Physiology and Organic Bodies

François Duchesneau

in The Oxford Handbook of Leibniz

ISBN: 9780199744725
Published online April 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199984060 | DOI:
Physiology and Organic Bodies

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In Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's time, micro-mechanism seemed to dominate, though not exclusively, the more innovative trend in physiology, and microscopic anatomy (anatomia subtilis) determined the representation of living beings. The basic postulate was that human understanding could rely on microscopic observation and account for microstructures by framing mechanical models: along that trend, hope was to attain the real causes of physiological phenomena. In his natural philosophy, Leibniz grants living beings a prominent place. His metaphysics contains arguments and notions that build on physiological concepts to express the condition of finite substances and the relationship between substances in the phenomenal world. For Leibniz, at least in the later stages of his career, the account of living individuals and of their properties would provide access to a well-founded representation of corporeal substances in general. This article looks at Leibniz's views on physiology and organic bodies, focusing on his conception of living beings as "machines of nature" and his theory of monads.

Keywords: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz; physiology; organic bodies; metaphysics; monads; living beings; machines of nature; corporeal substances; micro-mechanism; microscopic anatomy

Article.  9591 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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