Pure Positivity in Leibniz

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The notion of ‘pure positivity’ plays a pivotal role in Leibniz’s version of the ontological argument. In his view, it establishes the possibility of the Ens perfectissimum, thereby providing the premise missing from other versions of the argument. As he puts it very briefly around 1685: ‘the most perfect Being is possible, because it is nothing other than pure positivity [Ens summe perfectum est possibile, quia nihil aliud est, quam pure positivum]’ (Definitiones notionum metaphysicarum atque logicarum). It may be tempting to dismiss ‘pure positivity’ as a hastily contrived notion introduced in a desperate attempt to support the ontological argument. In this paper, I discuss Leibniz’s conception of pure positivity, exploring its connection with his notions of perfection, pure act, being, reality, absolute, and infinite. I come to the conclusion that ‘pure positivity’, far from being a feeble, ad hoc attempt to rescue the ontological argument, constitutes a fundamental feature of Leibniz’s metaphysics that aligns with well-documented key commitments of his philosophical thought.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThinking and Calculating
Subtitle of host publicationEssays on Logic, its History and its Applications
EditorsFrancesco Ademollo, Fabrizio Amerini, Vincenzo De Risi
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-97303-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-97302-5
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2022


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