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Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man & the Origin of Evil

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Leibniz was above all things a metaphysician. That does not mean that his head was in the clouds, or that the particular sciences lacked interest for him. Not at all--he felt a lively concern for theological debate, he was a mathematician of the first rank, he made original contributions to physics, he gave a realistic attention to moral psychology. But he was incapable of looking at the objects of any special enquiry without seeing them as aspects or parts of one intelligible universe. He strove constantly after system, and the instrument on which his effort relied was the speculative reason. He embodied in an extreme form the spirit of his age. Nothing could be less like the spirit of ours. To many people now alive metaphysics means a body of wild and meaningless assertions resting on spurious argument. A professor of metaphysics may nowadays be held to deal handsomely with the
duties of his chair if he is prepared to handle metaphysical statements at all, though it be only for the purpose of getting rid of them, by showing them up as confused forms of something else. A chair in metaphysical philosophy becomes analogous to a chair in tropical diseases: what is taught from it is not the propagation but the cure.

Confidence in metaphysical construction has ebbed and flowed through philosophical history; periods of speculation have been followed by periods of criticism. The tide will flow again, but it has not turned yet, and [8] such metaphysicians as survive scarcely venture further than to argue a case for the possibility of their art. It would be an embarrassing task to open an approach to Leibnitian metaphysics from the present metaphysical position, if there is a present position. If we want an agreed starting-point, it will have to be historical.

The historical importance of Leibniz's ideas is anyhow unmistakable. If metaphysical thinking is nonsensical, its empire over the human imagination must still be confessed; if it is as chimerical a science as alchemy, it is no less fertile in by-products of importance. And if we are to consider Leibniz historically, we cannot do better than take up his _Theodicy_, for
two reasons. It was the only one of his main philosophical works to be published in his lifetime, so that it was a principal means of his direct influence; the Leibniz his own age knew was the Leibniz of the _Theodicy_. Then in the second place, the _Theodicy_ itself is peculiarly rich in historical material. It reflects the world of men and books which Leibniz
knew; it expresses the theological setting of metaphysical speculation which still predominated in the first years of the eighteenth century........

448 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1710

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About the author

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

595 books451 followers
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was a German polymath and philosopher.

He occupies a prominent place in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy. Most scholars believe Leibniz developed calculus independently of Isaac Newton, and Leibniz's notation has been widely used ever since it was published. It was only in the 20th century that his Law of Continuity and Transcendental Law of Homogeneity found mathematical implementation (by means of non-standard analysis). He became one of the most prolific inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. While working on adding automatic multiplication and division to Pascal's calculator, he was the first to describe a pinwheel calculator in 1685 and invented the Leibniz wheel, used in the arithmometer, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator. He also refined the binary number system, which is the foundation of virtually all digital computers.

In philosophy, Leibniz is most noted for his optimism, i.e., his conclusion that our Universe is, in a restricted sense, the best possible one that God could have created, an idea that was often lampooned by others such as Voltaire. Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three great 17th century advocates of rationalism. The work of Leibniz anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also looks back to the scholastic tradition, in which conclusions are produced by applying reason of first principles or prior definitions rather than to empirical evidence.

Leibniz made major contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in philosophy, probability theory, biology, medicine, geology, psychology, linguistics, and computer science. He wrote works on philosophy, politics, law, ethics, theology, history, and philology. Leibniz's contributions to this vast array of subjects were scattered in various learned journals, in tens of thousands of letters, and in unpublished manuscripts. He wrote in several languages, but primarily in Latin, French, and German. There is no complete gathering of the writings of Leibniz.

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Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews
Profile Image for Peiman E iran.
1,394 reviews684 followers
January 26, 2017
‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، این کتاب نیز همچون دیگر آثارِ <لایب نیتس> حول محورِ خرافات و موهومات دینی و مذهبی میچرخد... او در این کتاب تلاش نموده تا دین و مذهب را به فلسفه بچسباند و این موضوع برایمان روشن میشود که این موجود با پول گرفتن از کلیسا و پاپ، با این نوشته ها جوانان و مردم ساده را فریب میداد تا دانش و فلسفه را که روز به روز پیشرفت میکرد و دین و مذهب را دور ریخته بود را با کلیسا آشتی دهد
‎این نویسندهٔ موهوم گرا، در این کتاب اینگونه میگوید که: خدا به عنوان موجودی توانا و قادر مطلق، هیچگاه دنیایی را خلق نمیکند که دارای مشکل و ایراد و نقص باشد، و این جهانی که ما در آن زندگی میکنیم بهترین جهان ممکن است و هیچ مشکلی ندارد و کم و کاست های این جهان در تمامی جهان های فرضی دیگر که ممکن بود به وجود آیند نیز دیده میشدند!! شما فقط توجیهاتِ این موجود را ببینید
‎این مردِ موهوم پرست اعتقاد دارد که عقل و خرد موهبت خداوند است، پس نباید با علم و دانش و خرد، نبودِ خدا را اثبات کرد... (عزیزانم ببینید چه خزعبلاتی به هم بافته است) ... او ادامه میدهد و میگوید: اگر بخشی از ایمان و مسائل مربوط به خدا با خرد و دانش جور درنیاید، باید آن بخش و مسائل را طرد کرد، ولی خالق توانا را طرد نکرد
‎این موهوم پرست مینویسد: خداوند دانای مطلق است و یکسره از خوبی و نیکی تشکیل شده است، پس امکان ندارد که شر و بدی و زشتی بیافریند... انسانها مخلوقات خدای توانا هستند ولی همین مخلوقات دارای اراده هستند و میتوانند کارهای نادرست و زشت انجام دهند... هیچ کاری بدون ارداهٔ خدا صورت نمیگیرد، و اگر میبینید انسانها بدی میکنند و درد و زشتی در جهان میبینید، خداوند اجازهٔ درد و رنج و گناه و زشتی را صادر کرده است، زیرا این کارها و رفتارها پیامدهایِ لازمِ کم و کاستی هایِ وجود انسانها و شرِ متافیزیک هستند و لذا انسانها میتوانند کم و کاستی ها را با خیر و خوبی های راستین مقایسه نموده و با کمک خدای توانا تصمیمات درست بگیرند
‎عزیزانِ من، شما خودتان با خردِ خویش قضاوت کنید، ببینید چه شر و ورهایی را حاضرند به هم ببافند تا در موردِ موجودی که وجود ندارد سخن بگویند و بدتر از همه اینکه صفت هایی را به موجودی نسبت میدهند که به هیچ وجه نمیتوان وجودش را اثبات نمود و جالب است که خوبی ها را به موجود نامرئی به نامِ خدا مربوط میدانند و بدی ها به آن موجود ربطی ندارد و این جهان که سرتاسر ایراد و نقص است را کامل قلمداد میکنند
‎من نمیدانم چه اصراریست در مورد اثبات خدا این همه تلاش شود!؟؟ خوب بگذارید هرکس زندگی خود را داشته باشد و از زندگی گذشتگان و نیاکان درس گرفته و خوب و بد را تشخیص دهد... چرا سعی دارید تمام کارهای این جهان را به موجودی نامرئی مرتبط بدانید؟ به قول زنده یاد زکریایِ رازیِ بزرگوار و خردمند: فلسفه و دانش را با دین و مذهبِ ابلهانه و کثیفِ خود، قاطی نکنید و بگذارید دانش و فلسفه پاک و خوب بماند
‎امیدوارم فریبِ این نویسنده ها چه در زمان گذشته و نویسنده هایی که از افکار این نویسنده ها پیروی میکنند را نخورید، و تنها از خرد و اندیشهٔ انسانی پیروی کرده و دانش و خرد را راهنمای خویش قرار دهید
‎<پیروز باشید و ایرانی>
Profile Image for Anna Carina S..
381 reviews63 followers
Shelved as 'ungelesen-digital'
February 1, 2023
Ich liebe es wenn Bücher aus der Lektüre von Büchern hervorgehen!
In Wie man mit Fundamentalisten diskutiert, ohne den Verstand zu verlieren : Anleitung zum subversiven Denken wir das Argument ad lapidem behandelt:
"Im Argument ad lapidem wird eine handfeste triviale Tatsache angeführt, durch welche eine subtile, theoretische Argumentation widerlegt werden soll, ohne im einzelnen auf deren eventuell raffinierte Gedankenführung einzugehen. Es macht den Reiz einer Figur aus, dass nicht ohne weiteres zu entscheiden ist, ob sie überzeugend sein wird oder nicht.
Ein geistesgeschichtlich berühmtes Beispiel ist der Roman Candide, der sich in satirischer Form gegen Leibnizens These richtet, diese unsere Welt mitsamt ihrem ganzen Elend sie die beste aller möglichen. Leibniz hatte das Problem der Theodizee dadurch gelöst, dass er philosophisch nachwies, eine bessere Welt als diese, unsere, sei gar nicht möglich. Anstatt aber auf Leibnizens tiefgründige Argumentation einzugehen, schildert Voltaire im Candide ein einzelnes menschliches Leben, das buchstäblich von einem Unglück ins nächste taumelt. In die Schilderung aller Leiden und Unglücksfälle dieses Lebens werden gelegentlich Kommentare im Stile der Leibnizschen Philosophie eingeblendet. Voltaire erspart sich eine inhaltliche Auseinandersetzung mit dieser Philosophie, er konfrontiert sie einfach mit der Realität, dies allerdings tut er drastisch.Die Bewertung von Voltaires Argumentation hat immer geschwankt. Für deutsche Metaphysiker geht Voltaire an Leibnizens Argumenten vorbei, ohne deren Tiefgründigkeit zu begreifen. Die Anhänger Voltaires anderseits meinen, der Roman Candide zeige ein für allemal die Lächerlichkeit der Leibnizschen "Theo-Philosophie", an der nichts tief sei, außer ihrem Unsinn."

Wie werde ich dazu stehen?
Profile Image for Xander.
410 reviews138 followers
August 21, 2020
Having read the editor's introduction, Leibniz' preface and his first essay, I decided to put the book down. This is as dry and formal as philosophy gets. This in and of itself isn't a problem, but the subject matter - the pre-established harmony of the world due to God's goodness, wisdom and power - is really not my cup of tea.

I consider myself to be an atheist, in the sense that I know the Gods postulated by all human religions thus far cannot exist and we have no evidence to suppose their existence to begin with. I am less militaristic against religion than I used to be ten years ago and I can even value religious ideas as historically important, intrinsically fascinating, and manifestations of deep-seated human desires and emotions. That being said, a work spanning 350 pages or so in which a theologian tries to convince me of the Christian God being the source of this universe and all its order and regularities, and about the benevolence of the universe towards us, is rather too much.

Having read Leibniz' Discourse on Metaphysics and Monadology, I wanted to dip into his more theological writings. I tried to have an open mind but the book simply cannot engage me. And after some 70 pages or so I ought to draw the only right conclusion: this book isn't for me. It thus would be rather silly of me to rate this book, considering I haven't read most of it. Suffice to say: I cannot recommend it to people, with the only exception being (perhaps) people who really want to dive into seventeenth century philosophy and know all the intricate details. I've read quite a bit of Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza and Locke, and all of them far surpass Leibniz in liveliness and appeal. (Although most of them lack Leibniz' clarity.)
Profile Image for 110.
20 reviews
January 24, 2009
Leibniz is my friend... I like him a lot... his arguments are similar to al-Ghazali's.
Profile Image for Aung Sett Kyaw Min.
215 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2019
leibniz gets a lot of mileage out of picking apart the claims made by his contemporary Pierre Bayle, who in his opinion, failed to distinguished between three types of necessity--absolute geometrical necessity, moral necessity (freedom), and absolute arbitrariness. in other words, god's decrees are free and spontaneous because they are morally necessary. leibniz also recognizes at least three faculties in god--understanding, wisdom and will. along the way he shits on spinoza's system for denying understanding and will to god while praising his own System of Pre Established Harmony for carving out a place for spontaneity and free choice
this is a dry piece of writing even with leibniz's banter
Profile Image for Bahattin Cizreli.
49 reviews4 followers
April 17, 2020
Eseri yazdığım bir metinle ilgili daha önce tespit ettiğim bazı genel bilgileri doğrulatmak amacıyla hızla okudum. Ayrıca felsefe ve ilahiyat araştırmacısı olarak değil sosyolog olarak baktım. Bu nedenlerle kapsamlı bir değerlendirme yapamayacağım. Ancak şunu diyebilirim ki eğer ontoloji, teodise, kötülük problemi gibi konulara odaklanmış bir felsefe veya ilahiyat öğrencisi iseniz muhakkak okumanız gereken temel bir eser.
Profile Image for Brian Watson.
246 reviews13 followers
August 2, 2019
Five stars for Leibniz's book and three stars for this translation, which averages to four stars.

Many people are only familiar with Leibniz's ideas through the distorted lens of Voltaire's famous satirical novella, Candide. Pangloss, the philosopher and teacher of Candide, maintains that this is the best of all possible worlds, despite the cruelty, torture, and senseless misery Voltaire cooks up for his characters. However, there is much more to Leibniz than that idea. Having read this entire book, as well as portions of Leibniz's other writings, I believe Leibniz means the following: the succession of worlds, i.e., God's entire plan for his creation, is the best. Leibniz does not come to this conclusion through some kind of naive empirical study of the world. Rather, his view is based on his doctrine of God. Because God is omnipotent, good, and wise, he would necessarily create that which is best, even if we don't realize how everything in the world contributes to that best plan. With that, I concur.

Part of what makes this a hard read is that it's an occasional book: Leibniz wrote it in large part to refute the writings of Pierre Bayle. But the book also expresses his mature thoughts about the problem of evil. For that, it's worth reading, even if his refutation of Bayle no longer seems relevant.

That being said, Theodicy deserves a better translation and edition. The introduction by Farrer isn't the best. That actual translation leaves many sentences in Latin and any other language other than the original French text untranslated, which isn't helpful to many English readers. Furthermore, there are no footnotes or endnotes that help the reader make sense of the text. If this text were published in a Penguin Classics, Oxford's World Classics, or Hackett edition, it would have such notes. The time for a new translation, with such notes, is now.

Still, philosophers and theologians would do well to wrestle through this book. Chew on it and spit out the bones.
Profile Image for Nick.
189 reviews24 followers
September 30, 2022
Leibniz’s Theodicy is really about justifying evil in light of god’s existence rather than justifying god’s existence in light of the problem of evil so may not be what you’re looking for. The reasoning goes that god couldn’t make a perfect world since that wouldn’t be distinguishable from god so the creation would have to be less than the creator. God however could only create the best of all possible worlds which not being perfect is the best because it exists rather than not exist as a mere possibility of omnipotence. Thus evil which ultimately springs from privation and free will is necessary in a good albeit imperfect world. This line of reasoning preserves for Leibniz a transcendental god, free will and a distinction between good and evil, although the most this kind of reasoning by itself can establish is some sort of deism that evil can be reconciled with an orderly universe and a supreme being but for traditional theism is a more positive and difficult endeavor. These arguments rely on a lot of assumptions given how it relies on contingency rather than necessity. Leibniz also has to deny that all possible universes exist or that they are all part of the same universe. Schopenhauer’s response was that if the world was any worse it couldn’t exist at all but Leibniz denied the strict necessity of all events. Yet if all is contingent then the there still has to be some necessary reasoning for this particular universe to exist among others which is where Leibniz argues for the ethical necessity of the world assuming the existence of god.
Profile Image for Lesung vor Acht.
43 reviews
February 16, 2021
Man kann das Werk auf eine Streitfrage herunterbrechen: Ist es möglich, dass sämtliche Widrigkeiten des Lebens einem höheren Ziel dienlich sind? Leibniz nimmt eine bejahende Position ein und verteidigt sich gegen seine Gegner. Zur Frage, inwiefern sämtliche Leiden diesem sogenannten Ziel dienen, schweigt er sich jedoch aus. Demenstprechend ist seine Argumentation trotz der schönen Aufmachung nicht sonderlich stichhaltig und bleibt - obwohl in sich geschlossen - fundamental lückenhaft.
Profile Image for E..
Author 1 book20 followers
February 21, 2020
First an explanation of what it means to "read" 500 pages of old philosophical prose--you skim through sections looking for the good, engaging material, the new idea, the argument you really want to focus on. You don't always painstakingly read every word.

For a while I was overwhelmed by the thoroughness of this book, so unlike Leibniz's Discourse and Monadology which are short and succinct. But eventually I grew deep admiration for Leibniz.

For one, he may have been one of the most well-read intellectuals ever. The sheer breadth and diversity of figures he sites is incredible, some of them now minor or forgotten folk (like his detailed discussion of the supralapsarian theologians). This contrasts with what I read about Descartes last year in a biography, that he didn't like reading other people's books.

Also, Leibniz will spend pages and pages trying to fully grasp another authors arguments, sometimes presenting it in a better light than the author themselves did, before then refuting it with objections.

So, a monumental intellectual achievement . . . but I still disagree with him about most of his conclusions. I am not persuaded that this is the best of all possible worlds, that pre-established harmony is the solution to the mind-body problem, and more.
Profile Image for Frau Ott.
726 reviews2 followers
May 12, 2017
While this was very interesting -- it needs to be read and reread bit by bit. Leibniz' thoughts are very deep. I found myself reading aloud and reading sections twice. I have bookmarked sections that I want to spend more time with. It certainly made me think and I also have a better understanding of the philosophers of the time.
Profile Image for Dan Snyder.
98 reviews6 followers
January 14, 2014
One of the nicest explications of the knowable- that which is available to comprehend, that which may be only apprehended. The thought is elegant and makes a nice map of paradox or Kant's realm of possible human experience.
Profile Image for Berk.
220 reviews
September 7, 2017

Meb yayınlarından çıkmış ama çok saçma bir dipnot sistemi var, daha doğrusu dipnot numaraları orda ama dipnotlar ortada yok. O yüzden bol bol uzun Latince pasajları anlamaya çalışırken buldum kendimi, keyifliydi. Tanrı'ya iman hakkında bir kitap ne kadar rasyonel olabilirse bu kitap ondan biraz daha az rasyonel olmalı. İçinde Tanrı'ya iman olan bir felsefenin ayaklarını yere değdirmenin yolları üzerine bol alıntılı-incelemeli bir deneme. Anladığ��m kadarıyla benim elimdeki kitap bir giriş niteliğindeydi sadece.
95 reviews
April 18, 2022
Brilliant mind at work.

This author expresses himself of so many great and Brilliant ideas, that it would be unworthy to fault him for any shortcomings, the most of which would fall into the category of Revelations of science, subsequent to his time of writing.
Profile Image for An Te.
383 reviews25 followers
January 8, 2021
It was good in the first handful of chapters, but this book is certainly hard work. Gave up, but it is not ruled out from a future attempt if I consider it relevant again.
Profile Image for Oğuzcan Önver.
90 reviews15 followers
February 27, 2017
Fizik, matematik, felsefe, dil ne varsa hepsinden birden anlayan son ustalardan Leibniz. Hiçbir şey boşuna olmaz. Ahlaki kötülük günahtır, fiziksel kötülük ağrıdır ve metafizik kötülük sınırlamadır. Biraz korkak bir adam ama bu kitabında işi ciddiye alıyor, dili de sıkıcı aslında nerden baksan, hayatta kalmak için her şeyi sınırlamaya çalışıyor, ama gaddarlaşmıyor en azından ben olsam gaddarlaşırım.
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