Reassembling the monad: the intellectual genealogy of an actant rhizome ontology

Christopher John Cassells
<span title="">2019</span>
The monad, of which we will speak here, is nothing else than a simple substance, which goes to make up compounds; by simple, we mean without parts. (Leibniz, Monadology) From its origins in antiquity the monad is a concept that has time and again beguiled and attracted philosophers. This thesis will argue that it is a concept that lives on in the work of Bruno Latour and that it continues to have a contemporary relevance, offering a way out of sterile debates rooted in Cartesian dualism –
more &raquo; ... t/object, interior/exterior, essence/accident, whole/part, mind/body – and an alternative to those traditions which privilege one side of the dualism over the other – positivism on one hand, postmodernism on the other. The present study charts the development of the monad through the modern period, beginning with the work of Gottfried Leibniz and, thereafter, its recurrence in the work of Gabriel Tarde, Alfred North Whitehead, and, finally, Bruno Latour. However, rather than simply sketching a chronological history of the monad this study takes as its starting point Bruno Latour's Actor-Network Theory, or to use Latour's preferred formulation, Actant Rhizome Ontology. Arguing that Latour's work is best understood as being another instance of a monadological metaphysics that – contra Graham Harman – owes more to Whitehead than Heidegger, to Tarde than Nietzsche, to Leibniz than Spinoza; the thesis traces the genetic intellectual relations between Latour and his three co-monadologists. Latour himself frequently identifies Leibniz, Tarde and Whitehead as intellectual antecedents in his own work; in the spirit of Latour's own Actor-Network Theory, this thesis takes a closer look at these claimed chains of association. The first chapter surveys Leibniz's monadology and argues that, far from being an idealist, Leibniz was committed to a monism that recognized the materiality of simple substance through his corporeal 'de Volder' monad. This does not necessarily lead, as argued forcibly Pauline Phemister, to pan-psychism, as Leibn [...]
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="">doi:10.5525/gla.thesis.76784</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">fatcat:ocptboulefaavea2q43qdlwhb4</a> </span>
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