Monadology, Information, and Physics, Part 1: Metaphysics and Dynamics (revised)

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Uchii, Soshichi
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Leibniz coined the word “dynamics,” but his own dynamics has never been completed. However, there are many illuminating ideas scattered in his writings on dynamics and metaphysics. In this paper, I will present my own interpretation of Leibniz’s dynamics and metaphysics (which is indispensable for any reasonable reconstruction of Leibniz’s dynamics). To my own surprise, Leibniz’s dynamics and metaphysics are incredibly flexible and modern. In particular, (a) the metaphysical part, namely Monadology, can be interpreted as a theory of information in terms of monads, which generate both physical phenomena and mental phenomena. (b) The phenomena, i.e., how the world of monads appears to each monad must be distinguished from its internal states, which Leibniz calls perceptions, and the phenomena must be understood as the results of these states and God’s coding. My distinctive claim is that most interpreters ignored this coding. (c) His dynamics and metaphysics can provide a framework good enough for enabling Einstein’s special relativity (but of course Leibniz did not know that). And finally, (d) his dynamics and metaphysics can provide a very interesting theory of space and time. In Part 1, we will focus on the relationship between metaphysics and dynamics. Leibniz often says that dynamics is subordinated to metaphysics. We have to take this statement seriously, and we have to investigate how dynamics and metaphysics are related. To this question, I will give my own answer, based on my informational interpretation. On my view, Leibniz’s metaphysics tries, among others, to clarify the following three: (1) How each monad is programmed. (2) How monads are organized into many groups, each of which is governed by a dominant monad (entelechy); this can be regarded as a precursor of von Neumann’s idea of cellular automata. And (3) how the same structure is repeated in sub-layers of the organization. This structure is best understood in terms of the hierarchy of programs, a nested structure going down from the single dominant program (corresponding to entelechy) to subprograms, which again controls respective subprograms, and ad infinitum. If we may use a modern term, this is a sort of recursion, although Leibniz himself did not know this word. And one of my major discoveries is that the same recursive structure is repeated in the phenomenal world, the domain of dynamical investigations. Recursion of what, you may ask. I will argue that it is elastic collision. For Leibniz, aside from inertial motions, dynamical changes of motion are brought about by elastic collisions, at any level of the infinite divisibility of matter. This nicely corresponds to the recursive structure of the program of a monad, or of the program of an organized group of monads. This is the crux of his claim that dynamics is subordinated to metaphysics. Moreover, the program of any monad is teleological, whereas the phenomenal world is governed by efficient cause of dynamics. And it is natural that the pre-established harmony is there, since God is the ultimate programmer, as well as the creator.