Leibnitz, Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von

Leibnitz or Leibniz
(lìb´nîts, lìp´-), Baron Gottfried Wilhelm
von

1646-1716

German philosopher and mathematician.
He invented differential and integral calculus independently of Newton
and proposed the metaphysical
theory that we live in "the best of all possible worlds."

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm (1646-1716), German philosopher, mathematician, and statesman, regarded as one of the supreme intellects of the 17th century. Leibniz was born in Leipzig. After completing his education at the Universities of Leipzig, Jena, and Altdorf, he served in legal, political, and diplomatic capacities for the elector of Mainz. After three years studying in Paris, he was librarian and privy councillor at the court of Hannover from 1676 until his death. His works encompass mathematics, philosophy, theology, law, diplomacy, politics, history, philology, and physics.

In 1675 Leibniz discovered the mathematical principles of calculus, independently from the earlier discoveries of English scientist Sir Isaac Newton. Leibniz also invented a calculating machine and is considered a pioneer in the development of mathematical logic. In Leibniz's philosophy, the universe is composed of countless conscious centers of spiritual force or energy, known as monads. The universe that these monads constitute is the harmonious result of a divine plan. Humans, however, with their limited vision, cannot accept such evils as disease and death as part of a universal harmony. Leibniz's philosophical works Monadology (1714) and New Essays Concerning Human Understanding (1703) influenced 18th-century German philosophers Christian von Wolff and Immanuel Kant.

Science, 1711

German scholar G. W. Leibniz denies spontaneous generation and attempts to reconcile natural science with divine will. He expounds his conclusion that all living matter is composed not of dead atoms but of living "monads," infinite in their variety.

"Music is the hidden mathematical endeavor of a soul unconscious it is calculating."

"Mathematicians are able to break down into measure and figure what musicians do intuitively. The art of music is endowed with a supernatural origin and a divine purpose, more so than any other art."

"Leibniz was the first to conceive an 'electric language', a set of symbols engineered for manipulation at the speed of thought. His _De Arte Combinatoria_ (1666) outlines a language that became the historical foundation of contemporary symbolic logic. Leibniz's general outlook on language would also become the ideological basis for computer-mediated telecommunications. A modern Platonist, Leibniz dreamt of the matrix."

"The royal academies Leibniz promoted were the group nodes for an international republic of letters, a universal network for problem solving." Leibnizean symbolic logic was "developed later by Boole, Russell, and Whitehead, and then applied to electronic switching circuitry by Shannon."

"The temporal simultaneity, the all-at-once-ness of god's knowledge serves as a model for human knowledge in the modern world as projected by the work of Leibniz. What better way, then, to emulate god's knowledge than to generate a virtual world constituted by bits of information?"

- Michael Heim