Despite my Shakespearean distractions at the weekend, I had some time late last week and today to return to the ‘Another Leibniz’ paper I last worked on properly in September. The paper is something of a survey of Leibniz’s non-standard interests as they relate to geography, broadly construed – it discusses his geological and palaeontological work, more briefly his discussions of biology and his histories, and then in more detail his work both as a political and ‘geopolitical’ theorist.
It is fairly wide-ranging, the bibliography is fast growing and I still have quite a few references to follow up. The two key parts of the paper are the discussion of the Protogaea and the political material. The first is in the category of ‘a book review that went wrong’ – that is, it got far too long. In the second, I quickly survey the territory arguments, but the bit I’m developing looks at his writings on Egypt (the Consilium Aegyptiacum) and the remarks on China in the preface to the Novissima Sinica. The idea at the moment is that the stuff on biology and history fit around these two parts to round out the analysis, but without becoming major aspects of the paper – in part this is because the biological has been so well done recently by Justin Smith (see my comments here); and because the historical is both utterly forbidding and not especially exciting. On the latter I have Louis Davillé’s 800 page Leibniz Historien sitting on mydesk. The overall point of the paper – this is destined for a geography journal, I think, as well as being an AAG paper for this session – is that Leibniz had a strong interest in topics across the range of what we today call Geography, without my trying to suggest he was a geographer.
Apart from discussions of the relative space idea that comes from the Leibniz-Clarke debate or of Deleuze’s strange little book, which are not my focus here, I can’t find any literature by geographers on Leibniz. But I did discover there is a Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (Länderkunde) and a Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, both in Leipzig, where he was born and studied. Good to see his contributions being recognised in some way, at least.