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Leibniz On Force, Activity, And Passivity

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Chapter Summary

It is no exaggeration to say that the concept of force (vis) was the key concept for Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, both in metaphysics and in physics. In physics, it is only by taking force as the basic concept we can derive the correct fundamental laws of motion for bodies. This chapter looks at how Leibniz understands his key concept and some of the roles it plays in his thought. This examination explicates not only how Leibniz?s emphasis on force or power squares well with his endorsement of certain central Aristotelian tenets, but also how the concept of force is incorporated into his mature idealist metaphysics. That metaphysics, in turn, generates some thorny problems with regard to the concept of passivity; and so we shall also ask whether and how Leibniz?s monadology, emphasizing the activity as much as it does, is able to encompass the passivity of created substances.

Keywords: Aristotelian tenets; concept of force; concept of passivity; Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz?s monadology; laws of motion; metaphysics



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