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Gottfried Leibniz

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Full name Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Born 1 July 1646
Leipzig, Electorate of Saxony
Died 14 November 1716(1716-11-14) (aged 70)
Hanover, Electorate of Hanover
Era 17th-century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
Main interests Metaphysics, Mathematics, Theodicy
Notable ideas Infinitesimal calculus, Monadology, Theodicy, Optimism
Leibniz formula for pi
Leibniz harmonic triangle
Leibniz formula for determinants
Leibniz integral rule
Principle of sufficient reason
Diagrammatic reasoning
Notation for differentiation
Proof of Fermat's little theorem
Kinetic energy

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (also Leibnitz or von Leibniz)[1] 1 July 1 (21 June OS) 1646 – 14 November 1716) was a German intellectual who wrote mostly in French and Latin. He played an important role in both philosophy and mathematics. He invented calculus independently of Newton, and his notation is the one in general use since then. He also invented the binary system, foundation of modern computers.

He was taught law and philosophy. He served as secretary to two major German noble houses: one became the British royal family while he served it. Leibniz played a major role in the European politics and diplomacy of his day.

In philosophy, he is most remembered for optimism. He thought our universe is the best possible one God could have made. He was one of the great 17th century rationalists. René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza are the other two. His philosophy also both looks back to the Scholastic tradition and anticipates modern logic and analysis.[2]

Leibniz also made contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated ideas which surfaced much later in biology, medicine, geology, probability theory, psychology, and information science. He wrote on politics, law, ethics, theology, history, and philology. Sometimes he even wrote in verse. His contributions are scattered in journals and in tens of thousands of letters and unpublished manuscripts. There is no complete edition of Leibniz's writings, and a complete account of his accomplishments is not yet possible.


  1. IPA pronunciation: /'laɪpnɪts/.
  2. Copleston, Frederick C. 1958. The history of philosophy, Vol. IV: Modern philosophy: from Descartes to Leibniz. London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne.