chapter  1
Monadology and sociology
ByGABRIEL TARDE
Pages 35

I The monads, daughters of Leibniz, have come a long way since their father’s time. Unbeknownst to scientists themselves and through many different channels, they have found their way into the heart of contemporary science. In a remarkable turn of events, all of the secondary hypotheses implied by this great hypothesis in its essential, if not its strictly Leibnizian guise, are being proven scientifically. Indeed, the monadological hypothesis implies firstly the reduction of matter and spirit to one entity, the latter, and secondly the prodigious multiplication of the spiritual agents of the world. It supposes, in other words, the discontinuity of the elements and the homogeneity of their essence. Indeed it is only upon these two conditions that the whole universe could be transparent to the eye of understanding. On the one hand, the chasm between movement and consciousness, subject and object, mechanics and logic, having been plumbed a thousand times over and judged unfathomable, has eventually been thrown into doubt, then reputed a mere appearance; in the end, the bold have denied it outright – and their conclusion has everywhere been echoed. On the other hand, the advances of chemistry lead us to affirm the existence of the atom, and to deny the material continuity which was suggested by the superficially continuous character of physical and living manifestations of matter: expanse, movement, and growth. Nothing is more surprising, in truth, than the combination of definite proportions of chemical substances, without the help or interference of intermediary proportions. There is no evolution here, no transition: everything is neat, abrupt, clear-cut. And yet this is the source of all the undulations, the harmonious graduations of matter, just as the continuity of nuance relies on the discontinuity of colours. And chemistry is not the only science whose progress seems to lead us towards monads. So do physics, natural sciences, history, and mathematics. Lange writes:

Newton’s hypothesis, that the gravity of a celestial body is none other than the sum of the gravities of its constituent masses, has been extremely important. Its direct implication is that terrestrial masses too, gravitate mutually towards each other, and furthermore, that the same is true of their smallest molecules.