Leibniz, the Young Kant, and Boscovich on the Relationality of Space

In Wenchao Li (ed.), Für Unser Glück Oder Das Glück Anderer, X. Internationaler Leibniz-Kongress. Hildesheim: Georg Olms. pp. Vol. 2, pp. 73-85 (2016)
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Leibniz’s main thesis regarding the nature of space is that space is relational. This means that space is not an independent object or existent in itself, but rather a set of relations between objects existing at the same time. The reality of space, therefore, is derived from objects and their relations. For Leibniz and his successors, this view of space was intimately connected with the understanding of the composite nature of material objects. The nature of the relation between space and matter was crucial to the conceptualization of both space and matter. In this paper, I discuss Leibniz’s account of relational space and examine its novel elaborations by two of his successors, namely, the young Immanuel Kant and the Croat natural philosopher Roger Boscovich. Kant’s and Boscovich’s studies of Leibniz’s account lead them to original versions of the relational view of space. Thus, Leibniz’s relational space proved to be a philosophically fruitful notion, as it yielded bold and intriguing attempts to decipher the nature of space and was a key part in innovative scientific ideas.
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