Revelation and Progress. The Concept of philosophia perennis from Steuco to Leibniz

Hannes Amberger

Abstract


Leibniz’s concept of the history of philosophy is that of a philosophia perennis: The essential truths of philosophy have always been and will always be in the world and can be found in every philosophical system in history. While Leibniz with philosophia perennis takes up a term coined by Agostino Steuco (1497-1548), which stands emblematically for a typical Renaissance topos, he modifies it in a characteristic manner: True philosophy is not, as for the Renaissance authors, revealed by God once and for all in the beginning of the world, but mankind must approach it in a gradual manner. The primordial truths, therefore, are not the ideal form of knowledge, which needs to be preserved, but semina veritatis, which need to grow; Leibniz’s philosophia perennis is thus not a “conservative” conception, but implies eternal progress.

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