Leibniz's Metaphysics of Harmony Open Access

Glowienka, Edward W. (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/kd17ct39j?locale=en


This dissertation examines the import the idea of harmony has for G.W. Leibniz's metaphysics. In the first half of the dissertation, I argue that there is significant development in Leibniz's conception of harmony during the 1670s. Leibniz shifts from defining harmony solely in terms of the mutual compensation of identity and diversity to defining it more narrowly in terms of the mutual obtaining of simplicity and maximal essence. I posit that Leibniz's refined conception of harmony provides him with a potent means for defending the centrality and ethical status of rational agents in a maximally harmonious, objectively good order of creation. In the second half of the dissertation, I argue that my interpretation of Leibniz's revised conception of the maximally harmonious world can account for how harmony functions in Leibniz's mature metaphysics. I explore specifically the interconnection between Leibniz's commitment to harmony as an architectonic principle governing the world, his defense of natural teleology, and his theory of causation, i.e., his hypothesis of the preestablished harmony between substances and between mind and body. Throughout the dissertation, I emphasize that harmony is for Leibniz a genuinely metaphysical principle, with real and unique metaphysical meaning, not simply a psychological or aesthetic principle.

Table of Contents


I. Introduction: Harmony as Metaphysical Grundbegriff

I.1 What is entailed in classifying harmony as a Grundbegriff?

I.2 Dissertation Conspectus

a. Plan of the Work

b. Methodological Remark

I.3 Why is harmony a Grundbegriff in Leibniz's thought?

II. Harmony as the Co-Compensation of Identity and Diversity

II.1 Natural Law

II.2 Natural Philosophy

a. Philosophy of Mind

b. The Foundations of Physics

II.3 Natural Theology

II.4 Conclusion

III. A New Conception of Harmony

III.1 Beyond Co-Compensation

III.2 Harmony in De summa rerum

III.3 Harmony: An Entity of Reason

III.4 A Maximally Intelligible World

III.5 Competing Models of Leibnizian Harmony

III.6 Conclusion

IV. Harmony and Causality

IV.1 Harmony and Causal Explanation

a. Veritable Physique

b. Final Causes in Optics

c. Final Causes and Harmony

IV.2 Harmony and Causal Interaction

a. The Hypothesis of Concomitance

b. Mind-Body Harmony

IV.3 Conclusion

V. Harmony in Leibniz's Late Thought

V.1 Preestablished Harmony Revisited

a. Parallelism vs. Preestablished Disharmony

b. Spontaneity and Monadic Teleology

c. Spontaneity and the Problem of Solipsism

d. Preestablished Harmony as argument from design

V.2 Monads, Harmony, and the Question of Union

Conclusion: A Metaphysics of Harmony


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