Christian Wolff's failed attempt to appropriate Leibniz's distinction between machines of nature and machines of art is significant from both a historical and a theoretical point of view. After considering Wolff's early distinction between nature and art in terms of an active principle or force (Section 1), this paper reconstructs the sudden re-appearance of Leibniz's concept of natural machine in Wolff's 1724 Anmerckungen (Section 2). Sections 3-4 analyze Wolff's definitions of the general concept of machine in terms of structures and functions respectively, and argue that Leibniz's doctrine of natural machines only makes sense against the background of the functional account. Thus, Wolff's attempt to appropriate Leibniz's idea brings to light its fundamentally teleological inspiration (Section 5). However, Wolff departs from Leibniz in that he refrains from characterizing natural machines as those whose parts are themselves natural machines ad infinitum. As a consequence, Wolff's organic bodies are not indestructible like Leibniz's ones, and the boundary between the realms of nature and art is blurred (Section 6).

Machines of Nature and Machines of Art: Christian Wolff's Reception of Leibniz

Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero
2019

Abstract

Christian Wolff's failed attempt to appropriate Leibniz's distinction between machines of nature and machines of art is significant from both a historical and a theoretical point of view. After considering Wolff's early distinction between nature and art in terms of an active principle or force (Section 1), this paper reconstructs the sudden re-appearance of Leibniz's concept of natural machine in Wolff's 1724 Anmerckungen (Section 2). Sections 3-4 analyze Wolff's definitions of the general concept of machine in terms of structures and functions respectively, and argue that Leibniz's doctrine of natural machines only makes sense against the background of the functional account. Thus, Wolff's attempt to appropriate Leibniz's idea brings to light its fundamentally teleological inspiration (Section 5). However, Wolff departs from Leibniz in that he refrains from characterizing natural machines as those whose parts are themselves natural machines ad infinitum. As a consequence, Wolff's organic bodies are not indestructible like Leibniz's ones, and the boundary between the realms of nature and art is blurred (Section 6).
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
2019_Machines of Nature and Machines of Art_SCAN.pdf

non disponibili

Tipologia: Versione dell'editore
Licenza: Accesso chiuso-personale
Dimensione 2.2 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
2.2 MB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in ARCA sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10278/3719847
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 0
social impact