Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Portrait

Biographical note

German philosopher, polymath and mathematician. He occupies a grand place in both the history of philosophy and the history of mathematics. He invented infinitesimal calculus independently of Newton, and his notation has been in general use since then. He also invented the binary system, the foundation of virtually all modern computer architectures. In philosophy, he is mostly remembered for optimism, i.e. his conclusion that our universe is, in a restricted sense, the best possible one God could have made. He was, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, one of the three greatest 17th-century rationalists and anticipates modern logic and analysis, but his philosophy also looks back to the scholastic tradition, in which logic was an important part. Leibniz also made major contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in biology, medicine, geology, probability theory, psychology, linguistics, and information science. He also wrote on politics, law, ethics, theology, history, philosophy and philology, even occasional verse. His contributions to this vast array of subjects are scattered in journals and in tens of thousands of letters and unpublished manuscripts.

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