Abstract

In early writings, Leibniz mocks Scholastic privation theory, according to which evils are the lacks of appropriate perfections whose existence does not require the general concurrence of God. In the mid-1680s, Leibniz appears to change his mind, and he defends privation theory by name during the rest of his career. In this paper, I argue that this apparent about-face is misleading: the privation theory Leibniz later defends is not the traditional theory he once scorned. I show instead that Leibniz came to regard his own distinctive metaphysics of evil, his “original limitation theory,” as a suitable replacement for Scholastic privation theory and for which he could readily claim the mantle of traditionalism. I then explore Leibniz’s original limitation theory in fresh detail and conclude that the Scholastics themselves would have rejected Leibniz’s terminological co-opting on grounds that Leibniz’s original limitation theory contains a false ontology of evil.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 281-308
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-23
Open Access
No
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