Leibniz on Location
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CitationNguyen, Tran. 2021. Leibniz on Location. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractMy dissertation answers three questions about Leibniz’s neglected views on location. The first concerns location. What are locations for Leibniz and how do we acquire one? More concretely, how would Leibniz explain my being here and your being there? Contrary to a long-standing interpretive tradition, I argue that Leibniz’s answer is simple and yet, novel. On the point of view reading, to have a Leibnizian place is to have a point of view. And nothing more. So contrary to the standard reading and commonsense, Leibniz can answer our place question without ever mentioning the word space or invoking that concept. As I see it, he has no need to.
The second question concerns distance. What are distances for Leibniz? How might he explain the fact that you and I are social distancing? After all, Leibniz’s famous rejection of absolute space means that he cannot appeal to some sort of container-space to explain distance. Here too, I argue that Leibniz’s answer is novel, albeit complicated. On the perceptual paths reading, for one thing to have a distance to another thing is for there to be a perceptual path connecting their places. So as long as the perceptual path connecting you and I measures 6 feet, Leibniz would say that we are social distancing. Leibniz can thus answer our distance question without ever mentioning the word space or invoking that concept. He has no need to.
The third question concerns the occupants of locations and distances. What sorts of things have locations and distances for Leibniz? When you and I social distance, our bodies are 6 feet apart and Leibniz would agree. But what about our souls? Does he think that they are 6 feet apart too? Drawing on the perceptual paths and point of view readings, I argue that Leibnizian souls have locations. How could they not? For every Leibnizian soul has a point of view. Furthermore, there is a perceptual path connecting any two given points of view. Leibnizian souls thus have distances as well. On Leibniz’s view, when you and I social distance, our souls are 6 feet apart.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368371
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