Leibniz

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (German (July 1, 1646 - June 21, 1716) was a German mathematician and philosopher. He wrote primarily in Latin and French. Leibniz occupies a prominent place in the history of mathematics and the history of philosophy. Leibniz developed the infinitesimal calculus independently of Isaac Newton, and Leibniz's mathematical notation has been widely used ever since it was published. Leibniz also developed the binary number system, which is at the foundation of virtually all digital computers. In philosophy, Leibniz is mostly noted for his ####optimism, e.g. his conclusion that our Universe is, in a restricted sense, the best possible one that God could have created. Leibniz, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, was one of the three great 17th Century advocates of rationalism. The work of Leibniz also anticipated modern logic and analytic philosophy, but his philosophy also looks back to the scholastic tradition, in which conclusions are produced by applying reason to first principles or a priori definitions rather than to empirical evidence. Leibniz also made major contributions to physics and technology, and anticipated notions that surfaced much later in biology, medicine, geology, probability theory, psychology, linguistics, and information science. Leibniz also wrote works on politics, law, ethics, theology, history, philosophy, and philology. Leibniz's contributions to this vast array of subjects were scattered in various learned journals, in tens of thousands of letters, and in unpublished manuscripts. As of 2010, there is no complete gathering of the writings of Leibniz.

Leibniz's philosophical thinking appears fragmented, because his philosophical writings consist mainly of a multitude of short pieces: journal articles, manuscripts published long after his death, and many letters to many correspondents. He wrote only two philosophical treatises, of which only the Théodicée of 1710 was published in his lifetime.

Symbolic thought
Leibniz believed that much of human reasoning could be reduced to calculations of a sort, and that such calculations could resolve many differences of opinion: The only way to rectify our reasonings is to make them as tangible as those of the Mathematicians, so that we can find our error at a glance, and when there are disputes among persons, we can simply say: Let us calculate [calculemus], without further ado, to see who is right.

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