Leibniz's Best World
by William C. Lane
Almost uniquely among
philosophers, Gottfried Leibniz tried to reason from God's nature to a
description of the physical world. He began by observing that the world
could have only "one source, because of the interconnection among all
. . . things" (1989, p. 152). This source must be God, who would
select only the best of worlds: "If only we could sufficiently understand
the order of the universe, we should find that it surpasses all the desires
of the wisest, and that it is impossible to make it better than it is"
(1991, § 90, p. 29). Leibniz's rationale was clear: "This is the cause
of the existence of the best: that his wisdom makes it known to God, his
goodness makes him choose it, and his power lets him produce it" (1991,
§ 55, p. 24).