The German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz stands tall in the history philosophy today. He and philosophers like Baruch Spinoza and Rene Descartes were the three most famous philosophers of the 17th century. His work envisaged present day analytic philosophy and logic. Like his predecessors and successors, Leibniz was a genius right from his childhood and made great contributions in several fields of human endeavors. Leibniz happens to have contributed significantly to the development of mathematics, especially calculus. He was credited with reviving the old method of equation solving by using matrix. He pioneered the use of the binary system and invented the calculating machine. But before we proceed to take a closer look at his various contributions to the world, let’s explore who Leibniz was.
Who was Leibniz?
The great philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was of German origin. He was a philosopher, statesman, mathematician, and physicist. Famously known for inventing integral and differential calculus, the scholar till date is still counted as one of the best and most prominent logicians, metaphysicians, and thinkers in the world history. Leibniz was the inventor of the Leibniz wheel and propounded significant theories on energy, force, and time.
Born to influential parents in Leipzig, a town in Germany, the scholar lost his father who was a professor at the city’s university at the age of six. His mother, on the other hand, was the daughter of an influential local lawyer. Leibniz exhibited traits of being a genius from his childhood and was already vast in Latin and the works of Greeks scholars at the age of twelve.
At the age of fourteen, he was admitted to the University of Leipzig where he studied philosophy, law, and mathematics. The thinker applied to study a doctorate in law after graduation but was denied admission because he was too young for such level of education. Not being someone to be discouraged by minor setbacks, he tendered his academic thesis to the University of Altdorf, and because the professors were overwhelmed with his thesis, he was conferred with a doctor of law degree and offered a job as a professor at the University. Leibniz died at the age of 70 in Hannover, Germany on November 14, 1716.
Leibniz’s Contributions to the World
Leibniz made significant contributions to the world in different fields of endeavors. He made great contributions in the areas of mathematics, philosophy, physics, ecumenism and various other fields. To know more about his contributions to the world, we implore you to read on.
- Leibniz’s contribution to mathematics: The philosopher’s greatest input in the field of mathematics was in the area of calculus where he was recognized as the one that introduced the present- day notations used for derivative and integral symbols. Though the philosopher never studied mathematics formally as a course in any school, he taught himself the subject largely through self-study and showed a natural interest in the subject. He made a significant contribution towards the development of differential equations and developed a method for the separation of variables. The thinker made simple mathematical expressions into dividable parts and introduced a system of calculating first order linear problems. He was the scholar that first presented the use of the term “function” in mathematics denoted with the symbol =f(X).
- Leibniz’s contribution to logic: The scholar was one of the most influential logicians that contributed significantly to logic between Aristotle and 1847, before the publication of books for modern day philosophy by Augustus De Morgan and George Boole. He was the philosopher that enunciated the main properties we know today as set inclusion, disjunction, negation, conjunction, identity, and the empty set. Leibniz had no formal work he published in the field of logic. Most of his woks in logic were mostly in the draft form.
- Leibniz’s contribution to psychology: A lot of his works had a significant influence in the field of psychology. His hypothesis on consciousness as it relates to the theory of continuity can be regarded as a fundamental theory about the stages of sleep. His belief was that the phenomenon in nature was continuously by default and, that it was likely that the evolution between conscious and unconscious states have an intermediate step. Although a lot of people failed to agree with him on this theory, psychologists accept his thinking about psychophysical parallelism. It was Leibniz’s belief that the mind plays a very vital function in perception and an even greater function in sensory input. His main area of focus about perception was in the area of trying to differentiate between the kinds of judgment where there was consciousness of a stimulus and the type of judgment where there was awareness of a separate perception.
- Leibniz’s contribution to technology: The scholar contributed a lot to the field of technology through his numerous writings that laid more emphasis on practical inventions and engineering. He was believed to have been a diligent and meticulous engineer, inventor, and applied scientist. He was viewed as the father of applied science, because of his emphasis on the need for theory to be combined with practical. Among his inventions are submarines, wind-driven propellers, lamps, mining machines for extracting ore, and hydraulic press.
- Leibniz’s contribution to law and morality: Only a few philosophers had so much experience in state matters like Leibniz. The only exception was Marcus Aurelius. His work on politics, law, and ethics were initially overlooked by speakers of English until recently that much attention was given to his writing in English speaking countries.
Leibniz was one of the great philosophers that contributed significantly to the world through his writing and inventions. Coming from an academic background, with his father being a professor, it was not surprising that Leibniz excelled in academics and became a professor at a very young age. One of his major contributions to the world was in the field of mathematics and calculus in particular, where he was credited with introducing the notation used for derivative and integral symbols. The thinker also contributed in the areas of psychology, technology, ecumenism, law and morality. Though he did not write a great number of books like other famous scholars like him, his works are well documented by philosophers that came after him.
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