Leibniz’s life rules

Ryan Patrick Hanley in Psyche:

Speaking broadly, Leibniz’s rules fall into three basic categories: advice on how to communicate with others, advice on how to carry oneself with others, and advice on the sorts of subjects one ought to study. On the first front, Leibniz argues that effective communication requires us to engage our audience’s attention in such a way that others will feel connected to and included in our conversation. In this vein, we’re told that ‘small commonplaces’ that ‘can be told or recounted with flair’ get noticed. Later, we’re told we ought to ‘intermix some charm into business negotiations and meetings’, and that, in more casual conversations, we should make sure to give openings so that ‘every person recounts something’ and has an opportunity to speak their mind. The lesson here is that when we speak with others, we should ‘work to bring new things up’ in such a way that others are ‘drawn into conversation’.

These maxims are interesting for at least two reasons. The first is that they come from Leibniz. Leibniz is famous for having argued that proper reasoning is based on ‘two great principles’: the principle of contradiction and the principle of sufficient reason. But the Lebensregeln attests to his awareness that even the best logical reasoning falls flat if it can’t interest people and draw them in. Second, and especially important for today’s world, Leibniz suggests that effective communication is both open and participatory, and creates an environment that allows the voices of others to be heard.

More here.