Project Description

Home / Members / Graduate Students / Nicholas Michieli


  • 17th/18th Century Philosophy

  • History of Western Philosophy

  • History of Philosophy of Science


  • Rotman Institute of Philosophy
    Western University
    Western Interdisciplinary Research Building
    London, Ontario, Canada
    N6A 3K7


Doctoral Student;
Department of Philosophy, Western University

I’m a PhD Candidate in the Philosophy Department at Western University (MA Philosophy Queen’s University 2021, HBA Philosophy Lakehead University 2020). My main research area is early modern philosophy, and I’m especially interested in the theory of the infinite developed by Aristotle, Galileo, Descartes, Spinoza, Newton and Leibniz. I’m also interested in the notion of substance from Scholasticism through Kant, as well as categories and the a priori. My Doctoral dissertation is a monographic study of a puzzle in G. W. Leibniz’s metaphysics called the Problem of Monadic Aggregation and is situated within Leibniz’s theory of matter/body. My Doctoral research is funded by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship.

Early modern studies have lead me to various topics in the history of philosophy of science. These include the debate about whether matter is inherently geometrical, the revival of atomism and origins of particle theory, developments in microscope technology and the (then) burgeoning life sciences, the search for experimental rigour, and more. Some contemporary areas I have written about/researched and have enthusiasm for include the fact vs. object ontology debate, the ‘value’ of consciousness, transfinite number theory, Rawls’s theory of justice and the Rawlsian tradition, philosophy of religion and Asian philosophy, and climate change. When not doing philosophy you’re very likely to find me outdoors or making music.

My Doctoral dissertation is a monographic study of a puzzle in Leibniz’s theory of matter/body called the problem of monadic aggregation. In the 17th century, Leibniz developed a theory of matter based on his conception of infinity and his dissatisfaction with early particle theory. This led him to posit that bodies are constituted by ‘monads’, Leibniz’s term for a simple substance. Monads are centres of force and activity existing in every part of matter, and an infinity of them constitutes each body. Contemporary scholars identify a problem with Leibniz’s theory of matter, the problem of aggregation, and offer interpretative solutions. Leibniz claims physical bodies are

‘aggregates’ of monads, and groups or collections of monads ‘result in’ aggregates. The problem of aggregation is that it is unclear how this resulting occurs, i.e., how bodies arise from forces. My dissertation pioneers a novel approach I call Forced Perceptions, arguing that aggregates are the results of ‘expressions’ of force. I also show that some previous solutions do not adequately reconcile with force, and in general the literature lacks consensus on the best interpretation: solutions vary, can be incompatible, and many do not adequately engage with the others. However, I claim Forced Perceptions can bridge two major opposing interpretative camps because nearly all available solutions agree that aggregation requires perception and, as I argue, perception is fundamentally force-based.

Michieli, Nicholas M. “Infinity in Leibniz’s Metaphysics: Substantial Unity and Possibility.” MA Thesis. Queen’s University, 2021.

Michieli, Nicholas M. “Questioning Quine’s Assertion that Mass Terms like “Water” Ill-Fit the Singular/General Dichotomy.” Filosofia 67 (2022): 1-21.

Full-Year, 2023-24, PHIL-1020 Introduction to Philosophy with Dr. Dennis Klimchuk, Western University (TA).

Full-Year, 2022-23, PHIL-1020 Introduction to Philosophy with Dr. Dennis Klimchuk, Western University (TA).

Winter, 2022, PHIL-1571 Contemporary Moral Issues with Dr. Ryan Tonkens, Lakehead University (Grader).

Winter, 2022, PHIL-1111 Intro to Philosophy: Modern Developments with Dr. Todd Dufresne, Lakehead University (Grader).

Full-Year, 2020-21, PHIL-111 What Is Philosophy? with Dr. Sergio Sismondo, Queen’s University (TA).

Winter, 2020, PHIL-1111 Intro to Philosophy: Modern Developments with Dr. Todd Dufresne, Lakehead University (Grader).

Winter, 2019, PHIL-1118, Philosophy of the Occult & Paranormal with Dr. Ryan McInerney, Lakehead University (Grader).

“The Leibnizian Problem of Monadic Aggregation,” Western Canada Philosophical Association 59th Annual Meeting and Canadian Society for Environmental Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC (October 20-22, 2023).

“Leibniz’s Mereology and the Nature of Body: 2 Kinds of ‘Part’,” 19th Annual Atlantic Canada Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy Joint Meeting with the Quebec Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy, Dalhousie University, Halifax NS (July 5-8 2022). Keynote: Glenn Hartz.

“Leibniz’s Mereology: What Can a Monad be Understood as if it is not a ‘Part’ of Body?” Leibniz on Numbers, Mathematics and Physics (Part I), McMaster University, virtual (May 20-June 17, 2022).