Leibniz on Possibilia, Creation, and the Reality of Essences

  • Peter Myrdal orcid logo (University of Turku)
  • Arto Repo orcid logo (University of Turku)
  • Valtteri Viljanen orcid logo (University of Turku)


This is an accepted article with a DOI pre-assigned that is not yet published.

This paper reconsiders Leibniz’s conception of the nature of possible things and offers a novel interpretation of the actualization of possible substances. This requires analyzing a largely neglected notion, the reality of individual essences. Thus far scholars have tended to construe essences as representational items in God’s intellect. We acknowledge that finite essences have being in the divine intellect but insist that they are also grounded in the infinite essence of God, as limitations of it. Indeed, we show that it is critical to understand that this dependence on God’s essence is prior to the dependence on God through divine ideas. Here it is crucial to distinguish questions concerning the ontological status of essences from questions concerning their reality. This yields a fresh view of Leibniz’s theory of creation, which takes seriously his claim that the same thing is first a mere possibility but after creation an actually existent substance.

Keywords: Leibniz, Descartes, metaphysics, epistemology, rationalism, ontology, modality

Accepted on
28 Dec 2022
Peer Reviewed