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Last Updated on January 1, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 320

The Monadology (French: La Monadologie) is a 1714 short text written by famed German philosopher, mathematician, and polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. It is originally written in French and consists of 90 paragraphs which showcase his personal philosophy on idealism, metaphysics, and the monad.

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Monad comes from the Greek word ‘μονάς’ which means ‘unit’ or ‘singularity,’ and Leibniz defines it as an incorporeal, spiritual, and elementary matter or substance that represents the entire universe from a distinctive perspective. Monads are not necessarily connected to one another, but they still function in perfect harmony, carefully organized by God or a divine entity.

Throughout his text, Leibniz theorizes on several subjects which connect to the monad and explains various concepts, notions, and principles which are closely related to the metaphysical, philosophical, psychological, and theological fields of research.

Thus, he attempts to define the human soul, suggesting that it is a monad that can perceive and memorize information; he analyzes the human senses, which according to his theory are the main ‘tools’ that help us perceive said information; he analyzes the basic principles of reason, truth, knowledge, identity, continuity, and action and reaction; and he theorizes on the existence of God via a priori and a posteriori arguments, concluding that a divine being such as God exists, and it is a perfect, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient entity. In his argumentation on the existence of God, he also expresses his belief that our world is probably the best world in the entire universe, which signifies his optimism.

Essentially, Leibniz wrote a short text in which he attempts to answer the most important questions of human existence.

The text was very well received and gained generally positive reviews, although some analysts have mentioned that, if the readers are not familiar with Leibniz’s thought-provoking and contemporary philosophical views, they might find the text to be a bit confusing and difficult to understand.

You can find Leibniz's full text here.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 277

Monadology is undoubtedly Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s best-known work. Because it is a condensed statement of his main philosophical principles, written late in life, there is good reason for this popularity. On the other hand, its popularity is somewhat strange, because Leibniz himself gave no title to the manuscript and it was not published during his lifetime. Written in French in 1714, it was first published in German in 1720. Not until 1840 did the original French version appear, and the title La Monadologie, given to the work at that time, has remained. Although Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l’homme et l’origine du mal (1710; Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil, 1951) represents Leibniz’s philosophical and theological interests more directly, and his Nouveaux essais sur l’entendement humain (wr. 1704, pb. 1765; New Essays Concerning Human Understanding, 1896) undoubtedly provoked more immediate interest, Monadology remains important as a brief metaphysical sketch.

Monadology has been called an “encyclopaedia of Leibniz’s philosophy,” and one of its drawbacks is that in a strict sense, the reader needs to know Leibniz’s other writings in order to understand its contents properly. Support can be found for considering Theodicy to be a more central work from the fact that Leibniz himself added references in the margin of his manuscript (later named Monadology) referring particularly to passages in Theodicy where the views were more fully expressed. Yet Monadology can be, and usually has been, read alone. As...

(The entire section contains 3096 words.)

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