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GCMEMT Online lecture – Pierpaolo Betti
26 January @ 17:00 - 18:30
You are cordially invited to our next GCMEMT online lecture series event. Next Thursday, 26 January 2023, from 17.00h to 18.30h (CET), Pierpaolo Betti ( KU Leuven) will give a talk on “The Influence of Leibniz’s New Essays on Kant’s Account of Impenetrability in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science” (see abstract below).
As usual, the session will take place online via zoom:
Meeting ID: 964 2773 4479
Title: The Influence of Leibniz’s New Essays on Kant’s Account of Impenetrability in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science
Abstract: In the New Essays on Human Understanding, Leibniz presents his dynamics as an alternative to Locke’s theory of matter. In particular, he holds that matter is not composed of impenetrable atoms separated by the void, and that solidity results from the joint action of the passive and active forces located within the body rather than sheer extension. In the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (MFNS), Kant likewise criticizes “Lambert and others” because they held that solidity and impenetrability are intrinsic qualities of the body. In Kant’s view, these qualities are rather the effects of the complementary forces of repulsion and attraction thanks to which bodies fill space. In the same text, however, Kant is also highly critical of the monadists’ claim according to which the forces of matter arise from point-like monads in space. Yet his stated target is not Leibniz’s own theory of monads, but the atomistic readings of it he attributes to Leibniz’s followers. Various commentators have pointed out that Kant’s approach to matter in the MFNS is heavily indebted to Leibniz’s dynamics. However, the specific impact of the New Essays, which was published posthumously in 1765, on Kant’s account of impenetrability has not received much attention. In this paper I show that there are clear parallels between Leibniz’s and Kant’s account of impenetrability that suggest that the New Essays had an influence on Kant’s MFNS. More specifically, I argue that Kant’s arguments against the various forms of atomism and corpuscularianism of “Lambert and others” resemble the arguments that Leibniz had used against Locke.
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