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I have a question about this video regarding Leibniz, monads and interaction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxGuoyxyKMA&t=56s

at 33:27.

On the one hand, Anthony Quinton says that a monad has no interaction with other monads... each monad acts according to its own history and internal program.

But he also says that monads are aware of other monads... If this is the case, won't the monads observation of other monads have an impact on the program it runs?

I mean, to avoid causality, a monad's observations of other monads has no impact on its actions. But what justification does Leibniz have to forbid this? It seems ad-hoc. A monad observes other monads, but those observations cannot act as an input to its program?

EDIT: Putting it more simply, if a monad observes other monads doesn't that mean that there is interaction between the two? What does it mean for one monad to be aware of another without some type of causation?

  • good question, but not sure what "ad hoc" has to do with philosophy – user28117 Aug 14 '17 at 16:29
  • i suppose that if you're not an ontological naturalist, philosophy might be involved in explaining some "things" in place of scientific study. but even supposing leibniz is committed to the supernatural, it's not for me obvious that his monadology should avoid ad hoc justifications – user28117 Aug 14 '17 at 16:36
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    ok, cool. anyway, i may be completely wrong headed there, in which case i apologise! i suppose what i mean is just that i'm unused to arguing that given if A then B, then less likely C, and if B then C, so not A. likely because that sorta reasoning, if legit, seems implicit in most literature – user28117 Aug 14 '17 at 16:38
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    I feel, along with Schrodinger, who hated the blasted things, that these monads are an unworkable idea, as well as being terrifying. Yet also that they capture something of the truth. Brilliant philosophers are often wrong when they speculate, but rarely so badly that their idea don't have merit. – PeterJ Aug 14 '17 at 18:04
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    If monads were universes then you've got one notion of the multiverse; after all in a multiverse, each is causally disconnected from each other, so there is no cause/effect; yet there are physicists who claim they are there...it all hinges upon what you mean by observation. – Mozibur Ullah Aug 14 '17 at 20:43
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@Conifold, what do you mean by not being able to act "arbitrarily"? Arbitrariness is a fuzzy concept for me, but in this context it sounds like freedom. But Leibniz's harmony is not supposed to preclude freedom of rational souls, whose actions are to be rewarded and punished in the city of god (Monadology, article 90). Would you clarify? Thanks.

As to @Ameet Sharma's original question, monads represent the entire universe in themselves (Monadology, article 60). Thus, their observation of other monads is an internal observation, and their interaction consists of an ideal influence which is rendered effective by God through pre-established harmony (Monadology, article 51). Hope this is helpful.

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