Biography of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz was born on the July 1, 1646 in Leipzig, Germany and died on November 14, 1716 in Hanover, Germany. He was the son of Friedrich Leibnitz, a professor of moral philosophy at Leipzig. Friedrich Leibnitz was evidently a competent though not original scholar, who devoted his time to his offices and to his family as a pious, Christian father. His mother was Catharina Schmuck, the daughter of a lawyer and Friedrich’s third wife. Friedrich died when Leibnitz was only six years old and he was brought up by his mother. Certainly Leibnitz learned his moral and religious values from her, which would play an important role in his ...view middle of the document...
Among the other topics, which were included in this two year, general degree course were rhetoric, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. He graduated with a bachelors degree in 1663 with a thesis De Principio Individui (On the Principle of the Individual) which emphasized the existential value of the individual, who is not to be explained either by matter alone or by form alone but rather by his whole being. In this is the beginning of his notion of "monad". Leibnitz then went to Jena to spend the summer term of 1663.
At Jena the professor of mathematics was Erhard Weigel, who was also a philosopher and through him Leibnitz began to understand the importance of the method of mathematical proof for subjects such as logic and philosophy. Weigel believed that number was the fundamental concept of the universe and his ideas were to have considerable influence of Leibnitz. By October 1663 Leibnitz was back in Leipzig starting his studies towards a doctorate in law. He was awarded his Master's Degree in philosophy for a dissertation, which combined aspects of philosophy and law studying relations in these subjects with mathematical ideas that he had learned from Weigel. A few days after Leibnitz presented his dissertation, his mother died.
After being awarded a bachelor's degree in law, Leibnitz worked on his habilitation in philosophy. His work was to be published in 1666 as Dissertatio de arte combinatoria (Dissertation on the combinatorial art). In this work Leibnitz aimed to reduce all reasoning and discovery to a combination of basic elements such as numbers, letters, sounds and colors.
Despite his growing reputation and acknowledged scholarship, Leibnitz was refused the doctorate in law at Leipzig. It is a little unclear why this happened. It is likely that, as one of the younger candidates and there only being twelve law tutorships available, he would be expected to wait another year. However, there is also a story that the Dean's wife persuaded the Dean to argue against Leibnitz, for some unexplained reason. Leibnitz was not prepared to accept any delay and he went immediately to the University of Altdorf where he received a doctorate in law in February 1667 for his dissertation De Casibus Perplexis (On Perplexing Cases).
Leibnitz declined the promise of a chair at Altdorf because he had very different things in view. He served as secretary to the Nuremberg alchemical society for a while, after which he met Baron Johann Christian von Boineburg. By November 1667 Leibnitz was living in Frankfurt, employed by Boineburg. During the next few years Leibnitz undertook a variety of different projects, scientific, literary and political. He also continued his law career taking up residence at the courts of Mainz before 1670. One of his tasks there, undertaken for the Elector of Mainz, was to improve the Roman civil law code for Mainz but Leibnitz was also occupied by turns as Boineburg's secretary, assistant, librarian, lawyer and advisor, while at...