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In "The Ultimate Origin of Things," Leibniz' motivates his claim that

nothing in the world could be the ultimate reason for things

by asserting that

We can’t find in any individual thing, or even in the entire collection and series of things, a sufficient reason why they exist.

The argument appears to continue by assuming that there exists such a "sufficient reason" and proving that it is God. The essay as a whole reads to me as Leibniz' attempt to answer "what is the final cause of the universe?"

I don't understand what the problem with a universe that does not have a final cause would be. What is the conclusion that Leibniz is trying to exclude with his argument? Why would it not be acceptable if the universe happened to be the kind of thing that doesn't have a final cause? Does he accept it as a given that it does have a final cause and proceed from there, or is there an argument in the text (or elsewhere) that I'm missing that supports this claim?

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See Principle of Sufficient Reason :

Leibniz uses the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue for a number of claims, including the identity of indiscernibles, relationalism with respect to space and time, and the existence of God. Let us briefly look at how Leibniz uses the Principle of Sufficient Reason to argue for each of these theses. Leibniz presents arguments for the existence of God from the Principle of Sufficient Reason in a number of different places and there are subtle differences them. (For example, The Ultimate Origination of Things, G VII 302–3. Monadology §37)

The basic idea, however, is that since everything has an explanation (the Principle of Sufficient Reason), the entire series of contingent things requires an explanation. The explanation of the entire series cannot be a member of the series since then it would explain itself and no contingent thing is self-explanatory. Thus the explanation of the entire series of contingent things must not be itself a contingent thing. Rather it must be something necessary. Leibniz believes that any necessary being is God. So, God exists.

It is necessary to take into account the "context", e.g. Descartes' philosophy and its proof of the existence od God based on the cogito.

  • I think this just pushes the question back a level: okay, so Leibniz is committed to his argument because of his belief that everything has an explanation. What's his motivation for believing that everything has an explanation? What is the possibility that he is trying to exclude? What would the consequences for him be if that weren't true? – Patrick Collins Mar 12 '15 at 4:27
  • @PatrickCollins - " What's his motivation for believing that everything has an explanation? " See Rationalism. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Mar 12 '15 at 7:06

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