Talk:Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former good article nominee Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
June 24, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed
Wikipedia Version 1.0 Editorial Team / v0.5
WikiProject icon This article has been reviewed by the Version 1.0 Editorial Team.
Taskforce icon
This article has been selected for Version 0.5 and subsequent release versions of Wikipedia.


I'm as much of an admirer of Leibniz as anyone, but connecting his differentiation and integration rule to supersymmetry is a bit much. It plays an extremely minor rule, somewhere probably at the level of Euler's e^I*theta = cos(theta) + I*sin(theta). The major mathematical building blocks of supersymmetry are substantially different. -A physics grad student —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:37, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Leibniz war Polish, und Copernicus war Polish — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:15, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

Two Infoboxes???[edit]

Why are there 2 infoboxes in this article? Merge them into one because it looks as if the article tells about two persons. Causesobad → (Talk) 16:16, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

I have removed them. I don't think an infobox can do justice to a person active in as many fields as Leibniz. Kusma (討論) 11:09, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I still think he needs an infobox, because removing all is too rigorous. An infobox is very important because it's a table of brief information which can help the readers have the general overview about certain individuals. Infobox is also an usual style in an article. A person who is active in many fields still needs an infox, for instance Leonardo da Vinci. I suggest we should condense the info instead of deleting all. Causesobad → (Talk) 14:54, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Admittedly I don't think that any biography article needs an infobox. I like FAs without infoboxes such as Robert Oppenheimer or Mary Wollstonecraft. To present the brief information of the important facts, we should use the Lead section. Other FAs such as Athanasius Kircher also have a very minimal infobox, which I find much more aesthetically pleasing than the huge specialized boxes this article had. But go ahead and be bold and let us see what you think the infobox should be like. Kusma (討論) 15:05, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
In contrast, I do think an biography article should have an infobox. Sometimes, the Lead section can be too long due to the huge contributions of the individual and it can make the readers feel boring and confused about the information given and they may find it hard to collect every piece of information scattered in the diffusive paragraph. An infobox will supply the comprehensive conspectus: who is he, born, died, residence, religion, known for, prizes etc. A concise infobox like Isaac Newton or Galileo Galilei is suggested. Causesobad → (Talk) 17:13, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Maybe the second infobox is OK. Causesobad → (Talk) 17:16, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
After I removed the irrelevant flags, it doesn't look too obtrusive anymore. Kusma (討論) 18:23, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

I added the philosopher infobox to the right for the archive. FranksValli 04:18, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

l know this has already been discussed, but comments are old and this article STlLL has two infoboxes. In any case I would favor the use of an info box, BUT ONLY ONE! They not only provide quick facts, but help readers decide if this is the article they are looking for, by looking at the years this person lived, in what areas they were recognized, whose relatives they were, or other articles of topics to which they contributed to or are related to.-- (talk) 09:00, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

I went ahead and condensed the two info boxes, although I'm sure it could still use some clean-up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by BrEdWhite (talkcontribs) 15:48, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

The question of nationality[edit]

I endeavour here what I hope will be reflected in many other similar articles on the (English) Wikipedia. This article (on Gottfried Leibniz) has (had) a section under the first image titled "Nationality", and this is (was) stated to be German. That is misleading, and not correct.

By a nationality of German, we mean one has citizenship of Germany. By Germany, we refer to the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, a presently existing political entity in the heart of Europe. This State only came into existence in the 1940s, and hence Leibniz couldn't possibly even have heard of it, much less belong to it.

Was he German - of course! Was Vivaldi Italian? Yes! (in everyday speech anyway) But to ascribe to them a false nationality based on today's geo-political situation is wrong.

Similarly Kant was German, but he may not be described as a German national. He was born and died in a city that is part of present day Russia.

Apart from the issue of factual accuracy, i.e. ascribing to someone the nationality of a state which did not even exist in their lifetime, (which some might consider as pedantry, but one might think that pedantry is not out of place in a repository of knowledge) there are a few other things to consider:

1. What of those who change citizenships? Shall we call Nietzsche a Swiss philologist because he held a Swiss passport?

2. Multiple citizenships? Can Winston Churchill be described as an American politician?

3. What of those who have no citizenship? Occasionally, renouncers of society have exerted tremendous influence on mankind.

4. Does formal citizenship - possession of a passport, or entitlement to one - really matter when one considers certain human beings? (or even all human beings, states being virtual entities that few people join by choice)

It makes sense to list the nationality of Bill Clinton as American (or US), of Samuel Johnson as English, of Saddam Hussein as Iraqi and of Angela Merkel as German - for these people are deeply identified with their respective states. But we may not list the nationality of the Buddha as Nepali, or of Hitler as German, or Herzl as Israeli. We may refer to Plato as Greek, but not a citizen of the present-day Hellenic Republic. Terribly inconvenient - all those border changing wars and revolutions in Europe, Asia, Africa and America.

I ask that we refrain from mentioning a person's nationality, unless it is without any doubt - i.e., the person possessed a certain nationality during his life, and that nation existed during his lifetime, or at least at some point in his (or her) life. And then only when it is pertinent. This second bit is another, entirely separate issue I hope to tackle some other time. To state it as a set of questions "When does a human being's gender, sexuality, religion, race, political affiliation, celibacy, widowhood or caste etc. need to be stated? Why do we choose certain attributes and leave out others? Do we, according to our bias and cultural conditioning, choose a certain type of human being to be "normal" and feel constrained to list any deviation?) 16:52, 12 March 2007 (UTC) SM, Herts, England

// FYI: The words "nation"/"native"/"national..." etc are derived from the Latin language verb "nasci" which is translated as "to be born" in English. "Belong to a collective of humans by being born one of them" does not require a modern concept of "nation state", not even political borders at all, to be a useful concept, and hence is independent of their changes.

The term "German nation(s)" was used already in medieval official political terminology, and it/they was/were certainly considered to have existed BEFORE the establishment of the "Holy Roman Empire" on German soil, and not to have vanished after its - factual, gradual desintegration in the late MA, and then - "official" dissolution by conquering Napoleon, nor did a "Nation" need to be "recreaed" in the 19th century. Therefore there is no problem for an individual to be counted within it at the time of GWL. That makes the major points you rise invalid.

You are right, in your other hints, that it is not an unproblematic or flawless concept - neither are any others used to clssify human collectives ore describe identities. But fact is that it is an inbuilt desire and need for human beings to order the whole world into groups and categories, for all sorts of practical, psychological and mental reasons. Just try to live a single whole day without doing so in ANY way consc. or unconsciously... 12:05, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

The isue here, as I see it, is that "German" may mean "belonging to the German nation" or "of German citizenship". I see no problem in stating that Leibniz or Kant were German in the first meaning, as long as they spoke German and were of germanic ancestry, or whatever we use to define the nation. The problem is that, as of today, in the starting line "Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz [...] was a German polymath", the word German links to the article on Germany (that is, Bundesrepublik Deutschland). That is misleading, as it implies the second meaning, which is just anachronistic.

That article itself may clarify the issue quickly, as it presents a history of Germany, but the first impression still associates Leibinz with present-day Germany.

Unlike my peer, though, I do not have a solution to propose for the nation-citizenship confusion. I have found, though, that both Germany (disambiguation) and, particularly, History of Germany, make a better job of separating nation and different political entities (e.g. "Despite the lack of a German nation state before 1871, the country dates back to the era of the Germanic tribes"). Should an article for German nation be created, and Germans not tied to a political entity be linked there instead? And should their citizenship only be mentioned when related to some established political entity, and otherwise only ethnical remarks be given? Or should we assume that the history sections for each country's article will clarify whether nation or citizenship is meant? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:41, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

His ethnic roots/origins could well be Slavic. His father's surname Liebniz is a clear indication that the surname is of Slavic origin though over time germanised. Of course his family would've intermarried with Germans though nevertheless his ethnicity is patrilineally Slavic (Sorbian?) which makes him Slavic. Catherine the Great was from the Zerbst family clearly indicating her Serbian or Sorbian roots which she herself never forgot and always stipulated. Just something to think about. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:22, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
Leibniz <= Liubich -- if so it's unlikely due to the fact that the name is from the "roots" heart of croatdom -- Herzegovina/Lika/Zagora. If it stems from Liubanich then it's likely Sorbian, as Liubanich is common among Serbs, Croats, Slovenians (in that order of frequency) and probably most other Slavic peoples. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:23, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

Oh no another pan-slavist. Yes we know it, all great Germans in reallity were Poles or Brits (like Händel) the only real german is Hitler (despite the fact he was austrian-born) :-( —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:46, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

If the Germans are so eager to claim that Polish astronomer Coppernicus was German because of having German mother, then we are also allowed to search for Polish or other roots of German scientists. No double standards, please! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:35, 15 August 2009 (UTC)
Simple answer. If anyone is a criminal, no problem to call him a "German", end of story. If one is a genius, a famous composer or author, the answer is much more tricky. At first, claim that his work is obviously derived from a american inventor (quote Edison, this will always do the trick). Stage two, claim that he MAY have lived in Germany, but there was no Germany before 1949 (as the idiot above, who did not know even a precise year, believes). Stage three, if there was a Polish puppy in the genius' household, there is evidence to claim the genius was from somewhere Eastern Europe. - There is a discrediting contest running on the American wikipedia ... neutral observers could vomit. -- (talk) 17:06, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
Another malicious answer given by a German Wikipedia user regarding a nationality of a renowned person. I don't find your answer given in a good faith. You are moaning about double standards, but it can be applied to the German users rather than Polish. Please note that those are German users, not Polish, who are constantly denying any ties with Poles of Copernicus because of his German mother, while in the same time any notes about Slavic or Polish roots of Leibniz are heavily attacked by such a people like you. Your view of neutrality is really bizarre. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:50, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

Clearly when talking about the 18th century nationality does not mean what it does today, i.e. citizenship. To say that Leibniz was a German citizen would be anachronistic, because there wasn't a German state, but there was perceived to be a German nation, and there is not the slightest doubt that geographically and culturally Leibniz belonged to it. Escoville (talk) 08:55, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

The affiliation of nationality in distinction to family origin needs some clarification. Since this discussions largely concerns the issues of who is Slavonic, Polish, Sorb, German I think it's important to note that a German national or more appropriately Regional identtity does not preclude Slavonic ancestry or family origin. Most inhabitants of modern Germany can trace their family origins to SLavonic (Polabian or Polonian, Czech, Wend, Sorbian) roots. Among these include the Kaiser, von Bulow (direct descendant of Prybyslaw), von Moltke, von Richtoffen, Schopenhauer, Bach, Bismarck, Plank, Mach, Tillich, the bulk of German aristocracy and many others. The key point here is that Germans are largely (excluding those of direct Hunnish or Batavian origin) the descendants of Slavonic ancestors. Thousands of German place names such as Berlin ( the barges ), Leipsig ( the linden tree) Dresden ( the flat lands), the Lech River, Nubgrad (Nuremberg, Gleiwitz, Lubeck, Rostock, Kiel and on and on and on, have Slavonic roots. The majority of the German population is comprised of persons of Slavonic family origins who have for generations adopted a variant of the Batavian or Dutch language as a result of the conversions of the local populations residing between the Rhine and Oder rivers, by Catholic Missionaries of Batavian or Dutch ancestry. At first this Batavian-Dutch dialect was used by the Church and administrators appointed by the Church but ultimately took root among the local German population who abandoned the more highly grammatically structured Polabian and Slavonic dialects for the simpler "Germanic" dialect. Indeed, speaking as a person of German ancestry from the Hanover region, I am aware, from written correspondence, that as recent as 1820 the local inhabitants in and around Hanover, where my progenitors resided, spoke a dialect more similar to Polish and Czech in daily discourse and resorted to my father's German only for "official business". The native German Slavonic dialects were ultimately discouraged by statute, after the administrative language in Berlin was changed from Polish to German around 1657. By my grandfather's generation the majority of us "Germans" had abandoned their ancestral language for the officially and originally Church sanctioned Deutsch. To say Leibniz was German is like saying Obama is American. Both identify REGIONAL affiliations. Leibniz, a member of the enfranchised Polish Gentry, who voted in elections, identified himself as a Sorb and was fluent in Sorb, Polish, Latin and German. It is not wrong to claim that Leibniz was German neither would it be wrong to claim that he derived from the same Slavonic family origins that prevail, throughout Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria. [Frank Templar] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:39, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Ethnic nationalism makes less sense now than ever (well any form of nationalism makes no sense at all come to think of it). Just as most Germans in the eastern part of the country are most likely germanized Slavs, most peoples of former Yugoslavia are slavicized Proto-Ilyrians. Recent genetic studies showed that european "middle-belt" of "proper" Slavs and "proper" Germans have a lot more in common (in terms of ancestry) than what either have in common with Nordic peoples and Southern Slavs (whom apparently, although shockingly, share ancestry). It also shows that not that many generations are needed for melanin generation to adjust to the environment and that the concept of skin-race or hair-race or eyecolor-race is pseudo-science at best, and an evil idiotism at worst. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:44, 16 May 2010 (UTC)
[citation needed] :| TelCoNaSpVe :| 08:03, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

German people are descendants of Germanic people. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:40, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

Information missing[edit]

I was surprised when comparing the English and German language versions of the Leibniz article: you get a noticeably different picture here and there. One bit I noticed especially was that he looks more "tied to Britain" here (emphasis on the link to the rulers of Hannover [german spelling]). On the other hand he was also founder and many years' president of the Prussian Academy or Society of Science, advising and collaborating with the regional "First lady" in Berlin. The former president of the national philosophers' association (to which certainly GWL would also have belonged, had it - and national unity - existed at his time, and which he would probably also have presided over) and also former head of the philosophy departement of the Technical University of that town, situated in the district that bears the name of the castle which her husband built for and named after her, is a Leibniz expert and editor of some periodical devoted to him, I believe to remember. So there exists a bit of "regional patriotism" in that part of Germany connected to GWL - but you wouldn't have guessed it reading (English) WP.

Why I don't add such information myself ? - Because I wasted so much time with the Neo-Panslavism-activist rubbish and am sufficiently disgusted by that affair that I won't contribute in that way; so 'just this hint.


Afterword: I have to correct myself, there is a brief mentioning of his acting in the way I described, and correspondence with her, but quite "hidden" and scattered in two remote corners of the article, therefore of little weight, it would appear to the reader.

[the number signature belongs to a library network, so I am not responsible for all that is registered under it] 15:41, 17 April 2007 (UTC) SelvoNT 18:01, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Under the philosophy section, discussion of the analytic-synthetic distinction is missing. His work was one of the primary catalysts for Hume and Kants work. This is also missing from the "analytic-synthetic distinction" article. Anyone with knowledge on the subject should update both pages (possibley linking them.

Language use[edit]

The article section on his "Writings" gives percentage figures for three languages he used.

a) On which basis was this calculated (when, by whom), counting what (e.g. only printed works) ?

b) The editor's homepage ( in German language) says that a smaller portion of the Nachlass is also in English, Dutch, Italian and Russian. I wonder whether that refers to received letters only ? (Otherwise the three main languages could not add up to 100 %.) 13:49, 18 April 2007 (UTC)


There are some interesting (so I find, at least) backgrounds to GWL's language use.

Why would he NOT use mainly his own language for his writings ?

Well, Latin was the continental language of all intellectuals of that time, "transporting" all the tradition and inheritance ("accumulated brain work") from classical antiquity and the Middle Ages and Renaissance, cultivated by the international community of great minds. That was hard to match for any individual younger language.

Then Germany did not have one SINGLE cultural centre even at the peak of its political power (High MA), not to speak of later centuries of territorial desintegration, such as had France or Britain, to act as a "motor" for national language standartization and development (although a metropolis thrives at the comparative loss of other towns, and it went hand in hand with suppression of the languages - and literatures - of conquered peoples, Occitan and Celtic, therefore such development is a two-sided coin, and a my-win-your-loss game also).

Then French had an "easy" start by being just a daughter of age-old and refined Latin, which makes transfers easy, means an almost uninterrupted development and continuation in contrast to creating a refined and literary language for the first time, as had to be done with German and others.

Then France was for centuries also the political and economic "superpower" of Europe, which can facilitate cultural development and refinement (although there is no "automatic" effect in that regard, is there...? ). Which in turn meant that much of its culture and fashions, esp. connected with the pompous-shining central court, was imitated by less shining European rulers (to the extent that e.g. even the king in/of Prussia would prefer to use its language to using the preceivedly "rustic" one that was his own).

Turning to "our hero": GWL had certainly no principle disliking for his own language (no "hate" or urge to "turn away"), just he did not find it an ideal "tool" for his - intellectual - work. He wrote himself a treatise entitled "Ermahnung an die Teutschen, ihren Verstand und Sprache beßer zu üben" (in 1682/83). Wherein he stated that he missed the mental "Scharffsinn", the "zarte Empfindlichkeit" and "gesellig-geschmackvolle" "Artigkeit" of latin scholars. He expressed the view that above all it was neccessary to practice "unsere Sprache in den Wißenschafften". He dreamt of improving the language in order to improve the independent "scharffsichtigen" use of reason. He wished to give "dem Verstand eine durchleuchtende clarheit".

- It is practically impossible to translate his (German, this time) expressions hundred percent adaequately, so I left them, including original (i.e.not modern) spelling, to give it some L.ian flavour. Some may be able to read German and understand, for the others I try to give English "approximations":

a) Title: "Admonition to the Germans, to employ/use/exercise their mind and language better".

b) he missed "astuteness/acumen/keen perception" (literally:"sharp sense"); "tender sensitivity"; "sociable-tasteful" "courteousness".

c) to practise "our language in the sciences" ( "wissen" is from a Germanic root that also survives in English "wise", whereas otherwise English has exchanged its shoots for latin terms; "Wissenschaften" in German encompasses ALL disciplines whereas English often uses seperate terms for "science/s" and "humanities").

d) lit. "sharp-sighted", or "keen" use of reason.

e) to give "to reason a clarity that is shining through" (here one cannot be both literal and idiomatic, I think). -

So he did not neglect his language, but rather saw himself as helping in its - then - still-needed development!

(The biggest step forward in enriching and refining German language in post-L.ian times came with the "Weimarer Klassik", i.e. poets and authors Goethe and Schiller, and then Romanticism [scholarship a la scholar-brothers Grimm, and numerous poets], and the 19th century also saw Germany develop into a leading nation in humanities studies [as testified e.g. by the inaugurational speech of the American Oriental Society, wherein German - esp. language - scholars are seen as THE role model] - but all that was post-Leibniz. Hence his pattern of language use.)

I do not know what of this would be interesting for which (and how many) English readers to what extend, and whether and how (and how much of) it should be incorporated into the article. Just I thought that when reading the very first sentence of the article (in its present form) one would necessarily wonder why..., and since I had recently read about this I thought I should do others the favour to provide background information, quickly - only it took much longer...

Regards, Sophophilos 13:59, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Edition project[edit]

I have just tried to provide some information from the editor's homepage for English readers also. Since E. is not my first (but 3rd) language, some native speakers could have a look at it and see whether it should be stylistically improved. - I don't mind this "work" of mine being altered, if indeed you improve it...

Sophophilos 14:32, 18 April 2007 (UTC)


There are additional websites by the individual institutions taking part in the edition project: and its "links" section leading to those in the other three towns I mentioned.

All these are of course in German, so I do not know if it is considered to be of interest in this (Engl.) WP article and whether and where they should be added to it. 12:12, 19 April 2007 (UTC) 14:43, 19 April 2007 (UTC)


Don't we think all the quotes should be cited? Some of them come off as guesses, or not genuine quotes. For example, "Why is there something instead of nothing?" Is that in the Monadologie? Acumensch 7:16, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

That is a - "relatively famous" - quote from Pre-Socratic philosopy, more precisely attributed to Parmenides, if my memory does not betray me. Though I do not know where in the L. article it appears ( ' will have to read the whole article again, you make me curious...). Regards, Sophophilos 14:56, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

Edit under subsection "Monads"[edit]

With his theory of the Monads, Leibniz did not solve the problems of "interaction between mind and matter" nor "lack of individuation inherent to the system of Spinoza" (the latter is not really a problem at all), but merely found a way around them. Monads cannot interact with each other, so the problem solving quality of the first proposition is rather dubious; he merely eliminated the interaction in the first place. As for the second "problem", Leibniz countered it with his own theory, which can also be subjected to doubts, like Spinoza's.

If anyone finds a better term for "having gotten rid of", I ask them to replace it. As for the claim itself, I await counter-arguments.

Have a nice day. Aljoša Avani 23:31, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

Topological Inaccuracy[edit]

The article reads:

"We also see that when Leibniz wrote, in a metaphysical vein, that 'the straight line is a curve, any part of which is similar to the whole...' he was anticipating topology by more than two centuries"

Someone who knows some topology as well as knowing Leibniz probably ought to clarify or correct this. Any unclosed curve that doesn't cross itself is topologically equivalent to a straight line, whether any parts of it are similar to the whole or not. I don't know whether there's some truth in a reformulated version of this statement or whether it's straightforwardly false, so I'm not going to delete it, but readers should at least treat it with caution.


I am afraid this claim, that he "anticipated topology" is as baseless as SO many of the "he anticipated x" claims in this article.

No, it is simply not possible that he anticipated topology with this statement: similarity is NOT a topological property. It is a property of affine or Euclidean geometry, NOT of topology.

To anticipate topology, Leibniz would have had to mention a property invariant under any topological deformation, such as continuity. (talk) 06:56, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Optimism defense[edit]

my sense, upon reading the section in question, was that the basically off-topic, heavy-handed rationalizations of the optimism sub-topic were provoked by the seemingly inflamatory wording or structure at the top of the section. should be fixable by rearangement.

-- (talk) 12:57, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

or i am mistaken

The arguments in defense of optimism are preposterous.
First, it is no longer widely accepted in the scientific community that there are only 3 spatial dimensions (see String-Theory e.g.).
Second, we have no way of knowing that life evolved "on Earth only". The conditions suitable for sustaining life are not that special.
Finally - while it may be true that if the fine-structure constant alpha or other constants had been different, no complex structures would have emerged, this is in no way an argument for optimism. Basically - something else would have been the case and the questions shifts to why that state ought to be regarded as sub-optimal. After all, all of the arguments for optimism assume the rather egotistical notion that there are absolute moral values and that "good" or "best" is just what we think is "good" or "best" for us.

I move that this modern defense of optimism, which reads like a quite pathetic theological attempt at explaining away the theodicy problem involving the argument from fine-tuning of the universe (which is in itself an unsubstantial, flawed argument), be removed for the two reasons that
-it states certain things (3 spatial dimensions; life only evolved on Earth) as scientifically established facts while they are definitly not
-it certainly has nothing to do with Leibniz's thought and opus

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:03, August 26, 2007 (UTC)

Seconded. I came here just because of it. It is highly speculative and undoubtedly constitutes original research. Snickrpedia (talk) 11:49, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

i've added what i believe are the basic theological/rational arguments that Leibniz offers, in i hope an evenhanded tone and with inline citations. there seems to be general judgment that the "theodicy" is more of a repetitive screed than a rational proof, separate from whatever can be said about his general metaphysics. controversial or not, *some* overview of the content is necessary beyond a single claim about the best of all possible worlds.

i also strongly agree with all the reservations noted above about the pseudoscientific justifications for the "best of all possible worlds" precept. the main logical problem is that the "good" of the universe is derived from the fact that the universe supports life, although this begs the question whether life is a good rather than a mistake, burden, punishment, torture or joke. in any case, *all* scientific theories of the world, whether we are talking about quantum theory or cosmology or string theory, ultimately have only a descriptive or parsimonious foundation: the world is the way it is because the world is the way it is, and we explain it the way we do because we have no explanation that is simpler (better). it's only when we work upwards from the foundational axioms or assumptions, and apply physical theory to the local behavior of matter observed in this world, that scientific theory acquires an explanatory or predictive force. the fact that science is applied in any other way is a sign of science illiteracy, and science illiteracy is a hallmark of christian apologist reasoning. those two facts seems sufficient to me to warrant deletion of the passages as factually inaccurate and a POV violation. Macevoy (talk) 21:49, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

The status of Leibniz as a 'polymath'[edit]

The division of the leibnizian contribution in 'areas of knowledge', such as physics, metaphysics, law, philosophy, logic, etc., does not find any evidence in the place where we properly find Leibniz, i.e., his writings.

In Leibniz, the question was merely one: natura ueritatis in uniuersum. The aforementioned atomization is just a Modern vice. Thus, I propose the substitution of the term 'polymath' in favor of 'philosopher'.

If a substantial agreement is achieved around this topic, a reworking should be done on the article's structure.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Guingu (talkcontribs) 11:56, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

I have nothing against the modern division of science into branches of knowledge (though it causes increasing problems when they overlap, it's also not reasonable to do away with them). However, I agree that "polymath" is a better term. Leibniz was a philosopher in the language of his day, but today philosophy is seen as a more restricted discipline that encompasses only the most broad and/or foundational forays into math and science (or, in some lay uses, as having nothing to do with science at all).

I'm going to make this change. If there's objection, feel free to revert it and start a discussion here. Inhumandecency 17:42, 20 October 2007 (UTC)

Letter quote[edit]

There is a passage from a letter by L. quoted in the section "Works and edition". Where is that to be found ? That did not become clear to me.

It is said to be from a letter addressed to one Vincent Placcius. Apparently there is no article on him at least in English WP. German language refenrence works that do not contain entries on him are the "Brockhaus Enzyklopädie" in 24 vol.s and the multi-vol. "Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie" ("German Biogr. Enc."). Are there variants of spelling his name ? Some Internet sources (apparently all in German language) mention him as a "Jurist (law scholar), Philosph und Theologe", or a "Philologe", or a "Polyhistor", who lived in the town of Hamburg in northern Germany; and all agree on his life span as 1642-1699.

Apparently the contributer to the article here who typed that passage meant to say that it was from a book by "Gerhardt" - but I did not find such book in the literature appedix to the article. Either I overlooked something, or there is a piece of information missing. (talk) 16:14, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Good News for Leibniz pilgrims !!! Rejoyce ye all ![edit]

Happy news in this pre-Christmas season comes to all friends of Leibniz, and human learning in general, from the country where he dwelled on earth.

Two weeks ago I picked up a copy of a major German daily newspaper from the floor of the entrance hall of a venerable University institute (someone had left it there as a gift for me, I presume). It was the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" of decembre 3rd, 2007. (Politically rather conservative, but a good section on books and culture; many University teaching staff members read - and also write in - it.) On page 12 of said issue there is an article of medium length entitled

"Wissenschaft im Welfengewand - Die VW-Stiftung baut das Schloss in Herrenhausen wieder auf".

(That headline is intranslateable, I feel; wordplay and alliterations do not work in another language. But) The contents, in a nutshell: The German Volkswagen-Stiftung (endowment/foundation) has decided to re-erect the castle in the "world famous" ducal (later: royal) (baroque) gardens in Herrenhausen that served the Welfen (often spelled "Guelph" in English) dynasty as secondary residence in/just outside the city of Hannover ("Hanover" in English spelling) and was destroyed - as much of the city was - as the result of Allied "carpet bombing" in WW II (the infamous "break the will of the population"-policy of those years, no "accidental collateral damage" !). The building in classicist style is scheduled to be re-erected until the year 2012 at the latest (for an estimated 20 million Euro). Its central part is to serve as a medium size congress centre for the foundation. In one of the two side wings a collection of historical carriages is to be on display, transferred from the history museum in town. And...

"...Im anderen Flügel sollen Teile der unlängst zum Weltkulturerbe ernannten Briefe und Manuskripte des Universalgelehrten Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz gezeigt werden, der oft im angrenzenden Barockgarten wandernd debattierte..."

In my quick translation (aiming at a literal rendering, at the cost of sacrificing stylistic elegance) that reads:

"...In the other wing parts of the letters and manuscripts of the 'universal scholar' G.W.Leibniz shall be shown/on display, that have recently been declared parts of the World's Cultural Heritage; he often used to debate while strolling in the adjoining baroque gardens..."

There you are !

See you all "then" at that most thought-inspiring historical pilgrimage centre !

P.S.: Again, I am not sure whether - or how much of - that should be included in the article. I leave that for you to decide.

Sincerely - Sophophilos . (talk) 17:01, 19 December 2007 (UTC)


Here's a tweak to your translation:
"...To be displayed in the other wing will be parts of the letters and manuscripts - recently declared part of the World's Cultural Heritage - of the 'universal scholar' G. W. Leibniz, who often debated while strolling in the adjoining baroque garden..."
And thanks for this news. Best, Anthony Krupp (talk) 17:28, 19 December 2007 (UTC)


You are welcome, Anthony Krupp and all others.

And thanks for the immediate response and "amelioration". There is no change in information, but it looks better and reads more smoothly. I was aware that the German sentence structure cannot be retained in English (e.g. you do not have a declension of participles ), so I split it into two. But your formal trick ( "... - ... - ...") was more clever and elegant; in fact, I have sometimes used it myself when trying to render other authors' WP contributions more readable ! And my "used to debate" was superfluous (the habitual nature of this activity is already expressed in "oft"/"often") and not even literal, so better drop it.

I presume, the "Weltkulturerbe" mentioned in the article refers to the "Memory of the World Programme" of UNESCO.

Regards, Sophophilos (talk) 13:33, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Monadology now within the realm of mathematics?[edit]

Seems to me there's an indication from this article that Leibniz's Monadology was fundamentally different than Newton's physics and managed to anticipate aspects of quantum mechanics and relativity. He also suggested the binary system of mathematics that lies inside of a computer to support Monadology.

So it seems like now is a good time to give Monadology a try as a mathematical hypothesis, a first for Monadology if I'm not mistaken. I've given it quite a bit of thought and I think its definitely within reach. I just need some experts in quantum mechanics and neuroscience, and a couple more programemrs. MobyDikc (talk) 21:25, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikilink of Monad in Article[edit]

The wikilink of Monad that appears several times within the article, in the section entitled 'The Monads' as well as the infobox just links to a disambiguation page. It would be good the links were changed to link to a more specific page that deals with the Monads that are relevant to Leibniz. I believe that the best page would be Monadology, the page that 'monadism' redirects to. --Credema (talk) 04:20, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

That and monism, done. Eldereft ~(s)talk~ 07:23, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Discovered vs Invented[edit]

Currently Leibniz's development of Calculus and the Binary System reads that he "discovered" these things, as if they were pre-existing constructs that he uncovered. It seems more accurate to say that he "invented" calculus (as did Newton), and the binary system. It is one thing to say that the zero/one distinction existed prior to Leibniz - which is obviously true - but establishing that as a number system... and later as a "yes/no" distinction... seems clearly an invention.

Gacggt (talk) 15:08, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Have you studied calculus much? To me it is natural to talk about calculus being discovered. (talk) 16:29, 27 April 2008 (UTC)
This is of course a question that has occupied mathematicians for ages, over which even today no consensus exists - whether mathematical entities are discovered, constructed or invented. See philosophy of mathematics. I don't think there is any doubt, by the way, that Leibniz himself was what we would nowadays call a mathematical realist and would not have hesitated to use the word "discovered". DAVID ŠENEK 08:43, 28 April 2008 (UTC)

Well, just to illustrate that the question is not so ignorant - go to Isaac Newton's page. You'll see he and Leibniz are credited for "developing" calculus; which is much closer to "inventing" than it is to "discovering". So there is an inconsistency to the terminology between the pages on Newton & Leibniz. Gacggt (talk) 22:02, 24 May 2008 (UTC)

Before deciding whether calculus was invented or discovered, we must clarify terminology. Discovered: The "thing" existed prior to being found, then someone found it. Invented: The "thing" did not previously exist. Someone created it. Clearly, calculus did not exist, prior to Leibniz and Newton, therefor it must have been invented. @ David Šenek You state: I don't think there is any doubt, by the way, that Leibniz himself was what we would nowadays call a mathematical realist and would not have hesitated to use the word "discovered". This may be true, but it doesn't mean that we need to use discovered. I might think that I am a dolphin, but it doesn't make it so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:30, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Leibniz and Newton arrived at the calculus independently. This implies that it had a prior existence. The word 'discover' is therefore appropriate. (talk) 13:19, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

Leibnitz to Leibniz?[edit]

There is claim I've heard/read a few times that Leibniz was originally 'Leibnitz', but removed the 't' due to his rejection of the ontological existence of time (t). Can anyone shed light on this? I've noticed that 'Leibnitz' is sometimes used (as noted by this article) as an alternative to 'Leibniz'.

- Anonymous user. 17:46, 23 July 08

Apparently Leibniz himself adopted the spelling without a 't', but as a youth he was still a Leibnitz. It seems downright incorrect to write that he was "born to.. Friedrich Leibniz": his father's name was still Leibnitz and as he was a professor that has been checked. To complicate things further it seems that he wrote it Leubnitz but the popularity of his son imposed the reading as Leibnitz. I shall be looking for a good reference.

Also: His birth date is given in the new calendar. al (talk) 10:32, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Germans pronounce "z" as "ts." Therefore, the "t" in Leibnitz would be redundant to a Deutscher.Lestrade (talk) 12:09, 20 March 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

Well, a "t" could be redundant in YOUR view ... which shows you are absolutely ignorant about German language. There are so many words and names with "tz" ending, it would take weeks to list them. If you have no knowledge of foreign countries, do not start to interfere with their business. -- (talk) 17:11, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
@ Nooo; Lestrade correctly hints at the fact, that the difference between "Leibniz" and "Leibnitz" is merely a matter of writing, not of pronounciation. For both New High German "z" and "tz" corresponds to the pronounciation [ts], and the vowel quantity is not affected either. Additionally, as far as I know, a minimal pair does not exist at all - i. e. a pair of two different words, distinguished only by "tz" vs. "z". Lestrade's "redundant" is more correct than your statement (which moreover is superfluously and for me (as a German) embarrassingly rude). (talk) 18:21, 11 April 2012 (UTC)

"Secondary literature" moved from article to talk page[edit]

Secondary literature[edit]

Modern biographies in English are Aiton (1985) and Antognazza (2008). An 1845 English biography by John M. Mackie is available on Google Books. A lively short account of Leibniz’s life, one also taking a critical approach to his philosophy, is Mates (1986: 14–35), who cites the German biographies extensively. Also see MacDonald Ross (1984: chpt. 1), the chapter by Ariew in Jolley (1995), and Jolley (2005: chpt. 1). For a biographical glossary of Leibniz's intellectual contemporaries, see AG 350.

For a first introduction to Leibniz's thought, see the Introduction of any anthology of his writings in English translation, e.g., Wiener (1951), Loemker (1969a), Woolhouse and Francks (1998). Then turn to the monographs MacDonald Ross (1984), and Jolley (2005). For an introduction to Leibniz's metaphysics, see the chapters by Mercer, Rutherford, and Sleigh in Jolley (1995); see Mercer (2001) for an advanced study. For an introduction to those aspects of Leibniz's thought of most value to the philosophy of logic and of language, see Jolley (1995, chpts. 7, 8); Mates (1986) is more advanced. MacRae (Jolley 1995: chpt. 6) discusses Leibniz's theory of knowledge. For glossaries of the philosophical terminology recurring in Leibniz's writings and the secondary literature, see Woolhouse and Francks (1998: 285–93) and Jolley (2005: 223–29).



  • Aiton, Eric J., 1985. Leibniz: A Biography. Hilger (UK).
  • Antognazza, Maria Rosa, 2008. Leibniz: An Intellectual Biography. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Brown, Gregory, 2004, "Leibniz's Endgame and the Ladies of the Courts," Journal of the History of Ideas 65: 75–100.
  • Hall, A. R., 1980. Philosophers at War: The Quarrel between Newton and Leibniz. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Hostler, J., 1975. Leibniz's Moral Philosophy. UK: Duckworth.
  • Jolley, Nicholas, ed., 1995. The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • LeClerc, Ivor, ed., 1973. The Philosophy of Leibniz and the Modern World. Vanderbilt Univ. Press.
  • Loemker, Leroy, 1969a, "Introduction" to his Leibniz: Philosophical Papers and Letters. Reidel: 1–62.
  • Luchte, James, 2006, 'Mathesis and Analysis: Finitude and the Infinite in the Monadology of Leibniz,' London: Heythrop Journal.
  • Arthur O. Lovejoy, 1957 (1936). "Plenitude and Sufficient Reason in Leibniz and Spinoza" in his The Great Chain of Being. Harvard Uni. Press: 144–82. Reprinted in Frankfurt, H. G., ed., 1972. Leibniz: A Collection of Critical Essays. Anchor Books.
  • MacDonald Ross, George, 1999, "Leibniz and Sophie-Charlotte" in Herz, S., Vogtherr, C.M., Windt, F., eds., Sophie Charlotte und ihr Schloß. München: Prestel: 95–105. English translation.
  • Perkins, Franklin, 2004. Leibniz and China: A Commerce of Light. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Riley, Patrick, 1996. Leibniz's Universal Jurisprudence: Justice as the Charity of the Wise. Harvard Univ. Press.
  • Strickland, Lloyd, 2006. Leibniz Reinterpreted. Continuum: London and New York


  • Adams, Robert M., 1994. Leibniz: Determinist, Theist, Idealist. Oxford Uni. Press.
  • Bueno, Gustavo, 1981. Introducción a la Monadología de Leibniz. Oviedo: Pentalfa.
  • Louis Couturat, 1901. La Logique de Leibniz. Paris: Felix Alcan. Donald Rutherford's English translation in progress.
  • Ishiguro, Hide, 1990 (1972). Leibniz's Philosophy of Logic and Language. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Lenzen, Wolfgang, 2004. "Leibniz's Logic," in Gabbay, D., and Woods, J., eds., Handbook of the History of Logic, Vol. 3. North Holland: 1–84.
  • Mates, Benson, 1986. The Philosophy of Leibniz: Metaphysics and Language. Oxford Univ. Press.
  • Mercer, Christia, 2001. Leibniz's metaphysics: Its Origins and Development. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Robinet, André, 2000. Architectonique disjonctive, automates systémiques et idéalité transcendantale dans l'oeuvre de G.W. Leibniz: Nombreux textes inédits. Vrin
  • Rutherford, Donald, 1998. Leibniz and the Rational Order of Nature. Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Wilson, Catherine, 1989. Leibniz's Metaphysics. Princeton Univ. Press.
  • Woolhouse, R. S., ed., 1993. G. W. Leibniz: Critical Assessments, 4 vols. Routledge. A remarkable one-stop collection of many valuable articles.

Online bibliography by Gregory Brown.

[end] [more from 'Collections' subsection]

  • Ariew, R; Garber, D (1989), Leibniz: Philosophical Essays, Hackett 
  • Bennett, Jonathan. Various texts.
  • Cook, Daniel, and Rosemont, Henry Jr., 1994. Leibniz: Writings on China. Open Court.
  • Dascal, Marcelo, 1987. Leibniz: Language, Signs and Thought. John Benjamins.
  • Loemker, Leroy (1969 (1956)), Leibniz: Philosophical Papers and Letters, Reidel  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  • Martin, R.N.D., and Brown, Stuart, 1988. Discourse on Metaphysics and Related Writings. St. Martin's Press.
  • Parkinson, G.H.R., 1966. Leibniz: Logical Papers. Oxford Uni. Press.
  • ———, and Morris, Mary, 1973. 'Leibniz: Philosophical Writings. London: J M Dent & Sons.
  • Riley, Patrick, 1988 (1972). Leibniz: Political Writings. Cambridge Uni. Press.
  • Strickland, Lloyd, 2006. Shorter Leibniz Texts. Continuum Books. Online.
  • Wiener, Philip (1951), Leibniz: Selections, Scribner  Regrettably out of print and lacks index.
  • Woolhouse, R.S., and Francks, R., 1998. Leibniz: Philosophical Texts. Oxford Uni. Press.


citation system[edit]

I'm planning to move constructions like

  • "(Ariew & Garber 69, Loemker §§36,38)"
  • "On Leibniz and biology, see Loemker (1969a: VIII)."
  • "(LL: 58, fn 9)"

into <ref> tags. Clearly the article is using too many styles, and for a start I'd like to get the citations into the endnotes section. The Harvard links aren't working (no, literally), and the inline notes to "See this and that" don't suit an encyclopedia entry so well. Would anyone like to protest this change? Or better yet, help format the citations consistently once they're appearing in the endnotes area? Whiskeydog (talk) 05:54, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

Please do. The citation system at Cold fusion#References is the best I have seen in terms of reusing the same work for multiple citations. Each <ref> tag connects to an entry in the {{reflist}} with a page number or other appropriate identifier, which is further hyperlinked to the full bibliography. - Eldereft (cont.) 08:04, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
Better now? Whiskeydog (talk) 04:46, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


A little ogg pronunciation file would be nice. Randomblue (talk) 20:22, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

The article says:


Does the first one mean "b" as in "boy"? Who pronounces it that way? Michael Hardy (talk) 05:29, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

Nobody answered my query above. Google has revealed that many Anglophone writers tell people to pronounce it "LIBE nits". Looking further into this, I've tentatively concluded that they don't really intend to tell people to pronounce it differently in English; rather they just don't know how German words are pronounced. But tell me if I'm wrong about that. In the mean time, I've edited the article, getting rid of the first pronunciation. Michael Hardy (talk) 01:09, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

I was surprised to see the pronunciation given as [ˈlaɪpnɪts] in the article; now I know why. Both Longman Pronunciation Dictionary by J. C. Wells and A Handbook of Pronunciation by Luciano Canepari indicate [ˈlaɪbnɪts] or equivalent as the pronunciation, and the latter brings it up explicitly to illustrate that the syllable-coda stop can be voiced in some words (Wagner is another example). Forvo seems to confirm [ˈlaɪbnɪts] as the German pronunciation. I will change the pronunciation given in the article to [ˈlaɪbnɪts], and if [ˈlaɪpnɪts] is indeed a recognized alternate pronunciation in German, then someone can add it back in (but don't delete [ˈlaɪbnɪts] unless you can prove that those two phoneticians both got it wrong). --Iceager (talk) 17:35, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
Hardy is right about the German pronunciation. See the page German pronunciation, specifically the following statement: "In most varieties of German, the opposition between fortis and lenis is neutralized in the syllable coda, due to terminal devoicing (Auslautverhärtung)." The Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, which you have cited, is clearly not a reliable source, since it's a description of English pronunciation, not German pronunciation. Nonetheless, in practice no English speaker is going to say [ˈlaɪpnɪts] unless they're extraordinarily pretentious, so it seems silly to give this as the only pronunciation given. Much better would be to list two pronunciations, the English pronunciation followed by the German pronunciation. In fact, this practice is standard in many dictionaries when describing the pronunciation of foreign names. Benwing (talk) 05:44, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
It may be helpful to include a summary of the above discussion, as well. Otherwise the two pronunciations seem puzzling. We can mention that the German pronunciation is leipniz but most English speakers are influenced by the spelling to say leibniz. Tkuvho (talk) 10:36, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
No, [ˈlaɪbnɪts] is definitely the German pronunciation. I should have been clearer. In addition to the English pronunciations, The Longman Pronunciation Dictionary provides pronunciations of selected foreign names in the original language, and [ˈlaɪbnɪts] is given as the German pronunciation. For German names that do have terminal devoicing, this is indicated in the accompanying German pronunciation. The German pronunciations in the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary were taken from the Duden Aussprachewörterbuch, the authoritative pronunciation dictionary for German. I only cited the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary because I haven't acquired the Duden Aussprachewörterbuch yet.
Benwing, there are cases in German where terminal devoicing does not apply. For example, the 'g' and 'd' in Wagner and Ordnung respectively are not devoiced. This is because historically there was a vowel in these words that prevented the devoicing; these words are related to Wagen and Orden and would have been something like Wagener and Ordenung historically. Devoicing also doesn't occur in learned words or more recent borrowings, as in Magnett or Tablett.
Leibniz is a variant spelling of Leibnitz, a town in Austria. Older names for the town include Libenizze, Leibentz, and Leybencz. The historical vowel after 'b' explains why 'b' is not devoiced in Leibniz.
If anything, this is a case of English speakers mistakenly assuming a pronunciation with /p/ due to hypercorrection. --Iceager (talk) 14:08, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Following up on this, I've heard that unlike the Duden Aussprachewörterbuch, the new Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch (Krech et al., 2009) lists the devoiced pronunciation for Leibniz. This suggests that both pronunciations are possible in German and neither can really be considered wrong. Can anyone with access to the new dictionary confirm this? I'm thinking of getting a copy myself, but I have not seen it yet. --Iceager (talk) 15:25, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Finally got both German pronunciation dictionaries mentioned, confirmed that one lists a pronunciation with /b/ and the other with /p/, and edited article to reflect this. I was mistaken before to assume there was only one correct pronunciation. --Iceager (talk) 00:57, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

Leibniz influence on Husserl[edit]

Leibniz hasn't influenced Husserl and the latter hasn't been influenced by him?
I find this strange...
Is there anyone, please, that would like to discuss it in private?
Maurice Carbonaro (talk) 10:01, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Monads. Monads?[edit]

I came here looking for information on what a monad is,and I'm afraid I'm really none the wiser. I believe it needs to be either rewritten or expanded for a more layperson audience. I am educated, but not in the area of logic or epistemology, and don't think I really should need to be versed in philosophy in order to understand a Wikipedia entry. Any way to make it more accessible to those of us outside the academy? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:36, 7 April 2009 (UTC)


The article says:

"Voltaire, an admirer of Newton, also wrote Candide at least in part to discredit Leibniz's claim to having discovered the calculus and Leibniz's charge that Newton's theory of universal gravitation was incorrect."

I suggest including also a reference to Candide's prof. Pangloss, with his eternal optimism and his assertion that "all is well in the best of worlds that could possibly be created" (even in the midst of the horrors of wars). BlueSkies999 (talk) 08:58, 7 April 2009 (UTC) BlueSkies999

Leibniz Complete Works[edit]

"As of 2008, there is no complete edition of Leibniz's writings." - I question this statement as I have seen enormous encyclopedic anthologies of Leibniz' work in the philosophy sections (LOC: B*) of research libraries (University of Maryland in specific). The one I am referring to has about 30 volumes. I no longer have easy access to the library (I'm 250 miles away), so I am wondering if someone who is good at tracking these kinds of things could look into it. Lwnf360 (talk) 04:45, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

You are right, there is a Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, hrsg. von der Deutschen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. (2nd ed. published 1950-72). --Saddhiyama (talk) 10:24, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
The Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, also known as the Akademie Editions, is an ongoing project to collect Leibniz's works into a single series. It represents the most complete edition of Leibniz available, but it is not finished. Leibniz wrote a lot. So the statement from the article stands-- there is no complete edition of Leibniz's writings. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:24, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Occasional verse[edit]

Did Leibniz write the type of poetry known as occasional verse, or did he write poetry now and then? It's unclear from context. Cynwolfe (talk) 19:19, 23 June 2009 (UTC)


I haven't been able to find any independent evidence that Leibniz was "von Leibniz". I intend to remove the "von" unless someone comes up with some. The German entry for "Leibniz" mentions no "von". Escoville (talk) 08:58, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

I will check with other sources and let you know but from a quick google search (, "von" seams to be there.--hellais (talk) 00:35, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
As an adult, he often styled himself "von Leibniz", and many posthumous editions of his works gave his name on the title page as "Freiherr [Baron] G. W. von Leibniz." However, no document has been found confirming that he was ever granted a patent of nobility.
You see, even the article itself says that there is no justification for the von! Unless such evidence is found, the von has to go, at least in its uncommented upon form. We can state that he "was also known as" von Leibniz, or named himself that way. Perhaps he was referring to some place of that name. Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:10, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
You are correct, though it might be possible that he subsequently acquired the title when he was appointed Imperial Court Councillor to the Habsburgs, and I agree that in it's uncommented form it must go. -- hellais (talk) 10:19, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

If I remember correctly, Leibniz was entitled to the honorific "von" because of his official status as counsellor to the Duke of Brunswick. --Other Choices (talk) 05:26, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

The following sentence from the beginning of the 'Biograph Early life' section makes no sense: Gottfried Leibniz was born on July 1, 1646 in Leipzig, Saxony (at the end of the Thirty Years' War), to changed his name to Friedrich Leibnütz. It can't mean he changed his name at the end of the War because he would have been 2 years old. Has something referring to his father changing his name been left out in the last part of the sentence? --Richardson mcphillips (talk) 23:43, 25 February 2012 (UTC)

This is clearly an act of vandalism. If you have patience please go through the history of the article and restore the original version. Tkuvho (talk) 07:59, 26 February 2012 (UTC)
The unsourced change was introduced by User:Nijdam in an edit on 30/10/11 here. I will revert it. Tkuvho (talk) 15:01, 1 March 2012 (UTC)

detailed treatment[edit]

You wrote "Under the circumstances, we cannot use Bos as a reference that it is a detailed treatment". Why is that? Bos had 90 pages worth of material on Leibniz's differentials :) Tkuvho (talk) 15:30, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

It's a matter of it being a reliable source. Bos may be a reliable source on Leibniz, but it's not a reliable source on Bos. I guess I'm picking on you, in that the rest of the material in the article may need more references, as well, but I was only looking at the material (you) recently added. You have an interesting interpretation of the history of mathematics, much of which would improve the articles if properly written and referenced. I may be harder on you than I should be, but you write more than I do. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 15:44, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
I am sorry I am not sure what you mean by your comment on Bos. He is a recognized authority on Leibniz. What's not a reliable source on Bos? Tkuvho (talk) 15:47, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

Leibniz's moral and political philosophy[edit]

I hope that nobody objects to starting a section in the article on Leibniz's moral and political philosophy. He was the first to associate "natural right" with "happiness (in 1693), and one signer of the Declaration of Independence (John Witherspoon) cited Leibniz as the genesis of the "moral sense" philosophy of Shaftesbury and Hutcheson. --Other Choices (talk) 06:42, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

liverology by[edit]

We can do without it in my opinion. Tkuvho (talk) 11:35, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

Infinitesimal calculus[edit]

Jdeluxh has just made a modification saying that infinitesimal calculus is a "combination of differential and integral calculus". I think that it would be more appropriate to say that differential calculus "comprises differential and integral calculus", or some other statement that leaves it clear that infinitesimal calculus has a unity, and it is not a combination of any thing. May be the best would be to leave things as it were, since there is an article devoted to infinitesimal calculus.--Auró (talk) 22:05, 7 October 2010 (UTC)


I'm just wondering how Leibniz influenced Nietzsche. Can somebody give a source for this? Did Nietzsche mention Leibniz in one of his aphorisms? Leibniz isn't mentioned as an influence on the Nietzsche page, so I'm just curious. --Caute AF (talk) 19:30, 27 November 2010 (UTC)

Never mind. I found it. See aphorism 357 in The Gay Science, and the Glossary of Names in The Anti-Christ. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Caute AF (talkcontribs) 00:05, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

privy councillor[edit]

The bio at [1] mentions the position privy councillor a few times with different dates, while in WP it appears only once, with a different year. I guess some of it has to do with the Privy Council of Hanover, but what does the rest mean? trespassers william (talk) 20:48, 27 April 2011 (UTC)


Monads are the smallest unit of the metaphysical world and are indivisible. This article compares a monad to an atom. However, atoms can build upon each other and make larger things and monads cannot. A monad has no set size a person can be a monad. (talk) 04:28, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

  It's interesting how many pots Leibniz had his finger in, so to speak. He was intensely interested in so many fields, philology, science, 
  engineering, mathematics, and philosophy. His concept of "monads" is metaphysical; it's basically a unit of existence, which is almost too
  theoretical. It reminds me a bit of the gauge boson, a basic unit in quantum theory that's essentially a "virtual particle" that has no mass and
  theoretically can occupy the same space as another boson or even dense matter. The idea of monads coming from a 17th century thinker is quite 
  ultramodern. AgoLaetus (talk) 05:17, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, it is similar to a gauge boson because it essentially doesn't exist, it is just a way of thinking about something that small. Leibniz believed that reality was an illusion space, time, causation, material objects, among other things, are all illusions.Cruzdg1 (talk) 06:58, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

So, ontologically, it seems that Leibnitz was somewhere between the true Idealists (ideas are truth so reality exists on the spiritual realm) and true Realists (truth lies in matter so reality exists in the physical world). "Things" have a duality like photons which are both waves and particles. Existence is dependent both a physical particles (atoms) and spiritual "waves" (monads).Wetzelt (talk) 15:22, 4 May 2011 (UTC)WetzelT

Quality of Russell's book on Leibniz?[edit]

Does Bertrand Russell's critical exposition (which is cited in the article) lack the quality to be listed in the References section? Or is that an omission? -- (talk) 18:15, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Russell's "historical" work should never be cited as a reliable reference, given its poor quality. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:11, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

"vinculum subtantiale"[edit]

The article here, and none other in Wikipedia from doing a general content search that I find, contain expository information on Leibniz' concept of vinculum subtantiale. Nagelfar (talk) 21:26, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Modern, rigorous calculus...[edit]

There is a paragraph, at the end of calculus section that begins "Modern, rigorous calculus...". I propose this paragraph for deletion, because of two reasons. First, its content is not pertinent for the main subject of the article, Leibniz. It could be, and maybe it is part of the Calculus article. Second, it is controversial (as presented in this article) and is un-sourced.--Auró (talk) 15:39, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. I am going to be bold and go ahead and take it out. Thenub314 (talk) 16:36, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

Best of possible worlds debate[edit]

In the section Theodicy and optimism, after the exposition of Leibniz theory, there are also described some criticisms, mainly from Bertrand Russell and Voltaire. This is correct from the neutral point of view Wikipedia policy. Nevertheless, considering that there is an article devoted entirely to Best of all possible worlds, it could be better to concentrate the criticism or controversy there. In this Leibniz article, there could be a sentence like "there is a controversy regarding the concept of Best of all possible worlds that is collected and directed to that page". This would have the benefit of concentrating all the information about the controversy in one article, and this would be good for editors, as well as readers.

Although I am making this proposal for this particular article, I think that it can be applied to any article or subject, and the fact is that it is already applied to some. As a prominent example I can mention the Tabula rasa (blank slate) article, at the beginning of which it is stated that "Generally proponents of the tabula rasa thesis favor the "nurture" side of the nature versus nurture debate...". No criticism to the blank slate theory is mentioned in the article, as all criticism or debate is collected in the article nature versus nurture.--Auró (talk) 17:23, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

I have proceeded to migrate the controversy to Best of all possible worlds page.--Auró (talk) 08:51, 27 December 2011 (UTC)

Bos and Jesseph[edit]

Footnote 46 seems to imply that it's an article by Bos but what is given instead is an article by Jesseph. Tkuvho (talk) 16:58, 1 February 2012 (UTC)

Dissertation of Leibniz[edit]

According to [2] and [3] Gottfried wrote Disputatio Inauguralis De Casibus Perplexis In Jure and Friedrich wrote Disputatio de Casibus perplexis in Jure, so I changed it, however, I am not sure about it, maybe it is an error in the math genealogy. I could not find any reliable sources in the internet, only copies from math-gen.- and Wikipedia. --Chricho ∀ (talk) 11:59, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

Change of name[edit]

Because of the recent edit the information about the change of name is lost. Nijdam (talk) 12:25, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

The change of name seems more relevant at the page Friedrich Leibniz. Tkuvho (talk) 19:45, 3 March 2012 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: moved to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Favonian (talk) 18:30, 5 May 2012 (UTC)

Gottfried LeibnizGottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – The article should be Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz since quoting these two names (instead of just Gottfried Leibniz) would reflect the usage in the overwhelming majority of the literature. Google Books (only English books): [4] 61,400 vs. [5] 7,790 hits (the first result of the latter being a wikipedia clone...) If you include books in other languages (including German), it's even more impressive 330,000 vs. 9,420 in favour of the longer name. PS: I proposed this in June 2011, but no one seems to be interested and there was no discussion at all. Hence I changed this posting to a formal move request on 28 April 2012. --AndreasPraefcke (talk) 05:54, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Spelling Inconsistencies[edit]

In 1666-74, Johann Christian von Boyneburg's name is spelled both "Boyneburg" and "Boineburg." I'm assuming one is more correct than the other, and in any case, it should be consistent. -- (talk) 14:47, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done. I chose the spelling used in the Johann Christian von Boyneburg article. Thanks for catching the inconsistency! Favonian (talk) 14:54, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Leibniz and Deism[edit]

I recommend removing the tag 'Deist' and 'Deist Thinkers' from Leibniz' page on the basis that the three footnotes 28, 29 and 30 are misleading and do not sufficiently differentiate the common - Wiki endorsed - definition of 'Deist' from that of 'Theist'

Whilst the works of Leibniz and other physicists such as Newton had a massive influence on Deist thought in subsequent years Leibniz himself stated belief in Revelation and Christ as the Incarnation (see the text of Theodicy linked to beneath the page). This places him at odds with the Enlightenment concept of Deism which rejected religious interpretation and viewed God as the creator and orderer of the universal mechanical laws (compare Leibniz' views to the Deism of Voltaire, one of his most vehement detractors).

I think that some of the argumentation above is valid, and some not. The argument of the footnotes might be the best one, if expanded. The rest is mainly personal opinion, not valid for Wikipedia. Also, Wiki does not endorse anything. Remember that Wikipedia can not be used as a valid reference.--Auró (talk) 20:12, 7 August 2012 (UTC)


The sentence "Leibniz discovered the conservation of energy principle of physics" seems to be stirring some controversy. Could the editors possibly try to discuss this interesting issue here rather than reverting each other? Tkuvho (talk) 19:47, 18 March 2013 (UTC)

The article about conservation of energy explains that what Leibniz called Vis viva and expressed as
\sum_{i} m_i v_i^2
is related to kinetic energy, (that is a half of this expression). Also said that this quantity was conserved under certain circumstances. So what he said has something to do with the principle of conservation of energy, but the most that can be said is that he was a precursor, among many other, that are listed in the "Conservation of energy" article. See that kinetic energy is only a kind of mechanical energy, that is also only a kind, jointly with thermal, chemical, electrical...--Auró (talk) 22:58, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

[The following material is copied from a talk page:]

Hi Paul, concerning the recent edits at Leibniz, the relevant reference seems to be Ariew and Garber. There are two mentions of kinetic energy on the page. The first one is not relevant, as you pointed out in your message summary. The second one seems to bear out the claim on Leibniz and kinetic energy, and provides the reference to Ariew and Garber. Tkuvho (talk) 16:20, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

Hi Tkuvho. Thomas Kuhn the famous physicist, historian and philosopher of science wrote an article titled "Energy Conservation as an Example of Simultaneous Discovery" in which he lists twelve possible candidates for the title of the discoverer of conservation of energy none of whom were Libnitz (see [6]). See also Helmholtz and the British scientific elite: From force conservation to energy conservation. I'm curious what Ariew and Garber have to say exactly. Paul August 17:31, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Possibly one is talking about different conservation laws. What you possibly have in mind is the conservation of the sum potential+kinetic. What Leibniz was referring to was the conservation of total kinetic energy (no gravity) in a system of, say, elastic balls. Tkuvho (talk) 17:51, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
I followed your link on Kuhn, and then followed their link on "conservation of energy". Their historical section states: "History. The principle of the conservation of energy has a long and elaborate history, stemming from the 1670s theory of vis viva or “living force” of German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz, to debates on the caloric theory, etc." So in a way this supports the claim on Leibniz. Tkuvho (talk) 17:59, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, this supports what our articles on Liebnitz and conservation of energy say, but not what the IP wanted our article on Liebnitz to say, namely that Liebnitz was the discoverer of the conservation of energy. Paul August 18:16, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
Would it be appropriate to mention in the introduction that Leibniz discovered the law of conservation of vis viva a.k.a. kinetic energy? The sources seem to be in agreement on this. Tkuvho (talk) 18:40, 19 March 2013 (UTC)
But there is no "law of conservation of kinetic energy" (doesn't work for inelastic collisions, as you point out above). So to be accurate you'd have to say something like "Leibniz discovered that for elastic collisions, kinetic energy was conserved". That is probably accurate, but that leaves the question of whether it is important enough to be mentioned in the lead? I don't know. Paul August 12:57, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree with your conclusion. I just thought such a discussion is a more constructive approach to the issue than the series of mutual reverts at Leibniz. Would it be OK to copy this thread to the Talk:Leibniz so the IP has a chance to respond? Tkuvho (talk) 13:51, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
Sure, and yes discussion is best. Paul August 17:08, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

miracles and Christ[edit]

The personal info section had a POV wording when it said some biographers thought Leibniz a deist because he didn't have Christ playing a role in his system and didn't believe in miracles. He certainly did take Christ to play a significant role in his system (he even thought his system could help resolve disputes between Lutherans and Catholics over the eucharist as Christ's body), and he did indeed believe in miracles. He didn't think miracles would violate the laws of nature, but he insists that the creation of immaterial, thinking minds could only happen as a miracle (I believe this is in New Essays 4.10.8ff.), so he obviously doesn't deny miracles. The kind of denial of miracles deists have in mind is the removal of divine purpose in the universe, and Leibniz is at the opposite end of that extreme. Everything that happens fits God's purposes for the universe. So he's closer to thinking everything is a miracle than to the view being used here as evidence for deism. At any rate, it can be said by saying that these deism-accusers take him to have no role for Christ and to deny miracles, which removes the POV wording from the statement without removing the acknowledgement that someone thinks this about Leibniz. I'm not satisfied with leaving it at that, so I might supply a reference or two to balance these false claims. Parableman (talk) 01:37, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

There's a reference to Christ's role in his system in this work. I'm not sure I want to add that or the New Essays reference myself at this stage, but I think it should be done. There's also a reference to continual creation of monads in New Essays 4.10.19, which indicates the opposite of deism. God continues to maintain all of creation. Parableman (talk) 01:49, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, just noticed the above discussion. (I thought I'd read through the topics and not seen anything related to this, but I guess I missed it.) But I do think this issue should still be dealt with. Parableman (talk) 01:53, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Deleted speculation of Sorbian descent[edit]

I deleted the speculation of sorbian descent because there is no concrete proof of sorbian descent. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:56, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Since the so-called "speculation" was duly sourced, it could be re-added as a note saying "There is speculation that his father might have been of Sorbian descent, etc." This speculation would be attributed to the same deleted referenced source. I may do it myself later, after studying the context a little better. warshy¥¥ 14:56, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
The speculation may be more appropriate at his father's page Friedrich Leibniz. Tkuvho (talk) 15:54, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Correct. The problem is that that page is really still a stub, that looks like it was started as a translation of the German, but the editing work on it was not finished. So this apparently simple task turns into a much bigger project, that of making his father's page a complete page according to English WP standards... I will check into it, possibly... warshy¥¥ 17:14, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

New Biographical References Needed[edit]

The biography section relies much on an old German book epitomized by Mackie more than 150 years ago (available in Many details appear to be incorrectly stated, eg. his nobility ('von') or his early alchemical career. Aiton (online Scribd) or Antognazza are two recent and authoritative books that should be checked. (talk) 10:52, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

ein Viertel auf sieben[edit]

This is getting really ridiculous. An apparently German speaking IP keeps reverting a small detail that is obviously not mathematically possible/correct, whereas the original text in English was/is correct and is perfectly understandable to the English reader. Help! warshy (¥¥) 19:26, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

I just happen to see this remark. Apparently there is some ambiguity in the text, originating from the way the time was mentioned in Germany in that time.Although the information given in the article might be wrong, it may completely well understandable for the English reader. The understandability is no guarantee for the correctness. it all comes down to the meaning off the German: 'ein Viertel uff sieben'. If its meaning is uncertain, there is no point in a firm point of view.Nijdam (talk) 20:02, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
Continuing from below: I agree with you. So the text should stay as it was, because the literal translation is correct. As for the two possible meanings, they can be explained in a footnote. I will try to do that. warshy (¥¥) 20:15, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

[edit conflict] Well, I now understand what he/she is talking about. We are talking here about a small, apparently unimportant detail, where there may be a half-an-hour misunderstanding. The original German text says "ein Viertel auf sieben" which means literally "a quarter of seven." Apparently in Germany, depending on the geographical area you are, this could mean either 6:15 or 6:45. In most of the world and also in most of Germany it would mean 6:45. But yes, I understand how for some it could also mean 6:15. However, the original translation just translated literally and correctly, saying it was "a quarter of seven,' leaving the little cultural idiosyncrasies to the reader. There could be a footnote added, explaining these cultural idiosyncrasies, if someone wants that, but short of that the original text/translation was correct and should stay. In no way, I would think, WP's English text should say that "a quarter of seven" means 6:15, with no detailed footnote explaining the possible additional meanings. This is my opinion only, of course. warshy (¥¥) 20:07, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

I just added the footnote as I proposed. Now, if the IP, who apparently does know German much better than I do, wants to redact that to say that the time given, in the historical timeframe of the document being cited, meant most probably "a quarter past six o'clock" he/she is most welcome to do that. My apologies for trying to correct the precise meaning of a German sentence that probably had other cultural meanings at the time... warshy (¥¥) 20:39, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
In German (as in Russian) quarters and halfs are usually said to be from ("auf") the next hour , so "ein Viertel auf sieben", literally the first quarter from seven, means 6:15.

This can be easily checked in Google by searching 'german tell time ein vierteil auf'. (Google translate offers an erroneous translation but they have a disclaimer that should be remembered). (talk) 10:35, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

"in Aquarius" has been stated in the note made by Leibniz' father - this is a fact and it should not be corrected; the words [the rising of] have been inserted just as the 'NS'; readers of Wikipedia are not supposed to know that a rising sign was meant and might wonder how somebody born in the middle of the year is 'in Aquarius'. Please consider before reverting. Perhaps a comment that Leibniz father is probably mistaken should be added in the note. (talk) 22:19, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

It appears that the note made by Friedrich Leibniz is contradictory, so first of all the handwritten original should be checked: the '7' might turn out to be a '9'. Seeing it as a 7 could have been induced by the preceding Latin 'after six'; a 9 would fit Aquarius on the Leipzig horizon. One should consider if the hour and the sign have not been added later, the earlier entry ending with the Latin. (talk) 12:54, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Topology / analysis situs[edit]

How does the Mandelbrot / Hideaki quotation contradict the first piece of evidence that GWL said nothing topological? Crasshopper (talk) 08:15, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

citation #9 dones't support the sentance it[edit]

"There is no complete gathering of the writings of Leibniz.[9]"

and then the citation references a book. presumable the article author got this statement from this book, however no page number is listed.

Also, even if the book made this statement, it's a "temporal" statement, and won't be valid forever.... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:03, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Personal life[edit]

Discussing the following addition.

Leibniz was born into a Lutheran family and held strong ecumenical sentiments, that is, the reunification of the Protestants and Catholics [7]. In a letter to Ezechiel Spanheim, written while Leibniz was in Hanover on February 20th, 1699, Leibniz affirms the deity of Christ, calling him "Lord," and discusses the topic of transubstantiation; the presence of the body and blood of Christ in bread and wine, showing fealty to his Lutheran origins on the matter[8].

The first claim that he was born into a lutheran family is not in the source provided. I don't deny this, but find a source that backs the claim up. This source doesn't.

The second claim is a primary source, and the editor used original research to come to the conclusion that he affirmed the deity of christ. Again, I don't deny this is true, but the source doesn't back this up. S806 (talk) 01:03, 25 September 2014 (UTC)