Monday, May 19, 2008

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Quotes

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (July 1 (June 21 Old Style) 1646 – November 14, 1716) was a German polymath who wrote primarily in Latin and French.

He occupies an equally grand place in both the history of philosophy and the history of mathematics. He invented calculus independently of Newton, and his notation is the one in general use since. He also discovered the binary system, foundation of virtually all modern computer architectures. In philosophy, he is most remembered for optimism, i.e. his conclusion that our universe is, in a restricted sense, the best possible one God could have made. He was, along with René Descartes and Baruch Spinoza, one of the three great 17th century rationalists, but his philosophy also looks back to the Scholastic tradition and anticipates modern logic and analysis. 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. He also wrote on politics, law, ethics, theology, history, and philology, even occasional verse. His contributions to this vast array of subjects are scattered in journals and in tens of thousands of letters and unpublished manuscripts. I highly recommend the Monadology, which influenced Terence McKenna's writings.

Everything that is possible demands to exist.

And as every present state of a simple substance is naturally a consequence of its preceding state, so its present is pregnant with its future.

Thus it may be said that not only the soul, the mirror of an indestructible universe, is indestructible, but also the animal itself, though its mechanism may often perish in part and take off or put on an organic slough.

The soul is the mirror of an indestructible universe.

To love is to place our happiness in the happiness of another.

This miracle of analysis, this marvel of the world of ideas, an almost amphibian object between Being and Non-being that we call the imaginary number.

Although the whole of this life were said to be nothing but a dream and the physical world nothing but a phantasm, I should call this dream or phantasm real enough, if, using reason well, we were never deceived by it.

Every substance is as a world apart, independent of everything else except God.

I am convinced that the unwritten knowledge scattered among men of different callings surpasses in quantity and in importance anything we find in books, and that the greater part of our wealth has yet to be recorded.

There are two famous labyrinths where our reason very often goes astray. One concerns the great question of the free and the necessary, above all in the production and the origin of Evil. The other consists in the discussion of continuity, and of the indivisibles which appear to be the elements thereof, and where the consideration of the infinite must enter in.

Music is a hidden arithmetic exercise of the soul, which does not know that it is counting.

I have said more than once, that I hold space to be something purely relative, as time; an order of coexistences, as time is an order of successions.

If there were no best among all possible worlds, God would not have created one.

I do not believe that a world without evil, preferable in order to ours, is possible; otherwise it would have been preferred. It is necessary to believe that the mixture of evil has produced the greatest possible good: otherwise the evil would not have been permitted.

it must be confessed that perception and that which depends upon it are inexplicable on mechanical grounds, that is to say, by means of figures and motions. And supposing there were a machine, so constructed as to think, feel, and have perception, it might be conceived as increased in size, while keeping the same proportions, so that one might go into it as into a mill. That being so, we should, on examining its interior, find only parts which work one upon another, and never anything by which to explain a perception. Thus it is in a simple substance, and not in a compound or in a machine, that perception must be sought for.

Leibniz Translations

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