Accordingly, space and time are not things, but rather arrangements of things. In comparison to Newton's Principia, the emphasis of the inquiry has shifted in Leibniz and Clarke. If Newton was primarily concerned with the question of which space and time concepts are the most successful in physics, then Leibniz and Clarke are debating less about the physical implications than about the ontological question of what space and time are. All three are thus a long way from thinking that the setting of a standard for time is more a matter of convention or consensus than a question of truth or error.96 With their assertion that space and time represent real and independent values, Newton and Clarke are in clear conflict with a conventional solution. The relativity of time and space in Leibniz, however, also should not be understood in the sense of a conventional model, because relativity does not exist in the mutual relationship of diverse possible reference systems, but rather in the relationship of the phenomena to one another in time and space.97 Without phenomena there would be no space and time; thus, neither of the two is a real substance.98 Absolute space and absolute time are chimeras and impossible fictions, Leibniz rails.99
Clarke objects that he is not defining space as a substance or being at all. Space, he says, is instead a property or consequence of the existence of an infinite and eternal being. It is the immensity of God, but not God per se. Space and time are not outside of God—otherwise, there could be absoluteness outside of God. Instead, they are the direct and necessary consequences of God's existence because, without them, God would be robbed of divine eternity and omipresence.100 This train of thought appears paradoxical: The absoluteness of space and time are not separate from God; but, in turn, they are also not God. What leads Clarke to this aporia is his passion for establishing space and time as "media of God's effectiveness in the world."101 Speaking figuratively, space and time appear as a divine theater in which God's eternal omnipotence and omnipresence are expressed, although the term theater here must mean place and event in equal measure. A one-sided understanding of theater as place would have dualistic consequences, while an exclusive understanding of it as event would identify God with time and space.
Clarke does not think that it is possible to refrain from quantifying space and time, for the Leibniz model has absurd consequences: If time were nothing more than "the order of succession," then God could have created the world millions of years earlier without it having been created earlier.102 Then things could follow each other in the same sequence, but more quickly or more slowly, without Leibniz being in a position to determine a difference. Indeed, Newton's time has more structure in this regard, which is why Clarke concludes that "order of succession" is something other than time; and he crowns this thought with the conclusion: "If no creatures existed, yet the ubiquity of God, and the continuance of his existence, would make space and duration to be exactly the same as they are now."103
In Clarke's view, the perspective of the absoluteness of space and time therefore appears to shift to the absoluteness of God. Absolute space and absolute time do not emerge from themselves or from the world of phenomena, but rather God's absoluteness determines the absoluteness of space and time. In contrast, Leibniz alleges that Clarke is confusing God's will with God's power. In Leibniz, God's omnipotence is qualified by God's wisdom. For this reason, God can indeed do everything that is possible or that does not indicate any contradiction, but God wants to create only the best of everything that is possible.104
In his last letter, Leibniz also addresses the issues of the relationship of space and time as attributes and God's absoluteness. If space were an attrib ute of God, it would belong to the divine nature, which in turn means— since space is divisible—that God's nature disintegrates. Furthermore, if infinite space corresponds to the immensity [immensitas] of God and if infinite time corresponds to God's eternity, then that which is in space and time would also be in God's nature: "strange expressions,"105 Leibniz says to such a notion. "And the analogy between time and space, will easily make it appear, that the one is as merely ideal as the other."106 With words that are almost Kantian, Leibniz emphasizes the ideal nature of space (and time): The mind creates the idea of space without necessary correspondence to an external real and absolute being; abstract space is the order of situations that are recognized as possible and therefore it is ideal rather than real.107 With regard to the question whether there would be time and space if creation did not exist, Leibniz therefore comes to a conclusion that is diametrically opposed to Clarke's. Because he considers the immensity and eternity of God to be independent of time and space, Leibniz can say: "If there were no creatures, there would be neither time nor place, and consequently no actual space. . . . And therefore I don't admit what's here alleged, that if God existed alone, there would be time and space as there is now: whereas then, in my opinion, they would be only in the ideas of God as mere possibilities."108
In his final reply, which was left unanswered, Clarke again tried to state God's relationship to time and space more precisely. God does not exist in them, but God's existence creates space and time in such a way that "boundless space and time" are necessary consequences of God's exis-tence.109 Clarke tries to repudiate the reproach that he is guilty of using al-loglossia, a confusing manner of speaking, by charging that Leibniz's use of the concepts immensity and eternity is identical to asserting that words are meaningless.
Because of Leibniz's death, Clarke indeed had the last word in this dispute, but it would be premature to therefore declare him the victor. The motif of his battle for the absoluteness of time and space, for empty space and fixed atoms, was the proof of the power and omnipresence of God as the great manager of the world. He certainly did not foresee that this Clock-maker God would very soon be condemned to inactivity due to the excellent functionality of the clockwork mechanism.
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