Ideas and Confusion in Leibniz

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 17 (4):705-733 (2009)
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Abstract

According to Margaret Wilson, Leibniz is inconsistent when it comes to the question of whether one can have distinct ideas of sensible qualities, and this because he sometimes conceives of sensible qualities as sensations and sometimes conceives of them as complexes of primary qualities. When he conceives of them as sensations, he denies that we can have distinct ideas of sensible qualities; when he conceives of them as complexes of primary qualities, he asserts that we can. In this paper I argue that Wilson is wrong to think that Leibnizian ideas admit of various degrees of confusion or distinctness. I also argue that although Wilson's problem admits of being reformulated in a manner consistent with a correct understanding of Leibnizian perceptions and ideas, this reformulated version of the problem admits to a satisfactory interpretive solution.

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Shane Duarte
University of Notre Dame

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