Gottfried Leibniz

Gottfried Leibniz biography
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Gottfried Leibniz biography

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, better known as Gottfried Leibniz (July 1, 1646 – November 14, 1716), rationalist philosopher, theologian, logician, mathematician, jurist, librarian and politician. He was born in Leipzig, Germany. He shared most of his time with his father, Friedrich Leibniz, a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Leipzig, who died when Leibniz was only 6 years old. Leibniz inherited from his father the love for books and the characteristic of being a perfect self-taught, also, in the material aspect inherited the immense and varied library of his father. Over time, began to pay great attention to the study of Latin, when he was 9 years old he wrote his first poem in Latin and at 12 he was fluent in Greek. His mother, Catharina Schmuch, instilled in her religious and moral values, aligned with the Protestant faith. Always emphasizing the cultivation of the mind in all its aspects.

In the school he was a very outstanding student, before the age of 14 Leibniz showed his intellectual precocity when entering the study of the logic of Aristotle and from there he focused his efforts on developing a rethinking. Being very young, Leibniz entered the University of Leipzig to study Philosophy and Letters. He graduated in 1663 with the thesis of Principle of Individuation. In the thesis came to express a bold approach: mathematical tests are necessary for subjects such as logic and philosophy, said approach was expressed by his teacher Erhard Weigel, and he made some changes.

Subsequently, he did doctorate studies in Law, in Altdorf, at age 20. In the end, he worked in politics, at the service of the Archbishop of Mainz. He worked extensively to achieve the religious and political unity of the peoples of Europe; He had the mission of traveling to France to meet with Louis XIV and persuade him not to invade Germany. While in this country he managed to deepen his intellectual activity. Because of his hectic political life, he remained in various places in Europe for several years, coming into contact with the most relevant figures in the world of ideas: the Jansenist Arnauld, the Dutch physicist Huygens, the chemist Boyle, Malebranche, Spinoza.

“To love is to find your own happiness in the happiness of another.” Gottfried Leibniz

From 1676, Gottfried Leibniz was librarian of the court of Hannover, some years later was named the president of the Society of Sciences of Berlin. He also collaborated in the foundation of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, serving as president. The foundation of this center was Leibniz’s idea but financed by Prince Frederick III of Brandenburg. Being in this place, he increased his intellectual production, kept frequent correspondence with intellectual friends and approached different fields of knowledge: science, mathematics, philosophy, specifically rationalism, law, and history.



Gottfried Leibniz began to be recognized for his works and treatises that began to develop from 1666 with Dissertatio de ars combinatoria. After this moment various treaties were released, such as Discours de métaphysique (1686); Essais de théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, the liberté de l’homme et l’origine du mal (1710); Monadology (1714); Nowveaux essais sur l’entendement humain (1765). In these works, he expresses himself as a classical philosopher, the most brilliant representative of Perennis philosophy. In any case, the dominant element in his works is sharpness of wit.

For his inclination to rational philosophy, he argued that the criterion of the truth of knowledge consists of the intrinsic necessity of knowledge, not in its adequacy with reality. He postulated the idea of ​​the existence of factual truths: propositions whose truth, unlike those of reason, is not reflected in them, these truths can be understood from the mathematics; they are built on the principle of reason. On the other hand, according to Gottfried Leibniz truth existed in fact, which are characterized by their chance and not to imply the truth itself.

This philosopher postulated a theory; founded on the logical category of the subject, it is not extense and active and receives the name of a monad. With this metaphysical theory, Gottfried Leibniz solves the problem of the communication between the extensive, divine and thinking substances of Descartes and between the body and the soul. To realize this theory known as monadology, which can be deepened in his work called in the same way published in 1720, Leibniz took as a basis: mathematics, metaphysics, physics, biology, and psychology. For Leibniz, the monads are atoms, formal, spiritual, of reality. They are not material atoms. Monads are dynamic units that contain an inner force.

“It is unworthy of excellent men, it would be a waste of hours like slaves in the work of calculating what could safely be relegated to someone else if machines were used.” Gottfried Leibniz

It is noteworthy that he accepted the existence of God thanks to classical metaphysical tests, although for this he made certain modifications to classical metaphysics; based on their own metaphysical and logical findings. In addition, he built an arithmetic machine that performed the four basic operations and calculated square roots and managed to demonstrate the advantages of using the binary system instead of the decimal in mechanical computers. The project of the binary system began many years before the existence of Leibniz, but in the year 1679 he affirmed that these contained a “dyadic numbering” with it, every number could be expressed through a series formed by 0 and 1. This was the begin to follow, other intellectuals, contributing to what we know today of the binary system.

One of his great creations was Leibniz’s calculating machine, with the help of Sir Morland they created machines that multiplied. Although there were more similar creations, almost all the machines had technical problems that prevented their good performance. The invention of this pair was the incentive for Thomas de Colmar to transform a machine of the type of Leibniz into a more complete one that could make subtractions and divisions. As a result, this machine was the prototype of the subsequent commercial machines.

Gottfried Leibniz died on November 14, 1716, surprisingly in life was not as prominent as he deserved. Its popularity occurred after the second half of the 18th century when it unveiled the invention of the calculating machine. After his death, he was given some recognition he is even known as the last universal genius. For example, starting in 1985, the German government introduced the Leibniz Prize, in recognition of the research. In addition, at the University of Hannover, he was paid a posthumous tribute.

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