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Divine MachinesLeibniz and the Sciences of Life$
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Justin E. H. Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691141787

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691141787.001.0001

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Organic Bodies, Part I

Organic Bodies, Part I

Nature and Structure

(p.97) Chapter Three Organic Bodies, Part I
Divine Machines

Justin E. H. Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Leibniz's theory of organic body. In his early animal–economical texts, for the most part Leibniz is interested in the motion of animal bodies but not the force that underlies it. From the early 1680s on, Leibniz grew increasingly concerned with distinguishing the two, arguing that the movement can be explained without appeal to the “more real” force underlying it. He continues to insist that there must be an autonomous and self-sufficient domain for the study of bodies. He repeats frequently his view that every particular thing in the world of bodies may be explained in mechanical terms, even if the general principles of bodies are derived from higher—which is to say metaphysical—principles. At the same time, Leibniz believes that he can give an exhaustive account of the phenomena of living bodies without taking recourse to higher principles. To offer such an account is the highest goal of his study of organics.

Keywords:   G. W. Leibniz, organic body, living bodies, animal motion, animal bodies

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