Rationalism - Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz

1731 Words Aug 18th, 2008 7 Pages
Rationalism is the principle that maintains that through reason alone we can gain at least some positive knowledge of the world. The three major rationalists, Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Welhelm Leibniz, used this idea in order to defy skepticism and expose the true nature of reality. However, each philosopher is frequently in disagreement. The idea for ‘God’, and what constitutes substance, matter and reality are the four key structural beliefs that aid each rationalist in the forming of their arguments. Yet, it is these four concepts and the arguments behind them that cause the inconsistency found in rationalism. The idea that reason can provide positive solutions to the various questions put forth is made doubtful …show more content…
So, relatedly, the monad must not only exhibit properties, but contain within itself 'virtually' or 'potentially' all the properties it will exhibit in the future, and also contain the 'trace' of all the properties it did exhibit in the past. In Leibniz's extraordinary phrase, found frequently in his later work, the monad is 'pregnant' with the future and 'laden' with the past (Monadology, p22). All these properties are 'folded' up within the monad, and they unfold when and as they have sufficient reason to do so. (Monadology p61) The network of explanation is indivisible - to divide it would either leave some predicates without a sufficient reason, or merely separate two substances that never belonged together in the first place. Correspondingly, the monad is one, 'simple' and indivisible.
Everything we perceive around us, which is a unified being, must be a single monad. Everything else is a composite of many monads. My coffee cup, for example, is made of many monads (an infinite number, actually). In everyday life, we tend to call it a single thing only because the monads all act together. My soul, however, and the soul of every other living thing, is a single monad which 'controls' a composite body. Leibniz thus says that at least for living things we must posit substantial forms, as the principle of the unity of certain living composites. My

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