive changes.

What then, as a matter of fact, are these Monads? Leibnitz answers: Our souls alone furnish us with an immediate example of a unitary being, whose inner states follow a uniform law. We must think of all Monads after this analogy, because we presuppose something in all of them analogous to our sensations and activities. Since, according to the principle of continuity, we permit no leaps in nature, we must postulate innumerable grades and degrees of soul life in the universe. And this enables us to understand the origin of human consciousness. Here the Cartesians, just as in the case of the transition from