Early Modern Philosophy

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

What is known about Leibniz’s life?

Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) was born in Leipzig, Germany. His mother was the daughter of a professor, and his father was a professor. His father died when he was six. Leibniz studied philosophy and law at the University of Leipzig, but he was too young to be awarded a doctorate in law when he finished at age 20. He then moved to Altdorf, where he graduated and was offered a professorship that he turned down to become secretary of the Rosicrucian Society in Nuremberg. He then entered the service of Johann Philipp von Shonborn, elector of Mainz, and during this time he did not produce his own philosophy but mainly wrote histories and biographies for pay.

In 1672 Leibniz went to Paris, and after four years he entered the service of Johann Friedrich, Duke of Hanover. When Johann died, he served Ernst August (1629–1698), Duke of Hanover, and then Georg Ludwig, who became King George I of Great Britain in 1714. He was commissioned by Ernst August to write the history of the house of Brunswick in 1685. After traveling to Munich, Vienna, and Italy, he showed, as part of his commissioned writing assignment, how Brunswick was connected with the house of Este.

You can thank Leibniz for those calculus problems you did in school (iStock).

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