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

Abstract:

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.