Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz Facts & Biography

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was a German mathematician and philosopher. He occupies a prominent place in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy.
Born: July 1, 1646, Leipzig, Germany
Died: November 14, 1716, Hanover, Germany
Education: Leipzig University, University of Altdorf, University of Jena
Gottfried W. Leibniz holds a prominent position in the domains of mathematics and philosophy. Famed as the developer of infinitesimal calculus, Leibniz's mathematical notation was used ever since it was published. He was undoubtedly one of the productive inventors of calculators. The binary number system advanced by him laid down the foundation for the digital computers. Noted mainly for his optimism, Leibniz along with Rene Descartes and Baruch Spinoza was a great supporter of rationalism. Leibniz made significant contributions in physics and technology and also predicted concepts in biology, medicine, geology, history, philosophy, linguistics, and information science. He familiarized himself in all aspects of mathematics and his later years were devoted to disputes regarding differentiation and integration. This influential European thinker of the 18th century was also a great philosopher and had brilliant knowledge in areas like engineering and mechanics.

Early Life
Gottfried W. Leibniz was born at Leipzig on the first of July 1646 and his father was a lecturer of moral philosophy. At a young age, he was sent to Leipzig to attend Nicolai school. His father was his history teacher for most of the years but since 1652, he lacked his presence as he passed away. He was mastered Latin when he was eight. By the time he turned twelve, he could easily read Latin and started learning Greek as well. Next, he wanted to learn logic and also started efforts to reform its doctrines and familiarized the scholastics and Protestant theologians. Leibniz entered the University of Leipzig when he was fifteen as a law student. His initial two years were dedicated to learning philosophy under the guidance of Jakob Thomasius, who was a Neo-Aristotelian. He was very famous and was thought to have founded the scientific lines of the history of philosophy in Germany. Hence, here, he acquired a chance to deal with the modern thinkers who had held their contributions and revolutionized science and philosophy. Then he began studying mathematics and in the summer of 1663, he obtained classes of a reputed mathematician during his visit to Paris at Jena under E. Weigel. For the following three years, he devoted himself to learn law. In 1666, he applied for ‘Doctor of Law’ degree in theUniversity of Leipzig and aimed to obtain the post of assessor. Since he was too young for the degree, the university turned down his application. Disappointed Leibniz left his native forever. Subsequently, Leibniz joined University of Altdorf, and submitted a thesis, titled “Disputatio Inauguralis De Casibus Perplexis In Jure”. Leibniz earned his license to practice law and his Doctorate in Law in November 1666. However, he turned down an offer of academic appointment at Altdorf, saying he had different things in mind.
Leibnitz was only twenty one years old and he had already written several essays. The last essay which he wrote gathered much appreciation not only because he attempted reconstructing Corpus Juris, but also due to the fact that he bought forward the clear understanding of the importance of the historical method used in the law. Another relevant achievement of Leibniz was that he acquired the chance to meet Johann Christian von Boyneburg. Von Boyneburg employed Leibniz as his assistant and also introduced him to the elector of Mainz. As a step towards attaining employment, Leibniz wrote an essay for the Elector, following which he was asked to assist the redrafting for the Electorate, the legal code. In the year 1669, Leibniz was appointed in the Court of Appeal as Assessor. After von Boyneburg passed away in 1672, he was employed under his widow, who later dismissed him in 1674.
It was in the same year that Leibnitz wrote ‘Thoughts of Public Safety’. In this book he mentioned about the protection of Germany and the formation of a new Rheinbund and stated that the states of Europe should use their power not to fight against each other, but to conquer the non-Christian world, and ultimately add Egypt to the lands of France. Hence on 2 February, 1672, upon request of a French secretary of the state Simon Arnauld de Pomponne, Leibniz was called to Paris. Other than the political status of France, this place had developed greatly in terms of science and mathematics, which influenced him. While he was at Mainz, he sought an answer for the question of the connectivity between the old and the new methods of philosophy. Hence, he wrote a letter to Jakob Thomasius, giving the mechanical explanation of the nature in terms of magnitude, motion and figure. Before leaving Mainz, Leibniz announced his discoveries; the most prominent among them being the calculating machine that was designed to perform the operations of multiplication, addition and subtraction, division and root extraction. This machine was displayed at the Academy of Paris and to the Royal Society of London. With this achievement, Leibniz was elected at the latter society as a fellow in April in 1673.            
House of Hanover
Leibniz went on a short trip to London before his arrival in Hanover in 1676. During this trip, Newton accused Leibniz of stealing his unpublished work on calculus. Leibniz on his way to Hanover stopped in Hague and met Leeuwenhoek, the scientist who discovered microorganisms. Upon Leibniz’s request, he was promoted to the post of Privy Counselor of Justice, which he continued to serve for the rest of his life. At the House of Brunswick, he served as historian, librarian of the ducal library and as political advisor. In his writings, he covered political, theological and historical areas of that period. Leibniz was approved by very few people in north Germany.
Later Years
Leibniz then served the Brunswick family for the next forty years, under three successive princes. Thus, Leibniz moved over to a political surrounding which was formed by the dynastic aims of the German state. During this time, Leibniz devoted his time to his intellectual pursuits such as logic, physics, philosophy, perfecting calculus and writing about other mathematics related topics. In 1674, he started working on calculus and by 1677; he had made a coherent system with him, which he published only in 1684. Later the publication of papers in a journal between 1682-1692 enhanced his mathematical and scientific reputation. Leibniz was also appointed by the Elector Ernest Augustus to write the history of the House of Brunswick in an effort to enhance his dynastic ambitions. Thus, he had to go to Germany, Italy and Austria in order to find the archival materials related to this project from 1687-1690. Leibniz suffered accusations in 1708, by John Keil who wrote in the Royal Society journal of Leibniz having plagiarized Newton’s works. The last thirty years of his Leibniz’s life was busy with matters such as mathematics, theology, history, jurisprudence, politics, science and philosophy.             
Gottfried W. Leibniz died on 14 November 1716 because of deteriorated health. His final days were filled with controversies and only his secretary attended the funeral. His grave was not marked for more than fifty years.

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