Leibniz was writing his Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese as the Leibniz-Clarke Controversy developed. Both were terminated by his death. These two fronts show interesting doctrinal correlations. The first is Leibniz' concern for the ''decadence of natural religion.'' The dispute with Clarke began with it, and the Discourse is a defense of Chinese natural religion in order to show its agreement with Christian natural religion. The Controversy can be summed up as ''clockmaker God versus idle God.'' Leibniz wants to escape from the perverse consequences that all criticism of divine voluntarism seems to cause. Thus, his elaboration is directed at a distinct concept of a God that rules without interposing, a supramundane intelligence. And the Leibnizian interpretation of the natural theology of the Chinese can be viewed the same way: it emphasizes a First Principle, Li, which rules without interposing.
Philosophy East and West – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Mar 24, 2003