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Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light (review)

Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light (review) Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light. By Franklin Perkins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. xvi þ 224. Reviewed by Robin R. Wang Loyola Marymount University In December 1697, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646­1716) wrote to a Jesuit friend in China, praising the Jesuit mission there as ``the greatest affair of our time'' (p. 42). The purpose of that mission, in Leibniz's view, was not simply to glorify God and to spread Christianity; it was also being undertaken for the good of humanity and the growth of human knowledge. He went on: For this is a commerce of light, which could give to us at once their work of thousands of years and render ours to them, and to double so to speak our true wealth for one and the other. This is something greater than one thinks. (p. 42) Why was Leibniz, unlike his contemporaries Locke and Spinoza, so enthusiastic about other cultures, especially Chinese culture? Why, in contrast to the scholars of today who claim that philosophy is the privilege of the Western mind and who dismiss philosophical exchange as useless, was Leibniz able to understand the importance of cultural exchange? And why is it that http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light (review)

Philosophy East and West , Volume 57 (1) – Jan 25, 2007

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1529-1898
Publisher site
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Abstract

Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light. By Franklin Perkins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. xvi þ 224. Reviewed by Robin R. Wang Loyola Marymount University In December 1697, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646­1716) wrote to a Jesuit friend in China, praising the Jesuit mission there as ``the greatest affair of our time'' (p. 42). The purpose of that mission, in Leibniz's view, was not simply to glorify God and to spread Christianity; it was also being undertaken for the good of humanity and the growth of human knowledge. He went on: For this is a commerce of light, which could give to us at once their work of thousands of years and render ours to them, and to double so to speak our true wealth for one and the other. This is something greater than one thinks. (p. 42) Why was Leibniz, unlike his contemporaries Locke and Spinoza, so enthusiastic about other cultures, especially Chinese culture? Why, in contrast to the scholars of today who claim that philosophy is the privilege of the Western mind and who dismiss philosophical exchange as useless, was Leibniz able to understand the importance of cultural exchange? And why is it that

Journal

Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 25, 2007

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