Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was hailed by Bertrand Russell as 'one of the supreme intellects of all time'. A towering figure in seventeenth-century philosophy, his complex thought has been championed and satirized in equal measure, most famously in Voltaire's Candide. In this outstanding introduction to his philosophy, Nicholas Jolley introduces and assesses the whole of Leibniz's philosophy. Beginning with an introduction to Leibniz's life and work, he carefully introduces the core elements of Leibniz's metaphysics: his theories of substance, identity and individuation; monads and space and time; and his important debate over the nature of space and time with Newton's champion, Samuel Clarke. He then introduces Leibniz's theories of mind, knowledge, and innate ideas, showing how Leibniz anticipated the distinction between conscious and unconscious states, before examining his theory of free will and the problem of evil. An important feature of the book is its introduction to Leibniz's moral and political philosophy, an overlooked aspect of his work.
The final chapter assesses legacy and the impact of his philosophy on philosophy as a whole, particularly on the work of Immanuel Kant. Throughout, Nicholas Jolley places Leibniz in relation to some of the other great philosophers, such as Descartes, Spinoza and Locke, and discusses Leibniz's key works, such as the Monadology and Discourse on Metaphysics.
Nicholas Jolley teaches philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. He is author of Locke: His Philosophical Thought and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz.