Leibniz  book cover
2nd Edition


ISBN 9780429422775
Published August 22, 2019 by Routledge
260 Pages

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Book Description

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was hailed by Bertrand

Russell as ‘one of the supreme intellects of all time’. A towering figure

in seventeenth-century philosophy, he was the author of a complex

system of thought that has been championed and satirized in

equal measure, most famously in Voltaire’s Candide.

In this outstanding introduction to his philosophy, Nicholas Jolley examines

and assesses the whole of Leibniz’s philosophy. Beginning with

an account of Leibniz’s life and work, he carefully explains the core elements

of Leibniz’s metaphysics: his theories of substance, identity and

individuation; his doctrine of monads; and his important debate over

the nature of space and time with Newton’s champion, Samuel Clarke.

He then introduces Leibniz’s theories of mind, knowledge, and innate

ideas, showing how Leibniz anticipated the distinction between

conscious and unconscious states, before examining his doctrine of

free will and his solution to the problem of evil. An important feature

of the book is its survey of Leibniz’s moral and political philosophy,

an overlooked aspect of his work.

The final chapter assesses Leibniz’s legacy and the impact of his philosophy

on philosophy as a whole, particularly on the work of Immanuel

Kant. Throughout, Jolley places Leibniz in relation to some of the other

great philosophers, such as Descartes, Spinoza, and Locke, and discusses


key works, such as the Monadology and Discourse on Metaphysics.

This second edition has been revised throughout and includes a

new chapter on Leibniz and philosophy of language.

Table of Contents


List of Abbreviations



1. Life and Works

2. The Metaphysics of Substances: Unity and Activity

3. The Theory of Monads

4. Mind, Knowledge, and Ideas

5. Natural and Philosophical Language

6. Human and Divide Freedom

7. The Problem of Evil

8. Ethics and Politics

9. Legacy and Influence.




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Nicholas Jolley is Professor Emeritus, University of California, Irvine, USA.


Praise for the First Edition:

'…an excellent volume in the new Routledge Philosophers series. High marks are in order for its clarity, accessibility and acumen, as well as for the pace and style of its prose.' - Samuel Levey, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

'…full, thoughtful, lucid and interesting, and it can be recommended without hesitation both to those who are new to Leibniz’s philosophy and those who are well acquainted with it.' - G.H.R Parkinson, British Journal for the History of Philosophy

'Jolley has done a fabulous job, and the result is perfectly suited for its intended purpose and audience. The work is very clearly written; the organization is excellent; and the coverage comprehensive.' - Vere Chappell, University of Massachusetts, USA

'Reading this gave me great pleasure – it is interesting, illuminating, systematic, thorough and above all pleasantly, smoothly and accessibly written. A splendid book.' - Roger Woolhouse, University of York, UK

'An excellent work. It will clearly establish itself as the the best introduction to the thought of Leibniz and I would recommend it to all students wrestling with this difficult philosophy for the first time.' - Brandon C. Look, University of Kentucky, USA