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Leibniz and Natural Teleology in the 18th century

Abstract : The study of the reception of Leibniz in 18th-century natural philosophy is one possible means of addressing the issue of the heuristic value of teleology. (...) Several of Leibniz’s commentators have recently proposed methodological distinctions between divine teleology and natural teleology . Their aim is to focus on the epistemological contribution of teleological principles in Leibniz’s natural philosophy and to set aside the much-discussed problem of theodicy. Julia Jorati distinguishes for example between intrinsic teleology (end-directedness due to intrinsic features of the agent) and extrinsic teleology (end-directedness that creaturely actions have in virtue of serving God’s ends). Glenn Hartz makes a similar, useful distinction between macro-teleology, which “inquires into the relationship between events in the world of mechanism and the purposes and goals God had in mind as he selected this”, and micro-teleology, which “aims at relating a delimited set of mechanical events to a set of goals and purposes of finite beings” . But the possibility of distinguishing between the intentional purposes of a divine creator and the intrinsic goals of created beings is challenged by the very “physico-theology” that Leibniz regarded as both epistemologically and theologically useful. Consequently, studies on 18th-century physico-theology may help us to clarify the different terms at issue: is the same kind of finality at stake in the “hymnus Galeni” concerning organic functions and in the architectonic use of the principle of optimum in physics? And how exactly do “the details of physics” instantiate the general harmony of the world? In order to shed new light on these kinds of questions, the present issue explores how Leibniz’s 18th-century readers embodied in their own philosophical doctrines multiple interpretative possibilities opened up by Leibniz’s texts.
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Contributor : Raphaële Andrault Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, July 2, 2020 - 2:03:05 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 1:10:40 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02887664, version 1


Raphaële Andrault, Christian Leduc. Leibniz and Natural Teleology in the 18th century. Studia Leibnitiana, 50/1 (June 2018), Franz Steiner Verlag, 2020. ⟨halshs-02887664⟩



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