Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Is Leibniz an idealist?
I continue to be surprised why Leibniz gets described as an idealist. If Leibniz is an idealist, Dretske is committed to idealism, too, and that seems mistaken. Leibniz thinks everything has soul, and every soul has perceptions, but not all the perceptions are conscious, and some souls have no conscious perceptions. As far as I can tell, the claim that x has a soul with perceptions comes down to two things: (a) x has a substantial form, and (b) x has representations. Claim (a) holding for all x does not imply idealism: Aristotle surely does not count as an idealist. Claim (b) holding for all objects x is something that Dretske is committed to, assuming that we, reasonably, take having information to entail having representations (information surely represents; and on a Dretskean view it seems pretty easy to argue that everything that can be affected by something else carries information). We could take this to be an argument that Dretske is an idealist, but it is better to take it to be an argument that Leibniz is not.