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date: 19 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses Leibniz’s plan for a new encyclopaedia. In addition to being a collection of all available knowledge, this encyclopaedia would be an instrument for demonstrating new knowledge and, thereby, for contributing to humankind’s wisdom or happiness. The central plank of this plan is the establishment of a Scientia Generalis that would serve as a preliminary tool. The texts dealing with the Scientia Generalis, however, raise two problems: first, the Scientia Generalis’s proper object seems to vary from one text to another; second, the project seems to disappear after the mid 1680’s. The chapter first considers the original function of the Scientia Generalis as a link between Characteristic and Wisdom. It then examines Leibniz’s distinction between the foundations and samples of the Scientia Generalis. The chapter concludes by analyzing the late identification of the Scientia Generalis with Metaphysics itself: the new demonstrative encyclopaedia eventually needs a reformed metaphysics.

Keywords: Leibniz, encyclopaedia, wisdom, Scientia Generalis, logic, characteristic, initia, specimina, metaphysics, samples

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