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Discourse on Metaphysics | Study Guide

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Year Written





Argument, Philosophy, Religion

At a Glance

Discourse on Metaphysics is the first key text that conveys Leibniz's general philosophy. The New System of Nature (1695) and the Monadology (1714) can be viewed as later developments of the original philosophy set out in Discourse on Metaphysics. As Leibniz is a central figure in Western philosophy, understanding this work is an important and necessary step in understanding philosophy itself.

The fundamental philosophical issues Leibniz seeks to resolve are ongoing issues in the fields of philosophy, theology, logic, and physics. These issues include the nature of "substance" (that which fundamentally underlies all of existence); the possibility of free will (conscious choice) in a fateful universe with its laws of nature; the relation between mind and matter; the sentience of all beings including plants; the possibility and nature of an afterlife; the problem of evil in relation to an all-good and all-powerful God; and how to justify fundamental logical principles.

About the Title

The term discourse means "discussion." The prefix meta- means "beyond." Metaphysics refers to the philosophic study of realities "beyond the physical," such as the natures of being and knowledge in relation to the universe. The metaphysical issues discussed in the text include logical principles, the nature of existence, consciousness, divinity, space, and time.


This study guide for Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's Discourse on Metaphysics offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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