Olga Bashkina 1
  • 1 KU Leuven, 186 Frederik Lintstraat, Leuven, 3000, Belgium

Leibniz on the Division of Sovereignty

2015, vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 93–105 [issue contents]
G. W. Leibniz is usually not regarded as a political philosopher. However, despite this prevailing opinion, Leibniz’ impact on political theory is valuable. The paper discusses Leibniz in the context of the history of the concepts of “sovereignty” and “federation”, and demonstrates that Leibniz presents an original interpretation of these concepts. Even though Leibniz’ attention to the problem of sovereignty is conditioned by the practical interests of his patron, the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and Leibniz’ own intentions to participate in international negotiations, Leibniz’ theoretical solution is no less original. Leibniz, in his attempt to defend the independence of imperial princes, creates an alternative to Jean Bodin’s theory of absolute sovereignty, and argues that sovereignty is compatible with divisibility. In demonstrating the possible coexistence of several centers of power, Leibniz makes the notion of sovereignty relative, which, however, does not force him into rejecting the notion entirely. The article discusses the historical context framing the appearance of the Leibniz’ doctrine, the reasons why Leibniz is critical of Bodin’s theory, and the innovations introduced by his approach. Based on Leibniz’ texts Codex Juris Gentium (1693) and Caesarinus Fürstenerius (De Suprematu Principium Germaniae) (1677), the paper analyzes the development of his theory, and shows how power is divided between the Emperor (majestas) and the princes (suprematus). The paper raises the questions of how Leibniz’ interests are similar to those of contemporary political theorists in trying to reevaluate the notion of sovereignty, of which model of federation Leibniz prefers, and of how his political ideas are connected with his metaphysical system.
Citation: Bashkina O. (2015) G. V. Leybnits o razdelenii suvereniteta [Leibniz on the Division of Sovereignty]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 14, pp. 93-105 (in Russian)
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