Article ID: CBB771436928

The Unity of Composite Substance: The Scholastic Background to the Vinculum Substantiale in Leibniz’s Correspondence with Des Bosses (2020)


Abstract This paper explores the scholastic context of the discussion about the unity of the composite or corporeal substance and the nature of the vinculum substantiale or substantial bond in Leibniz’s correspondence with Des Bosses. Three prominent scholastic views are examined: Duns Scotus’s antireductionist account of the composite substance as an entity irreducible to its essential parts (i.e., matter and substantial form); Ockham’s parts-whole identity thesis, which entails a reductionist view of the composite substance; and Suárez’s explanation of the unity of composite substance through the presence of a substantial mode of union. It is then shown that Leibniz initially combines a reductionist account of the composite substance, with the vinculum playing the role of bond among the component monads. In his last letters, he moves away from this to an antireductionist account of the composite substance, with which he now identifies the vinculum.

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Authors & Contributors
Garber, Daniel
Blank, Andreas
Reeves, Eileen A.
Stroup, Alice
Perkins, Franklin
Hayashi, Shin-ichiro
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
化学史研究 [Kagakushi kenkyū; Journal of the Japanese Society for the History of Chemistry]
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Perspectives on Science
Oxford University Press
Cambridge University Press
Polity Press
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana)
Natural philosophy
Matter theory
Correspondence and corresponding
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von
Newton, Isaac
Descartes, René
Clarke, Samuel
Papin, Denis
Liceti, Fortunio
Time Periods
17th century
18th century
Early modern
16th century
20th century, early
Padua (Italy)
Académie des Sciences, Paris

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