On Leibniz's rejection of extension as the essence of matter.
Leibniz rejected space as a fundamental substance, since in his view it can be
Hence he also rejected Descartes' contention that extension is an essential
property of matter.
Leibniz instead suggested that force (entelechy) be the essence of matter, but
did not find this to be be satisfactory either (Chapter VII, “A Critical
Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz”,
George Allen & Unwin). Russell's argument is complicated and, as I understand
it, Russell rejected force as well,
since Leibniz' concept of space is space relative to another body, while force
is absolute but must be measured
through motion in space, which is relative.
Russell did not come up with a satisfactory alternative solution.
Leibniz also rejected action at a distance (gravity).
My own view is pragmatic. Leibniz only considered complete concepts (monads),
to be real in that they cannot be further subdivided. But we know today that
universe is made up of 12 fundamental particles that cannot be further
Any corporeal body must be made up of a collection of these, which can
be considered to be monads, or as a collection, monads within monads.
Monads are guided by the pre-established harmony, so I see no problem with this
and using space or extension as a fundamental property. Or with action at a
since all monads are interconnected through the supreme monad.
Dr. Roger Clough NIST (ret.) 5/28/2013
See my Leibniz site at
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