Leibniz on Human Finitude, Progress, and Eternal Recurrence: The Argument of the ‘Apokatastasis’ Essay Drafts and Related Texts

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Abstract
The ancient doctrine of the eternal return of the same embodies a thoroughgoing rejection of the hope that the future world will be better than the present. For this reason, it might seem surprising that Leibniz constructs an argument for a version of the doctrine. He concludes in one text that in the far distant future he himself ‘would be living in a city called Hannover located on the Leine river, occupied with the history of Brunswick, and writing letters to the same friends with the same meaning.’ However, his argument concludes not that the future will be absolutely identical to the present, but rather that any finite description of the present and future worlds would be identical. In this way, the argument leaves room for the promise of a different and better future—even if it is one that could not be recognized by us as such.
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