In science, monad (TR:18), the Greek monas meaning “unity; single”, is a hypothetical ontic opening atomic-like substance, which, depending on theorist, has properties of god or soul (Giordano Bruno, 1590), an active force and ideas (Gottfried Leibniz, 1697), and or be the basic unit of life (Robert Grant, 1826), etc., employed generally to find reconciliation between monism and dualism views, amid the growing hydraism-like nature of the physical sciences.

The theory of the monad, according to British politician and writer Benjamin Disraeli, supposedly, derives from Greek thinker Thales. [1]

The term “monad”, according to Greek biographer Diogenes Laertius, who supposedly cites Hippolytus, originated in the works of Pythagoras and or his followers (Pythagoreans), who called the first thing that came into existence the ‘monad’, which begat the dyad, which begat the numbers, which begat the point, begetting lines or finiteness, etc. [5]

Monad symbol
A four element symbol for the monad, from John Dee's 1564 Hieroglyphic Monad.
In 1564, English alchemical philosopher John Dee (1527-1609) published Hieroglyphic Monad, which worked to popularize the following glyph and associated philosophical logic about desires: [6]

“The moon and sun of our monad desire their elements, in which the Denarian proportion will rule, to be separated, and this is to be done with the ministry of fire.”

The hieroglyph (see also: Wolfe von Lenkiewicz) appears on a page of the Rosicrucian Manifesto Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, beside the text of the invitation to the Royal Wedding given to Rosenkreutz who narrates the work. [7] The Chemical Wedding, to note, was recommended (Ѻ) to Goethe in 1776 by Johann Herder, about which he later wrote to wrote to Charlotte von Stein, in 1786, that “there will be a good fairy tale to tell at the right time, but it will have to be reborn, it can’t be enjoyed in its old skin.” [8] This statement may, in some sense, be pretext to his 1809 Elective Affinities, but this is in need further corroboration.

In circa 1590, Italian philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer Giordano Bruno proposed the view that everything that exists is made up of infinitesimal ‘monads’, of three varieties: God (the monad of monads), souls, and indivisible atoms.

In 1697, Germany polymath Gottfried Leibniz began to employ the term monad — “probably borrowed from Giordano Bruno”, as Friedrich Ueberweg asserts — as a theory in between dualism and monism, according to which the entities were hypothesized to exist, conceptualized as simple unextended substance, in possession of the power of action, an active force, akin to the force of a strained bow; a type of Democritus-like atom, albeit differing partly by their active force and the notion that they consist in ideas. [3] Leibniz asserted that the monad has no windows, meaning that its contact with the rest of the universe occurred via a ‘pre-established harmony’, according to which monads were only measurable via the ‘arrows’ relating it to all other monads in the universe. [4]

In 1745, Swiss natural philosopher Charles Bonnet, influenced by the monad ideas of Gottfried Leibniz, is the first to make an actual “great chain of being” (1745) scale and later “step depiction” (1783) like scale and to describe the successive degrees of development as being chained together.

In the 1820s, German polyintellect Johann Goethe, in his talks with Johann Eckermann, is supposed to have said, according to John Williams, that Homunculus is virtually the same as the Leibnizian entelechy or monad. [2]

In 1826, Scottish physician Robert Grant, in his theory of evolution, publicly announced his speculation that 'transformation' might affect all organisms; noted that successive strata seemed to show a progressive, natural succession of fossil animals; that these forms "have evolved from a primitive model" by "external circumstances"; he accepted a common origin for plants and animals, and the basic units of life ('monads'), he proposed, were spontaneously generated.

1. Disraeli, Benjamin. (1879). Lothair (preface, pg. xvii) (Ѻ). Publisher.
2. Seung, T.K. (2006). Goethe, Nietzsche, and Wagner: their Spinozan Epics of Love and Power (pg. 67). Lexington Books.
3. Ueberweg, Friedrich. (1874). A History of Philosophy: from Thales to the Present Time (translator: G.S. Morris with additions by N. Porter) (pgs. 92, 107). Hodder and Stoughton.
4. Anglin, W.S. (1995). The Heritage of Thales (pg. 162). Springer.
5. (a) Laertius, Diogenes. (c.350). Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Publisher.
(b) Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers – Wikipedia.
(c) Monad (philosophy) – Wikipedia.
6. Dee, John. (1564). Hieroglyphic Monad (Ѻ). Publisher.
7. Monas Hieroglyphica – Wikipedia.
8. (a) MacLean, Donald. (1982). Goethe’s Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily (pg. 46). Red Wheel-Weiser.
(b) The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz – Wikipedia.

External links
Monad – Wikipedia.

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