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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

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Mathematician and Philosopher.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (July 1, 1646 – November 14, 1716) was a German mathematician and philosopher.

Leibniz occupies a prominent place in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy. He developed the infinitesimal calculus independently of Isaac Newton, and Leibniz's mathematical notation has been widely used ever since it was published. His visionary Law of Continuity and Transcendental Law of Homogeneity only found mathematical implementation in the 20th century. He became one of the most prolific inventors in the field of mechanical calculators. While working on adding automatic multiplication and division to Pascal's calculator, he was the first to describe a pinwheel calculator in 1685 and invented the Leibniz wheel, used in the arithmometer, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator. He also refined the binary number system, which is at the foundation of virtually all digital computers.

In philosophy, 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.

Leibniz made major contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in philosophy, probability theory, biology, medicine, geology, psychology, linguistics, and information science. He wrote works on philosophy, politics, law, ethics, theology, history, and philology. Leibniz's contributions to this vast array of subjects were scattered in various learned journals, in tens of thousands of letters, and in unpublished manuscripts.


1.) Christopher Ernest Cosans (2009). Owen's Ape & Darwin's Bulldog: Beyond Darwinism and Creationism. Indiana University Press. pp. 102-103. ISBN 9780253220516. "In advancing his system of mechanics, Newton claimed that collisions of celestial objects would cause a loss of energy that would require God to intervene from time to time to maintain order in the solar system (Vailati 1997, 37–42). In criticizing this implication, Leibniz remarks: "Sir Isaac Newton and his followers have also a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According to their doctrine, God Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time; otherwise it would cease to move." (Leibniz 1715, 675) Leibniz argues that any scientific theory that relies on God to perform miracles after He had first made the universe indicates that God lacked sufficient foresight or power to establish adequate natural laws in the first place. In defense of Newton's theism, Clarke is unapologetic: "'tis not a diminution but the true glory of his workmanship that nothing is done without his continual government and inspection”' (Leibniz 1715, 676–677). Clarke is believed to have consulted closely with Newton on how to respond to Leibniz. He asserts that Leibniz's deism leads to “the notion of materialism and fate” (1715, 677), because it excludes God from the daily workings of nature."

2.) Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (2012). Peter Loptson. ed. Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Writings. Broadview Press. pp. 23-24. ISBN 9781554810116.

3.) Andreas Sofroniou (2007). Moral Philosophy, from Hippocrates to the 21st Aeon. ISBN 9781847534637. "In a commentary on Shaftesbury published in 1720, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a Rationalist philosopher and mathematician, accepted the Deist conception of God as an intelligent Creator but refused the contention that a god who metes out punishments is evil."

4.) Shelby D. Hunt (2003). Controversy in Marketing Theory: For Reason, Realism, Truth, and Objectivity. M.E. Sharpe. p. 33. ISBN 9780765609311. "Consistent with the liberal views of the Enlightenment, Leibniz was an optimist with respect to human reasoning and scientific progress (Popper 1963, p.69). Although he was a great reader and admirer of Spinoza, Leibniz, being a confirmed deist, rejected emphatically Spinoza's pantheism: God and nature, for Leibniz, were not simply two different "labels" for the same "thing"."