© 2006

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

The Art of Controversies

  • Marcelo Dascal

Part of the The New Synthese Historical Library book series (SYNL, volume 60)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-LXXII
  2. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 1-6
  3. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 7-24
  4. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 25-28
  5. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 29-34
  6. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 35-40
  7. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 41-48
  8. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 49-54
  9. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 55-64
  10. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 65-74
  11. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 77-92
  12. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 93-104
  13. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 105-118
  14. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 119-128
  15. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 129-142
  16. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 143-162
  17. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 163-166
  18. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 167-200
  19. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 201-208
  20. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 209-212
  21. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 213-218
  22. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 219-224
  23. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 225-230
  24. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 231-236
  25. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 237-240
  26. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 241-245
  27. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 247-262
  28. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 275-283
  29. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 285-303
  30. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 305-308
  31. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 309-324
  32. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 325-327
  33. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 329-340
  34. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 359-372
  35. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 373-390
  36. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 391-397
  37. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 399-417
  38. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 419-427
  39. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 429-434
  40. Marcelo Dascal
    Pages 435-443
  41. To Karl G. Ehler
    Pages 451-453
  42. Back Matter
    Pages 455-516

About this book


Leibniz is known to the wide public and to many scholars mainly as a logician and mathematician, and as the creator of a fascinating but strange metaphysical system. In these, as well as in other fields, his remarkable innovations were achieved through painstaking efforts to establish a fruitful critical dialogue with the leading contemporary thinkers. He was no less important, however, in his practical endeavor to bring opponents to negotiate reasonable solutions to key political and religious conflicts of his time.

Both his theoretical and practical activities were informed by a philosophical mind that sought in all circumstances the most general underlying principles; by a juridical mind that sought to bring order and structure to human interaction, without sacrificing the necessary flexibility; by an argumentative mind that knows that persuading is often more important than proving; by a scientific mind eager to organize past and present knowledge so as not to miss any bit of information capable of pointing the way to new discoveries; by a theologian mind that refuses to admit that religious conflicts between true believers are irresolvable; and by an ethical and political mind whose major concern is to direct all our intellectual work towards improving the well-being of humankind.

All these perspectives (and more) are united in what this book identifies as his Art of Controversies, which might also be called an Art of Dialectical Cooperation. For it is based on the idea that knowledge production, acquisition, and evolution is not a one-man affair, but the result of the cooperation of many, coming from different perspectives; whence it follows that not only tolerance vis-à-vis the other, but also valuing the other’s contribution and integrating it – whether it stems from another age, continent, culture, discipline, religion, or individual – is indispensable. This dialectical Leibniz that emerges from the selected texts here translated, commented, and interpreted in the light of their context, isn’t for sure the familiar one. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, it is capable of shedding light on that old, familiar, yet incomplete image of Leibniz, and of adding thus a further reason for cherishing and cultivating the heritage of a truly great man.


15th century Argumentation Art of Controversies Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz History of Philosophy Leibniz Rationality Religion interpret knowledge logic skepticism theology

Editors and affiliations

  • Marcelo Dascal
    • 1
  1. 1.Tel Aviv UniversityIsrael

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

“This book is an invaluable contribution to the history of (philosophical) ideas and also a contribution to the pragmatics of discussion and debate, including argumentation (in the vernacular sense) and logic. … should be read by philosophers of language (as well as historians of philosophy) as well as by pragmaticians and more generally by those who are concerned by the standards of public debates.” (Anne Reboul, Linguist List, April 2009)

"[...] an impressive scholarly achievement and an indispensable tool for understanding Leibniz's thinking on form and function of controversies." (Gerd Fritz, University of Gießen, Germany, Journal of Historical Pragmatics 9:1, 2008)

"The Art of Controversies is an outstanding collection of the most important Leibniz texts concerning his life-long obsession: the art of reasoning not merely in mathematics, but also and above all in human conflict. In the vast amount of existing literature on Leibniz, this book is a must-read." (Bernardino Orio de Miguel, Catedrático de Filosofía, 2008)

"This book … in its 45 chapters, newly translated or retranslated Leibnizan texts in which the philosopher pursues his lifelong passion for analyzing and refining the logical structure and practical conduct of intellectual debate. … This volume promises to function as a rich and important resource not only for Leibniz scholars and for scholars of early modern philosophy generally, but also for philosophers … . It should also prove valuable to historians of ideas, theorists of argumentation, logicians, and scholars of rhetoric." (Véronique M. Fóti, The Review of Metaphysics 61:2, 2007)

"[...] is a treasure trove for scholars interested in Leibniz's practical rationality and his practical action in general. [...] All in all, this is a very rich collection of translations of mostly unknown texts which will give food for thought for a long time to come and will inspire scholars to dig deeper into this most interesting and ignored area of Leibniz's thought." (Markku Roinila, Studia Leibnitiana, Band XXXVIII/XXXIX, Heft 2, 2006/2007)