The souls of seeds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Pauline Phemister (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom), in the paper Souls of Seeds, argues that Leibniz’s pre-established harmonious unfolding of individuals’ essences is rightly granted a pivotal role in his metaphysics. Most commonly understood in terms of the unfolding of monadic sequences of perceptions and appetitions, the closely related theories of organic-body preformation and the unfolding into visibility of plants and animals from their seeds have until recently largely been ignored. The author questions why, despite the thoroughgoing mechanical preformation of organic bodies, Leibniz insisted that the preformed seeds of animals and other living things must contain souls, entelechies or substantial forms. The issue is raised through contrast with Malebranche’s doctrine of preformation that makes no such claim.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLeibniz's Metaphysics and Adoption of Substantial Forms
Subtitle of host publicationBetween Continuity and Transformation
EditorsAdrian Nita
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
ISBN (Electronic)9789401799560
ISBN (Print)9789401799553, 9789402402223
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameThe New Synthese Historical Library
ISSN (Print)1879-8578
ISSN (Electronic)2352-2585


  • seeds
  • souls
  • preformation
  • transformation
  • Malebranche


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