March-August 2015

Tho PhotoBio: Tzuchien Tho defended a Ph.D. thesis in philosophy on the interrelation between Leibniz’s syncategorematical infinitesimal and metaphysics in 2011 and has recently been developing a systematic reinterpretation of Leibnizian dynamics. He has published and given presentations on problems concerning mathematical objectivity and method in the 17th and 20th century. He is more broadly interested in the influence (and the limits) of mathematical and logical formalism in the history of philosophy (from antiquity to contemporary thought) with respect to the metaphysical and methodological uses of concepts like finite/infinite, discrete/continuous and local/global.

Project titleVis, Vi, Vim: Declinations of Force in Leibniz’s Dynamics

Project description: My project intends to pursue the completion of a monograph project entitled Vis, Vim, Vi: Declinations of Force in Leibniz’s Dynamics based on a systematic reconstruction of Leibniz’s Dynamics project (circa 1678-1700). My contribution to the already existing literature is to treat Leibniz as not only elaborating a world furnished with metaphysical entities like primitive force and primary matter but also as the construction of a dynamical reality with an inherent structural reality of its own that is ultimately responsible for the ordered regularity of physical phenomena. In this I provide a new systematic interpretation of Leibniz’s Dynamics that critiques the over-emphasis on the metaphysics in its reception by highlighting instead the mathematical structure of a “dynamical level” distinct from a mere (although well-founded) phenomenal, extended and geometrical level of reality. This central task also allows me to relate Leibniz’s dynamical works to his later and more widely debated controversy with the Newtonians concerning the relationism or substantivalism of space and time. In this Leibniz’s well known reduction of the phenomenal reality of space and time to the relations between metaphysically real substances can be better understood as the generalization of a concept of structure (the order of relations) refined decades earlier in the Dynamics. This investigation also importantly provides a renewed look at Leibniz’s metaphysical foundation for natural science.

Research results:

A. Publications

Published or Accepted for publication

  1. “What is (not) Leibniz’s ontology?” Journal of Early Modern Studies, Volume 4, Issue 1, Spring 2015.
  2. “Equivalence of Hypotheses and Leibnizian Vires”, Hommage to Leibniz as Engineer and Scientist, Springer 2016.
  3. “Potentia, Actio, Vis”, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, 2016.
  4. “Actual and Ideal Infinitesimals in Leibniz’s Specimen Dynamicum”, Journal of Early Modern Studies, 2016.

Under review

  1. “Dynamics” in The Oxford Handbook of Leibniz, Oxford University Press, 2015.

Work-in progress

  1. Vis, Vim, Vi: Declinations of Force in Leibniz’s Dynamics, monograph manuscript, Springer, 2016.

B. Participation in conferences, workshops, symposia etc.

  1. “Efficient and final causality in the development of Leibniz’s dynamics”, CELFIS seminar, University of Bucharest, 4 March 2015
  2. “The necessity of contingency in Leibniz’s dynamics”, Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin 4 May 2015
  3. Co-teacher of 5 day masterclass: “Space, Time, and Motion in the Early Modern Period”, Bucharest 18-22 May 2015
  4. “Symmetry, Invariance and Force in Leibniz’s Dynamics”, in the workshop “Natural History, Mathematics, and Metaphysics in the Seventeenth Century”, Bucharest 26-27 May 2015
  5. “Physical causality in the monadic world” at the University of Wales 3-5 July 2015
  6. “Generic Space and Structural Causation in Leibniz’s Dynamics” at Geometry and Space in the Early Modern Age Conference, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 6-8 July 2015
  7. “Efficient and Final Causes in the Dynamics: Leibniz’s conversation with the Aristotelian and ‘New’ Sciences” at the 15th Bucharest-Princeton seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, 12-17 July 2015

C. Research trips, conferences

  1. A Path through the Woods: Analyzing Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum, TU Berlin, 24-25 March 2015
  2. Renaissance Society of America Annual conference, Berlin, 26-28 March 2015
  3. Geometry and Space in the Early Modern Age Conference, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, 6-8 July 2015
  4. 15th Bucharest-Princeton seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, 12-17 July 2015