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G. W. Leibniz's Monadology: An Edition for Students

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,215 ratings  ·  66 reviews
G.W. Leibniz' Monadology, one of the most important pieces of the Leibniz corpus, is at once one of the great classics of modern philosophy & one of its most puzzling productions. Because the essay is written in so compactly condensed a fashion, for almost three centuries it has baffled & beguiled those who read it for the first time. Nicholas Rescher accompanies the text ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 26th 1991 by University of Pittsburgh Press (first published 1714)
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Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a delightfully bizarre reading experience this has been. Who needs mind-altering substances when you have Leibnizian metaphysics? I doubt any psychoactive chemicals could take one on a trip into as queer realms as this work opens up. Surely among the strangest species of metaphysical cartography in existence, and this says a lot, since the category of metaphysical queerness is a very competitive category indeed.

And what is even more bizarre is how much sense this makes. Stranger still is t
Jon Nakapalau
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, philosophy
Very humbling - think I was able to understand about 5% - still glad I stuck it out.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So that's what monads are! Leibniz is one of the best thinkers I have ever come across and he's a very clear writer. This book makes me think of the line, "besides that Mrs. Lincoln how did you like the play". Because, if you can get past the "best possible of all worlds", the necessary and absolute that he claims he gets from 'a priori' and 'a posterior' knowledge, his 'efficient and final cause', and his entelechy (think Bergson's 'elan vital') and his other religious items his monads make an ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: undergrad-reads
Those monads drove me nuts in my undergraduate Early Modern Philosophy class, where I was perfectly beguiled by Locke and Hume. I remember sitting in the class on Leibniz day being like, "So, WHAT ARE THE MONADS? Am I a monad? Is the table a monad? Are the atoms that make up the table monads?" "Yes." "HOW? THIS IS INSANE!!!!" I will also never forget Leibniz's bypassing of cause and effect via the notion that monads do not interact; they only appear to through the conjunction of the "unfolding" ...more
Eye of Sauron
This is a strange book.

It's the presentation of Leibniz's beliefs on metaphysics through the use of an idea called a "monad," which is essentially a single piece of ... metaphysical stuff? ... that forms everything in the world. These monads are essentially pre-programmed by God to "unfold" in a particular way, eventually acting in such a way that it seems like they're interacting with other monads, but this is actually an illusion: cause and effect are strangely irrelevant. This philosophy mor

A machince constructed by man’s skill is not a machine in each of its parts; for instance, the teeth of a brass wheel have parts or bits which to us are not artificial products and contain nothing in themselves to show that the use to which the wheel was destined in the machine. The machines of nature, however, that is to say, living bodies, are still machines in their smallest parts ad infinitum. Such is the difference between nature and art, that is to say, between divine art and ours.

Michael Kress
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was recommended that I read Leibniz to prep for Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant, so I checked out this short summary of his work. I listened to the audiobook, which was just under an hour in length. The preface claimed that it wouldn't make a good first reading of Leibniz because its condensed nature was not descriptive enough. This was partially true. Although fascinated, I didn't even know what a monad really was after completing it. So, I listened to a "Partially Examined Life" po ...more
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Leibniz's mature philosophical system, written for the "serious metaphysician".

Leibniz discusses in depth Monads, souls, minds, arguments for God, the universe as pre-established harmony and man's relationship to God.
May 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Leibniz's Monadology is notoriously difficult reading. Even students that have a basic understanding of the development of the notions of substance and body, from Aristotle through Descartes and Newton, have trouble grasping Leibniz's views on monads and aggregation; even more so how such concepts relate to, and are attempts to solve problems associated with, Aristotelian hylomorphism, Scholastic substantial forms, Cartesian extension, and mechanistic corpuscularianism, to name just a few key no ...more
for my philosophy class. the only thing getting me through this book was that it would make chidi proud. also! this is the guy voltaire satirized in candide (which made it a little more funny)
Feb 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an easy, short work but one that is quite difficult to comprehend. So much of it goes against the widely accepted atomic view of the universe. If one wants to appreciate the depth of Leibniz's system, a knowledge of some of Aristotle's and Descartes' ideas is necessary, as is a familiarity of the competing materialist/atomist system of the time via John Locke and others.

First off, the monad is originally a Pythagorean idea. It is a point, self contained and the first of anything. Everyt
May 27, 2014 rated it liked it
It's an interesting an elegant system, and from a poetic perspective I find it to be rather charming. It's also an interesting read when considered in the context of the mind-body debate Leibniz was trying to address, and as a reaction to Cartesianism.

From a modern perspective it isn't going to be of much utility, as the natural ontology he outlines (animals all the way down; gardens within gardens; infinitively divisible simple substances) is, to a certain extent, at odds with modern physics.
Mar 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Monad is a substance that is the simplest indivisible thing that makes up reality. Every Monad is unique from each other and are capable of small changes of their characteristics over time; since Monads are the simplest substances in the universe these small internal changes explain the changes we see in reality. The changes of Monads happen internally since external things cannot affect them because as the simplest substance in the universe, they cannot be divided any further into smaller parts ...more
Ahmed Fathy
Jun 20, 2018 rated it liked it
What makes reading philosophical work a very interesting thing for me is that feeling you get when you surprised by reading Leibniz arguing about relativity of space and time in 17th century two hundred years before Einstein . He said “As from own opinion I have said more than once I hold space to be something merely relative . I hold it (space ) to be an order of co-existence .the same as time which is order of successive events ".
so we can figure out what he means. He meant if space is empty
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: miscellaneous
This is the third time I read Leibniz’ Monadology in the third edition. Translated, introduced, and commentated by Joachim Christian Horn. Now, the translation, as far as I can judge, is excellent. The comments as long as they just give explanations (what is an entelechy?) are helpful. But the introduction and the comments when they try to do interpretation are horrible. Horn (rightfully) complains that many people view Leibniz from a Kantian perspective. And then goes on to say that you can onl ...more
Aman Sakhardande
This reads like a good introduction into what Leibniz is all about. On the other hand, given that this isn't a very long book, there are some things he states almost axiomatically, which he doesn't get to develop here.

Three side notes:
1. Seventeenth century rationalism is very different from what 'rational' stands for nowadays. That isn't to say that the rational/logical analytics of the now aren't indebted to Leibniz; they certainly are.

2. It seems like the idea of monads echoes within object-
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I go back to Leibniz because he's a charmingly up-tight philosophical character and because of his descriptions of facts and machines - especially machines. He declares (through his invocation of the "monad") the nature of the mechanisms of life, but what's really wild is that in so doing he defines the limits of technology for all time. This is an expressly stated argument against intelligent machines from 1720 that still holds thunder in the discourse. He gets 2 stars for being a bit of a cath ...more
Zubayir Kazi
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
The fundamental idea of this book is the absolutely simply ideal principle of the monad. The working out of its presuppositions and application of its bases is what constitutes monadology which is also for its own self perceived completeness, a theistic position w/morality, all fundamentally understood by this ‘monad’ principle.

The most interesting part of this text itself whoever is its historical context however; it was a contrarian position in his days of the reductionistic, rationalistic, em
Myat Thura Aung
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
more monads,
monads with unconscious perceptions,
and monads with sensations,
and monads with reasoning,
and God as the primitive monad,
well, that's basically monadology.
And yes, 100% of Obi-wan Kenobi is made up of monads.And the high ground also.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good piece of philosophy. The excerpts from Leibniz's own hand compiled here are crucial to understanding many points of his Monadology. Would recommend to anyone wanting to get a foundation view of metaphysics. ...more
Cary Stough
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
People talk about Spinoza's Ethics like a poem. They talk about Blanchot and Derrida as a poets. But in the midst of all that there was Monadology by Leibniz. "We are empiricists in 3/4 of our living." ...more
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
A bit tedious. But it was interesting to get a look into the mind of one of the fathers of calculus. I wonder if I would have done better in calculus if I had read this first...?
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have to read it twice
Morris Yen
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
kind of funny idea to have monads,
but an interesting alternative view of this world
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Not a review but Leibniz is way better than 99% of alleged 'Marxists' give him credit for. ...more
Christine Pompeo
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
I think I'd have to read it at least another 5 times to really understand more than 50% of what he was trying to convey, but I don't have the interest to re-read it. ...more
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Something about Leibniz is just delightful. I am a sucker for metaphysical stsructures and his is one of the most fascinating out there.
freddie ✨
Feb 20, 2020 added it
Shelves: college
i love using my philosophy class to further my reading challenge. this was like. 10 pages in my editions but fuck it. i’m counting it ok??
Sara Vazquez
I’m definitely going to have to reread this
Sahib Khan
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wisdom, philosophy
Metaphysical and logical. Not impressive, as for me.
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Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (/ˈlaɪbnɪts/; German: [ˈɡɔtfʁiːt ˈvɪlhɛlm fɔn ˈlaɪbnɪts] or [ˈlaɪpnɪts]; July 1, 1646 – November 14, 1716) was a German polymath and philosopher.

He occupies a prominent place in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy. Most scholars believe Leibniz developed calculus independently of Isaac Newton, and Leibniz's notation has been widely used ever since

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