Leibniz on the Problem of Evil

ISBN : 9780199996506

Paul Rateau
384 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jun 2019
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Paul Rateau traces the genesis and development of G.W. Leibniz's treatment of the problem of evil, from his earliest writings through the Essays on Theodicy (1710). By investigating Leibniz's early thinking about what evil is and where it comes from, Rateau reveals the deeply original nature of Leibniz's later work and the challenges it raises. Rateau explores the ways in which the Theodicy's theoretical project, which integrates numerous disciplines and various argumentative strategies, informs and is influenced by two more practical aims-justifying the end of denominational divisions between Catholics and Protestants, and inculcating " in believers. By paying equal attention to both Leibniz's intellectual and personal development, Rateau offers a holistic view of Leibniz's most profound and sophisticated work of philosophy. Rateau shows how the young Leibniz moves from suggesting that the author of evil is God himself to later defending an original theory of necessitarianism (in The Confession of a Philosopher), which makes God the first link in the chain of beings that constitute the world, but which ultimately denies God's responsibility for sin. By examining Leibniz's theoretical development after 1673, he demonstrates how Leibniz comes to a revised framework that forms the basis for the project of theodicy. After having examined the defensive and the doctrinal aspects of the Theodicy, Rateau shows how human freedom can be reconciled with divine freedom in Leibniz's system. Newly translated from the original French edition, Rateau's book offers a novel and important new interpretation of Leibniz and will appeal to scholars both of Leibniz and of early modern thought generally.


List of Abbreviations
1. The Existence of Evil
2. Evil Considered in Relation to Justice
3. A Vocation: To Defend God's Justice
Chapter 1: Difficulties Concerning the Justification of God in the Years Prior to 1673
1.1 Early Reading and the Relation of Justice to Power
1.2 A Just God, who is nevertheless author of sin?
Chapter 2: The Confession of a Philosopher: Divine Justice and the Necessity of Sin
2.1 God as Ground, but not Author of Evil
2.2 Permission of Evil and the Distinction of Two Kinds of Necessity: A Limited Rehabilitation
Chapter 3: Theoretical Changes after the Confession of a Philosopher: Towards a New Conception of God, the Possible and Divine Concurrence with Evil
3.1 A Revised Theology and Metaphysics
3.2 The Origin of Evil and God's Physical Concurrence
3.3 God's Moral Concurrence with Evil and the Relation of Part to Whole
Chapter 4: The Genesis of Theodicy: Its Scientific and Apologetic Aims
4.1 From the Project of Theodicies to the Composition of the Essays on Theodicy: Systematic Necessity and Occasional Cause
4.2 Theodicy as Defense: Ignorance of Detail, Presumptions and Probabilities
Chapter 5: The Best of All Possible Worlds and Divine Permission of Evil
5.1 The Thesis of the Best of All Possible Worlds
5.2 The Moral Necessity of the Divine Choice
5.3 God's Moral Concurrence with Evil: the Doctrine of Permission
Chapter 6: Evil in Being and in the Actions of Creatures: Reality or Appearance?
6.1 God's Physical Concurrence, the Origin and Nature of Evil
6.2 The Inertial Model and its Application to Creaturely Actions: From Peccability to Malice
6.3 Real Defect or False Appearance: A Dual Conception of Evil
Chapter 7: Human Freedom and Principles of Action
7.1 The Labyrinth of the Free and the Necessary and the Prerequisites of Freedom
7.2 From the Ideal to the Real: the Exercise of Freedom and the Maxims of Leibnizian Ethics
Index $ https://global.oup.com/academic/product/9780199996506 $ HRAB

About the author: 

Paul Rateau (Ph.D., 2005, Philosophy, University of Strasbourg, France) teaches early modern philosophy at Pantheon-Sorbonne University (Paris, France) since 2008. He is an alumnus of the Ecole Normale Superieure (Fontenay/SaintCloud, France).

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