The Spirit-Body Relation Understanding in Gottfried Leibniz

The Spirit-Body Relation Understanding in Gottfried Leibniz

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

The relation of the soul to the body is nothing but the relation of a dominant monad to a collection of monads.

Here, the dominant monad is the human soul, and the sum of monads is the human body. But both are essentially spiritual; The human soul is a simple monad. The human body, on the other hand, is a composite of spiritual monads. The materiality of the human body is a mere phenomenon.

Therefore, since these two are composed of windowless monads, they can have no interaction with each other, but the harmony between the changes in them is due to the pre-established principle of harmony. However, if it is thought that the soul, in which the soul and body form the substance called human, is the dominant monat in man, it can be said that the soul is active on the body as long as it has distinct perceptions, and the monads that make up the body are passive in the face of the soul as long as they have blurred perceptions. In this sense, it would not be wrong to say that the soul dominates or directs the body. Although there is no real interaction between the soul and the body, the changes in the lower monads that make up the body, according to the pre-established harmony, take place in consideration of or on behalf of the changes in the soul, which is a higher monad.

The human spirit, on the other hand, acts in accordance with its judgment of the best thing to do. His judgment is objective in proportion to the clearness of his perceptions, so he will be competent to the extent that his perceptions are clear. While determining the harmony between the monads, God made the changes in the monads with low perception level dependent on the changes in the more competent monads. The reverse is not valid. When it is said that the body affects the soul in daily life, what really happens is that the soul has not clear but blurred perceptions. It is said that the soul is passive rather than active so long as its perceptions are blurred, thus acting on the body rather than directing it, but there is no actual physical interaction between the two. What can be said in the final sense here is that the changes that occur in the monads that make up the body of a person find their a priori causes in the changes in the monad, which is the soul of the person. In this way, a person’s soul and body change in harmony with each other. As can be seen, Leibniz put forward an approach that completely disregards the Cartesian theory of interaction between soul and body.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook