On Leibniz's "Nouveaux Essays"  - Intro - Index NE

On Leibniz's "Monadology"  - Index Monadology


On Leibniz's "Nouveaux Essays"
Maarten Maartensz
By way of introduction:


1. Start   
2. All Leibniz-remarks index
3. All Leibniz-files index
4. LIterature on Leibniz and  texts by Leibniz

This part of my site is given to extensive remarks on Leibniz's "Nouveaux Essays"  and  his  "Monadology". The present file is a brief introduction to the rest of these remarks.

  1. These remarks have been written in 1996 and are a first version. The later parts I announce in the first file are not available yet.

  2. There are two large index-files, "All Files" and "All Remarks". The first provides links to the beginnings of all chapters; the second links to the beginnings of all section-heads in all the chapters. This last file serves as a fairly good subject-index.

  3. The remarks have not been written originally in html, and have to be reformatted some. This applies especially to logical notation. In December 2000 I've started to reformat all files to the present format for my site. This should make it easier to read the text.

  4. Because this is a first version some references are made and some notations used that the reader will not be familiar with and will not be able to find. In general, readers who know some first-order logic and have tried typing this on an ordinary key-board without benefit of present-day html will be able to make sense of most of it. Apart from that, I am using notation from a system called LPA = Logic of Propositional Attitudes, also partially contained in my master's thesis. These are mostly as follows

          aAp = person a Asserts that proposition p is true
          aBp = person a Believes that proposition p is true
          aCp = person a tries to Cause that proposition p is true
          aDp = person a Desires that proposition p is true
          aEp = person a Experiences that proposition p is true
          aIp = person a Imagines that proposition p is true

    with obvious simpler readings. In any case, for any simple propositional attitude X, it is not necessarily true that (aXp ==> p), but for several propositional attitudes, like belief, it is assumed aXaXp ==> aXp, which is in general taken in the sense "if a is conscious that aXp then indeed aXp".

    The reader should realize that in the present remarks LPA is not explained but merely used as a kind of helpful notation. (There will be a file on LPA soon in the Logic section.)

  5. The general format of my remarks is very simple: I am discussing with Leibniz and Locke; try to make sense of their prose; and enter into the points they make. The main reason to do so is that Leibniz had an extra-ordinarily clear mind, and did the same to Locke's "An Essay on Human Understanding" - which is what the Nouveaux Essays is: a compendium of remarks to Locke's main work.

  6. The general format of my remarks differs somewhat from the ordinary academic format in several ways. Notably, I have not found it necessary to indulge in the ordinary academic pedantries - and neither did Locke nor Leibniz.

  7. Also, for me Leibniz and Locke were real philosophers and real persons in a sense modern academics usually are neither, for these tend to be role-players who make an academic career out of pedantic comments on real philosophers, usually only for the benefit of their own students and a few of their academic contemporaries in philosophical posts at universities, but wholly unread (and if read hardly understood) by nearly all other contemporaries, and not at all by anyone else. (And indeed, with the possible exception of Bertrand Russell, I would not know of anyone working in academic philosophy in the 20th Century who is personally and intellectually comparable - as possibly in the same class of ability - as Leibniz and Locke.)

  8. The reader may rest assured I wrote my remarks against the background of more than 30 years of reading all manner of things related to philosophy, logic and science. If I deviate from others working in philosophy or writing philosophy, it is not because I don't know what my contemporaries are doing in philosophy: I do know, and - with a few exceptions, mostly of people who claim to be mathematicians or logicians rather than philosophers - usually what they do does not strike me as philosophy, but at best as a sort of academically pedantic work in the history of ideas.

  9. One reason to take up Leibniz in this way (and Russell and Descartes and others on other parts of my site) is that his reasoning and writing is better than most of what has been on offer by later philosophers, while most of it is not really outdated or done better by more recent philosophers.

  10. Better versions of my remarks, and the promised part II are in preparation.

  11. Remark of June 2000:

    The complete files have been on line for 9 months. Those who want them can mail me ("maartens@xs4all.nl"). For the moment only the introductory files and those of the first chapter are on line.

  12. Remark of December 2000:

    I am reformatting the complete text and putting it on line again. The reason to do so is that there is a lot of real philosophy in my remarks, while I have decided to try to get a Ph.D. in another subject.

    However, those who use my remarks and ideas without credit must realize I do intend to see a version of my remarks published on paper, and the present set of remarks is known to be mine by others.

Finally, while much that I do have to say in my remarks is of some importance to all men and women who think seriously about philosophical questions, and while I do write a readable and clear English, it should be stated clearly that even so my remarks will be readable and of interest only to the best minds. In part, this is due to my subject and the text I comment, and in any case - even if your mind is as excellent as your willingness to put it to serious work - it is highly probable that quite often I have taken knowledge for granted that most people who have not made a serious study of philosophy don't have.

This is in particular true for the knowledge I presuppose about logic and about the history of western philosophy.

I wish you pleasurable and pleasant reading!

Maarten Maartensz
December 2000
e-mail: maartens@xs4all.nl

2nd issue: March 2004:

My Leibniz-files have been almost eight years on line at present, and in March 2004 I have read them through and made a number of usually small but quite numerous textual improvements:

I have:

  • corrected some broken links

  • added some underlinings

  • made quite a number of key-words bold

  • made the quotations of Leibniz in my text blue

  • inserted a number of qualifying or explanatory remarks

  • deleted a few sentences or parts thereof.

The end of most changes was to make the text - originally best understood as notes for my own benefit - more readable to others, which seems a useful thing to do since the text has been read and liked by a number of people.

As to the above changes:

I regard them as improvements or I would not have made them. However, apart from a few small corrections (mostly stylistical) I have not added new material (which I do have, e.g. on free will) and left the text mostly as it was and has been since 1996, apart from several reformattings that followed the new looks I have introduced over the years for my site.

It is true that some people don't like to see many or any bold term, but since I do like them (ever since reading books by Hermann Weyl, who also put key-words in bold) and since I believe it helps stressing what the writer had in mind and considers key terms, I thought it useful to add them.

What is still missing:

Originally, I intended my comments to be a first part that was to be followed by a sequel in which I would systematize and somewhat extend and rework my comments in a more systematic fashion.

This part is still "in the works", though a part of it has been done. The main reason it isn't ready is that I have now for over 25 years a rather invalidating disease, that makes me feel tired nearly always and saddles me with muscular pain most of the time. (See: ME.)

All you or I can do about this is hope for the best: If I can find the energy, I will try to finish and publish the planned sequel.

Finally, as regards "2nd issue":

I never as much as printed out a complete version of my comments on the Nouveaux Essays, and indeed rarely print what I can read on the screen. If the first version - that has been on line with the same text for nearly eight years now - had been a paper book, the present version, if also published on paper, would have been a 2nd printing. Since webpublishing is not printing but is publishing, I speak of a 2nd issue - which is like the first, but with a number of corrections.

And perhaps I should here reiterate what I've said at several parts of my - extensive - site: My own texts have my own copyright. You may read them and download them, but (without my prior written permission) you may not print them, you may not quote them without attributing them, you may not multiply them, and you may not pretend they are yours.

Maarten Maartensz
March 2004

Aug 21, 2007: I have made a number of mostly small corrections and improvements. For the moment this is not yet enough to speak of a 3rd issue, but that is in the cards for this year. MM

Index NE :

What follows is a copy of the index of all remarks: The table-headings are links to the starts of the file; the lists in each table are links to the sections thus named in the file the table-heading names.


























Book 2 chapter 21 Of power and freedom (Part a)



Book 2 chapter 21 Of power and freedom (Part b)


























Book 4 chapter 3 Of the extent of human knowledge



Book 4 chapter 4 Of the reality of our knowledge