First published in 1972.Professor Riley`s acclaimed edition of the major political and ethical writings of Leibniz has been revised and up - dated for publication in Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought: this edition includes a further three recently discovered pieces, in addition to a selection of political letters, editorial notes and full critical bibliography.
In a detailed but accessible introduction, Patrick Riley outlines the fudamental themes in Leibniz's work, particularly his concepts of justice and social responsibility, and assesses the important differences between Leibniz and his English contemporaries Hobbes and Locke. Professor Riley sees in Leibniz's political writings an essentially late-medieval attempt to visualize everything-politics, law, religion, culture, science-in terms of an architectonic system capped by a rational theology: Leibniz sought to establish a system of justice which could explain equally how men ought to act, and how God actually acted. From a theory of justice reformulated in terms of Christian charity leibniz derived a doctrine of social responsibility notably unlike anything to be found in his great libheral contemporaries, and in this Leibniz observed a possible doctrinal solution to the various religious and political schisms that had rent Europe since the sixteenth century.
Leibniz was himself and active diplomat and political adviser, aw well as philosopher, and this lends to almost all his political speculation an unusual and potent sense of active engagement.