Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Conspectus of Feuerbach’s Book
Exposition, Analysis and Critique
of the Philosophy of Leibnitz

Written: between September and November 4 (17), 1914
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th Edition, Moscow, 1976, Volume 38, pp. 375-387
Publisher: Progress Publishers
First Published: 1930 in Lenin Miscellany XII. Published according to the manuscript
Translated: Clemence Dutt
Edited: Stewart Smith
Original Transcription & Markup: Kevin Goins (2008)
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Conspectus of L. Feuerbach’s book “Darstellung, Entwicklung und Kritik der Leibnizschen Philosophie.” Sämtliche Werke. Bd. IV, Stuttgart, 1910 (Exposition, Analysis and Critique of the Philosophy of Leibnitz, Collected Works, Vol. IV, Stuttgart, 1910) is contained in a separate notebook on whose cover is written: “Feuerbach.” The conspectus was made in Bern at the end of 1914 or the beginning of 1915.
Note that this document has undergone special formating to ensure that Lenin’s sidenotes fit on the page, marking as best as possible where they were located in the original manuscript.



In the brilliant exposition of Leibnitz
some especially outstanding passages should
be mentioned (this is not easy, for the
whole—i.e., the first part (§ 1-13) is out-
standing), and then the supplements
of 1847.

The book on Leibnitz was
written by Feuerbach in
1836, when he was still
an idealist
  § 20
§ 21                         1847
and separate passages

P. 27—The feature that distinguishes Leib-

nitz from Spinoza: in Leibnitz there
is, in addition to the concept of sub-
stance, the concept of force
“and indeed of active force...” the prin-
ciple of “self-activity” (29)—

Ergo, Leibnitz through theology
arrived at the principle of the in-
separable (and universal, absolute)
connection of matter and motion.
So, it seems to me, Feuerbach is
to be understood?

p. 32: “Spinoza’s essence is unity, that of

Leibnitz is difference, distinction.”

p. 34: The philosophy of Spinoza is a tele-

scope, that of Leibnitz a micro-

“Spinoza’s world is an achromatic lens
of divinity, a medium through which we
see nothing but the colourless celestial
light of the single substance; Leibnitz’s
world is a many-faceted crystal, a dia-
mond, which by its specific nature mul-
tiplies the simple light of the substance
into an infinitely varied wealth of colours
and darkens it.” (Sic!)

p. 40: “Consequently, for Leibnitz, corpo-

real substance is no longer, as for Des-
cartes, a merely extended dead mass
brought into motion from outside, but
as substance it has within it an active
force, a never-resting, principle of activ-

For this, to be sure, Marx valued
Leibnitz,[2] despite his, Leibnitz’s,
“Lassallean” features and his con-
ciliatory tendencies in politics and

The monad is the principle of Leibnitz’s
philosophy. Individuality, movement, soul
(of a special kind). Not dead atoms, but
the living, mobile monads, reflecting the
whole world in themselves, possessing (va-
guely) the capacity of sensuous representa-
tion (souls of a certain kind)—such are
the “ultimate elements” (p. 45).

Each monad is different from the others.

...“It would be ... quite contradictory
to the beauty, order and reason of nature
if the principle of life or of its own internal
actions were to be linked only with a small
or special part of matter” (Leibnitz—
p. 45).


“Hence the whole of nature is full of
souls, as the ancient philosophers already
correctly recognised, or at any rate of
beings analogous to souls. For, by means
of the microscope, one finds that there are
a multitude of living beings not visible
to the naked eye, and that there are more
souls than grains of sand and atoms” (Leib-
nitz—p. 45).

  cf. electrons!  

Qualities of monads: Vorstellung,[3] Re-

“Sensuous representation itself, however,
is nothing more than the representation
(reproduction in the mind and presenta-
tion) of the complex or the external, i.e.,
of multiplicity in the simple”... or ...
“the transitory state, which contains and
reproduces multiplicity in unity or simple
substance” (p. 49, Leibnitz)—verworrene[4]
(p. 50) (confuse,[5] p. 52) Vorstellung in
the monads (man also has many uncon-
scious, verworrene, feelings, etc.).

Every monad is “a world for itself, each
is a self-sufficient unity” (Leibnitz,
p. 55).

“A mixture of vague conceptions, the
senses are no more than that, matter is no
more than that” (Leibnitz, p. 58).... “Hence
matter is the bond of the monads” (ibi-

        My free interpretation:
   Monads = souls of a certain kind.
Leibnitz = idealist. And matter is
something in the nature of an other-
being of soul, or a jelly linking them
by a worldly, fleshly connection.

“Absolute reality, lies only in the mo-
nads and their conceptions” (Leibnitz,
p. 60). Matter is only a phenomenon.

“Clarity is only spirit” (p. 62)... matter,
however, is “unclearness and unfreedom.”

Space “in itself is something ideal”
(Leibnitz, pp. 70-71).

...“The material principle of the diver-
sity of matter is motion....” (72)

“Similarly— Newton and his adherents
to the contrary—there is no empty space
in material nature. The air pump by no
means proves the presence of a vacuum
for the glass has pores through which
all kinds of fine matter can penetrate”
(Leibnitz, 76-77)....

“Matter is a phenomenon” (Leibnitz, 78).
“The Being-for-itself of the monads is
their soul, their Being-for-others is
matter” (Feuerbach, 78). The human
soul—the central, higher monad, en-
telechy,[6] etc., etc.

“Hence every body is affected by every-
thing that goes on in the universe” (Leib-
nitz, 83).

“The monad represents the whole uni-
verse” (Leibnitz, 83).

“The monad, despite its indivisibility,
possesses a complex impulse, i.e., a mul-
tiplicity of sensuous representations, which

individually strive for their special changes
and which, by virtue of their essential
connection with all other things, at the
same time are found within it....” “Individ-
uality contains the infinite within it, as
it were, in the germ” (Leibnitz, 84).


Here is dialectics of a kind, and very
profound, despite the idealism and

“Everything in nature is analogical”
(Leibnitz, 86).

“In general, there is nothing absolutely


discrete in nature; all opposites, all bound-
aries of space and time, and kind, vanish
in the face of the absolute continuity, the
infinite interconnection of the universe“
(Feuerbach, 87).


“Owing to its peculiar nature, consisting
solely of nerves and not of flesh and blood,
the monad is influenced and affected by
everything that takes place in the world....”
Nevertheless “it is only a spectator of the
world drama, not an actor. Therein lies
the chief defect of the monads” (Feuer-
bach, 90).

The conformity of soul and body is a
harmonie préétablie[7] by God.

“The weak side of Leibnitz” (Feuer-
bach, 95).”[8]

“The soul is a kind of spiritual automa-
ton” (Leibnitz, 98). (And Leibnitz himself
said once that the transition from Occa-
sionalism[9] to his philosophy is an easy
one, Feuerbach, 100.) But in Leibnitz this
is deduced from the “nature of the soul”....

In his Theodicée[10] (§ 17) Leibnitz
essentially repeats the ontological argu-
ment[11] for the existence of God.

In his Nouveaux essais sur l’entend-
,[12] Leibnitz criticised Locke’s emp-
iricism,— saying nihil est in intellectu, etc.,
nisi intellectus ipse[13] (!) (152).

(Feuerbach in the first edition also ideal-
istically criticises Locke.[14])

The principle of “necessary truths” lies
within us” (Leibnitz, 148).

  Cf.  Kant  likewise  

The ideas of substance, change, etc., lie
within us (Leibnitz, 150).

“To be determined towards the best
through reason is the highest degree of free-
dom” (Leibnitz, 154).

“The philosophy of Leibnitz is idealism
(Feuerbach, 160), etc., etc.

...“The cheerful, lively polytheism of
Leibnitz’s monadology passed into the se-
vere, but for that reason more spiritual
and intense monotheism of ‘transcendental
idealism’” (Feuerbach, 188).


|Pp. 188-220: supplements of 1847|

P. 188: “Idealistic, a priori philosophy....”


“But, of course, what for man is a pos-
is for a philosopher a priori; for
when man has gathered experiences and
has embraced them in general concepts,
then he is, of course, in a position to make


‘synthetic judgments a priori.’ Hence what
for an earlier time is a matter of experience
is for a later time a matter of reason....
Thus, earlier, electricity and magnetism
were only empirical, i.e., here accidental,
properties perceived only in particular
bodies, whereas now, as the result of compre-
hensive observations, they are recognised
to be properties of all bodies, essential
properties of a body.... Hence the history
of mankind is the sole standpoint that
yields a positive answer to the problem
of the origin of ideas....” (191-192)

The soul is not wax, it is no tabula
rasa[15].... “The creation of a sensuous re-
presentation requires the addition of some-
thing distinct from the object, hence it
would be sheer folly for me to seek to
derive this distinct element, which is the
basis of the real essence of the sensuous
representation, from the object. But what
is this then? The form of universality; for
even the individual idea or sensuous re-
presentation is, as Leibnitz remarked, at
least in comparison with the real individual
object, originally universal, i.e., in this
case undetermined, wiping out differences,
destructive. Sensuousness is massive, uncrit-
ical, luxurious; but the idea, the sensuous
representation, is restricted solely to the
universal and necessary.” (192)


“The basic thought, therefore, of the Nou-
veaux essais sur l’entendement humain

and Kant

already, as in Der Kritik der reinen Ver-
, that universality, and the ne-

cessity which is inseparable from it,
express the essence belonging to the under-
standing or apperceiving being, and there-
fore cannot come from the senses, or
from experience, i.e., from outside....”

the universal

This idea occurs already among the Car-
tesians—Feuerbach quotes Clauberg,

= old

“Undoubtedly this axiom” (that the whole
is greater than the part) “owes its certainty
not to induction, but to the understand-
ing, for the latter has no other aim and
vocation than to generalise the data of
the senses, in order to save us the tedious
trouble of repetition, to anticipate, replace,
spare, sensuous experience and perception.
But does the understanding do this by
itself, without a basis for it being pres-
ent in sense-perception? Is then the individ-
ual case shown me by the senses an individ-
ual case in abstracto? Is it not a qualita-
tively determined case? But does not

this quality, however, contain so much
as an identity of the individual cases that
is perceptible by the senses?... Do the


senses show me only leaves and not also
trees?... Is there no feeling of identity,
likeness and difference? Is there no differ-
ence for my senses between black and
white, day and night, wood and iron?...
Are not the senses the unconditional affir-
mation of what is? Consequently, is not
the highest law of thought, the law of
identity, also a law of sensuousness; indeed,
does not this law of thought rest on the
truth of sense-perception?”... (193-194)

Leibnitz in Nouveaux essais: “Generality
consists in the resemblance to each other
of individual things, and this resemblance
is a reality” (Book III, Chapter 3, § 12).
“But is this resemblance then not sensuous
truth? Do not the beings which the un-
derstanding refers to a single class, a single
genus, affect also my senses in an identical,
equal manner?... Is there for my sexual
sense—a sense which theoretically also
is of the greatest importance, although
in the theory of the senses it is usually
left out of account—no difference between
an animal and a human female? What
then is the difference between the faculty
of understanding and that of sensuous per-

bien dit!

ception or sensation? The senses present
the thing, but the understanding adds the
name to it. There is nothing in the under-


standing that is not in sensuous perception,
but what is found in the sensuous perception
in fact is in the understanding only in

name. The understanding is the highest
being, the ruler of the world, but only in
name, not in fact. What, however, is a
name? It is a mark of difference, a striking

bien dit!

characteristic, which I make the character,
the representative, of the object in order
thereby to represent it to myself in its
totality” (195).

...“The senses tell me just as well as
the understanding that the whole is greater
than the part; but they tell me so not by
words, but by examples, for instance, that
the finger is smaller than the hand....

...“Hence the certainty that the whole
is greater than the part indubitably does
not depend on the senses. But on what
then? On the word: the whole. The state-
ment that the whole is greater than the
part says absolutely nothing more than
the word ‘whole’ itself says.... (497)

...“Leibnitz, on the other hand, as an
idealist or spiritualist, makes the means
into an end, the denial of sensuousness
into the essence of the mind.... (198)

...“That which is conscious of itself exists
and is, and is called soul. We are, there-
fore, certain of the existence of our soul
before we are certain of the existence of
our body. Of course, consciousness is pri-
mary, but it is only primary for me, it is
not primary in itself. In the sense of my con-
sciousness, I am, because I am conscious;
but in the sense of my life I am conscious,
I am. Which of these two is right?
The body, i.e., nature, or consciousness,
i.e., I? I, of course, for how could I admit
myself wrong? But can I then in fact sepa-
rate consciousness from my body and think
by myself?... (201)

...“The world is the object of the senses
and the object of thought. (204)

“In a sensuous object, man distinguishes
the essence as it really is, as an object
of sense-perception, from the essence of
it in thought, abstracted from sensuous-
ness. The former he calls the existence
or also the individual, the latter the es-
or the genus. The latter is defined
by him as necessary and eternal—because,
although a sensuous object may have van-
ished from the sensible world, it still
remains as an object of thought or sensuous
representation—but existence as accidental
and transitory.... (205)

...“Leibnitz is half-Christian, he is a
theist, or Christian and a naturalist. He

limits the goodness and power of God by
wisdom, by the understanding; but this
understanding is nothing but a cabinet


of natural objects, it is only the idea of
the interconnection of nature, of the uni-
verse; hence he limits his theism by na-
; he affirms and defends theism
by that which abolishes it....“ (215)

P. 274 (from the supplement of 1847):
     “How much has been said of the decep-
tion of the senses, how little of the decep-
tion of speech, from which, however, thought
is inseparable! Yet how clumsy is the
betrayal of the senses, how subtle that
of language! How long have I been led by
the nose by the universality of reason, the
universality of Fichte’s and Hegel’s Ego,
until finally, with the support of my
five senses, I recognised for the salvation
of my soul that all the difficulties and
mysteries of the logos, in the sense of rea-
son, find their solution in the meaning of
the word! For that reason Haym’s state-
ment ‘the critique of reason must become
the criticism of language’ is for me in a theo-
retical respect a soul-inspired statement.—
As regards, however, the contradiction be-
tween me as a perceiving, personal being
and me as a thinking being, it reduces
itself in the sense of this note and the dis-
sertation quoted” (of Feuerbach himself)[17]
“to the sharp contradiction: in sensation
I am individual, in thinking I am univer-
sal. However, in sensation I am not less
universal than I am individual in thinking.
Concordance in thinking is based only on
concordance in sensation.” (274)

...“All human communion rests on the
assumption of the likeness of sensation
in human beings.” (274)

Spinoza and Herbart (1836).[18] P. 400
ff.[19] A defence of Spinoza against the
banal attacks of the “moralist” Herbart.

The objectivism of Spinoza, etc., is
stressed. NB.

Verhältnis zu Hegel (1840 and später).
S. 417 ff.[20]

Not very clear, intermittently
emphasised that he was a disciple
of Hegel.

From the notes:
     “What is a dialectic that is in contradic-
tion to natural origin and development?
What is its necessity?...” (431)

Herr von Schelling (1843). Letter to
Marx (434 ff.). According to the rough
draft. Castigation of Schelling.[21]

End of Volume IV.



[1] In the passage referred to by Lenin, Feuerbach states: “Spinoza’s philosophy is like a telescope which makes objects visible to the human eye that are otherwise invisible owing to their remoteness; Leibnitz’ philosophy is like a microscope which makes objects visible that are unnoticeable owing to their minuteness and fineness.” (See L. Feuerbach, Sämtliche Werke, Bd. IV, 1910, S. 34.)

[2] See Marx’s letter to Engels dated May 10, 1870.

[3] sensuous representation—Ed.

[4] confused—Ed.

[5] vague—Ed.

[6] Entelechy—a term in idealist philosophy, used by Aristotle to denote the aim inherent in an object—an aim which through its activity is transformed from the possible to the actual. According to Leibnitz, entelechy is the urge of the monad towards realisation of the perfection potentially contained in it.

[7] harmony pre-established—Ed.

[8] Lenin is referring to the following statement by Feuerbach: “Pre-established harmony is Leibnitz’ weak point, despite the fact that it is his pet creation.... Pre-established harmony, understood in a purely external sense in relation to the monad, basically contradicts the spirit of Leibnitz’ philosophy.” (See L. Feuerbach, Sämtliche Werke, Bd. IV, 1910, S. 95.)

[9] Occasionalism—an idealist, religious trend in 17th-century philosophy which distorted the teachings of Descartes in the spirit of clericalism and mysticism. The Occasionalists held the reactionary view that all physical and mental activity and the reciprocal action between them, is due to the intervention of God.

[10] Theodicée (a vindication of the justice of God)—an abbreviated title of G. W. Leibnitz’ book: Essais de Theodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté l’homme et l’origine du mal (Theodician Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil).

[11] The ontological argument for the existence of God was first advanced by Anselm, Bishop of Canterbury and medieval scholastic. It can be summarised as follows: God is the totality of perfection. Perfection includes existence. Therefore God exists.
    On the essence of the ontological argument see F. Engels, Anti-Dühring, Part I, Chapter IV.

[12] Nouveaux essais sur l’entendement humain (New Essays on Human Understanding) by Leibnitz (written 1700-05 and published in 1765)—directed against the materialist trend of Locke’s sensualist theory of knowledge.

[13] there is nothing in the intellect except the intellect itself.—Ed.

[14] The first edition of L. Feuerbach’s book Darstellung, Entwtcklung und Kritik der Leibniz’schen Philosophie (Exposition, Analysis and Critique of the Philosophy of Leibnitz) was published in 1837.

[15] smoothed tablet—Ed.

[16] The reference is to the work by Clauberg, German Cartesian philosopher: Defensio Cartesiana, Amsterdam, 1652 (Defence of Cartesianism).

[17] Feuerbach’s dissertation in Latin, published in Erlangen in 1828 under the title “De Ratione una, universali, infinita,” appeared in German translation under the title “Über die Vernunft; ihre Einheit, Allgemeinheit, Unbegrenztheit” (“On Reason; Its Unity, Universality and Infiniteness”) in Vol. IV of Feuerbach’s works in German; Bolin and Jodl edition, Stuttgart, 1910.

[18] Lenin is referring to Feuerbach’s work Spinoza and Herbart (1836), appearing in Vol. IV (1910) of Feuerbach’s works in German; Bolin and Jodl edition.

[19] et seq.—Ed.

[20] Relation to Hegel (1840 and later), p. 417 et seq.—Ed.

[21] The reference is to Feuerbach’s letter to Marx in 1843 in which Feuerbach sharply criticises Schelling’s philosophy (see L. Feuerbach, Sämtliche Werke, Bd. IV, 1910, S. 434-440). Feuerbach’s letter was written in answer to Marx’s letter of October 20, 1843.


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