chapter  2
23 Pages

The subject’s perspective in Leibniz’s philosophy *

WithDániel Schmal

At first glance, Leibniz’s Monadology seems to offer a paradigmatic metaphysical background for all political theories starting from the individual in order to construe larger communities. In this paper, I argue that Leibniz’s ambition was very different. Instead of establishing mutual links between already existing building blocks, what he did intend was to find a principle which would give birth to both the individual and the community at the same time. On this reading, the doctrine of the preestablished harmony points to a source of coordination which is neither anterior nor posterior to the things to be coordinated. Leibniz’s account is deeply anti-Cartesian, because according to him, the fundamental characteristic of the mental is perspective, a complex relationship that can be grasped in this formula: to take a possible point of view in the world. In Leibniz’s thought perspectivism takes priority over such fundamental concepts as ego, consciousness and personality. The result is that “social” relations are not superadded on the monads but are internal to them as constituting their nature. Notwithstanding Leibniz’s claim that monads do not have windows and cannot exchange information with each other, Leibnizian substances are social beings by their very nature.