Gottfried Leibniz lived in 1646 -1716, he was a rationalist from Germany. He thought that there were two kinds of truth, the truth of reasoning and the truth of fact. A rationalist claims that knowledge is gained by rational reflecltion alone.
What made Leibniz unique was that he divided truth into two different paths. His thinking was that Everything in the world has a distinct notion… this notion contains the truth about that thing, including how that thing connects with everything else. So you look at the thing and all it’s connections by rationally reflecting on it. That reflection will lead you down two different paths. Reasoning… this finite fact is final truth. And Fact … this infinite reasoning can only truly be understood by experience in order to reach a truth.
He explained his thought process in his book Monadology.
He believes that everything in the world is connected by notions, and that each notion is connected to other notions. To truly understand a thing you need to be able to follow those how those notions connect to each other. Understanding those connections will lead you to things that are rational truths, and to truths you can’t really understand unless you experience them due to our limited ability to reason our these rational truths.
This leads to the discovery of monads which are simple substances isolated from everything else. Each monad represents completely the hole whole of the universe, and every monad is synched which is how God created everything. All these individual monads completely synched and individual. The human mind is a monad and since it holds the universe completely it is possible therefore for us to be able to understand everything completely, but we can’t determine everything in a finite way. For instance I can’t go to a star and measure it’s surface temperature, so it’s a matter of figuring how to do so!
There is admittedly some struggle between understanding where the truth of reasoning and the truth of fact separates. As the finiteness of reasoning can bend into the infinite truths of fact (such as the example of the star’s temperature). We can guess (infinitely so) at what the star’s temperature is, but if we accurately use equipment to do so, it becomes a finite fact of reason.
Leibniz goes on to differentiate between necessary and contingent truths as well. Math, for instance, is a necessary truth. 1 + 1 will always equal 2. But saying it’s “raining in Spain”, may or may not be true and even if it were true in some areas it might not be in others. These contingent truths are ones that only God can truly see. God has eternal truth. God is the only one who always understand. “God understands everything through eternal truth, since he does not need experience”
Did he find Truth?
Leibniz saw God differently than people. He’s spot on with understanding that God is so much more and understands everything already. He also saw that everything has a spark of knowing all truth. His Monads as containing all truths of the universe…. Such an intriguing notion don’t you think?
In Romans 1 we are told that everything knows the truth of God
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
When I read of the monads in Leibniz’s ponderings, these verses came to my mind. If the monads hold the truths of the universe… we can either find them as we seek for truth, or turn our reasoning to alternative explanations. Our experiences in the world help us to discover more truths. Dividing them into fact or reasoning seems understandable as there are somethings that are just true … I can’t change the fact that our cat Milo is a tuxedo brown tabby. I can’t reason out that his colour is anything other than what it is. I can ponder how genetics came into play, and why his markings turned out as they did.
You can find it here find it here. Probe into Leibniz further.