I’ve been doing some reading about Leibniz’s views on blind/muffled thought in the New Essays, and I thought I’d share what is now my favorite Leibniz quote ever. The context is that Leibniz is responding to a passage from Locke where Locke suggests that one can possess a clear idea of the relation of brotherhood while having an obscure or confused idea of its foundation. His example is someone who knows that to be brothers is to have the same mother, but thinks that one becomes a mother by plucking a child out of a cabbage-patch. Leibniz remarks:
Yet one time when a child was told that his new-born brother had been drawn from a well (which is how the Germans satisfy children who are curious about this matter), the child replied that he was surprised they did not throw the baby back into the same well when it troubled its mother by crying so much. The point is that that account gave him no explanation for the love the mother showed towards the baby. It can be said, then, that if someone does not know the foundation of a relation, his thoughts about it are partly of the kind I call blind, and are also insufficient, even though they might suffice in some situations.
I don’t have anything to say about this quote; I just really like it.