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Zum Begriff des Naturrechts bei Leibniz

Ciccarelli, Pierpaolo

Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte, Bd. 50 (2008), Iss. 0: S. 130–153

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Ciccarelli, Pierpaolo


The paper is aimed to show the specifi c critical meaning of the concept of ius naturale that Leibniz delineates in a critical essay on Pufendorf’s theory of naturaljustice published in 1706. Leibniz’s criticism of Pufendorf has an »exoteric« character and follows a »protreptic« aim. First, Leibniz discusses Pufendorf’s theorystarting from representations of the common sense based on the authority of the revealed religion. Nevertheless, Leibniz’s fi nal aim is not to justify the religiousauthority but, on the contrary, to show the radical antithesis between ratio and auctoritas in order to urge the reader to adopt a rational attitude. The oppositionof ratio vs. auctoritas, e. g. free rational mindset vs. forced submission, is also the leading thread of Leibniz’s essay. Pufendorf’s doctrine of natural justice doesnot aknowledge this principled alternative. Moreover, the above-mentioned opposition marks the argument of Leibniz himself. Namely, Leibniz approachesthe opposition ratio vs. auctoritas from two very different points of view. At first, he points it out from the perspective of those who are submitted to that authority. Then, he discusses the opposition in a strict rational way by showing that Pufendorf’s theory is self-defeating. Therefore Leibniz’s rational demonstrationis a kind of Aristotelian elenchos or »refutation«: through the prove of the selfcontradiction in the discussed thesis the opposite point of view is proved.


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Pierpaolo Ciccarelli: Zum Begriff des Naturrechts bei Leibniz 129