Why was Leibniz so fascinated by Chinese philosophy and culture? What specific forms did his interest take? How did his interest compare with the relative indifference of his philosophical contemporaries and near-contemporaries such as Spinoza and Locke? In this highly original book, Franklin Perkins examines Leibniz's voluminous writings on the subject and suggests that his interest was founded in his own philosophy: the nature of his metaphysical and theological views required him to take Chinese thought seriously. Leibniz was unusual in holding enlightened views about the intellectual profitability of cultural exchange, and in a broad-ranging discussion Perkins charts these views, their historical context, and their social and philosophical ramifications. The result is an illuminating philosophical study which also raises wider questions about the perils and rewards of trying to understand and learn from a different culture.
Franklin Perkins is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University, Chicago. He has published in early modern European philosophy, early Chinese philosophy, and comparative philosophy, with articles appearing in the Journal of the History of Ideas, the Journal of Chinese Philosophy, and the Leibniz Review.
List of illustrations; Preface; List of abbreviations; 1. Europe encounters the world; 2. Order and diversity in Leibniz's metaphysics; 3. Exchange with China; 4. Interpreting China; 5. Leibniz and cultural exchange; Bibliography; Index.