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Gerard
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xx Pre-established Harmony: Is this fair?
« Thread started on: Feb 23rd, 2015, 12:38am »

This is from Wikipedia, but is it a fair representation of what Leibniz held regarding his "pre-established Harmony" (or an over simplification of his views)?

Quote:
An apple falls on Alice's head, apparently causing the experience of pain in her mind. In fact, the apple does not cause the pain the pain is caused by some previous state of Alice's mind. If Alice then seems to shake her hand in anger, it is not actually her mind that causes this, but some previous state of her hand.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-established_harmony

I'm pretty sure the last part of that is wrong, because I don't think Leibniz would consider Alice's hand (apart from Alice herself, and her mind) a substance.

And the first part

Quote:
An apple falls on Alice's head, apparently causing the experience of pain in her mind. In fact, the apple does not cause the pain the pain is caused by some previous state of Alice's mind.

seems wrong to me too.

I mean, would Leibniz really have held that the ISIS terrorists who burned that Jordanian pilot alive didn't really cause his physical death?

Or that any pain he felt in that physical body, in the last moments of his physical life, wasn't really caused by the flames they ignited (but only by his own mind)?

Is that a fair an accurate representation of what Leibniz meant by his "pre-established harmony"?

I know he sometimes said that monads (minds or souls?) were windowless, but didn't he also say that they were always joined to some kind of physical body, and that physical things interact with each other, and that each monad somehow reflects the physical things and other monads around it (and ultimately, from it's own perspective, the whole universe)?

I'm not sure I understand any of this, but it seems like it might be a little more complicated than the wikipedia makes out.

Can anyone help?
« Last Edit: Feb 23rd, 2015, 01:56am by Gerard » User IP Logged

Appetitio
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xx Re: Pre-established Harmony: Is this fair?
« Reply #1 on: Feb 24th, 2015, 09:19am »

Yes, it is complicated. The basic idea is that there are two kingdoms, the physical kingdom of causes and effects and there is a kingdom of grace, the metaphysical world of monads. And these two are in pre-established harmony with each other (the harmony is created by God in creation). A human being is an unity formed by an aggregate of substances of which there are lower-level monads and one higher-level monad which is called a spirit. The spirit is the mind and the aggregate of lower-level monads the body. Now, the relationship between the mind and the body is regulated by the pre-established harmony (see Leibniz's paper New system of 1695). So when I want to raise my arm, the decision is made by the mind, the spirit, and through the pre-established harmony (psychophysical parallelism) the hand in the body-side of the compound rises. (See here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/leibniz-mind/)

A good way to get into this problematic is to read the correspondence between Leibniz, Bayle & others, translated to English in this book: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198248453.do

Hope this helps...

Ps. The Alice-example of the wikipedia is right, that is discussed in the book above. As there is no direct interaction between monads (they have no windows), the states of mind and body follow from their previous states and the series of states of Alice's mind correspond with the series of states of Alice's body through the harmony.
« Last Edit: Feb 24th, 2015, 09:22am by Appetitio » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Pre-established Harmony: Is this fair?
« Reply #2 on: Feb 24th, 2015, 09:52am »

Quote:
Ps. The Alice-example of the wikipedia is right, that is discussed in the book above. As there is no direct interaction between monads

I have the feeling "direct" (as a qualifier here) might be a pretty important little word.

Are you saying (and did Leibniz mean to say) that there's no sense in which I'm responsible for hurting Alice if I set her hair on fire?

Is she wholly responsible for her own discomfort if I take a sharp stick and put it in her eye?

Is her pain solely caused by her own previous mental states, with my actions having nothing to do with it?

If that were true, why would God, or a human court of justice, hold me responsible for the way I treat Alice?

Surely Leibniz didn't deny we have moral responsibilities towards each other (or that these responsibilities are based on our actions), did he?

And unless Alice's hand has a mind and mental states of it's own, surely the wikipedia article isn't right when it says "If Alice then seems to shake her hand in anger, it is not actually her mind that causes this, but some previous state of her hand."

Quote:
Yes, it is complicated.

Here's an interesting quote (from a book I was just reading) that seems relevant here:

"It is because it is associated with a body that a monad mirrors, represents or perceives the whole universe. For as it's body is part of the causally connected plenum of the material world, so through it's association with it's body a monad perceives that whole world."

I'm not sure I understand that, but it seems like that might be the answer here?

Am I starting to get it?
« Last Edit: Feb 26th, 2015, 06:57am by Gerard » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Pre-established Harmony: Is this fair?
« Reply #3 on: Feb 27th, 2015, 09:52am »

Yes, that's the answer. Each monad mirrors all the other mirrors. There is a discussion knows as Bayle's dog where a dog is hit by a stick. While the blow affects the body (aggregate of lower-level monads), it is reflected in the mind (due to pre-established harmony), same thing with humans. Moral philosophy is discussed by Leibniz in a detached form from all this, but a similar answer applies to your first example. This is difficult to understand, I admit, and I am not quite sure of all the details myself. A good paper to read is by Donald Rutherford in collection Rutherford & Cover: Leibniz, Freedom and Spontaineity on this topic.
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Gerard
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xx Re: Pre-established Harmony: Is this fair?
« Reply #4 on: Mar 9th, 2015, 08:38am »

on Feb 27th, 2015, 09:52am, mroinila wrote:
Yes, that's the answer. Each monad mirrors all the other mirrors. There is a discussion knows as Bayle's dog where a dog is hit by a stick. While the blow affects the body (aggregate of lower-level monads), it is reflected in the mind (due to pre-established harmony), same thing with humans. Moral philosophy is discussed by Leibniz in a detached form from all this, but a similar answer applies to your first example. This is difficult to understand, I admit, and I am not quite sure of all the details myself. A good paper to read is by Donald Rutherford in collection Rutherford & Cover: Leibniz, Freedom and Spontaineity on this topic.


Thank you.
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