February 12, 2011

The Target of Leibniz's "Comments on the Book Concerning 'The Origin of Evil'"

Toward the end of his Theodicy, Leibniz included a section which in the Huggard translation has the title "Observations on the Book Concerning 'The Origin of Evil' Published Recently in London." The French title is: "Remarques sur le Livre de L'Origine du Mal, Publie depuis peu en Angleterre." (Note that, unless there is a disagreement between different French printings, 'London' is a mistake for 'England' in the title, but in the first paragraph Leibniz does identify London specifically as the place of publication.) I just spent a considerable amount of time trying to identify the book in question, so I thought I'd share. Leibniz is commenting on De Origine Mali by Archbishop William King of Dublin, first published in London in 1702. The 1704 reprint is available from Google.

Posted by Kenny at February 12, 2011 5:27 PM
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King's book was one of the most widely discussed books of its day; Bayle, if I recall correctly, also responded to the book, in its day, and after Edmund Law translated it into English in the 1730s, it shows up in scattered places (e.g., much of Catharine Trotter Cockburn's extant philosophical work is concerned with King's book and Law's annotations to it). Law's translation is also available from Google.

Posted by: Brandon at February 15, 2011 3:12 PM

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