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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (b. 1646, d. 1716) was a German
philosopher, mathematician, and logician who is probably most well
known for having invented the differential and integral calculus
(independently of Sir Isaac Newton). In his correspondence with the
leading intellectual and political figures of his era, he discussed
mathematics, logic, science, history, law, and theology.
Principal Works:
- De Arte Combinatoria (‘On the Art of Combination’), 1666
- Hypothesis Physica Nova (‘New Physical Hypothesis’), 1671
- Discours de métaphysique (‘Discourse on
Metphysics’), 1686
- unpublished manuscripts on the calculus of concepts, c. 1690
- Nouveaux Essais sur L'entendement humaine (‘New Essays on Human Understanding’), 1705
- Théodicée (‘Theodicy’), 1710
- Monadologia (‘The Monadology’), 1714
Leibniz's Life:
- Born July 1, 1646, in Leipzig
- 1661, entered University of Leipzig (as a law student)
- 1663, baccalaureate thesis, De Principio Individui (‘On
the Principle of the Individual’)
- 1667, entered the service of the Baron of Boineburg
- 1672 - 1676, lived in Paris (met Malebranche, Arnauld, Huygens)
- 1675, laid the foundation of the differential/integral calculus
- 1676, entered the service of the Duke of Hannover; worked on
hydraulic presses, windmills, lamps, submarines, clocks, carriages,
water pumps, the binary number system
- published Nova Methodus Pro Maximus et Minimus (‘New
Method for the Greatest and the Least’), an exposition of his
differential calculus
- 1685, took on the duties of historian for the House of Brunswick
- 1691, named librarian at Wolfenbuettel
- 1700, named foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris
- 1711, met the Russian czar Peter the Great
- Died, November 14, 1716, in Hannover
Leibniz's Contributions To Philosophy:
Leibniz is known among philosophers for his wide range of thought
about fundamental philosophical ideas and principles, including truth,
necessary and contingent truths, possible worlds, the principle of
sufficient reason (i.e., that nothing occurs without a reason), the
principle of pre-established harmony (i.e., that God constructed the
universe in such a way that corresponding mental and physical events
occur simultaneously), and the principle of noncontradiction (i.e.,
that any proposition from which a contradiction can be derived is
false). Leibniz had a lifelong interest in and pursuit of the idea
that the principles of reasoning could be reduced to a formal symbolic
system, an algebra or calculus of thought, in which controversy would
be settled by calculations.
Further Reading:
- Wolfgang Lenzen, Das System Der Leibnizschen
Logik, Berlin: W.~de Gruyter, 1990
- Benson Mates, The Philosophy of Leibniz, New York:
Oxford University Press, 1986
- Nicholas Rescher, Leibniz, Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and
Littlefield, 1979
- Chris Swoyer, ‘Leibniz on Intension and Extension’,
Nous 29/1 (1995): 96-114
- Chris Swoyer, ‘Leibniz's Calculus of Real Addition’,
Studia Leibnitiana XXVI/1 (1994): 1-30
- R. S. Woolhouse, (ed.), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Critical
Assessments, Volumes I - IV, Routledge Publishing Co., 1993
- Edward N. Zalta, ‘A (Leibnizian) Theory of Concepts’,
Philosophiegeschichte und logische Analyse / Logical
Analysis and History of Philosophy), 3 (2000): 137-183