Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (also known as von Leibniz) was a prominent German mathematician, philosopher, physicist and statesman. Noted for his independent invention of the differential and integral calculus, Gottfried Leibniz remains one of the greatest and most influential metaphysicians, thinkers and logicians in history. He also invented the Leibniz wheel and suggested important theories about force, energy and time.
Early Life and Education:
Gottfried Leibniz was born on 1st July 1646 in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany to influential parents. His father, a professor of moral philosophy at the city’s university, died when Leibniz was only six. His mother was the daughter of a rich local lawyer.
Leibniz was a childhood prodigy. He became fluent in Latin and studied works of Greeks scholars when he was only twelve. He entered the University of Leipzig when he was fourteen, where he took philosophy, mathematics and law.
After graduation, he applied for a doctorate in law, but was refused due to his young age. Leibniz chose to present his thesis to the University of Altdorf, where professors were so impressed that they immediately awarded him the degree of Doctor of Laws and gave him a professorship.
Contributions and Achievements:
Gottfried Leibniz was a great polymath who knew almost everything that could be known at the time about any subject or intellectual enterprise. He made important contributions to philosophy, engineering, physics, law, politics, philology and theology.
Probably his greatest achievement was the discovery of a new mathematical method called calculus. Scientists use to deal with quantities that are constantly varying. Newton had devised a similar method for his work on gravity. Therefore, there was a harsh debate about who had been first.
Newton began working on his version in 1665, but Leibniz published his results in 1684, almost three years before Newton. However, the consensus is that they discovered the method simultaneously.
Leibniz also discovered the binary number system and invented the first calculating machine that could add, subtract, multiply and divide. When it came to metaphysics, he formulated the famous theory of monads which explained the relation between soul and the body. Leibniz is often known as the founder of symbolic logic as he developed the universal characteristic, a symbolic language in which any item of information can be represented in a natural and systematic way.
Later Life and Death:
Gottfried Leibniz died in Hanover on November 14, 1716. He was 70 years old.