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John Marenbon: Why Leibniz misunderstood Abelard

Lecture by John Marenbon (Trinity College, Cambridge) organized by the Dept History of Philosophy


Leibniz is well known for having claimed that God must create the best of all possible universes and then having to struggle, perhaps unsuccessfully, to avoid determinism. Over 500 years before, Peter Abelard put forward a very similar position and also argued, possibly more successfully than Leibniz, that it was compatible with there being contingency in the universe. Leibniz knew Abelard's argument and discusses it in his Theodicy. Yet he does not see Abelard as a precursor, but dismisses him as someone who is merely playing with words. My talk will discuss this strange misunderstanding. I shall explain what Abelard did in fact argue, and then show how Leibniz was led by the late medieval reception of Abelard's argument into misunderstanding his position.

John Marenbon

John Marenbon is a Senior Research Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Honorary Professor of Medieval Philosophy in the University of Cambridge. He has written books and articles on Boethius and Abelard, as well as two general histories of medieval philosophy. He has recently edited the Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy.

When & where?

Wed 23 Jan '13, 15.15
Room Omega, Fac of Philosophy

Everybody welcome!

Laatst gewijzigd:18 december 2012 11:50