Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz ranks among Europe’s greatest thinkers; he was one of the last scholars who was not only able to survey all fields of science, but was also able to give most scientific disciplines new impulses, some of which even today have a lasting effect. The integral and differential calculus developed by him – together with the main theorem of the infinitesimal calculus and the development of the power series, the so-called Leibniz series – constitutes one of the foundations of modern mathematics, physics and technology. With his efforts to create a system of symbols for a universal language and his investigation into natural languages, he ranks among the founding figures of modern linguistics. He worked on historical questions, whereby he also investigated geology and what we call palaeontology. He numbers among those who, in the 17th and above all in the 18th century, laid the foundations in historiography for a criticial examination of documents and other sources. Indeed, he laid the cornerstone for modern science in as much as he introduced to scientific method the art of discovering (ars inveniendi) from rhetoric as the art of inventing. He called for all academics to be involved in a worldwide exchange of ideas and for the entire knowledge of humanity to be collected in libraries. And he himself did everything he could for such a global transfer of knowledge. He was in contact with almost all the famous scholars of his time, his efforts even extending to the Jesuit missionaries who were working as scholars at the imperial court in China. As the person who developed calculating with binary numbers, based on the two numbers 1 and 2, he laid the corner stone for today’s computer technology. For decades Leibniz was concerned with unifying Christians in Europe. And what he introduced in the way of technical innovations, or at least attempted to introduce, belongs to the most important contributions of his time: the use of wind energy for draining and ventilating mines, for example. But above all he invented a calculating machine for all four basic arithmetic operations.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’ estate is one of the largest and most valuable scholarly estates.