, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 303–307 | Cite as

Leibniz: the practical metaphysician

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: Protogaea. Translated and edited by Claudine Cohen and Andre Wakefield. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2008, xlii+173 pp, $55.00 HB $35.00 PB
  • David Oldroyd
Book Review

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was one of the world’s great geniuses. He was a philosopher, mathematician and inventor of calculus (and a calculating machine), but by profession he was a historiographer and librarian (meaning that that was how he kept his body and soul together), as well as lawyer, courtier and political adviser, diplomat, philologist, writer on morals and theology, political philosopher, ecumenist and Sinophile. He devised the strange philosophy of monads, was protagonist of the idea that we live in the best of all possible worlds, that we have free-will in a quasi-determined universe; and he wrote on such topics as ‘A talking dog’, ‘On the cessation of distinct thought without the extinction of the soul’, ‘On the ignorant and the able’, ‘On the certainty of salvation’, ‘On the origin of contingent truths’, ‘On polygamy’,… The list goes on almost to infinity. And he has been accorded what is perhaps the highest accolade in philosophy: having a society and...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of History and PhilosophyUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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