Gottfried Leibniz

Baptism date: 
July 1, 1646
Burial date: 
November 14, 1716

The German Leibniz, already a member of the Royal Society, visited van Leeuwenhoek in 1676. They corresponded until Leibniz's death in 1716.

Like many "natural philosophers" of the time, most notably Descartes and Spinoza, Leibniz was a rationalist, seeing a world of simple, interconnected rules. He was also a polymath, best remembered for having developed the calculus about the same time as Newton. He also developed the binary counting system that is used in digital computers today. His only book-length work is Theodicy, a work of metaphysics.

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Leibniz wrote his Monadology after reading Leeuwenhoek's letters in Philosophical Transactions.

“Now nothing better corroborates the incomparable wisdom of God than the structure of the works of nature, particularly the structure which appears when we study them more closely with a microscope. . . . A man in Delft [van Leeuwenhoek] has accomplished wonders at it, and if there were many others like him, our knowledge of physics would be advanced far beyond its present state.’ ”

Reflections on the Common Concept of Justice, 1702

On March 2, 1691, he wrote to Christiaan Huygens:

"I am more fond of a Leeuwenhoek who tells me what he observes, than of a Cartesian who tells me what he thinks. Nevertheless, it is inevitable to join reasoning with observations."

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