Chapter 6

Nature and Immensity

Transgressing Boundaries

By the mid-eighteenth century Leibniz’s model of unity in multiplicity gave way to an understanding of space devoid of “centredness” and therefore of a divine hierarchy. Whilst arguably the last attempt to formulate a complete cosmology, in the tradition of Classical metaphysics, Leibniz’s monadic philosophy also laid the foundations for the modern subject. The significance of this change is recognised by Charles Taylor:

Something fundamental changes in the late eighteenth century. The modern subject is no longer defined just by the power of disengaged rational control but by this new power of expressive self-articulation as well – the power which has been ascribed since the Romantic period ...

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