Leibniz's mirrors: Reflecting the past

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


My aim in this paper is to explore Leibniz’s intriguing description of the monad as a living mirror of the universe. I begin with a few brief observations on the status of mirrors in seventeenth century France, before embarking on a more detailed examination of the metaphor itself that focuses in particular on the ways in which mirrors represent space and time, the varying degrees of clarity and distinctness of their representations, and the ways in which mirrors reflect themselves. After arguing that all reflections are reflections upon the past and that self-reflection rests in part on the ability to perceive others different from the self, I turn finally to the question of how self-reflecting moral beings might best reflect the lives of others, and conclude by suggesting that self-reflecting beings have a moral imperative to love other self-reflecting beings, be they in the past, the present or the future, and to mirror the beauty of the world and its creator God as best they can.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFür Unser Gluck oder Das Gluck Anderer
Subtitle of host publicationVortrage des X. Internationalen Leibniz-Kongresses Hannover 18-23 Juli 2016
EditorsWenchao Li, Ute Beckmann, Sven Erdner, Esther-Maria Errulat, Jurgen Herbst, Helena Iwasinski, Simona Noreik
Place of PublicationHildesheim, Zurich, New York
PublisherGeorg Olms Verlag
ISBN (Print)978-3-487-15439-8
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventX Internationaler Leibniz Kongress - Leibniz University of Hannover , Hannover, Germany
Duration: 18 Jul 201623 Jul 2016


ConferenceX Internationaler Leibniz Kongress


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