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Free Public Lecture: Jon Roffe on Leibniz's Diabolical Metaphysics

  • Queensland College of Art, Building S.02, Room 6.38 226 Grey Street South Brisbane, QLD, 4101 Australia (map)

This two-hour seminar will provide an outline of the powerful and subtle, remarkable and demented philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz, the last of the great early modern rationalists. Infamous for his invocation of ‘the best of all possible worlds’, savagely mocked in Voltaire’s Candide, Leibniz is in fact neither a crude optimist or theosophical thinker, but a philosopher of remarkable range, bearing an almost deranged ommitment to systematic metaphysical thinking. Our concern will be to explain this metaphysics on the basis of his quite minimal starting points: 1) a commitment to synthesising existing approaches in philosophy, 2) a commitment to the principle of sufficient reason, and 3) a novel definition of truth. This starting point will take us to his accounts of the mind and the body, God and damnation, necessity and possibility, and the ontology that one of his most famous works invokes in its title: his monadology.While this class is designed to provide some of the basic conceptual background needed to understand Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, it is open to anyone interested in learning about Leibniz’s philosophy and his place in the history of Western thought.

Our discussions will be oriented by a pair of contemporaneous texts, “The Principles of Philosophy, or Monadology” and “The Principles of Nature and Grace”.