Discourse on Metaphysics and the Monadology

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The impact of the work of German mathematician GOTTFRIED WILHELM LEIBNIZ (1646-1716) on modern science and technology is all but incalculable. His notation for infinitesimal calculus-which he developed independently of Newton-remains in use today, and his invention of binary counting is the basis for modern computing. He was a powerfully influential philosopher as well, and is still considered, alongside Descartes and Spinoza, one of the great 17th-century rationalists. Because much of Leibniz's thinking in the realm of the sciences flowed from his philosophy, understanding how he approached the natural world and humanity's place in it is vital to understanding his contributions to modern science. This edition collects two of Leibniz's foundational works, "Discourse on Metaphysics" and "The Monadology," which expound on concepts of philosophical "optimism"-that we live in the best of all possible worlds-and consequently features Leibniz's thoughts on the nature of physical matter. This classic work will intrigue all students of science and philosophy.

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GOTTFRIED WILHELM LEIBNIZ was born in Leipzig, Germany, on July 1, 1646. Showing signs of a prodigious intellect even at an early age, Leibniz entered the University of Leipzig at fifteen to study law, mathematics, and phi­losophy. Since Leipzig refused to grant him a doctoral degree because of his youth, Leibniz transferred to the University at Altdorf, near Nuremberg, where he received his doctorate in 1666, before his twenty-first birthday.

Shortly thereafter, Leibniz entered the civil service, first with the Elector of Mainz and later with the ducal family of Braunschweig-Lueneburg. Leibniz's diplomatic missions took him to Paris, London, Amsterdam, and finally, Hanover, where he made his home. Opportunities for travel brought Leibniz into contact with the leading luminaries of the day, including the philosophers Nicolas de Malebranche and Baruch de Spinoza, and the mathematician Christiaan Huygens. A true polymath, Leibniz wrote ex­tensively on legal, cultural, and political affairs; compiled an official history of the Braunschweig family; and made seminal contributions to mathematics, theology, and phi­losophy. In his two great philosophical works, the Discourse on Metaphysics and the Monadology, Leibniz outlined his metaphysical system, including his conception of physical substance, the motion and resistance of bodies, and the role of the divine within the dynamic universe.

For his diplomatic and scholarly achievements, Leibniz was honored by being made a member of the Academy of Sciences in Paris, president of the Berlin Academy, privy councillor to royalty, and a baronet of the empire. Yet Leibniz's last years were dogged by illness and increasing neglect by those who regarded him as heterodox in religion. He died in Hanover on November 14, 1716.

Leibniz's other works include a code of international law; Systema theologicum (1687); and Essais de theodicee (1710), his most important work in theology.

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9780486443102: Discourse on Metaphysics and The Monadology (Philosophical Classics)

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