Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz Essay, Research Paper

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz was born on July 1, 1646 in Leipzig. His father was a Professor of Moral Philosophy and Vice Chairman of the faculty of philosophy at the University of Leipzig. His father died when he was six, so his mother raised him. When he was seven, Leibniz attended the Nicolai School in Leipzig. At the school he was taught Latin, but he also taught himself more advanced Latin and some Greek by the age of 12. In 1661, when Leibniz was fourteen he started school at the University of Leipzig, where he studied philosophy, mathematics and law. During the summer of 1663 he also took classes at the University of Jena.

Leibniz was offered a job as a professor at the University of Altdorf, but he refused the job because he wanted to travel. His first place to travel was Holland. While in Mainz, he met Elector Johann Philip von Schonborn, who gave him his court as a judge in the High Court of Appeal as an assistant to the Court Assessor. Before going to Mainz, Leibniz found a friend Boineburg, and served as a secretary, assistant, librarian and adviser for him. In 1670, Leibniz was sent to France to promote the Egyptian plan; where the King of France is persuaded to divert his aggression from Europe to east. While in Paris, Leibniz became familiar with many great figures of science. In 1673, Leibniz visited London, and promoted his ideas about calculus and calculating machine to the secretary of the Royal Society and to a famous chemist. Later in 1673 Leibniz was elected as a member of the Royal Society. Leibniz’s calculating machine was an

improvement to Pascal’s machine because Leibniz’s could perform four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division; and Pascal’s machine was only able to perform addition and subtraction. While in Paris, he had other projects also. Within a short period of time, Schonborn and Boineburg both died.

Leibniz accepted an offer as a position in the court of Duke Johann Friedrich of Hanover. Leibniz stayed in Paris for three more years studying mathematics with the help of Christian Huygens. Later on his work led him to the idea of the infinitesimal calculus (integral and differential mathematics). His appointment in Hanover was in January 1676, he traveled there from Holland. While there, he met Baruch Spinoza. He was assigned to take care of the Duke’s Library and in 1677 he was nominated to a Privy Councilor. While busy with those, he was also involved in chemistry and technical applications. He was assigned to improve the mines of Harz by creating the power transmission and pump technique. The projects lasted longer than he had expected, and after three years Leibniz admitted to his failure. In 1679 the Duke died and so did his brother not too long after. Leibniz was able to continue his scientific activities with the help of the Duke’s wife, Sophie.

After the Harz project Leibniz was assigned to write the history of the ruling dynasty of Hanover in 1685. The project grew over time and soon required a whole academy of workers instead of one man. The work was never finished though, and got as far as the year Leibniz died. The good that came out of it was that Leibniz made progress in the field of criticism of sources and is recognized as a pioneer in historical study. Leibniz traveled in Southern Germany, Austria and Italy from 1687-1690 to get material for the project. Leibniz published nine volumes of material on the history of the Guelf family, but he never wrote the work that was assigned.

In 1684, he published a journal called Nova Methodus pro Maximus et Minimis, itemque Tangentibus in Acta Eruditorum which was written two years earlier. This contained the rules for computing the derivatives of powers, products and quotients; but it did not contain any proofs. In 1686, Leibniz published an Acta Eruditorum, which was a paper that explained the integral calculus with the first appearance in print of the notation. In 1676, Leibniz began work on dynamics. He criticized Descartes’ ideas of mechanics and examined kinetic energy, potential energy and momentum. Leibniz became involved in setting up scientific societies in Berlin, Dresden, Vienna, and St Petersburg. He began a campaign for an academy in 1695 in Berlin, and he visited Berlin as part of his effort in 1698. When he visited it again in 1700 he convinced Friedrich to found the Brandenburg Society of Sciences. Leibniz was given the part as its first president, but only one volume of the proceedings was published. In 1703, Leibniz and Grandi, another mathematician got interesting results by putting x = 1 into 1/(1+x) = 1 – x + x2 – x3 + ..Leibniz also worked with Varignon on this problem. And he discussed logarithms of negative numbers with Johann Bernoulli.

Since Leibniz was the age of fifty he suffered from goat and arthritis. He died at the age of 70 on November 14, 1716 in Hanover. With only one person at his funeral, his assistant Eckhart, because Leibniz disfavored amongst the population of Hanover and they regarded him as an atheist.