I was reading Leibniz recently and had this epiphany, and thought why not see if any others out there might share a similar intuition.

Concerning Leibniz's two principles of identity

  1. The princple of indiscernibility of identicals

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    Restated as I Am What I Think (or maybe ;I am identical to the methods I use to think.)

  1. The principle of identity of indiscernibles

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    Restated as I Think Therefore I am ( or maybe ; the methods Iuse to think are identical to what I am.)

Edit 1

The first principle to me suggest that identity is a product of causality, that is, the causes and effects that together can give rise to a sense of identity ( and its relevant properties)

The second principle might suggest, intuitively, that any 'identity' is a principle product of the self organizing collection of properties ofitself, or that identity itself can give rise to causality.

Edit 2

The restatements at first where a intuition on what I thought Leibniz was trying to capture in his Laws of identity. Namely, two objects relative to each other are unique because of the intrinsic properties as opposed to their extrinsic.

The first principle is to suggest two entities are different by their extrinsic properties, which is why it is considered logical by many.

The second principle suggests the inverse of that notion, which is that two properties can exist distinct from each other only because of their intrinsic properties. This also is to suggest causality, namely space/time are not intrinsic.

My restatements where trying to capture the logic semantically. In the case of “I think, therefore …" seems to capture the intrinsic properties of a being, whereas “I am what I think” seems to capture the extrinsic properties. But I do feel I might be mixing other principles of Leibniz haphazardly, and on top of that I'm not by any means academically inclined on these subjects. So, at this point I'm all ears, and very appreciative of the input/feedback.

  • 2
    Is there any chance I could persuade you to explore this further, maybe share a little more of the motivation here?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Dec 24, 2015 at 16:24
  • Yes, I suppose I can elaborate on the restatements
    – Kris
    Dec 24, 2015 at 16:25
  • It still seems very leading, and a bit more "what do you think" than is ideal given the structure of SE. --Is there any chance I could persuade you to zoom in a bit on what exactly the problem is that you are encountering in your study? What is it that you would like someone here to explain to you? What passages have you specifically been reading which made this an interesting or important problem? What has your research uncovered so far?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Dec 24, 2015 at 19:30
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    I was hoping such validation would not be subjective and opinionated, but simply a matter of analyzing the structure of the restatements.
    – Kris
    Dec 24, 2015 at 19:53
  • 3
    Some elaboration of how one goes from the purely formal statement, to the restatement underneath would be useful; I don't see it as quite an obvious move - does Liebniz himself use it? Dec 25, 2015 at 1:27

2 Answers 2


Possibly you are mixing the two philosophers Descartes and Leibniz and some of their fundamental claims.

Unfortunately, you do not state any argument to support your intuition.

Both the principle of identity of indiscernibles and the claim "I Think Therefore I am" refer to different domains. The claim of Descartes refers to epistemology - What can I know? - while Leibniz' principle refers to ontology - How are the objects of our world arranged?

I cannot recognize any relation between both statements, not to indicate a logical derivation of one from the other. In my opinion, Leibniz' principle cannot be restated as "I Think Therefore I am".

  • Interesting. Thanks for the thoughtful insight. I'm leaning!
    – Kris
    Dec 29, 2015 at 1:17
  • Could clever philosophical intuition or clever armchair philosophy sentiments be stretched and distorted in ways that loose the initial 'eureka' moment ideas in the drive for 'technical' and semantic clarity. Like an artist with a brilliant image for the canvas but when painting because of various constraints does not paint exactly what he or she wanted..
    – 201044
    Jan 18, 2016 at 18:46

Schelling supposedly derives everything from the principle A=A which he restates as 'A is not equal to not-A' that is more or less 'I think of anything'. The topic was fashionable in his time (the German Idealism).

'I think therefore I am' has been discussed countless times with few authors noting that it is an implication which originally is presented as an impossible conjunction: it is not possible to think without being, i.e. ~(C&~S).

Leibniz rejects the existence of identicals because they would violate his principle of sufficient reason. That is in the context of a purely relative space: in an absolute space two objects can be identical but they are found at different places. In his criticism of Descartes Leibniz comes close to state Schelling's double negation, something like 'I am because I have various ideas'.

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