Leibniz and the Foundations of Physics: The Later Years

Jeffrey K. McDonough (Harvard University)

Date & Time:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


MCH 110
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105

(aimed at upper level phil. majors and minors)

In this talk, I’ll offer an account of the relationship between extended Leibnizian bodies and unextended Leibnizian monads, an account that shows why Leibniz was right to see intimate, explanatory connections between his studies in physics and his mature metaphysics. I’ll first set the stage by introducing a case study from Leibniz’s technical work on the strength of extended, rigid beams. I’ll then draw on that case to introduce a model for understanding Leibniz’s views on the relationship between derivative and primitive forces, and use that model in turn to shed light on his understanding of the relationship between the extended, material bodies and unextended, immaterial monads. Anticipating an objection, I’ll close by arguing that Leibniz’s monads may, in a perfectly reasonable sense, be spatially located.


All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.