TORCH Network Medieval and Early Modern Mysticism are hosting a talk by Professor Paul Lodge on 'True and False Mysticism in Leibniz'. Paul Lodge (Tutorial Fellow in Philosophy at Mansfield College) is author of numerous papers on the philosophy of G.W. Leibniz and editor and translator of The Leibniz-De Volder Correspondence (Yale, 2013).
The question of Leibniz’s relationship to mysticism has been a topic of some debate since the early part of the 20th Century. An initial wave of scholarship led by Jean Baruzi presented Leibniz mystic. However, later in the 20th Century the mood turned against this view and this negative appraisal holds sway today. In this paper I aim to do two things: First I provide a detailed account of the ways in which Leibniz is critical of mysticism; second, I argue that there is, nonetheless, an important sense in which Leibniz should be regarded as an advocate of mysticism. However, the approach that I shall take does not focus on an effort to overturn the kinds of considerations that led people to reject the views of Baruzi. Instead, I try to reframe the discussion and explore more complex and interesting relationships that exist between mysticism and Leibniz’s philosophical theology than have been articulated previously. Here I draw on some recent discussions of mysticism in the philosophical literature to illuminate Leibniz’s own distinction between “false mysticism” and “true mystical theology.”