On Analogies in Leibniz's Philosophy: Scientific Discovery and the Case of the "Spiritual Automaton"


This paper analyzes Leibniz's use of analogies in both natural philosophical and metaphysical contexts. Through an examination of Leibniz's notes on scientific methodology, I show that Leibniz explicitly recognizes the utility of analogies as heuristic tools that aid us in conceiving unfamiliar theoretical domains. I further argue that Leibniz uses the notion of a self-moving machine or automaton to help capture the activities of the immaterial soul. My account helps resist the conventional image of Leibniz as an arch-rationalist unconcerned with methods of empirical discovery and contributes to ongoing discussions on the nature of immaterial substance and mind in Leibniz.