Writings on China

Writings on China

Writings on China

Writings on China

Excerpt

If Erasmus of Rotterdam was the "Universal Man" of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a major candidate for the title two hundred years later. He not only studied, but wrote original works on subjects as diverse as geometry and biology, geology and theology, and metaphysics and statistics; he was one of the foremost mathematicians of his time, and a famous philosopher whose fame has endured; and he was all of these while engaged in a long and active public career.

Born in Leipzig in 1646, Leibniz entered the university there fifteen years later, then studied at Jena, and then at the University of Altdorf, where he received his doctorate in law. After a succession of posts, and years in Paris (1672-1676), Leibniz became a councillor and librarian to the Duke of Hanover, the position he held until his death in 1716. His proximity to an important German court gave Leibniz a certain amount of political influence which, when coupled with his manifold intellectual achievements--the infinitesimal calculus, binary arithmetic, philosophical writings--made him one of the most important and well-known intellectuals of his time, seen clearly by the very large number of people eager, pleased, and flattered to meet him, and to engage him in correspondence.

And Leibniz was a prolific correspondent: to this day there is no complete inventory of all his writings. Among his more well-known regular correspondents were Antoine Arnauld, Samuel Clarke, Christian Wolff, Christian Huygens, Nicolas Malebranche--among the intelligentsia--and a fairly large and diverse group of councillors and diplomats, kings and queens, emperors and empresses.

In addition, Leibniz engaged in lengthy correspondence with a . . .

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