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The Principle of Contradiction


The Principle of Contradiction generates the truths of reason, each of which states the connection between an individual substance and one of its finite number of essential features. (Monadology 31) It would be a contradiction to deny any of these propositions, since the substance would not be what it is unless it had all of these features.

Truths of reason, then, are not influenced by any contingent fact about the world; they are true "in all possible worlds." Thus, for example, "Obi-Wan Kenobi is a human being" would be necessarily true even if my parents had been childless.





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The Principle of Sufficient Reason


The Principle of Sufficient Reason generates the truths of fact, each of which states the connection between an existing individual substance and one of its infinitely many accidental features or relations. (Monadology 32) The sufficient reason for the truth of each of these propositions is that this substance does exist as a member of the consistent set of monads which constitutes the actual world.

Truths of fact, then, depend upon the reciprocal mirroring of each existing substance by every other. Thus, for example, "Obi-Wan Kenobi is an oldest child" is contingently true only because my parents had no children before I was born.


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What do we find in the human mind? Representations on the one hand, and tendencies, inclinations, or strivings on the other. Or, to put this in Leibniz's more customary terminology, what is found within us is perception and appetition. For human minds count as simple substances, and, as he says in a letter to De Volder, “it may be said that there is nothing in the world except simple substances, and, in them, perception and appetite.”