Philosophy and Culture
Daniel Tiffany, University of Southern California
1 The role of the idea of
philosophical style in Leibniz's thought is carefully delineated in
2 On the origin and historical
vicissitudes of Leibniz's theory of unconscious perception (which
has no mechanism of repression), see Miller 43.
3 Walter Benjamin
discusses these adaptations of monadological principles in his dissertation,
"The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism" (134-135, 147).
4 The monadological
schema of the Trauerspiel book appears in its notoriously difficult "Epistemo-Critical
Preface." In 1923, when he was writing the book, Benjamin wrote to
his friend Christian Rang describing his regard for "Leibniz's entire
way of thinking, his idea of the monad, which I adopt for my definition
of ideas" (Selected Writings 1:389). The most explicit contemporaneous
account of Benjamin's monadological method appears in Kracauer, "On
the Writings of Walter Benjamin." In addition, Benjamin's correlation
of riddles and names (the verbal counterpart of the monad) in "Riddle
and Mystery," a fragment written in 1921, reveals a distinctive feature
of Benjamin's monadology (Selected Writings 1:267-268).
5 The phrase "labyrinth of the continuum" appears in Leibniz, Theodicy 53.
6 Donald Rutherford
remarks on Leibniz's use of phrases such as "the thread of Ariadne" or "thread
of meditation" to describe his conception of symbolic logic. (Rutherford
258n17). Leibniz's reference to the "Ariadne thread" of etymology appears
in a letter to Ludolf (1687)(Samtliche Schriften und Briefe 5:31,
cited in Aarsleff 94-95, 100n42.
7 In the
seventeenth century the phrase "mechanical philosophy" refers
to the new critical philosophy associated with the revival of atomism
(and with Descartes in particular), which is to be contrasted with
scholasticism, or the "common philosophy." Discussion of
Leibniz's phraseology of the characteristique can be found
in Rutherford (228-230, 256-257n12).
to his "invention" of the "universal characteristic," Leibniz offers
a number of analogies for its analytic potency: "My invention includes
the whole use of reason, a judge for controversies, an interpretation
of notions, a balance of probabilities, a compass which will pilot
us through the ocean of experience, an inventory of things, a table
of thoughts, a microscope to scrutinize the closest objects, a telescope
to individuate those most distant, a general calculus, a guiltless
kind of magic, a kind of writing that everybody will read in his
own language" (Leibniz, Samtliche Schriften und Briefe 2: 167-169,
cited in Rossi 289)