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Title: Leibniz over religieuze pluriformiteit en tolerantie
Author(s): JESPERS, F.P.M.
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 63    Issue: 4   Date: 2002   
Pages: 432-445
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.63.4.821

Abstract :
In our reflections upon the view of Leibniz on the many religions and their relations we elaborate three points. In the first place, Leibniz appears to be a faithful Christian, nominally a Lutheran, but not exactly bound to just one confession. He tried to be a real ecumenist. During all his career he made efforts to come to one, universal church (which he called ‘catholic’), on a dogmatic as well as a practical level. For this aim he corresponded on these topics with many influential catholics of his time, e.g. with Arnauld, Bossuet and Pellisson (see his De la tolérance des religions, 1691). Leibniz saw the other forms of monotheism (then known, i.e. Judaism, Islam and Confucianism) as preliminary stages of Christianity. For him the remaining religions were paganism and therefore they should be suppressed. But Christianity would be enriched by an exchange with the three other forms of monotheism. In the second place, we may conclude that Leibniz understood toleration as a recognition of the other and as an expectation for exchange. But in the third place, we have to take into account his final religious perspective: natural religion (the subject of his Théodicée). This is an almost philosophical religion with Christian features, usually called deism. With the help of his natural religion Leibniz wanted to combat what he called the atheism and materialism of the philosophy of his time, i.e. the ideas of Hobbes, Descartes and Spinoza. But his own position is rather close to them.

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