Marcelo Dascal

Leibniz and Epistemological Diversity

It was a tie; the heavenly vote was split right down the middle -- two in favor; two against. At issue -- "Should man be created?" The ministering angels formed parties: Love said, "Yes, let him be created, because he will dispense acts of love"; while Truth argued, "No, let him not be created, for he is a complete fake". Righteousness countered, "Yes, let him be created, because he will do righteous deeds; and Peace demurred, "Let him not be created, for he is one mass of contention". The score was even. Love and Righteousness in favor, Truth and Peace against. What did the Lord do? He took Truth and hurled it to the ground, smashing it into thousands of jagged pieces. Thus he broke the tie. Now, two to one in favor, man was created. The ministering angels dared to ask the Master of the Universe, "Why do You break Your emblem, Truth?" for indeed Truth was His seal and emblem. He answered, "Let truth spring from the earth". (1)

Ne voit-on pas qu'il y a cette différence entre Dieu et l'âme de l'homme, que Dieu est l'Etre sans restrictions, l'Etre universel, l'Etre infini, et que l'âme est un genre d'être particulier? [...] Dieu [...] connâit ce qu'il a fait avant même qu'il y eut rien de fait. Mais l'âme ne peut voir en elle ce qu'elle ne renferme pas; elle ne peut même voir clairement ce qu'elle renferme; elle ne peut que le sentir confusément. (2)

[...] quod nos nisi homines sumus ...(3)


The Academia dei Lincei, that co-sponsors this colloquium, is very relevant for the topic of my talk. For I am going to speak about the Leibniz that views the achievement of knowledge as a collective/cooperative enterprise. For this purpose, as is well-known, he strived to create scientific academies and similar organizations, and he sometimes mentioned the Academia dei Lincei as an example to be praised. This aspect of his activity is usually ranged under the heading of "scientific policy", and not much philosophical significance is granted to it. I believe, however, that such a policy, like many other "practical" endeavors he undertook, is intimately connected with "theory": it stems from the need -- both theoretical and practical -- to develop an epistemological praxis capable to lead us, finite humans, to acquire and increase our knowledge of "reality", as it is conceived in terms of Leibniz's metaphysics. Leibniz's efforts to cope with this need led him to the acknowledgment of epistemological diversity as an asset to be exploited rather than as a liability to be overcome. This amounts to a kind of epistemological eclecticism -- some of whose aspects I want to explore in the present paper.


For a start, let us address the topic of this symposium, namely unity and diversity in Leibniz's thought, by considering his "system", as represented in the ensemble of his oeuvre. We may undertake this task in two ways. (A) Taking advantage of our ex post factum vantage point, we may examine the oeuvre as a more or less complete whole, with the purpose of finding the thread(s) that unify it, i.e., the "systematicity" that connects all or at least most of its ramifications, and thereby also accounts for whatever diversity it displays. (B) We may try to put ourselves in the place of Leibniz as he is pulled by a variety of interests, tasks, problems, and circumstances, at different stages of his career, striving to appropriate as much as he can from available knowledge coming from different sources, elaborating his own views in many different areas, and eventually systematizing them partially and, hopefully, also globally. Approach (A) considers the system as a given, and accounts for its unity and diversity, as it were, sub specie aeternitatis, while approach (B) considers the system in-the-making, as a continuous struggle to produce unity out of contingently encountered diversity. Broadly speaking -- and, as we will see, somewhat misleadingly -- approach (A) can be dubbed "structural", whereas approach (B) can be dubbed "genetic".

Most of the attempts to answer the question of the unity and diversity of a philosopher's thought tend to take approach (A), for, presuming that philosophy is systematic, they assume the existence of some underlying unity, to which the diversity of the philosopher's productions must ultimately be reduced. This unifying "core" may consist in a key idea or theme, a concern with a special kind of problematic, a method of argumentation and exposition, a set of basic principles, etc. The reduction of diversity to unity usually takes the form of retrieving and/or reconstructing the author's (often implicit) deductive chain -- what Gueroult called "the order of reasons" -- that leads from the latter to the former. Some philosophers, like Descartes, Spinoza or Kant, who tried to present their own work in a tightly systematic/deductive way, are more fit than others to this type of approach -- provided one conveniently overlooks the steps through which they painstakingly reached the stage of (global) systematization.

In Leibniz's case, though it is harder to ignore the steps since their traces can be found everywhere in his corpus, there are enough recurrent themes, principles, projects, declarations, plans, and architectonic sketches to permit this kind of approach to his thought. It was in fact taken by some of the greatest interpreters of Leibniz, and led to the well-known attempts to provide an overarching "formal" structure of his system, whose "core" each of these interpreters believed to lie in a different layer of Leibniz's work -- e.g., logic, epistemology, metaphysics, mathematics, mystical theology, semiotics, or jurisprudence.

Given the inability of each of these proposed reductions to account deductively for large portions of the leibnizian oeuvre, Michel Serres (1968) proposed the ingenious hypothesis that the systematicity of Leibniz's system is of a different kind. Rather than being strictly deductive, it is "analogical". The system would thus be grounded in (and would illustrate) the metaphysical-semiotic notion of "expression": just as each monad mirrors the totality of the universe, so too each segment of the system mirrors the system as a whole; none of them, therefore, is the core out of which all the rest flows, and all of them are legitimate and fruitful "entries" or "points of view" through which the whole can be accessed -- in fact, only in such multi-perspectival way can the unity of the system be grasped. This is a tempting suggestion, and it has been well documented by Serres. Yet, perhaps even more than the deductive reductions, it grants the author of such a system a capacity of design that approaches omniscience and omnipotence.

I do not dispute the fact that Leibniz's writings are connected to each other in an impressive variety of ways, both deductive and analogical. But neither I nor, I presume, Leibniz, would like to account for this fact in terms of the unfolding of a system completely designed and, thus, entirely prefigured in Leibniz's juvenile mind or, for that matter, in his monad. For this reason, I think it wise to distinguish the "genetic" approach (B) sketched above from a kind of genetic reductionism that merely replaces the "logical" core by a "genetic" one. On such a view, the aim is to reconstruct the evolutionary story of the system, showing how the "genes" (or rather their cultural counterparts, the "memes", to use Dawkins's (1976) terminology) that define its unity/identity survive through the system's successive adaptations to the challenges of the changing theoretical and practical "environment". (4)

In terms of leibnizian metaphysics, it is true that the individual substance "Leibniz" must contain, from the moment of its inception, the totality of the productions that the human being Leibniz will ever put forth. It is also true that such productions unfold due to the inner law that commands and unifies the activities of that individual substance. Yet, these metaphysical claims refer to the realm of divine, not human, design. While we humans may form an idea of the divine principles that rule over the universe, we are unable -- due to our essential limitations -- to know the infinity of details that flow from such principles. That is to say, the details of his doings (which include his thinkings) and of their gradual unfolding are not known nor knowable in advance by the individual human being Leibniz, who must exercise his best judgment and freedom of choice, under conditions of uncertainty and finitude, in order to implement a divine design which becomes known to him only in bits and pieces. His problem as a limited human knower is to plan and coordinate his epistemic efforts so as to yield as much knowledge of the divinely designed universe as can be gathered from those bits and pieces.

Properly understood, approach (B) undertakes to study the construction of systematic knowledge from the point of view of such an epistemically limited human knower. At the theoretical level, it purports to identify the epistemological options open to such a knower in the light of the philosopher's conceptual framework. At the factual level, it studies the philosopher's actual system-building or unity-building recommendations and practices, which may or may not conform with the theoretical constraints; either way, they reveal the implications of such constraints.Such a study may also provide valuable indications about the philosopher's preferred option, which in turn may be of theoretical significance. It is such an approach that I will try to apply to Leibniz, within the limitations of this paper.


Leibniz's metaphysics suggests two quite different epistemological strategies. Since each monad expresses the totality of the universe, one strategy might consist in the in-depth study of a single monad. The goal would be to transform into clear and distinct knowledge what it expresses or "knows" only confusedly -- or, in the language of the 1678 paper Quid sit idea, to transform the "distal" ideas (in the sense of "remote capacity of thinking of all things"), which are impressed in us, into "proximal" ideas (in the sense of a "near ability to think about a thing") (GP VII, 263). In this way one would acquire knowledge not only of the particular monad studied, but of the rest of the universe as well. The most natural monad for a researcher to study in depth would be the one she is most directlly and intimately acquainted with, namely itself. In fact, according to the mature doctrine presented in paragraph 26 of the Discours de Metaphysique (1686), which espouses (with modifications) the Platonic theory of reminiscence, this would be the only epistemological alternative, since it is a mistake to believe that our soul has "doors and windows" through which "messengers" bringing information from the "outside" can penetrate: hence, "nothing can be taught us the idea of which is not already in our minds, as the matter out of which our thought is formed" (GP IV, 451; L 320).

Regardless of its eventual exclusive status, such a self-centered strategy would have its own merits. For example, it would provide one of the two kinds of undemonstrable propositions upon which all knowledge is based, namely those consisting in "an inner experience which cannot be further rectified by indices or testimony, because it is immediately present to me and there is nothing between it and myself, e.g. the propositions I am, I feel, I think, I want this or that thing".(5) In addition to being undemonstrable and incorrigible, the propositions given in inner experience are also prior "in the order of knowledge" to those that are prior "in the order of nature", i.e., the necessary truths.(6) Furthermore, they are those that afford us to learn that there are things other than ouserlves, which cause the variety in our thoughts (GP I, 372).

In spite of its metaphysical pedigree and epistemologically grounding status, Leibniz doesn't seem to be happy with the self-centered strategy. Perhaps because its implementation in the 17th century had been epitomized by Descartes's cogito-based procedure in the Meditations and, as is well-known, Leibniz over the years became very critical of Cartesianism. (7)

According to Leibniz, Descartes's emphasis on the power of pure intellectual intuition -- the "natural light" of the intellect -- was completely mistken. Its general rule, namely, that "whatever I perceive clearly and distinctly is true" is unreliable, for "one must have signs (marques) of what is clear and distinct; otherwise the visions of those self-praising persons who mention all the time their ideas would be authorized" (GP I, 384).(8) Such signs include, first, the elaboration of (nominal) definitions which transform clear but confused ideas into distinct ones, for -- unlike Descartes -- for Leibniz not all clear ideas are distinct, and only through the latter can one attain general demonstrable propositions.(9) But even such definitions are logically insufficient, because, not being based on a complete analysis of the defined concept, they may contain hidden contradictions; this is why they must be supplemented by "real" definitions, which prove the possibility of the concept, and give us adequate ideas.(10) Furthermore, even if we restrict the scope of the Cartesian rule to this kind of ideas, we would be mistaken to equate them with what can be intuited, i.e., fully perceived by a single glance of the mind. Any complex idea and, a fortiori, any lengthy reasoning goes far beyond our capacity of simultaneous perception, and requires therefore reliance on signs (in the semiotic sense) standing for their components. This is what Leibniz calls blind thought, which is by far more useful, common, and also reliable than intuitive thought.(11)

This criticism of the "general rule" applies with particular severity to the further Cartesian assumption that, due to our direct acquaintance with our thinking, we actually know what thought in general is and what is contained in our own thoughts. "I agree that the idea of thought we have is a clear one, but all that is clear is not distinct", he says (GP II, 121). In this respect, Leibniz endorses Malebranche's claim that we know much less about our soul than about external things, whence it follows that self-knowledge cannot serve as a basis or as a blueprint for knowledge in general. "We know thought only through inner feeling [sentiment interieur] (as Father Malebranche has already noticed (12)); but all one can know by feeling are the things one has experienced; and since we have not experienced the functions of the other forms, one should not be surprised that we have no clear idea of them, even if there was agreement that there are such forms" (GP II, 121). The "other forms" Leibniz is referring to here are those individual substances or monads that are endowed with "perception" but not necessarily with "thought" or "reflection". What he is suggesting is that, since our "inner experience" is that of the particular kind of monads we are, we cannot infer from the nature of this experience the inexistence of other kinds of monads or souls, whose inner life, whatever it may be, our own limitations prevent us from being able to experience.(13) Hence Arnauld (and Descartes) are wrong in denying that animals, for example, have souls. Beyond this particular consequence, however, the argument points out a serious drawback of "inner experience" as a source of universal knowledge, and suggests that such a drawback could be overcome only if we were able somehow to put ourselves in the position of experiencing things as other monads do.

For Leibniz, the (unjustified) Cartesian appeal to the certainty of "inner experience" as a basis for knowledge is also connected to his en bloc dismissal of earlier theories as being mere prejudice. Much as we are unaware of the potential confusion in our own inner experiences, which we must elaborate carefully in order to transform into clear and distinct ideas, so too we carelessly reject other doctrines without making the effort to understand them and extract from them what is truthful.(14) In fact, the exclusive reliance on "the inner testimony of the mind" precludes the possibility of such "corroboration", for it does not allow for discussion and, thereby, for the public assessment of conflicting theories.(15)

Descartes was -- Leibniz fully acknowledges -- a man of genius. Had he employed a rigorous filum meditandi, i.e., a concrete and publicly checkable method of inquiry accessible to everyone, he might have achieved the task of establishing the foundations of metaphysics. Instead, he trusted too much his selective "inner experience", and failed. Among other things, he focused exclusively on one of the "absolute truths" provided by such an experience -- that we think -- overlooking the other one, which is no less important, namely "that there is great variety in our thoughts".(16) Both are incontestable truths, and both are independent of each other. "From the former it follows that we are, from the latter, that there is something other than ourselves, i.e., something other than what thinks, which is the cause of the variety of appearances" (GP I, 370).(17) Presumably, Descartes set aside variety in order to achieve unity. For the same reason, he undertook to accomplish his work alone. But no man, even of the stature of a Descartes, "can do everything by himself" (GP I, 371).(18)

In short, "looking inside ourselves" may be one way to produce knowledge, but it is far more demanding than assumed by the Cartesians. For it requires a sustained effort to sift the reliable "inner experiences" from a mass of unreliable ones, an effort that should make use of "external" tools, such as carefully created systems of signs. Furthermore, even with the help of these tools, we must be aware of the dangers of generalizing on the basis solely of our own or our own kind's particular type of "inner experience". Variety is no less important than unity in the construction of knowledge, and its exploration requires the consideration of a multiplicity of different points of view, which, in turn, mandates cooperative work.


From this criticism of Cartesianism, a different epistemological strategy emerges, which might be called "multi-perspectivism". Whereas the former strategy is self-centered, its alternative is other-oriented. It emphasizes cooperation rather than work performed in isolation, public debate rather than lonely meditation, the need to elevate oneself above one's epistemic limitations by trying to look at things from the perspectives of other monads rather than concentrating exclusively on one's own perspective. All this in order to be able to see the global as well as the punctual, complexity and variety as well as unity, so as to account for the harmony of the universe, which is nothing but unity in multiplicity.(19)

Like the self-centered strategy, multi-perspectivism is prima facie in accordance with Leibniz's metaphysics. To be sure, strictly speaking only simple substances or monads and their perceptions and inner laws ("appetites") possess reality. But insofar as the phenomenal world is grounded in such a reality, the clue to its "reality", i.e., to the fact that it is not merely a dream, lies in the coherence (consensus, harmony) between the multiplicity of perceptions -- not only those of a single self, but also those of various percipients.(20) Furthermore, the multiplicity of "representing substances" increases the variety of the world infinitely, which amounts to an increase in its perfection, i.e., in its reality.(21) From this point of view, the basic experiential truth that we have many perceptions takes precedence over its Cartesian counterpart -- that we think. For it brings us closer to the discovery of the infinite richness of reality, provided of course we take into account not only our own perceptions but also those of other beings. A multi-perspectival system, a network-like structure that highlights these multiple representations of reality and their "liaisons", seems also to correspond closer, analogically, to the reality it is supposed to represent -- and Leibniz, as is well-known, attaches much importance to such analogical correspondences.(22)


We might depict the differences between the two epistemological strategies discussed above as follows (Figure 1).

At bottom, each individual substance, from its own point of view, strives to achieve as much clarity as possible regarding the complete structure and richness of the universe. It is immersed in a mass of stimuli -- its inner experiences -- out of which those relating to its immediate surroundings are stronger and presumably also clearer. Initially, it has therefore, mainly "local" knowledge, of little "general" value. We might call this situation "the ground view". At the other extreme, the "top", lies God's eye view of the universe. It encompasses all of the universe, in all its rich variety, with perfect clarity. Due to their epistemic limitations, individual substances cannot, of course, reach the top. Their problem is to approach the top as much and as effectively as they can.

One possibility consists in trying to do that, as it were, in a straight quasi-vertical line, by deepening its self-awareness. Through this "analytic" procedure, a given monad would come closer to knowing its own unifying principle, the "inner law" or "axiom" that defines its "point of view", and according to which it unfolds synchronically with the other created beings -- whose nature and behavior would thereby be explained through the clarification of their representations in the knowing monad. This strategy would, thus, aspire to derive its explanatory power from the very core of metaphysical reality, and its unity from the deep and direct knowledge of metaphysical units.

Another possibility consists in proceeding, as it were, in a multi-linear way. Instead of focusing on its own point of view and attempting to disclose its inner law, whence it would finally learn about its fellow monads, the monad striving for knowledge would attempt to elevate itself above the ground view by incorporating from the outset as much as it can from the experiences of its fellows. Progress would consist in encompassing an increasing variety of perceptions coming from different points of view and in providing successive "syntheses" of them. Rather than seeking to derive knowledge directly from an acquaintance with metaphysical units, it would address the layer of phenomena, through which it would then indirectly lead to knowledge about metaphysical units.

None of these strategies would, of course, reach the top. Due to human limitations, both would be able to reach only some intermediary level of knowledge. But in their rise towards the top, each of them would seem to emulate primarily (stepwise and partially, of course) a different subset of the aspects of God's vision: the former, simplicity, parsimony of causes, deductive architecture, and ultimate reality; the latter, variety, exhuberance of effects, inter-connected architecture, and reflected or representational reality.

The two strategies do not exclude each other, and there is no principled metaphysical reason to assume that Leibniz should prefer or recommend the one over the other. After all, if the aim is to attain knowledge of reality and if God's eye view represents the perfection of such a knowledge, we should strive to emulate all of its aspects. The best way to achieve this would seem to be the complementary use of both strategies. And indeed, there are indications that he proceeded in this way. For example, he contended that the correct method should include both "analysis" and "synthesis", each of them valuable both for discovery and for validation, as well as for exposition and learning.(23) But I would like to illustrate the complementarity of the two strategies by an example taken from a text where the issue is not scientific method per se, but rather the relationship between reason, faith, and moral action.

The Conversation du Marquis de Pianese Ministre d'Etat de Savoye, et du Père Emery Erémite: qui a esté suivie d'un grand changement dans la vie de ce ministre; ou Dialogue de l'application qu'on doit avoir à son salut(24) (VE 1786-1823) deals with the question of how to overcome a coutier's skepticism (which led him to moral indifference) in order to restore his religious conviction, to sustain it, and to provide guidance for his moral conduct. Ostensively, the dialogue confronts two characters -- a high ranking minister and a famous theologian-hermit.(25) I think it can be safely assumed, however, that both represent different "voices" of Leibniz, who argues here with himself, polyphonically. This text offers, thus, a touching testimony of Leibniz's own dilemmas and of the advice he gives to himself.

After having skirmished successfully against the politician's skeptical arguments, the hermit undertakes to satisfy the politician's request for advice on how to sustain the state of happiness he feels due to the restoration of his faith. He proposes two types of means for this purpose, the one "internal", the other "external", which he calls, respectively, "prayer" and "practice". He defines prayer as "the perpetual search of solid reasons that make God appear great and lovable to you" (VE 1814). This consists mainly in disclosing everywhere the "orders, liaisons, and beautiful progressions in all things", as in "the marvellous harmonies of mathematics and in those inimitable machines invented by God, which nature reveals to our eyes". Such observations permit one to "see God through the senses, whereas elsewhere one sees Him only through the understanding" (VE 1815). But prayer also includes becoming aware of evil, injustice, failure and error, and being able to explain them. First, by reminding onself of the limitations of our "rules of prudence, since we cannot think of everything and be informed of everything" (VE 1814). Then, by concluding that, since -- unlike us -- God takes into account the global economy of the unverse, "there is no evil which should not serve to a greater good" (VE 1814). The "internal" activity of prayer consists thus in a reflection on external events, with the aim of harmonizing them with -- and thereby confirming -- a previously formed belief in the rationality and justice of God's harmonious creation. It is an activity of meditation about one's experiences, designed to reinforce one's conviction, an activity oriented towards belief confirmation rather than towards belief formation.

"External practice" should "infallibly follow from a sincere interior" (VE 1815). Since, however, we cannot know the details of God's will, we must act as best we can on the basis of our own judgment, guided by general principles whose validity is undisputable. The most important of these principles is that of charity. "True charity -- Leibniz emphasizes -- "includes all men, even our enemies" (VE 1815); "one must have a good opionion about everyone, as much as reason permits"; "one must even love each person in proportion to the good qualities that remain in him, for there is no man devoid of many good qualities [and] we don't know what judgment God makes about him -- maybe [it is] completely different from ours, for we are misled by appearances" (VE 1819). Fortunately we have the means to act on the basis of appearances, namely a "logic that discerns the degrees of appearances of good and bad [deeds] in order to [let us] choose those that are more feasible and suitable to be performed" (VE 1821). Thanks to this logic, we are able to implement the principle of charity, which requires one to take into account "not only [one's] desires, but also those of the others", "to listen attentively to their motives and to weigh them carefully" (VE 1820).(26) Uncertainty, therefore, should not serve as an excuse for inaction: "when there is some appearance of well doing, let us engage ourselves in action, without waiting for all the indications of infallible success" (VE 1817).

So, the "external practice" described by Leibniz does not simply "flow" from internal conviction; nor does it depend upon its presumable certainty. In fact, it is possible thanks to the existence of a set of epistemological "helps" designed to overcome the lack of certainty (which is one of our epistemic limitations) and permit the formation of beliefs capable of directing reasonable actions. Unlike the self-oriented activity of self-conviction, the helps that inform such actions are essentially other-oriented, in the sense that they rely upon perspectives other than one's own for the formation of one's beliefs. In addition to the principle of charity, which requires us to take into account the "point of view of the other",(27) and to the "logic of appearances", which permits the weighing of different opinions, this other-orientation (which is characteristic of the multi-perspectival epistemological strategy) is apparent also in some of the concrete "rules" for organizing one's intellectual work proposed by Leibniz towards the end of the Conversation (VE 1817-1819). The first of these rules recommends finding an appropriate "companion of studies"; the second suggests writing down a detailed project of action for oneself, similar to the "instructions one usually gives to public ministers";(28) the fifth, to maintain a list of "all that can be of help, including useful thoughts", to have always at one's disposal leaflets of paper for "noting down quickly whatever is worthwhile remembering in reading, conversing, working, or meditating"; the seventh elaborates once more upon the rule of charity.

One senses in these rules the realities and needs of Leibniz's own modus operandi: he collects every bit of relevant information from every possible source; he records all his thoughts; makes notes on everything he reads or hears; writes down dozens of plans and projects; he proposes devices for ordering the collected material, for helping his memory, for forcing himself to carry on his own plans; he needs an efficient secretary as well as a reliable companion not only to help him in all this but also to contribute "something of his own" to the huge enterprise, which cannot but be collective.(29) But there are also rules which are are entirely self-oriented: the fourth urges a reasonable distribution of one's time, which should include some time for meditation; the third recommends checking daily the pursuit of one's project; the sixth speaks of controlling one's passions so that they don't interfere with the use of reason. As a whole, these rules, which are designed to implement both "prayer" and "practice", illustrate the intermingling of the two epistemological strategies. They show the complementary orientations of a mind eager not to miss any of the rich variety of the world, reflected in the thoughts and wishes of other human beings ("Things have so many faces!" -- he exclaims; VE 1822), while at the same time trying to keep it all under control by carefully managing its most precious resource -- attention ("God gives men attention, and attention makes it all"; ibid.). (30)


In one of its senses, then, the expression "epistemological diversity" should refer to the complementary use of the two epistemological strategies discussed in the preceding section. In another sense, applicable particularly to the multi-perspectival strategy, the expression refers more specifically to the implications of having to handle the variety of theories, methods, and sources of knowledge with which a truly "cooperative", epistemically limited, human knowledge seeker must cope. Some of these implication for Leibniz's epistemic practices were already mentioned in the preceding section. I will now examine other aspects of Leibniz's work in the light of his use of this particular epistemological strategy.

First, the multi-perspectival strategy has, as we have seen, a "public" dimension which implies that it cannot be seriously pursued without a serious and sustained collective investment. If scientists are supposed to cooperate in the production of knowledge, they are supposed to have (and to develop) the means necessary for organized cooperation. That is to say, some sort of institutionalization, eventually in the form of scientific academies, is needed. The "companion of studies" must become a team of researchers; the gathering of data from all over the world involves the activation of field workers, the sending of misions to remote regions, the obtention of permission and support of local rulers; a system for cataloguing, archiving, and indexing documents and other forms of information must be devised and as widely as possible strictly enforced; a standard language -- preferably universal -- for representing and transmitting such information, must be put together; scientific journals should see to it that the information is widely disseminated; encyclopedias, compendia, and other forms of systematic organization of information must be compiled, in order to make extant knowledge readily available and to avoid duplication of efforts; and so on. These and other life-long leibnizian projects no doubt stem from the fact that he took very seriously the multi-perspectival epistemological strategy, and can be understood in its light.

Second, the multi-perspectival strategy is intimately tied to the development and use of a rigorous comparative method. Different points of view provide different views of the "same" phenomenon, and it is through their comparison that we can discover order, invariance, lawfulness, and, ultimately, truth and unity. Thus, one can discern the common roots of all languages only by comparing many languages;(31) similarly, it is through the comparative study of the ensemble of languages that one can learn about the "operations of the mind" they mirror;(32) and, within one language, in order to find the meaning of an expression, one should collect all the different locutions where it appears, including its metaphorical uses, in order to form a hypothesis about its meaning.(33) Through the comparison of multiple representations, we can overcome the arbitrariness that might be involved in a single representation.(34) The broader the comparative basis, i.e., the more perspectives one takes into account, the better the chances of elevating ourselves above the "ground level" by generating reasonable hypotheses which provide an increasingly synoptic and comprehensive view of things.

Third, the epistemic value of the guiding principle of the multi-perspectival strategy, which demands one to try to see things from "the place of the other" lies in the fact that such a "place" is different from ours. Such a difference should not be obliterated by the need to coordinate the research effort, but rather carefully preserved. The community of researchers, therefore, should not behave like a cohort of yes-men, entirely subservient to the director of the project. Although the aim of the joint effort is ultimately to disclose the consensus, convenientia, or harmony between the various points of view, it would be ill-served by disregarding from the outset divergence and difference. Instead, one should look for outlooks widely differing from ours, in their basic assumptions, cultural framework, temporal and spatial distance, methodological procedures, etc. This is why we have much to learn from the Ancients, the Chinese, the American Indians, as well as from the Scholastics, the Mystics, and every other tradition. Furthermore, none of them can be excluded a priori as being entirely erroneous and therefore worthless. Some parcel of truth must be among the "good things" that must be found in them, according to the principle of charity, for their perspectives provide, within their limitations, truthful representations of the universe. These must be somehow incorporated in a comprehensive account thereof. Leibniz was well aware of the difficulties involved in reconciling wide apart and apparently conflicting conceptual frameworks. His interpretation of Confucianism as a "civil cult",(35) which would permit its peaceful coexistence with Christianity was finally rejected by the church, and he didn't succeed in persuading much closer traditions, such as protestants and catholics, and even the protestants among themselves, to accept the common ground he proposed for reuniting them. But such failures only confirmed Leibniz's pessimism about people's resolve to employ wisely their energies and make the mental effort necessary to overcome the limitations of their points of view (which include, of course, their way of understanding their own interests).(36) Nevertheless, he believed reconciliation of apparently conflicting doctrines was possible in principle, though it requires sustained attention, i.e. "application". Therefore, he didn't give up, and his fame as a man capable to detect the truthful contributions of diverging doctrines and integrating them, at least in philosophy and the sciences, became widely recognized.(37)

Fourth, the difference of points of view often manifests itself in the form of mutual criticism, which may lead to disputes and controversies. Unlike "meditative" thinkers, like Malebranche, who considered public debates as disturbances that deviated them from their self-centered task of system-building,(38) Leibniz did not dismiss them as irrelevant or pernicious for the advancement of knowledge. He in fact thrived in debate, and sought it actively. Provided, of course, debate is taken seriously as a way of advancing knowledge, and not as a kind of amusement.(39) And seriously indeed he took it. Not only did he engage in public and private controversies with major thinkers of the time, to which he even devoted his two major philosophical books, but throughout all of his life he strived to develop a theory of controversies and a method to resolve them. The widespread belief that such a method would consist in a mere application of the Characteristica Universalis, which would allow to resolve controversies by straightforward "calculation", overlooks the vast amount of writings where Leibniz, drawing from his juridical, theological, logical, probabilistic, hermeneutical, and political work, undertakes to develop the means to deal with controversies that cannot be strictly formalized and resolved by simple calculation.(40)

I think Leibniz's deep interest in controversy is directly related to the multi-perspectival epistemological strategy. Mainly because it is in (seriously conducted) controversies that the differences of "points of view" are sharpened, clarified, understood, and eventually appropriated for the construction of more integrative theories. When properly conducted, a controversy forces one to fully appreciate the force of the opponent's arguments, in order either to rebuff them properly or to modify one's own position on their strength. In this sense, it is in controversy that one fully implements the demand of positioning oneself in "the place of the other"and thereby to transcend one's "mental set". Furthermore, if one is able to disengage oneself from a partisan attitude and, even while taking part in a controversy, regard it as a "disinterested judge", then one has the opportunity of envisaging the object of the dispute from all sides (faire le tour de la chose is the beautiful phrase employed by Leibniz), to weigh conscientiously the pros and cons before one adopts one side or the other.(41) In so doing, one elevates oneself to a position whence one can benefit fully from the conflicting perspectives, and making a significant step towards the top of the diagram in Figure 1. The very existence of and actual participation in serious controversies is, thus, a privileged and specific contribution to the implementation of the multi-perspectival strategy, which is not available to a solitary practitioner of the self-centered strategy. In addition to that, a theory of controversies, which would develop Leibniz's dream of an encompassing "new logic", whose broader notion of "form" would include the principles and methods for "weighing" conflicting arguments, would become an invaluable epistemological tool for the success of that strategy.(42)


Maybe what we have been doing in this paper -- and in this colloquium -- namely, searching for the unity of Leibniz's system/thought is based on a big mistake. For we sort of assumed that, if the world that the system is supposed to describe has some unity, then the system too should have one. But true unity, the unity that characterizes "reality", says Leibniz, is substantial unity. In a letter to Arnauld, he warns us not to attribute unity of this kind to mere "abstractions of the mind" (GP II, 101), to those "fictions of the mind" (p. 102) we tend to carelessly assume to be real. They result from the tendency of the mind to grant reality, i.e., unity, to whatever can be "combined in thought and given a name" (p. 101). But this in no way can lead us to "establish solid and real principles" (p. 102), which must be based on the identification of "truly accomplished beings or substances" (p. 102). As long as we have not done this, we are dealing merely with "phenomena, abstractions or relations", i.e., with "beings by aggregation" (p. 101).

What, then, if the system is nothing but an abstraction, a set of relations, an aggregate of propositions lacking "substantial unity"? As a creation of a mind, however powerful and clever it may be, a philosophical system is unlikely to be much more than that. But then, it belongs to the realm of phenomena, and its unity cannot therefore be of the same kind as the metaphysical unity underlying reality. That is to say, whatever unity a system has cannot be more than the "accidental unity" typical of phenomena. Far from despising this kind of unity, however, Leibniz acknowledges its existence and importance. He claims, for example, that there is truth in phenomena (GP II, 521); that this truth consists in the "consensus" of many perceptions (ibid.). He is interested in finding laws (= unity?) in phenomena He admits the existence of different degrees of accidental unity, all of which derive from thoughts and appearances, though -- which does not prevent us from calling them "real".(43)

So, if the system is barred from having "substantial unity", i.e., of actually mirroring monadically the unity of the universe, whatever unity it may aspire to have is that of the highest degree phenomena or aggregates are capable of. The criterion is the "amount of inter-relations between the ingredients": the more there are such relations, the more appropriate it is to consider an aggregate as possessing "unity". "More" here must mean -- according to Leibniz's Principle of Sufficient Reason -- not merely "many" but "many different". And "different" must mean coming not only from one point of view or monad, but from many. Thus, a system built according to the multi-perspectival strategy, as a cooperative enterprise of many minds, which emphasizes precisely the multiplicity of sources of knowledge and hence of their relations, stands a good chance to reach a high degree of unity, by this criterion. But Leibniz seems to have in mind additional criteria. For example, a shared design or intention. By this criterion, a group of individuals acting under a common (set of) intention(s) is an aggregate endowed with more unity than, say, a mound of stones, whose only connection is physical contact. Again, none of these aggregates has anything even remotely similar to substantial unity, but still, it is more appropriate to see unity in the former than in the latter.(44) There are, then, some relations (e.g., intentionality) that weigh more than others (e.g., physical contact) in assessing the unity of an aggregate. This might lead one to think that a system developed through the self-centered strategy would also have a fairly high degree of unity, since it is likely to reflect the unifying effect of it author's design.

Would its unity be higher than that of its multi-perspectival competitor? It seems to me that, regardless of the weight Leibniz assigns to each of the two criteria, the scales would favor the latter. For we should not forget that intentionality is itself multiplied by the cooperative work involved in the multi-perspectival strategy. So, a system based on the self-centered strategy would definitely lie somewhere in between: it would certainly have more unity than that of a mound of stones, for it would be based on the supposedly unitary intentionality of its creator; but it would be bound to display an impoverished texture of relations and variations if compared to a system produced by a cohort of savants, united by a common purpose, and keeping their independence of mind and their particular perspectives on things. Once we place the system where it belongs -- the phenomenal world -- the self-centered strategy seems thus to be inferior, according to Leibniz's criteria, to its multi-perspectival counterpart, for it can at best yield a lesser degree of "accidental unity". Whoever insists in privileging that strategy, or in attempting to find in a system some higher, substantial unity, bears the burden of proof. (45)


Beyssade, J.-M. 1994. "Méditer, objecter, repondre". In Beyssade and Marion (eds.), pp. 21-38.
Beyssade, J.-M. and Marion, J.-L. (eds.). 1994. Descartes: Objecter et repondre. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Couturat, L. 1901. La Logique de Leibniz. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Dascal, M. 1978. La Sémiologie de Leibniz. Paris: Aubier-Montaigne.
Dascal, M. 1987. Leibniz. Language, Signs, and Thought. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Dascal, M. 1990a. "The controversy about ideas and the ideas about controversy". In F. Gil (ed.), Scientific and Philosophical Controversies. Lisboa: Fragmentos, pp. 61-100.
Dascal, M. 1990b. "Leibniz on particles: Linguistic form and comparatism". In T. de Mauro and L. Formigari (eds.), Leibniz, Humboldt, and the Origins of Comparativism. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 31-60.
Dascal, M. 1993. "One Adam and many cultures: The role of political pluralism in the best of possible worlds". In M. Dascal and E. Yakira (eds.), Leibniz and Adam. Tel Aviv: University Publishing Projects, pp. 387-409.
Dascal, M. 1994a. "Le langage dans la maison de l'esprit: une tirade de parallèles". In Q. Racionero and C. Roldan (eds.), G. W. Leibniz: Analogía y Expresíon. Madrid: Editorial Complutense, pp. 57-77.
Dascal, M. 1994b. "Strategies of dispute and ethics: Du tort and La place d'autruy. In Leibniz und Europa (VI. Internationales Leibniz-Kongress), Vorträge II. Teil, pp. 108-115.
Dascal, M. 1995. "Epistemología, controversias y pragmática". Isegoria 12: 8-43.
Dascal, M. 1996. "La balanza de la razón". In O. Nudler (ed.), La racionalidad: su poder y sus límites. Buenos Aires: Paidós, pp. 363-381.
Dascal, M. 1997. "Critique without critics?". Science in Context 10: 39-62.
Dascal, M. and Gruengard, O. (eds.) 1989. Knowledge and Politics: Case Studies in the Relationship between Epistemology and Political Philosophy. Boulder: Westview Press.
Dawkins, R. 1976. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hoffman, R. and Leibnowitz Schmidt, S. 1998. Old Wine in New Flasks: Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition.
Malebranche, N. [1979]. Oeuvres, vol. I. Ed. by Genevieve Rodis-Lewis. Paris: Gallimard.
Marion, J.-L. 1994. "Le statut originairement responsorial des Meditations". In Beyssade and Marion (eds.), pp. 3-19.
Serres, M. 1968. Le Système de Leibniz et ses Modèles Mathématiques, 2 vols. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Leibniz's writings

C = Opuscules et Fragments Inédits de Leibniz, extraits des manuscrits de la biliothèque royale de Hanovre par Louis Couturat. Paris, 1903 (repr. Hildesheim, 1966).
China = G. W. Leibniz, Writings on China, ed. D. J. Cook and H. Rosemont Jr. Chicago: Open Court, 1994.
D = Gothofredi Guiliemi Leibnitii Opera Omnia, nunc primum collecta… par Ludovicus Dutens, 6 vols. Genève, 1767.
GP = Die philosophischen Schriften von G.W.Leibniz, 7 vols., ed. C.I. Gerhardt. Berlin, 1875-1890 (repr. Hildesheim, 1965).
Grua = G.W.Leibniz - Textes inédits d'après les manuscrits de la bibliothèque provinciale de Hanovre, publiés et annotés par Gaston Grua, 2 vols. Paris, 1948.
L = Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz - Philosophical Papers and Letters, ed. L.E. Loemker, 2nd ed. Dodrecht: Reidel, 1969.
VE = G.W. Leibniz - Vorausedition zur Reihe VI - Philosophische Schriften. Manuskriptdruck, Leibniz-Forschungsstelle der Universität Münster, 1982 -.


1. This is a paraphrase of Midrash, Genesis Rabbah 8:5, by Hoffmann and Leibowitz Schmidt (1998: ix). The authors add to the story the following interpretation: "From then on truth was dispersed, splintered into fragments, like a jigsaw puzzle. While a person might find a piece, it held little meaning until he joined with others who had painstakingly gained different pieces of the puzzle. Only then, slowly and deliberately, could they try to fit their pieces of Truth together. To make sense, some sense of things".
2. Malebranche, 10th Eclaircissement sur la Recherche de la V?rit?. In Oeuvres, vol. I, p. 920.
3. "... for we are only humans" (Leibniz: C, 40). Far abbreviations for Leibniz's writings, see the list of references. All the translations are mine, except when a reference to a translation is also given.
4.There are, of course, other strategies used by authors and their interpreters to establish the connections between the different parts of their systems and thereby their systematicity. For an analysis such strategies, see the introductory essay in Dascal and Gruengard, eds. (1989).
5.VE 1804. (There is an apparent mistake in the text provided in VE: where it says "puisqu'elle n'est pas immediatement" it should say "puisqu'elle m'est immediatement".) The other type of unprovable propositions are, of course, the necessary ones.
6. "...although the existence of necessary [truths] is the first of all in itself and in the order of nature, I agree that it is not the first in the order of our knowledge" (GP I, 370).
7. In fact, the whole "way of ideas", characteristic of seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophy might be considered as privileging this strategy, in so far it contends that one's ideas are the only direct source of knowledge. This may be traced back to the influence of skepticism in shaping modern philosophy; more specifically, to the skeptical doctrine that all one can know are "appearances".
8. Compare: "... I searched for a criterion of truth other than the one so praised today, namely that whatever is perceived clearly and distinctly is true. That is, I understood that this [criterion] is liable to be misused, and that it has no value unless signs of the clear and distinct are provided. For anyone who is strongly impressed by something thinks he understands it very clearly and distinctly" (from Specimen demonstrationum catholicarum seu apologia fidei ex ratione; Grua, 30).
9. For example, "if I can prove that there are no second degree figures other than the conic sections, it is because I have a distinct idea of these curves, which is what grants me the means to reach a precise division" (GP II, 121).
10. GP I, 384-385. It is the lack of such a proof of possibility that impairs, of course, Anselm's and Descartes's demonstration of God's existence. But Leibniz gives here, in addition to this well-known example, another one, which contrasts two different definitions of the circle.
11. For references and an analysis of "blind thought", see Dascal (1978: 206-210). For Leibniz's conception of the role of signs in mental processes, see also Dascal (1987 and 1994a).
12. "... we don't have an idea of our soul because the idea we have of our soul is not clear, not any more than those of our mysteries [of faith]" (Malebranche, 3rd Eclaircissement; in Oeuvres, vol. 1, p. 822). See also the quote used as a motto for this paper.
13. "We cannot say in what consists the perception of plants, and we cannot even conceive that of animals" (GP 3, 581).
14. "I thus understood that the opinions of the ancients should not be demolished, but rather they should be explicated and corroborated, for they are presently condemned and held in contempt for no other reason than [the fact] that their meaning (vis and potestas) is ignored" (Specimen...; Grua, 30).
15. "... if someone appeals to the internal testimony of the mind, all dispute with him ceases, and an incurable mistake remais in the soul. Therefore, what is needed is not some private sign of truth, but a public one, just as much in philosophy as in religion" (Specimen...; Grua, 30).
16. See also GP IV, 327.
17. "There are everywhere actual variations and never a perfect uniformity, and two pieces of matter are not entirely similar to each other, macroscopically as well a microscopically (dans le grand comme dans le petit)" (GP VII, 563).
18.In fact, Descartes's own system-building procedure was not quite as self-centered as his account in the Meditations suggests. At the end of the Discours de la M?thode he asked for readers' reactions, and the Meditations in fact respond to criticisms and queries about the metaphysical part of the Discours. He also sought reactions to the Meditations themselves, which he undertook then to publish together with the text and his own replies. His work, thus, involves cooperative interaction, manifested in this "sch?ma responsorial", as it is dubbed by Marion (1994). See also the other chapters in Marion and Beyssade (1994), especially the one by Beyssade (1994). I would add, however, that such an interaction was entirely subordinated to his desire to impose on his system a strict ordre des raisons, the objections being nothing more than the occasion to further spell out this order. Descartes in fact considered debate as useful only in so far as it exemplifies what I call (Dascal 1995) a "discussion", i.e., in so far as it follows a decision procedure that fully determines who is right.
19."Harmonia autem est unitas in multitudine" (GP I, 232).
20. "... matter and movement are not so much substances or things, but phenomena of percipients, whose reality is located in the harmony of the percipients with themselves (at different moments) and with other percipients" (GP II, 270); "... the truth of phenomena consists in the mutual consensus of percipients" (GP II, 521).
21. "What is marvellous is the fact that the sovereign wisdom has found the means to vary the same world at the same time infinitely through the repreenting substances; for, since the world has already an infinite variety in itself and is varied as it is and expressed diversely by an infinity of different representations, it receives and infinity of infinities, and could not be better fit to the nature and intentions of its ineffable author, which surmounts in perfection all that we can think of Him" (GP IV, 554).
22. "My statements are usually universal and they respect analogy" (GP II, 311).
23. Compare: "Those who like to push forward the details of sciences disdain abstract and general inquiries, while those who deepen the principles rarely occupy themselves with particularities. For my part, I appreciate equally both, for I have found that the analysis of principles serves to develop particular inventions" (GP I, 403). For a discussion of the many-sided aspects of the Leibnizian concepts of analysis and synthesis and their interconnections, see Dascal (1988: 129ff. and passim).
24. In an earlier version, this text bears the title "Dialogue entre un habile politique et un ecclesiastique d'une piete reconnue".
25. Charles Emmanuel Philibert de Simiane, Marquis de Pianese (1608-1677) was indeed Minister of State of Savoye, and became famous for his conversion.
26. Presumably, Leibniz is referring here to his work in the logic of probabilities. The notion of "weighing", closely related to that of the "balance of reason" is an extremely important metaphor he employs in order to characterize a form of rationality that "inclines without necessitating". See Dascal (1996). This metaphor occurs several times in the text under consideration.
27. Trying to put oneself in "the place of the other" (la place d'autruy) is a principle which has for Leibniz not only moral, but also epistemic significance. See Dascal (1993 and 1994b).
28. Later on this becomes a memorandum (addressed to the prince) containing "everything that one can desire for the public welfare" (VE 1820).
29. Although Leibniz had employed, in the later part of his life, several assistants, he often complained that if he had a team of young scholars working with him, he would have managed to complete many of his projects (cf. GP III, 605; also Couturat 1901: 576).
30. Leibniz was very much concerned by the "distractions" that prevented him from devoting his attention to his most cherished projects. As his interests and his network of informants expanded, he felt submerged in the mass of materials he had accumulated (Couturat 1901: 574). He thus needed badly, for his own work, to follow the rules the hermit recommended to the politician.
31. "... almost all languages aren't but variations, often quite irregular, of the same roots; but it is difficult to recognize this, unless one compares many languages, without neglecting jargons... (D, VI, 2, 185).
32. "... languages [les langues, in the plural] are the best mirror of the human mind" (GP V, 313). For a discussion of "particles" as mirroring the operations of the mind according to Leibniz, see Dascal (1990b).
33. "To look for the meaning of a term that has been proposed to us amounts to collect the different locutions involving it, both in current usage and in the usage of our author, which is the task of dictionaries. One must pay attention mainly to the epithets that are affirmed or denied of the term; one should then make a list of the subjects, appositions, synonyms (or cognate terms), as well as of particular antonyms, which will all be associated to the term in direct discourse; one must then move on to the tropes, i.e., to the terms obliquely associated to it. This will lead to a sketch of a meaning in accordance with all the collected locutions, employing exactly the same method used for formulating hypotheses that satisfy all the phenomena" (VE 1426-1427).
34. "It is always true, without any arbitrary choice of ours, that if certain characters are adopted, some definite argument must proceed, and if others are adopted whose relation to the thing s signified is known but different, the resulting relation of the new characters will again correspond to the relation of the first characters, as appears by a substitution or comparison" (GP VII, 193; L, 185).
35. See China, pp. 61-65.
36. "Let us suppose, just for pleasure, that one could find the truth, that one could establish incontestable principles, and that it is possible to have a sure method for extracting from them important consequences; and that God himself has sent us this new Logic from heaven. I am nevertheless sure that men wouldn't stop disputing, as they usually do" (VE 1800-1801).
37. Two years before his death, he describes his work as "an attempt to unearth and collect the truth buried and dissipated under the opinions of the different philosophical sects, to which I think I have added something of my own in order to make a few steps forward" (GP III, 606). The first part of this self-appreciation was shared by his contemporaries (and appreciated by some of them). For example, in 1706, the Jesuit Bartholomeus des Bosses asks for Leibniz's tutoring in a project of recovering the "true Aristoteles" from behind its Scholastic "distortions" (GP II, 293). He is attracted by Leibniz's anti-Cartesianism and by the prospect that Leibniz's physics, which appealed to the Aristotelian concept of "entelechia", might be the key for reconciling Aristotelianism with the "moderns". The ensuing correspondence comprises 128 letters, and was interrupted shortly before Leibniz's death in 1716.
38. See Dascal (1990a).
39. "When we have found some adroit and ingenious reply, that can rebut and confuse the person who advances a proposition, even if it may be useful and well grounded, we satisfy ourselves with this victory, and move on to other topics, without examining who ultimately is right ... All this comes from the fact that we treat most questions as a sort of amusement or for showing off, rather than for reaching a conclusion which may have some influence in the practice of our life..." (VE 1794).
40. I couldn't possibly provide here even a hint to the richness and importance of these writings. A collection of them, along with English translations, under the title Leibniz's Art of Controversies,has been compiled by Quintin Racionero and myself, and is being prepared for publication. See also the forthcoming collection of essays Leibniz the Polemicist, edited by Gideon Freudenthal and myself.
41. "There are confortable and incomfortable, good and bad aspects in all things, sacred and profane; this is what confuses men, giving rise to the diversity of opinions, since everyone envisages things from a certain side. There are only very few who have the patience of making a round trip around the thing, up to the point of putting oneself on the side of one's adversary; that is, there are only very few who are willing to employ steady application in the spirit of a disinterested judge in the examination of the pro and the con, so as to determine the side to which the scales of the balance shall be inclined" (VE 1794).
42. "... it is not sufficiently taken into account that form doesn't consist in this boring quicunque, atqui, ergo" (VE 1803); see also C 36, 191-192, 419; GP VII, 515-516, as well as Dascal (1996). On the relevance of a theory of controversies for contemporary epistemology, see Dascal (1995 and 1997).
43. "I agree that there are degrees of accidental unity, that an ordered society has more unity than a confused multitude and that an organized body or a machine has more unity than a society; i.e., it is more apposite to consider them as a single thing, because there are more relations between the ingredients; but ultimately all these unities receive their accomplishment only from thoughts and appearances, like colors and other phenomena, which we still call real" (GP II, 100).
44. "... if parts that coalesce in a purpose are more appropriate to compose a true substance than parts that touch each other, then all the officers of the Dutch Company of the Indies would make a real substance much better than a mound of stones; but is a common purpose something other than a resemblance, i.e., an order of actions and passions that our mind notices in different things?" (GP II, 101).
45. "... it is then up to those who make up beings and substances without a true unity, to prove that there is more reality than we have said, and I wait for the notion of a substance or a being capable of comprehending all these things, after which the parts and maybe even the dreams will have a claim to it, unless we put very precise limits to this right of citizenship that we want to grant to beings formed by aggregation" (GP II, 102).