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The Principle of Continuity and Leibniz's Theory of Consciousness


Leibniz viewed the principle of continuity, the principle that all natural changes are produced by degrees, as a useful heuristic for evaluating the truth of a theory. Since the Cartesian laws of motion entailed discontinuities in the natural order, Leibniz could safely reject it as a false theory. The principle of continuity has similar implications for analyses of Leibniz's theory of consciousness. I briefly survey the three main interpretations of Leibniz's theory of consciousness and argue that the standard account entails a discontinuity that Leibniz could not allow. I argue that the principle of continuity and the textual data favor an interpretation according to which a conscious mental state just is a perception that is distinct to a sufficient degree.