What are monads ?
Now we must enter the world of metaphysics in order to understand events
more complex or larger than single events.
"The noun "universal" contrasts with "individual", while the adjective
contrasts with "particular". Paradigmatically, universals are abstract (e.g.
whereas particulars are concrete (e.g. the person of Socrates). "
Perhaps the chief obstacle to understanding Leibniz is his invention and use of
as defined in his Monadology. The reason is that L wanted to base his
what could be well defined as individual or unitary concepts, "atoms of
This implies a whole without parts, both physically and conceptually. That
means that the
monads are all alive. Since they are alive they are constantly changing.
Atoms are excluded, one reason (my reason) being that, according to Heisenberg,
definition of a particle must be uncertain.
Monads are these unitary or partless bodies or concepts, which cannot be
into parts without destroying their identity or meaning, thus killling them.
The mind of an
individual is a monad, brain is a monad, and body is a monad, self within mind
brain within body.
A monad can thus contain myriad monads, both by splitting at a given level
but also containing monads at lower levels.
It may be that we divide a monad such as humanity into parts which are people
It may be that the Self contains a conscious monad and an unconscious one.
There are three classes of monad, those called 'spirits" (which we would call
which are monads with intellect, secondly Souls or animals and plants that are
sensitive to the environment and can feel pain, and lowest of all, "bare, naked
monads", such as rocks, which are sleepy, dull, and unfeeling.
We cannot identify things in this way if instead we use atomic theory or
which as we shall see, gives L's metaphysics enormous power beyond that of
Bertrand Russell and perhaps many of you will find monads to be, to use R's
a "fairy tail", but as long as you are careful, and follow logic rather than
you will gain enormous power to understand the world.
Leibniz, besides his providing us with monads, also essentially gives us a kit
of metaphysical tools (rather than encyclopedic treatises) that we ourselves
can use to explore the world.
Dr. Roger B Clough NIST (ret.) [1/1/2000]
See my Leibniz site at
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