Discourse On Metaphysics Essay, Research Paper
In the Discourse on Metaphysics by Leibniz he suggest that, “we maintain that everything that is to happen to some person is already contained virtually in his nature or notion, as properties of a circle are contained in its definition.” This assertion raised a difficulty for Leibniz. This difficulty was that “human freedom will no longer hold, and that an absolute fatality would rule over all our actions as well as over all the rest of what happens in the world.” With such a reality there would be no use for free will and whatever fate succumbs an individual is the will of the Most High; in other words, being destined. But for Leibniz, this is not the determined reality of humanity. Leibniz asserts, that it is God and only God, who has the insight of mans greatest reality. And man is unable to derive all of what he is, and is to become. For only God can foresee his fate. Leibniz suggest it is the perfect and good outcome, that God has prepared for each individual; and it is up to each person to fulfill that potential end.
This potential end (which God only knows all possible outcomes), is achieved through the person making free decisions and determining her fate. God decrees only the most perfect possible outcome for humanity, and this notion is woven within the cosmic tapestry of the human mind (a priori). Though this is the decree of God, that only the most perfect possible reality shall be for mankind; the imperfect is possible. For Leibniz states, “as I have already said, although God’s choice of the best is certain, that does not prevent the less perfect from being and remaining possible in itself, although it will not occur; for it is not its impossibility but its imperfection which makes God reject it.” Therefore, only the most perfect outcome is to be for an individual. These outcomes and future outcomes of life are based off the innate nature of the individual. And it is the individual who will choose the best possible outcome of all possible outcomes for her life. For God wills it so.
This being so, what makes up the nature of a person who chooses to perceive and know God, versus, the person who chooses to live his life consciously perceiving a reality without God? This person who chooses not to know God, denies the existence of such a Being. If God decrees the most perfect outcome for man, why would such a notion or nature be created and manifested within that individual? Because then, the person only has the most perfect possible outcomes of endless possible outcomes within the confines of his innate nature; which is not to know the Divine Creator. This being the case, he condemns himself according to the scriptures.
In attempting to reveal insight upon the first part of this two-fold question, one must first discern the meaning of human nature. According to the authoritative opinion of The Random House College Dictionary human nature is defined as; “the psychological and social qualities that characterize mankind.” In assessing the psychological and social qualities of mankind, it was easy to find oneself consumed within the vastness of characteristical qualities for which humanity has been endowed. These qualities range from ignorance to knowledge; grief to joy; from incontinence to self-restraint; lust to perseverance; injustice to justice; from malice to compassion, and other psychological and social quality which fall under these particulars. Therefore, human nature consist of an almost infinitude amount of possible psychological and social qualities. It also appears as if no one quality has any prevalence over another quality in accordance to its impact upon the human condition. It seems as that at birth these qualities are already present, but unexpressed. These qualities continue to be unexpressed, ‘less circumstances and experience invoke and develop them as the child becomes older. One can not be taught to feel happiness or sorrow. Nor can the nature of lust be thrust upon the human soul as a cloak is placed upon the person who is to wear it. It must be within the soul innate, a priori, lying dormant, and awaiting development.
Now perhaps this is a possible reason why Leibniz suggest “that everything that is to happen to some person is already contained virtually in his nature.” For this individual’s human nature has an infinitude of possible psychological and social qualities; which gives him an infinite number of possible realities to live out, depending upon the qualities of his nature. In approaching the first part of the question, (what makes up the nature of a person who chooses to perceive and know God, versus, the person who chooses to live his life consciously perceiving a reality without God?), it is seen that an individual’s nature is made up of an innumerable amount of qualities, ranging from that of the divine to the profane.
In investigating the nature of someone who seeks to know God, the life of such an individual must be examined. In questioning various people who claim to know God and have an intimately spiritual relationship with Him, there was a general consensus in what they felt. This feeling was one of authority that has now been place upon their hearts concerning their lives. This sense of authority is said to be derived from the faith that they now have within God, that all things are working for them. Meaning, that every experience or circumstance that they have is for their greatest good, though it may not be perceived by the senses. There was a description of peace under all circumstances and trials that each one of them would face. Many of them describe a clear sense of their purpose, as if the veil of confusion and darkness had been lifted from their eyes. Those who professed God, spoke of perceived their lives as being blessed would good fortune. And for this an unceasing giving of thanks is given to the Most High, and charity for the most part seemed to be their obligation to the rest of humanity because of their good fortune and blessings. Though they exist here upon the Earth, they do not subject themselves to the things of this world. They are not easily moved by the desires and limitations of the body. As ignorance seeks to commune with them, they shun him for their love of knowledge and the fruits she brings. When all others are being befriended by grief and sorrow, it is joy who offers her right hand of friendship and love and is welcomed. As lust boast of its earthly treasures, those who seek the Divine hearken unto the silent and humble voice of perseverance. And as malice seizes the hearts of the many, through his show of power and control over his domain. It is compassion who pulls those of steadfast hearts to her side, reassuring them that charity and wisdom will be their faithful companion.
Those who seek God are given clear vision with sudden surprise in order to see the truth of life within an otherwise cloud of darkness and confusion. Leibniz speaks of this in Philosophical Dream. He describes himself being within a dark cavern unable to see around him. This cavern was filled with many chasing after the miseries of life and being consumed and mislead by them as they toiled within the dark. As he chose to look up upon the divine light within the cave he describe his experience as follows; “Hardly had I begun to look upward then I was surrounded by a bright light shining from all sides: the whole cave and its miseries were fully disclosed to my eyes. But a moment later a dazzling clarity surprised me.” He goes on to say that this clarity gave him the vision to guide his way through the darkness of the cave, which eventually caused him to transcend the cave all together. In the same manner as Leibniz in his dream, those who come to know the Divine, speak of transcending the darkness of their own lives.
In assessing the nature of the person who does not seek God, the qualities of his nature are unique. They are unique in that on one extreme of the spectrum of qualities, there is a description contrary to the manner of one who sought after God. Those who were asked about how their lives were before they came to know God, described a sense of emptiness. It was a void never filled within them. They pursued all sorts of paths in an attempt to feel complete. Some sought after the calls of ignorance and remained there until restlessness once again force them to continue their search. The lustful pleasures of the body captivated some of them as his audience. Until he could no longer entertain the void within their spirit. Fear consumed them for the most part. They spoke of not having any direction within their lives and were afraid to pursue the longings of their heart. There was no sense of authority, but only a sense of fear and lack of assurance. In short their life was one of torment.
The Discourse of Hermes Trismegistus, Hermes describes to his son Tat the torments of the soul. His son asked’ “Do I have tormentors in me father? (Hermes) “More than a few, my child; they are many and frightful.” He goes on to say that, “ignorance, my child is the first torment; the second is grief; the third is incontinence; the fourth, lust; the fifth, injustice; the sixth, greed; the seventh, deceit; the eighth, envy; the ninth, treachery; the tenth, anger; the eleventh, recklessness, the twelfth, malice. These are twelve in number, but under them are many more besides, my child, and they use the prison of the body to torture the inward person with the sufferings of the sense. Yet they withdraw (if all not at once) from one whom God has shown mercy,.” This is one end of the spectrum for an individual who does not seek out the Divine. This end could logically be seen as a harmonizing opposite to the goodness and peace that comes from one seeking God.
But on the other end of this spectrum, there are peculiar findings. In speaking to others who did not profess to have a desire to know God, some spoke of a similar nature and life to those who did profess to know and seek God. They did not find themselves ravaged by the torments described above. And if they did experience any torments or possessed those qualities throughout their everyday lives, it was of a mild manner; in no way forcing them to seek a divine influence. Those who sought God, spoke of trials that they had experience, but within these trials there was a sense of peace and comfort as they turned toward God. In the same respect, those who do not profess God, are able to find this same since of peace and comfort by turning to other human beings or their various loves and passions of life. The ability to commune with those who have transcended this plain of existence is unable to be examined and taken in to consideration. For if it were feasible, perhaps light could then be shed upon whether or not those who chose not to know God, did seek Him because they were now tormented, and only could hope for another chance, as they were leaving this world. Since that is not a present possibility, the remaining similar findings must be taken into account. These similarities bring up a puzzling question. Are the natures of one who chooses God and one who does not choose God the same? In light of the evidence of such a reality in the above description, in conclusion one can say that they are the same in nature.
This strange, but intriguing finding brings cause for deeper investigation. If the nature of every individual is seemingly similar in its vast infinitude of possible qualities, then one must look at what difference lies between one who chooses God and on who does not choose God. The main and most significant difference between them is the choice itself. Then in essence, it has nothing to do really with the nature of the individual, but the choice that she makes about the relationship she is going to have with God. This brings the investigation to the second part of the two-fold question. If God decrees the most perfect outcome for man, why would such a notion or nature (a nature of a person who does not choose God) be created and manifested within that individual?
Well, it must be suggested that the nature each human being is given has the same potential psychological and social qualities of each other. This has become evident. Leibniz states in his discourse that, God gives each person a nature that has only the perfect outcome intended. Thus, you will be given the best end pending on what qualities you are inclined to choose. If one chooses to know God, she will receive a life that is perfectly befitting of that choice. All the potential and possible circumstances, experiences, and conclusions will be in the thoughts of God, and will only be revealed to the individual in a finite way, though she possesses it in its entirety within her. And just like the person who has chosen God, the person who has not chosen God will receive her perfect outcome. If it is to be a life of torment and suffering, this is the perfect and good life according to the choices she makes inclined by her nature.
Thus it can be stated, that the psychological and social qualities of human nature are the same. This being so, it is the choice one makes that determines if God will be sought after or not. The perfect end is decreed by God. It is the responsibility of the individual, what life path he will take according to his inclining nature. The choice is left up to the individual. And the choice concerning this matter of God, can easily be summed up in Blaise Pascal’s wager; either you choose for God, or you do not choose for God. But as fate deems it, as you are born, so must you choose!!!!