The concept of transition and its role in Leibniz's and Whitehead's metaphysics of motion

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Leibniz's and Whitehead's analyses of motion are at the heart of their metaphysical schemes. These schemes are to be considered as two blueprints of a similar metaphysical intuition that emerged during two breakthrough eras, that is, the 17th century and the beginning of the 20th century, and retained the Aristotelian idea that existence requires an active principle. The two philosophers' attempts to elucidate this idea in the context of their analyses of motion still interact with central, longstanding questions in philosophy, in particular that concerning the ontological status of change. For both thinkers, the phenomenon of motion is an example par excellence, of the metaphysically fundamental principle of action that is required for change in the world. I focus on Leibniz's and Whitehead's similar understanding of the concept of transition that is inserted as an essential constitutive component of motion and ensures its status as something real.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-361
Number of pages10
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Alfred Whitehead
  • Change
  • Gottfried Leibniz
  • Motion
  • Relativity
  • Transition


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