Yu LiuFollow


Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, China


The cosmology of China is indeed strikingly similar to the metaphysics of Leibniz, but precisely where the two resemble each other, the former is unmistakably different from Christianity. Scholars of Leibniz have so far generally taken it for granted that he was ideologically aligned with Christianity, but his paradigmatic similarity to China should alert us of a surprisingly different story. Leibniz was indisputably “the greatest of the seventeenth century sinophiles” and key Chinese cosmological ideas were introduced to Europe long before he formulated his worldview. Together, these two facts can help us decide whether he “owes to Chinese organic naturalism … a deeply important stimulus” or his doctrinal affinity with China resulted merely from “[the] spontaneous generation of similar ideas in cultures removed in time and distance from one another.”