Ideas from 'New Essays on Human Understanding' by Gottfried Leibniz [1704], by Theme Structure

[found in 'New Essays on Human Understanding' by Leibniz,Gottfried (ed/tr Remnant/Bennett) [CUP 1996,0-521-57660]].

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     expand these ideas

1. Philosophy / F. Analytic Philosophy / 1. Nature of Analysis
Analysis is the art of finding the middle term
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
A reason is a known truth which leads to assent to some further truth
2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 7. Status of Reason
Opposing reason is opposing truth, since reason is a chain of truths
2. Reason / B. Laws of Thought / 1. Laws of Thought
General principles, even if unconscious, are indispensable for thinking
2. Reason / D. Definition / 3. Types of Definition
A nominal definition is of the qualities, but the real definition is of the essential inner structure
2. Reason / D. Definition / 4. Real Definition
One essence can be expressed by several definitions
If our ideas of a thing are imperfect, the thing can have several unconnected definitions
Real definitions, unlike nominal definitions, display possibilities
2. Reason / D. Definition / 5. Genus and Differentia
Genus and differentia might be swapped, and 'rational animal' become 'animable rational'
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 1. Correspondence Truth
Truth is correspondence between mental propositions and what they are about
5. Theory of Logic / A. Overview of Logic / 3. Value of Logic
Logic teaches us how to order and connect our thoughts
5. Theory of Logic / C. Ontology of Logic / 3. If-Thenism
At bottom eternal truths are all conditional
5. Theory of Logic / F. Referring in Logic / 1. Naming / a. Names
People who can't apply names usually don't understand the thing to which it applies
5. Theory of Logic / K. Features of Logics / 1. Axiomatisation
It is always good to reduce the number of axioms
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 2. Geometry
Geometry, unlike sensation, lets us glimpse eternal truths and their necessity
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 4. Using Numbers / a. Units
Only whole numbers are multitudes of units
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 3. Axioms for Geometry
We shouldn't just accept Euclid's axioms, but try to demonstrate them
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 3. Being / h. Dasein (being human)
The idea of being must come from our own existence
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 7. Abstract/Concrete / a. Abstract/concrete
Objects of ideas can be divided into abstract and concrete, and then further subdivided
7. Existence / E. Categories / 3. Proposed Categories
Have five categories - substance, quantity, quality, action/passion, relation - and their combinations
7. Existence / E. Categories / 4. Category Realism
Our true divisions of nature match reality, but are probably incomplete
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 1. Powers
We discern active power from our minds, so mind must be involved in all active powers
I use the word 'entelechy' for a power, to include endeavour, as well as mere aptitude
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 2. Powers as Basic
All occurrence in the depth of a substance is spontaneous 'action'
Substances are primary powers; their ways of being are the derivative powers
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 4. Powers as Essence
Material or immaterial substances cannot be conceived without their essential activity
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 5. Powers and Properties
The active powers which are not essential to the substance are the 'real qualities'
8. Modes of Existence / C. Powers and Dispositions / 6. Dispositions / b. Dispositions and powers
There cannot be power without action; the power is a disposition to act
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 2. Abstract Objects / a. Nature of abstracta
Real (non-logical) abstract terms are either essences or accidents
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 2. Abstract Objects / c. Modern abstracta
Wholly uniform things like space and numbers are mere abstractions
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / a. Individuation
The only way we can determine individuals is by keeping hold of them
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / b. Individuation by properties
If two individuals could be indistinguishable, there could be no principle of individuation
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / c. Individuation by location
We use things to distinguish places and times, not vice versa
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 5. Individuation / d. Individuation by haecceity
No two things are quite the same, so there must be an internal principle of distinction
9. Objects / A. Existence of Objects / 6. Nihilism about Objects
Fluidity is basic, and we divide into bodies according to our needs
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / a. Substance
Individuality is in the bond substance gives between past and future
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
Substances cannot be bare, but have activity as their essence
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / d. Coincident objects
We can imagine two bodies interpenetrating, as two rays of light seem to
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 3. Unity Problems / e. Vague objects
The essence of baldness is vague and imperfect
9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 7. Substratum
A 'substratum' is just a metaphor for whatever supports several predicates
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 3. Individual Essences
Particular truths are just instances of general truths
We can't know individuals, or determine their exact individuality
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 4. Essence as Definition
Essence is just the possibility of a thing
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 8. Essence as Explanatory
If you fully understand a subject and its qualities, you see how the second derive from the first
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 10. Essence as Species
For some sorts, a member of it is necessarily a member
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 12. Essential Parts
The same whole ceases to exist if a part is lost
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 13. Nominal Essence
We have a distinct idea of gold, to define it, but not a perfect idea, to understand it
If two people apply a single term to different resemblances, they refer to two different things
Locke needs many instances to show a natural kind, but why not a single instance? [Jolley]
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 9. Ship of Theseus
Bodies, like Theseus's ship, are only the same in appearance, and never strictly the same
9. Objects / F. Identity among Objects / 7. Indiscernible Objects
No two things are totally identical
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 5. Modality from Actuality
A perfect idea of an object shows that the object is possible
10. Modality / D. Knowledge of Modality / 1. A Priori Necessary
Proofs of necessity come from the understanding, where they have their source
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding
We understand things when they are distinct, and we can derive necessities from them
Understanding grasps the agreements and disagreements of ideas
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 1. Certainty
Certainty is where practical doubt is insane, or at least blameworthy
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 5. Cogito Critique
I know more than I think, since I know I think A then B then C
The Cogito doesn't prove existence, because 'I am thinking' already includes 'I am'
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 2. Self-Evidence
Descartes needs to demonstrate how other people can attain his clear and distinct conceptions
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 3. Innate Knowledge / a. Innate knowledge
All of our thoughts come from within the soul, and not from the senses
Arithmetic and geometry are implicitly innate, awaiting revelation
Children learn language fast, with little instruction and few definitions
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 3. Innate Knowledge / c. Tabula rasa
What is left of the 'blank page' if you remove the ideas?
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / e. Primary/secondary critique
Colour and pain must express the nature of their stimuli, without exact resemblance
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
A pain doesn't resemble the movement of a pin, but it resembles the bodily movement pins cause
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 6. Inference in Perception
Truth arises among sensations from grounding reasons and from regularities
12. Knowledge Sources / C. Rationalism / 1. Rationalism
You may experience a universal truth, but only reason can tell you that it is always true
We only believe in sensible things when reason helps the senses
The senses are confused, and necessities come from distinct intellectual ideas
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 5. Empiricism Critique
Our sensation of green is a confused idea, like objects blurred by movement
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 1. Scepticism
Light takes time to reach us, so objects we see may now not exist
14. Science / C. Induction / 3. Limits of Induction
The instances confirming a general truth are never enough to establish its necessity
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / k. Explanations by essence
We will only connect our various definitions of gold when we understand it more deeply
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 7. Animal Minds
Animal thought is a shadow of reasoning, connecting sequences of images by imagination
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 2. Unconscious Mind
It is a serious mistake to think that we are aware of all of our perceptions
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 5. Generalisation by mind
Abstraction attends to the general, not the particular, and involves universal truths
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 10. Conatus/Striving
Volition automatically endeavours to move towards what it sees as good (and away from bad)
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / a. Memory is Self
Memory doesn't make identity; a man who relearned everything would still be the same man
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 2. Mental Continuity / b. Self as mental continuity
We know our own identity by psychological continuity, even if there are some gaps
16. Persons / F. Free Will / 7. Compatibilism
The will determines action, by what is seen as good, but it does not necessitate it
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 3. Emotions
Every feeling is the perception of a truth
18. Thought / C. Content / 2. Ideas
Thoughts correspond to sensations, but ideas are independent of thoughts
The idea of green seems simple, but it must be compounded of the ideas of blue and yellow
We must distinguish images from exact defined ideas
An idea is an independent inner object, which expresses the qualities of things
18. Thought / C. Content / 6. Broad Content
The name 'gold' means what we know of gold, and also further facts about it which only others know
The word 'gold' means a hidden constitution known to experts, and not just its appearances
20. Action / B. Preliminaries of Action / 2. Willed Action / a. Will to Act
The idea of the will includes the understanding
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 3. Taste
If would be absurd not to disagree with someone's taste if it was a taste for poisons
22. Metaethics / A. Value / 2. Values / f. Love
Love is pleasure in the perfection, well-being or happiness of its object
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / b. Types of good
The good is the virtuous, the pleasing, or the useful
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 3. Pleasure / a. Nature of pleasure
Pleasure is a sense of perfection
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 2. Golden Rule
We can't want everyone to have more than their share, so a further standard is needed
25. Social Practice / D. Justice / 3. Punishment / a. Right to punish
There are natural rewards and punishments, like illness after over-indulgence
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / a. Scientific essentialism
Qualities should be predictable from the nature of the subject
Gold has a real essence, unknown to us, which produces its properties
Part of our idea of gold is its real essence, which is not known to us in detail
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 1. Mechanics / a. Explaining movement
Maybe motion is definable as 'change of place'
27. Natural Reality / C. Space / 5. Relational Space
Space is an order among actual and possible things
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 2. Passage of Time / l. Eventless time
If there were duration without change, we could never establish its length
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 2. Divine Nature
God's essence is the source of possibilities, and his will the source of existents
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 3. Divine Perfections
A perfection is a simple quality, which is positive and absolute, and has no limit
The universe contains everything possible for its perfect harmony
28. God / A. Divine Nature / 4. Divine Contradictions
Perfections must have overlapping parts if their incompatibility is to be proved
28. God / B. Proving God / 1. Proof of God
Without the principle of sufficient reason, God's existence could not be demonstrated
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 2. Immortality / c. Animal Souls
Animals have thought and sensation, and indestructible immaterial souls