Gottfried Leibniz was German mathematician, scientist and philosopher as well as founder and first president of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the French Academy of Sciences. One of the greatest thinkers of all time.
Leibniz's father was Serbo-Lusatian origin. On the maternal side Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, apparently, had a purely German ancestors.
Gottfried Leibniz was born on July 1, 1646 in Leipzig, Saxony (at the end of the Thirty Years' War), to Friedrich Leibniz and Catharina Schmuck. His father died when Leibniz was six years old, and from that point on he was raised by his mother. Her teachings influenced Leibniz's philosophical thoughts in his later life.
Leibniz's father had been a Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Leipzig and Leibniz inherited his father's personal library. He was given free access to this from the age of seven, his father's library enabled him to study a wide variety of advanced philosophical and theological works – ones that he would not have otherwise been able to read until his college years.Access to his father's library, largely written in Latin, also led to his proficiency in the Latin language. Leibniz was proficient in Latin by the age of 12, and he composed three hundred hexameters of Latin verse in a single morning for a special event at school at the age of 13.
While Leibniz's schoolwork focused on a small canon of authorities, his father's library enabled him to study a wide variety of advanced philosophical and theological works – ones that he would not have otherwise been able to read until his college years. Access to his father's library, largely written in Latin, also led to his proficiency in the Latin language.
He enrolled in his father's former university at age 15, and he completed his bachelor's degree in philosophy in December 1662. He defended his Disputatio Metaphysica de Principio Individui, which addressed the principle of individuation, on June 9, 1663. Leibniz earned his master's degree in philosophy on February 7, 1664. He published and defended a dissertation Specimen Quaestionum Philosophicarum ex Jure collectarum, arguing for both a theoretical and a pedagogical relationship between philosophy and law, in December 1664. After one year of legal studies, he was awarded his bachelor's degree in Law on September 28, 1665.
In 1666, the University of Leipzig turned down Leibniz's doctoral application and refused to grant him a doctorate in law, most likely due to his relative youth (he was 21 years old at the time).Leibniz subsequently left Leipzig.
Leibniz then enrolled in the University of Altdorf, and almost immediately he submitted a thesis, which he had probably been working on earlier in Leipzig. The title of his thesis was Disputatio Inauguralis De Casibus Perplexis In Jure. Leibniz earned his license to practice law and his Doctorate in Law in November 1666. He next declined the offer of an academic appointment at Altdorf, saying that "my thoughts were turned in an entirely different direction.
After studying at Leipzig and at Jena, Leibniz became a doctor of law at Altdorf (1666). Constantly occupied with practical political concerns, Leibniz never accepted an academic position. Leibniz' career was as a diplomat and legal council to various German princes. He spent much of his time traveling back and forth across Europe on various missions. In addition to trying to divert the attention of King Louis XIV of France from the German principalities, he was involved in a prolonged effort to reunite the Christian churches, as well as conducting interminable research into the family tree of the Brunswicks. Leibniz was well connected with the social, political, and intellectual elite of Europe; he had over 600 correspondents.
About that time he developed, independently of Newton, the infinitesimal calculus. From 1676 he was employed by the duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (later the elector of Hanover), for whom he served as privy councillor, librarian, and historian. This association brought him close to the elector of Brandenburg (soon to be king of Prussia), who was persuaded by Leibniz to establish a scientific academy at Berlin. In 1700 he became its first president. Until the end of his life, Leibniz continued his duties as a historian. He dealt with the genealogy of the House of Brunswick; but he also enlarged his goal to a history of the Earth, which included such matters as geological events and descriptions of fossils.
A Philosopher's Creed, 1673
Meditations on Knowledge, Truth, and Ideas, 1684
Discourse on Metaphysics, 1684
New System, 1695
Specimen Dynamicum, 1695
On the Ultimate Origination of Things,1697
On Nature Itself,1698
New Essays on Human Understanding, 1704
Principles of Nature and Grace, 1714
On the Art of Combination (De Arte Combinatoria), 1666
New Physical Hypothesis, 1671
New method for maximums and minimums, 1684
Explanation of Binary Arithmetic, 1703
Although he is considered by some biographers as a deist since he did not believe in miracles and believed that Jesus Christ has no real role in the universe, he was nonetheless a theist.
Leibniz did not support the idea of absolute monarchy, neither had he sympathy for democracy or liberalism. According to his beliefs people should always obey their leader as long as it leads to greater good, although the leader should limit this power himself, as much as state well-being allows.
In 1677, Leibniz called for a European confederation, governed by a council or senate, whose members would represent entire nations and would be free to vote their consciences; this is sometimes tendentiously considered an anticipation of the European Union. He believed that Europe would adopt a uniform religion. He reiterated these proposals in 1715.
As philosopher, Leibniz is mostly noted for his optimism, e.g., his conclusion that our Universe is, in a restricted sense, the best possible one that God could have created. Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three great 17th century advocates of rationalism. The work of Leibniz anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also looks back to the scholastic tradition, in which conclusions are produced by applying reason to first principles or prior definitions rather than to empirical evidence.
French Academy of Sciences
Considered by many to be genius, Leibniz possessed an intelligence that allowed him to work in the fields of science, mathematics, logic, philosophy and psychology with equal success. Leibniz himself pointed that he rather preferred to study things by his own and always tried to find more material, having some sort of informational-hunger. Another characteristic quality of Leibniz was his optimism and generosity towards others. Contemporaries saw Leibniz as a soft, friendly and cheerful person.
“Bernard de Fontenelle: «Leibniz never married; he had considered it at the age of fifty; but the person he had in mind asked for time to reflect. This gave Leibniz time to reflect, too, and so he never married».
Aside from that humorous remark, Bernard de Fontenelle considered Leibniz to be one of the greatest philosophers and scientists in history.
Same opinion shared British philosopher Bertrand Russell who called Leibniz «one of the most outstanding minds of all time».
Denis Diderot, french philosopher and writer, in his «Encyclopédie» stated that Leibniz means for Germany as much, as Plato and Aristotle for Ancient Greece.
American mathematician, cybernetics originator and computer science pioneer Norbert Wiener once said, that if he had to choose saint patron of cybernetics he would pick Leibniz.”
Philosophers & Thinkers
Influenced by Holy Scripture, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine of Hippo, Scholasticism, Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Suárez, Giordano Bruno, Descartes, Hobbes, Pico della Mirandola, Jakob Thomasius, Gassendi, Malebranche, Spinoza, Bossuet, Pascal, Huygens, J. Bernoulli, Weigel, Thomasius, G. Wagner, Steno, Llull, Confucius