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Leibniz: An Intellectual Biography

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Of all the thinkers of the century of genius that inaugurated modern philosophy, none lived an intellectual life more rich and varied than Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Trained as a jurist and employed as a counsellor, librarian, and historian, he made famous contributions to logic, mathematics, physics, and metaphysics, yet viewed his own aspirations as ultimatel Of all the thinkers of the century of genius that inaugurated modern philosophy, none lived an intellectual life more rich and varied than Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Trained as a jurist and employed as a counsellor, librarian, and historian, he made famous contributions to logic, mathematics, physics, and metaphysics, yet viewed his own aspirations as ultimately ethical and theological, and married these theoretical concerns with politics, diplomacy, and an equally broad range of practical reforms: juridical, economic, administrative, technological, medical, and ecclesiastical. Maria Rosa Antognazza's pioneering biography not only surveys the full breadth and depth of these theoretical interests and practical activities, it also weaves them together for the first time into a unified portrait of this unique thinker and the world from which he came. At the centre of the huge range of Leibniz's apparently miscellaneous endeavours, Antognazza reveals a single master project lending unity to his extraordinarily multifaceted life's work. Throughout the vicissitudes of his long life, Leibniz tenaciously pursued the dream of a systematic reform and advancement of all the sciences, to be undertaken as a collaborative enterprise supported by an enlightened ruler; these theoretical pursuits were in turn ultimately grounded in a practical goal: the improvement of the human condition and thereby the celebration of the glory of God in His creation. As well as tracing the threads of continuity that bound these theoretical and practical activities to this all-embracing plan, this illuminating study also traces these threads back into the intellectual traditions of the Holy Roman Empire in which Leibniz lived and throughout the broader intellectual networks that linked him to patrons in countries as distant as Russia and to correspondents as far afield as China.


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Of all the thinkers of the century of genius that inaugurated modern philosophy, none lived an intellectual life more rich and varied than Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Trained as a jurist and employed as a counsellor, librarian, and historian, he made famous contributions to logic, mathematics, physics, and metaphysics, yet viewed his own aspirations as ultimatel Of all the thinkers of the century of genius that inaugurated modern philosophy, none lived an intellectual life more rich and varied than Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Trained as a jurist and employed as a counsellor, librarian, and historian, he made famous contributions to logic, mathematics, physics, and metaphysics, yet viewed his own aspirations as ultimately ethical and theological, and married these theoretical concerns with politics, diplomacy, and an equally broad range of practical reforms: juridical, economic, administrative, technological, medical, and ecclesiastical. Maria Rosa Antognazza's pioneering biography not only surveys the full breadth and depth of these theoretical interests and practical activities, it also weaves them together for the first time into a unified portrait of this unique thinker and the world from which he came. At the centre of the huge range of Leibniz's apparently miscellaneous endeavours, Antognazza reveals a single master project lending unity to his extraordinarily multifaceted life's work. Throughout the vicissitudes of his long life, Leibniz tenaciously pursued the dream of a systematic reform and advancement of all the sciences, to be undertaken as a collaborative enterprise supported by an enlightened ruler; these theoretical pursuits were in turn ultimately grounded in a practical goal: the improvement of the human condition and thereby the celebration of the glory of God in His creation. As well as tracing the threads of continuity that bound these theoretical and practical activities to this all-embracing plan, this illuminating study also traces these threads back into the intellectual traditions of the Holy Roman Empire in which Leibniz lived and throughout the broader intellectual networks that linked him to patrons in countries as distant as Russia and to correspondents as far afield as China.

30 review for Leibniz: An Intellectual Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alp Turgut

    Özellikle Newton’la olan amansız mücadelesiyle ve matematiğe yaptığı olağanüstü katkıyla tanınan ünlü Alman filozof Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’in hayatını anlatan Maria Rosa Antognazza’nın aynı adlı kitabı "Leibniz", Leibniz’in çalışmalarını, felsefesini ve tarihe yaptığı katkıları oldukça akıcı bir dille okuyucuya sunan başarılı bir biyografi örneği. Leibniz denilince aslında akla gelen önemli şey ansiklopedi. Bilginin mutluluğa eşit olduğunu savunan ünlü filozofun hayatının tek amacı bilgiyi in Özellikle Newton’la olan amansız mücadelesiyle ve matematiğe yaptığı olağanüstü katkıyla tanınan ünlü Alman filozof Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’in hayatını anlatan Maria Rosa Antognazza’nın aynı adlı kitabı "Leibniz", Leibniz’in çalışmalarını, felsefesini ve tarihe yaptığı katkıları oldukça akıcı bir dille okuyucuya sunan başarılı bir biyografi örneği. Leibniz denilince aslında akla gelen önemli şey ansiklopedi. Bilginin mutluluğa eşit olduğunu savunan ünlü filozofun hayatının tek amacı bilgiyi insanlara aktararak evrene yararlı olmak. Bunu yaparken de evrensel bir dilin gerekli olduğuna ve bu şekilde dünyanın tüm problemlerini çözebileceğini düşündüğü bir felsefesi var. Bu yüzden Çince gibi sembolik dillere ilgi duyan Leibniz, bir yandan evrensel karakterler hakkında çalışmalarını devam ettirirken diğer yandan da bu özelliğini matematik alanında kullanmaya başlıyor. Pascal’ın bulduğu hesap makinesini integral ve diferansiyel kavramlarıyla geliştirerek insanlığa büyük bir armağan veren Leibniz, bugün günümüzde kullandığımız başta integral ve diferansiyel olmak üzere birçok sembolün yaratıcısı olarak alanında çığır açıyor. Ünlü düşünürün hesap makinesini bulduğu zamanlarda Newton’un da hesap makinesini bulması ise büyük bir soruna neden oluyor. Hesap makinesini bulan ilk kişinin nasıl belirleneceği. Newton’la Leibniz arasında kavga ölümlerine hatta ölümlerinden sonrasına kadar devam ettiğini bilmek gerçekten üzücü. Öte yandan, Leibniz’in sembollere ve dillere olan merakı sayesinde ortaya çıkan bir diğer mucizenin de binary notation olduğunu söylemekte fayda var. Sayıların sadece 1 ve 0 ile temsil edildiği binary notation’la Leibniz’i daha o zamanlarda bilgisayarının temelini attığını söyleyebiliriz. Bilginin tek bir çatı altında birleştirilmesi gerektiğini savunan Leibniz’in bu felsefesi sayesinde ansiklopedi ve kütüphane kavramlarına da ön ayak olduğunu söyleyebiliriz. Hayatını Guelph tarihini yazmakla harcayan Leibniz, bu yolculuğunda Kutsal Roma İmparatorluğundan İngiltere Krallığı’na kadar bir sürü imparatora hizmette bulunuyor. Hatta İngiltere Kraliçesi Anne’in tahta geçmesinin en büyük mimarının Leibniz olduğunu görüyoruz. Başımıza gelenlerin iyi bir sebebi olduğunu savunan Leibniz, optimist bir tutum sergilerken diğer yandan da Tanrı'nın en iyinin içinde bulunduğunu belirtiyor. Buna rağmen kendini John Locke başta olmak üzere yaptığı için kıymetinin zamanına göre pek de bilinmediği Leibniz’in değerinin yıllar sonra anlaşılması gerçekten çok üzücü. İstanbul, Türkiye 22.05.2019 Alp Turgut http://www.filmdoktoru.com/kitap-labo...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carmel-by-the-Sea

    "Leibniz. Biografia intelektualna" to nie jest raczej książka, którą należy przeczytać. Być może wypada ją posiadać, a zapewne czasem do niej sięgać. Raczej nie zainteresuje czytelników klasycznych biografii. Stanowi jednak bezcenne źródło wiedzy o dziedzictwie Leibniza, sposobie uprawiania nauki w drugiej połowie XVII wieku, mechanizmach wczesno-oświeceniowego mecenatu i sytuacji polityczno-religijnej na terenie księstw Święte Cesarstwo Rzymskie Narodu Niemieckiego. Jest więc źródłem wiedzy dla "Leibniz. Biografia intelektualna" to nie jest raczej książka, którą należy przeczytać. Być może wypada ją posiadać, a zapewne czasem do niej sięgać. Raczej nie zainteresuje czytelników klasycznych biografii. Stanowi jednak bezcenne źródło wiedzy o dziedzictwie Leibniza, sposobie uprawiania nauki w drugiej połowie XVII wieku, mechanizmach wczesno-oświeceniowego mecenatu i sytuacji polityczno-religijnej na terenie księstw Święte Cesarstwo Rzymskie Narodu Niemieckiego. Jest więc źródłem wiedzy dla historyków, filozofów, teologów i wszystkich badaczy rozwoju myśli nowożytnej. Dla filozof Marii Rosy Antognazzi biografia ta stanowiła element pracy naukowej z Leibnizem, jako centralnym punktem dociekań akademickich. Leibniz w życiu napisał około 15000 listów do cesarzy, książąt, dyplomatów, profesorów, kardynałów czy kolegów filozofów przyrody. Interesował się właściwie wszystkim, a to jego zainteresowanie miało przełożenie na treść korespondencji. Autorka sporą cześć analizy dziedzictwa Leibniza oparła właśnie na korespondencji, którą przedstawiła chronologicznie. Stąd wynika mój główny zarzut metodologiczny do pracy. Ponieważ myśliciel w różnych okresach życia wracał do pewnych tematów, Antognazza również to robiła opisując je i analizując ponownie. Jednak niemal nie posiłkowała się metodą porównawczą i syntezą. Postawiła na suche zreferowanie wznawianych przemyśleń Leibniza. Przez to spore partie materiału stawały się dla mnie nudne. To nie do końca jej wina. Autorka nie miała łatwego zadania, widać jej tytaniczną pracę. Przy takim sposobie życia, jaki preferował Leibniz, napisanie 'normalnej' biografii mogło stanowić kluczową trudność. Nie jest to więc klasyczna literacka biografia, tylko raczej akademicka źródłowa baza do syntetycznego ujęcia myśli Leibniza. Z lektury książki wyłonił się obraz człowieka zapracowanego, błyskotliwego i pełnego planów poprawy życia każdego. Naczelną zasadą była dla Leibniza realizacja woli Boga, którą rozumiał, jako etyczne i religijne życie. Do wypełnienia tego zadania, potrzebował rozwijać filozofię, teologię, matematykę, fizykę, historię czy językoznawstwo. Ponieważ wyrósł w Europie wykrwawionej wojną trzydziestoletnią, za punkt honoru stawiał sobie pracę nad likwidacją uprzedzeń i różnic dogmatycznych nawarstwionych między wyznaniami chrześcijańskimi. Najciekawszym elementami książki była dworska obyczajowość i niepewny status społeczny myślicieli w XVII-wiecznej Europie Środkowej. Intelektualiści z reguły byli na usługach władców, którzy czasem nie doceniali lotności umysłu takich wybitnych jednostek. Leibniz nie był bogaty i by się utrzymać, musiał lawirować, realizując zachcianki swego chlebodawcy (w jego przypadku było to badanie genealogii Welfów z Hanoweru, by udokumentować ich pretensje dziedziczne do tronu sąsiednich księstw Rzeszy). Mój główny merytoryczny zarzut do pracy autorki, wiąże się z jej opisem wkładu Leibniza w stworzenie rachunku różniczkowego i całkowego. Poświęciła mu formalnie kilka stron (str. 203-207) plus kilka krótkich wzmianek w związku ze sporem z Newtonem o pierwszeństwo jego sformułowania. Antognazza, jako filozof, właściwie nie udźwignęła tematu matematyczno-fizycznego. Jest to o tyle istotne, że wkład bohatera biografii w tych dziedzinach jest wymierny i o użytkowych zastosowaniach, czego nie można powiedzieć o setkach koncepcji filozoficznych, które z reguły były jednymi z wielu dostępnych wtedy 'na rynku intelektualnym' (w tym samym okresie tworzyli Spinoza, Kartezjusz, Locke, Hobbes). Nie opisała sposobu dochodzenia do istoty odkrycia rachunku, a przy okazji nie przetłumaczyła XVII-wiecznych, pojęć niestosowanych już współcześnie, na język zrozumiały. Podobnie postąpiła z opisem swobodnego spadku, którego Leibniz jest odkrywcą (ze słów autorki tego się wprost nie dowiemy); dostajemy tylko nieskomentowane pojęcia 'ilość siły' czy 'ilość ruchu' (str. 362), które nic nie mówią osobie bez podstaw z historii nauki. Rekapitulując. Książka raczej nudna, przesadnie detaliczna i pozbawiona syntezy. Liczyłem na coś innego. Nie namawiam do zakupu (szczególnie w horrendalnej cenie okładkowej - 129,9), chyba że ktoś jest zafascynowany bohaterem. Lepiej poczekać na zasoby biblioteczne (gdzie jej miejsce) i wypożyczyć. =========== Może jeszcze na koniec dwa cytaty, z przytoczonych w książce epistolarnych perełek Leibniza: "Znaczenie życia danej osoby można ocenić jedynie przez pryzmat mnogości jej działań. Czas wydaje się wielki jedynie dzięki wielości zmian, które się w nim dokonują. Możemy sami określić, jak długo żyjemy: wystarczy, że wypełniamy treścią nawet najmniejszą cząstkę danej nam chwili." (str. 193) "Niezmącony spokój to krok na drodze do głupoty [...] Należy zawsze znaleźć sobie jakąś pracę, jakiś temat do rozważań, jakiś plan, poświęcić się społeczności i jednostkom, jednak w taki sposób, abyśmy radowali się, gdy nasze życzenia się spełnią, ale nie smucili, gdy do tego nie dojdzie." (str. 620) ŚREDNIE - 5.5/10

  3. 4 out of 5

    Markku

    Excellent biography, particularly strong on theology and metaphysics. If you are especially interested in Leibniz's scientific enterprises, A. J. Aiton's biography is a good choice.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Huenemann

    Here's a thick book wrestling down many of the details of the life of a mind so wide-ranging as to beggar belief. Antognazza finds a strand of Leibniz's thought on which to string his dazzling array of conceptual adventures: namely, his devotion to creating a grand synthesis of not merely all human knowledge, but also all of the religious and political differences of his day. His project was to take the infinite diversity in his world and unify it under the simplest formulae, for utility and for Here's a thick book wrestling down many of the details of the life of a mind so wide-ranging as to beggar belief. Antognazza finds a strand of Leibniz's thought on which to string his dazzling array of conceptual adventures: namely, his devotion to creating a grand synthesis of not merely all human knowledge, but also all of the religious and political differences of his day. His project was to take the infinite diversity in his world and unify it under the simplest formulae, for utility and for the glory of God. Unfortunately, not one noble in his day was interested in funding this philosophico-theologico-politico utopia, and instead Leibniz was tasked with tracing noble lineages and running a small library. What's really amazing is the discrepancy between his genius and breadth of knowledge, and the comparative insignificance of his impact on history. In other words, here was a guy who could go toe to toe with Newton, and who had plans for a pan-european civilization; but you might not ever have heard of him. It's a grand task Antognazza took on, and I admire her brave effort, but the result is a stuffy book (unlike Mossner's biography of Hume). I made it to the end because I'm nutty on the subject, but never would I recommend it to anyone who wasn't.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sendiri Jaga

    I also read her "Very Short Introduction" to Leibniz (Oxford U. Press) before I finished this work, and, to be honest, I would recommend everyone read her little book first. Unless you've been reading a lot of Leibniz lately, you'll find her style and the content too dense, almost as if Antognazza wanted to stuff in as much as possible into this book. That said, and with a little introduction, it's by far the best in its class and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I doubt I'm her typical reader. I as I also read her "Very Short Introduction" to Leibniz (Oxford U. Press) before I finished this work, and, to be honest, I would recommend everyone read her little book first. Unless you've been reading a lot of Leibniz lately, you'll find her style and the content too dense, almost as if Antognazza wanted to stuff in as much as possible into this book. That said, and with a little introduction, it's by far the best in its class and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I doubt I'm her typical reader. I assume she wasn't writing for her ghetto of Leibniz experts at the universities. I've had a graduate education, have read several of Leibniz works, can read Latin, German and French (Leibniz was fluent and wrote in all three, but could read English too), but I'm not a university professor and have not spent my life studying the seventeenth century (Leibniz died in 1716). But Leibniz is worth knowing. He was, in my opinion, probably the greatest mind the race has produced. Not even Aristotle or Leonardo da Vinci, or in the present era, Charles Peirce, can touch his universal knowledge and intellectual creativity. He was a philosopher interested in practicing his thought in the real world, so busy trying to unite the world that he only published one book, Essays on Theodicy. The projected complete works (still in progress) will be over 120 volumes, covering a variety of sciences, mathematics, physics, philosophy, theology, politics, diplomacy, etc. etc. The model of what a genius is and perhaps as close to how a philosopher should contribute to the world as the human race has produced. No, he wasn't perfect, wasn't always right, and made mistakes, but his vision and his journey are examples to all.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Van Belle

    This is the finest biography on Leibniz to date. Professor Antognazza shows mastery of the historical and philosophical literature on the "Last Universal Genius." You will notice how much I'm falling over myself to recommend this masterwork. Leibniz is worth everybody's time and this biography is the best place to begin.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Prez Lipiec

    Nearly two months struggling with pretentious style. Some parts are interesting: historical, political, relating to custom. Some are aggravating (especially constant proving that Leibniz was religious person). I expected something better about such an interesting character.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Moritz Munzinger

    Too boring to finish. Looking for a more concise and witty book about him preferably in German ...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bob Gustafson

    I wanted a book that took me to a different time and place. I chose Leibniz because of my interest in math. (Biographies of Gauss and Euler are on my wish list.) I had read biographies of Newton and Kepler. Well, this book served that mission. What surprised me was how little of Leibniz' work had to do with math. His work covered a large variety of topics, but most of his time was devoted to philosophy and metaphysics, working on the seventeenth century analog of artificial intelligence. Of cour I wanted a book that took me to a different time and place. I chose Leibniz because of my interest in math. (Biographies of Gauss and Euler are on my wish list.) I had read biographies of Newton and Kepler. Well, this book served that mission. What surprised me was how little of Leibniz' work had to do with math. His work covered a large variety of topics, but most of his time was devoted to philosophy and metaphysics, working on the seventeenth century analog of artificial intelligence. Of course, religion was a big part of philosophy, and one of the major ends that Leibniz was trying to achieve was the reconciliation of Calvinists, Lutherans, and Roman Catholics. Leibniz developed calculus just as a sort of change of pace. This book is thorough and therefore may seem a little long unless one is deeply interested in philosophy. Also a knowledge of Latin and/or of French would be helpful.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John

    Exceptionally dense and interesting review of this great mind, especially in the way she sees a theme and thread that runs throughout his life from the time he was young. The notes are themselves worth reading for the vast research that this book required. In fact, I doubt there was ever a human who had a more varied life, lacking only marriage and children. How could someone bring all of these travels, events, and especially mental explorations into some narrative? But Antognazza succeeds. She Exceptionally dense and interesting review of this great mind, especially in the way she sees a theme and thread that runs throughout his life from the time he was young. The notes are themselves worth reading for the vast research that this book required. In fact, I doubt there was ever a human who had a more varied life, lacking only marriage and children. How could someone bring all of these travels, events, and especially mental explorations into some narrative? But Antognazza succeeds. She brilliantly and elegantly describes it all, not flinching to conquer the many fields in which Leibniz had what we might call expertise in our day. Yet let it be said. The man is worth far more than one volume. For now, this work has to be the best biography yet written on Leibniz. Thank you.

  11. 4 out of 5

    BenM

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  13. 4 out of 5

    Smyrnall

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jake Seigel

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gino Rincon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tim Renshaw

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mosum Trivedi

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adam Smith

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bruno Oliveira

  22. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stefan

    This one had to go back to the library- verdammte interlibrary loan prohibition on renewals.

  24. 5 out of 5

    M

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  26. 4 out of 5

    David Heineck

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ralphe Wiggins

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lorelei Armstrong

  30. 4 out of 5

    William

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