Cosmology (Part 2) – Leibniz’s Idea Of “Necessary Beings” And “Contingent Beings” (for those interested in philosophy/theology)

Two Types Of Beings Or Entities In The Universe

The German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz divided everything that exists into two categories with separate definitions:
1. contingent beings
2. necessary beings

Contingent Beings

Leibniz defined a “contingent being” as a being or entity:
• whose existence is not essential,
• who just happens to exist,
• whose existence is dependent on outside causal factors other than itself,
• whose nonexistence is entirely possible.

Examples of “contingent beings”: The entire universe including humans, animals, plants, stars and planets are all contingent beings or entities.

Necessary Beings

Regarding a “necessary being or entity”:
• It is “self-existent” because of its own nature (i.e., does not depend on anything outside itself to exist),
• It would be impossible for such a being not to exist.
• It’s existence is metaphysically necessary.

Examples of “necessary beings or entities”: Numbers, sets, other mathematical entities and God.

So Leibniz was saying that the explanation for each thing’s existence falls into one of two categories. Either:
1. It is externally caused to exist by something else that has made it, or
2. It exists “necessarily,” meaning it would be impossible for it not to exist.

The focus of this website has been on God as a being who is:
1. uncaused (nothing preceded him) and past eternal,
2. the greatest conceivable being (the ultimate reality).
3. necessarily existing (self-existing by virtue of his own nature; impossible for him not to exist),
4. the creator of the entire universe (meaning that the universe is a “contingent being”: all space, time, matter and energy had a finite beginning and are not past eternal).

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