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Scholarly Article

Rocco A. Astore

Understanding Leibniz: In Favor of Jaspers’ Interpretation of Leibnizian Metaphysics over Russell’s Appraisal


Leibniz, Russell, Jaspers, Metaphysics


Amongst modern readings of Leibniz’s Principles of Nature and Grace, Based on Reason, there exists two which can serve as fuel for insightful debate. According to one of these commentators, Bertrand Russell, the conclusions found in Leibniz’s Principles depend on analytic maxims, such as the principle of sufficient reason, as well as the law of contradiction. To Russell, the certitude of Leibniz’s methodological axioms was questionable, and by casting light on their logical shortcomings, he believed he severely damaged the so-called truths stated in the Principles. However, even if Leibniz’s reasoning was not infallible, and Russell correct, could another interpretation of the Principles, assists in showing alternative values discoverable in this central Leibnizian text? First, this essay will briefly summarize Leibniz’s Principles of Nature and Grace, Based on Reason, while engaging the reader to focus on some central issues which paved the way for Russell’s critical treatment of Leibnizian metaphysics in A History of Western Philosophy. Lastly, this article will close with support for another account of the Principles, by Jaspers, instead of Russell’s, for Jaspers’ treatment of the Principles is fairer to the spirit of the Leibnizian project than Russell’s critique of it.

About the Author

Rocco A. Astore is an Adjunct Lecturer of Philosophy at CUNY: Borough of Manhattan

Community College, New School for Social Research. He may be contacted at

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