The Kabbalah and Monads

  • Allison P. Coudert
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 142)


Most commentators are willing to agree that Leibniz’s substitution of “force” for “mind” as the defining characteristic of substance represented an evolution in his thinking that ultimately banished the last traces of Cartesian dualism from his system and led to the concept of monads. In the Discourse substances are divided into two essentially different classes, those with minds which are imperishable and those without minds which, although they continue to exist, essentially perish as individuals because of their lack of mind and memory:

[Paragraph 34]... no substance perishes, although it can become completely different. They also express the whole universe, although more imperfectly than minds do. But the principal difference is that they do not know what they are nor what they do, and consequently, since they do not reflect on themselves, they cannot discover necessary and universal truths. It is also because they lack reflection about themselves that they have no moral qualities. As a result, though they may pass through a thousand transformations, like those we see when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, yet from the moral or practical point of view, the result is as if they had perished; indeed, we may even say that they have perished physically, in the sense in which we say that bodies perish through their corruption. But the intelligent soul, knowing what it is — having the ability to utter the world “I,” a word so full of meaning — does not merely remain and subsist metaphysically, which it does to a greater degree than the others, but also remains the same morally and constitutes the same person. For it is memory or the knowledge of this self that renders it capable of punishment or reward.


Dead Force Divine Essence Corporeal Substance Monistic View Secondary Matter 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison P. Coudert
    • 1
  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityArizonaUSA

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