This chapter introduces the historical approach of the volume in the context of modal doctrines in contemporary philosophy, and offers a broad survey of the history of modal metaphysics. It discusses how a statistical approach to modality in ancient Greek philosophy was overtaken by a notion of possible worlds admitting unrealized possibilities, a notion that would receive its clearest expression in the philosophy of Leibniz. I discuss how Leibniz’s ideas form the historical background to twentieth-century possible worlds theories of modality, and how those theories have been challenged recently by more Aristotelian approaches. The chapter summarizes and contextualizes the following chapters of the book.
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