The essay begins by demonstrating that Benjamin drew his interpretation of Leibniz's metaphysics from a little‐known book by Herman Schmalenbach. In contrast to the typical view, according to which Leibniz is a proponent of the principle of continuity, Schmalenbach argues that his metaphysics is rooted in a fascination with the discontinuity of whole numbers. Benjamin transforms this view by replacing whole numbers with whole names. The essay then shows the consequence of this adaptation of Schmalenbach's work first in the introductory texts Benjamin wrote for his Origin of the German Trauerspiel and finally in his last reflections “On the Concept of History.” The fulcrum of the argument is that the replacement of number by name inadvertently led Benjamin to recognize something “worrisome” about philosophy, whose “principal coinages” are drawn, Esperanto‐like, from a small number of languages, almost exclusively European.

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