Leibniz and the Shelf of Essence

The Leibniz Review 15:27-47 (2005)
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Abstract

This paper addresses D. C. Williams’s question, “How can Leibniz know that he is a member of the actual world and not merely a possible monad on the shelf of essence?” A variety of answers are considered. Ultimately, it is argued that no particular perception of a state of affairs in the world can warrant knowledge of one’s actuality, nor can the awareness of any property within oneself; rather, it is the nature of experience itself, with the flow of perceptions, that guarantees our actuality. A consequence of this view is that no non-actual individuals can truly be said to experience their worlds, nor can they ask the question if they are actual or not.

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Brandon Look
University of Kentucky

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
What is it like to be a bat?Thomas Nagel - 1974 - Philosophical Review 83 (October):435-50.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
A Combinatorial Theory of Possibility.David Malet Armstrong - 1989 - Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
What is it Like to be a Bat?Thomas Nagel - 2003 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.

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