Monads and Machines

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Pauline Phemister raises a number of queries and problems concerning the distinction between living and non-living machines. Leibniz contends that the presence of the dominating monad ?in? the mass that comprises the organic body gives rise to the animal or corporeal substance that exists as a living, unified entity. From pre-formed seeds, the organic body of this corporeal substance comes into existence as a living machine that is also a machine in the least of its parts and whose organizational structure and internal complexity sustains and preserves it as a biological entity. However, if, granting pre-formation, physiological functions are explicable solely by appeal to the mechanism of the body, what need is there for the dominating monad? Conversely, how can Leibniz rule out pre-formation in bodies we normally presume to be inanimate and as lacking dominating monads? Examination of common defining characteristics of living machines ? self-motion, self-repair, nutrition, reproduction and inner complexity ? brings into focus some of the difficulties and limitations attached to the use of such empirical data to distinguish living from non-living machines.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMachines of Nature and Corporeal Substances in Leibniz
EditorsJustin E. H. Smith, Ohad Nachtomy
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)978 94 007 0040 6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Publication series

NameThe New Synthese Historical Library
PublisherSpringer Netherlands


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