Creation of the universe according to Leibniz

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Michał Heller


Leibniz's idea of creation is best epitomized by a note written by him on the margin of his work entitled 'Dialogus'. The note reads:'When God thinks things through and calculates, the world is made'. Simple calculations are almost mechanical. The true mathematical thinking begins when one is confronted with a problem that has to be solved, when starting from the known mathematical structure one has to construct a new structure, to comprehend its intricacies, the ways of its functioning, and its connections with other mathematical structures. And when one successfully applies the new mathematical structure to a physical theory, the new world is made. This was Leibniz's experience when he was discovering calculus and tried to apply it to mechanical problems. Leibniz's doctrine that our world is the best of all possible words is often ridiculed, but this attitude is the result of a very superficial reading of Leibniz's texts. In fact, God's calculations to choose the best possible world are similar to solving the variational problem in mathematics. Leibniz claims that in mathematical reasoning if there is neither 'maximum' nor 'minimum' nothing can happen. Similarly, if there were no world better that other possible worlds, God's wisdom would have not been able to create anything. Some consequences of this doctrine, concerning the nature of space, time and causality, are also considered.

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Heller, M. (2008). Creation of the universe according to Leibniz. Philosophical Problems in Science (Zagadnienia Filozoficzne W Nauce), (42), 3–14. Retrieved from