G. W. Leibniz’s Discourse on Metaphysics is viewed by many scholars as a milestone of his mature thought—his first attempt to systematize various stances. A lengthier, theological work, Examination of the Christian Religion, written a few months after, receives less press. While Leibniz’s intent for writing the theological piece may be left for speculation, Leibniz on God and Man in 1686 demonstrates that there is clear overlap between these two texts. Leibniz borrows from the metaphysics and physics of Discourse in his theology, and he writes that his metaphysical tract addresses “questions on grace, God’s concourse with creatures, the nature of miracles, the cause of sin and the origin of evil, the immortality of the soul, ideas, etc.” Despite challenges for drawing them close, Ryan Phillip Quandt argues that these texts converge in the moral quality of God and man that Leibniz took as the cornerstone of his system in 1686. Discourse coheres in a moral and scientific vision, while Examination centers on moral commitments. Love of God is their shared ideal.
Ryan Phillip Quandt is a PhD student in the Department of Economics at Claremont Graduate University and researcher for the Computational Justice Lab.
Chapter 1: Same Goods
Chapter 2: Light of Souls
Chapter 3: Modern Love
Chapter 4: Revelations & Miracles
Chapter 5: Adam’s Lament
Chapter 6: Salvation
Ryan Quandt’s Leibniz on God and Man in 1686 is a welcome assessment of the relations between two of G. W. Leibniz’s unpublished treatises written in the mid-1680s: the very well-known Discourse on Metaphysics and the almost unknown, but much larger, Examination of the Christian Religion. The tensions between the two Leibnizian works are palpable: in Discourse, Leibniz defends the view that this is the best of all possible worlds, but needs to account for the fall of man in Examination. Still, Quandt’s reading of Examination sheds considerable light on Discourse. For example, Quandt shows that the seemingly incidental article on the love of God, and against Quietism, in Discourse is much more central when read in conjunction with Examination, and that Leibniz’s view of miracles in Discourse needs to be reconsidered in light of what is asserted in Examination.