Leibniz on the Empty Term ‘Nothing’
This paper discusses Leibniz’s treatment of the term ‘nihil’ that appears in some logical papers about the notion of Real Addition. First, the paper argues that the term should be understood as an empty (singular) term and that sentences with empty terms can be true (§2). Second, it sketches a positive free logic to describe the logical behaviour of empty terms (§3). After explaining how this approach avoids a contradiction that threatens the introduction of the term ‘nihil’ in the Real Addition calculus (§4), and how this approach should be understood within Leibniz’s philosophy (§5), the paper assesses the prospects of such an approach with regard to two fundamental issues in Leibniz’s thought: the fictional nature of infinitesimals (§6), and the occurrence of the term ‘nothing’ in the proof of the existence of God that we find in the New Essays (§7).