Thursday, October 25, 2012

First date with Leibnizian destiny

Greetings from the Pestana Palace Hotel and National Monument, site of the conference "Leibniz's Theodicy: Reception and Relevance." The conference blurb: a conference exploring the historical relevance and contemporary relevance of Leibniz's Theodicy, at the site of what many took to be the clearest refutation of his view, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. The hotel's: One of the Leading Hotels of the World. Something not quite right about this. Having the conference in Lisbon at all feels like a reiteration of the famed bathroom graffiti sequence:

God is dead - NIETZSCHE

Nietzsche is dead - GOD

(Or perhaps: If there were no God we would be obliged to invent him - VOLTAIRE; If there were no Voltaire &c &c - GOD.) And did I mention the whole thing's bankrolled by the Templeton Foundation? Pestana's not an earthquake-era construction, rather the pleasure palace of a cocoa baron who made his fortune in San Tomé in the late 19th century. The posh part of town where it's located was not much affected by the temblor of 1755, I gather. Why are we here? I suppose Leibniz was fond of the hospitality of princesses...

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