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Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie

Ed. by Horn, Christoph / Serck-Hanssen, Camilla

Together with Carriero, John / Meyer, Susan Sauvé

Editorial Board Member: Adamson, Peter / Allen, James V. / Bartuschat, Wolfgang / Curley, Edwin M / Emilsson, Eyjólfur Kjalar / Floyd, Juliet / Förster, Eckart / Frede, Dorothea / Friedman, Michael / Garrett, Don / Grasshoff, Gerd / Irwin, Terence / Kahn, Charles H. / Knuuttila, Simo / Koistinen, Olli / Kraut, Richard / Longuenesse, Béatrice / McCabe, Mary / Pasnau, Robert / Perler, Dominik / Reginster, Bernard / Simmons, Alison / Timmermann, Jens / Trifogli, Cecilia / Weidemann, Hermann / Zöller, Günter

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Leibniz on Spermatozoa and Immortality

Justin E. H Smith
  • Montreal.
Published Online: 2008-03-10 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/AGPH.2007.013

Abstract

In this article, I consider the significance of the discovery of spermatozoa for Leibniz's deeply held beliefs that (i) no true substance can ever be generated or destroyed, except miraculously; and (ii) that every substance must be perpetually organically embodied. I further consider the way these beliefs are transformed as Leibniz's basic middle-period commitment to corporeal substance gives way (though not entirely) to a metaphysics of monadological immaterialsm. What endures throughout, I show, is the conviction that whatever is real must be indestructible, whether this is conceived as a form-matter compound in which the two components can never be entirely sundered from one another, or as a node of perception “absolutely destitute of parts”. Whatever the deepest metaphysical account of corporeality, Leibniz never abandons his interest in spermatozoa as the corporeal hosts of preexisting animals.


Published Online: 2008-03-10

Published in Print: 2007-11-20


Citation Information: Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie. Volume 89, Issue 3, Pages 264–282, ISSN (Online) 1613-0650, ISSN (Print) 0003-9101, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/AGPH.2007.013, March 2008

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