The Leibniz Review 9:87-95 (1999)

Approaches to historical figures may be roughly divided into three clumps. Internalist approaches feature close textual exegesis, analyzing, interpreting and interpolating various texts of the thinker, all in aid of careful exposition of his or her flow of thought; Don Rutherford’s Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature provides an exemplar here. Externalist approaches attempt to place the thinker in his or her intellectual milieu, paying careful attention to links of origin and consequence; Catherine Wilson’s Leibniz’s metaphysics: a historical and comparative study is an exemplar of this sort of work. Historicist approaches attempt to find contemporary relevance for aspects of the thinker’s work, oftentimes extending and extrapolating elements of the original texts in consistent and coherent ways; Dionysios Anastasiou Anapolitanos’s Leibniz: Representation, Continuity, and the Spatio-Temporal is an exemplar of this approach. Anapolitanos investigates Leibniz’s writings on the continuum in an attempt not only to discover the nature of Leibniz’s view of the issues, but also to asses his successes and failures in dealing with this difficult topic’s inherent problems. Anapolitanos‘s conclusion is quite straightforward: Leibniz’s own solution to the labyrinthus continui fails, but “without substantial modifications, his metaphysics could have allowed him to adopt a solution much closer to our modern conception of the problem.” This is a bold claim, clearly revisionary, clearly historicist, perhaps anachronistic, but, if Anapolitanos can successfully make his argument, it is a useful and interesting point to add to contemporary Leibniz scholarship. In my view, the argument succeeds.
Keywords History of Philosophy  Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 1524-1556
DOI leibniz199992
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