Leibniz’s Ontology of Relations: A Last Word?<sup>1</sup>

Massimo Mugnai

in Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy Volume VI

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199659593
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745218 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy

Leibniz’s Ontology of Relations: A Last Word?1

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Since Bertrand Russell's seminal A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz (1900), Leibniz's scholars continue to discuss the ontological nature that Leibniz attributed to relations. On one hand, there are interpreters who consider Leibniz as a full fledged anti-realist, for whom all kind of relations and relational attributes are merely ‘mental things’; on the other, there are interpreters who, attributing to Leibniz the distinction between relations in the proper sense and  relational properties denoted by relational predicates, claim that Leibniz denied any reality to the first, but not to the second. To settle this controversy the chapter proceeds in three steps. First, it presents some basic concepts of the scholastic (and late-scholastic) ontology of relations, which constitutes the background of Leibniz's ideas on the same subject. Second, it sketches Leibniz's own doctrine about the ontological nature of relations. Third it attempts to settle the question between the two rival interpretations, showing that Leibniz as the main nominalist-conceptualists of his time, does not consider relational properties as really distinct from their foundations

Keywords: G.W. Leibniz; relations; predicates; relational; nominalism; relation

Chapter.  16142 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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