Quotation by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Thus I believe that without doing violence to the ancient doctrine of the Chinese, one can say that the Li has been brought by the perfection of its nature to choose, from several possibilities, the most appropriate; and that by this means it has produced the Ki (Ch'i) or matter with dispositions such that all the rest has come about by natural propensities, in the same way that Monsieur Descartes claims to bring forth the present order of the world as a consequence of a small number of initially generated assumptions. Thus the Chinese, far from being blameworthy, merit praise for their ideas of things being created by their natural propensity and by a pre-established harmony.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), German 17th century philosopher. This passage illustrates Leibniz's equating his own philosophy with what he mistook to be ancient Chinese philosophy. Li and Ki (Ch'i) are neo-Confucian concepts which cannot be equated with the western concept of mind and matter. However, as twin concepts, they have similar philosophical functions. Neo- Confucianism first flourished in China in the 11th and 12th centuries. Discourse on the Natural Theology of the Chinese in Writings on China, sect. 18, trans. by Daniel J. Cook and Henry Rosemont, Jr., Chicago and La Salle, Open Court (1994).
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