Gottfried Leibniz, fully Gottfried Wilhalm von Leibniz, Baron von Leibnitz

Gottfried
Leibniz, fully Gottfried Wilhalm von Leibniz, Baron von Leibnitz
1646
1716

German Mathematician, Philosopher, Political Advisor and Logician, Developed Infinitesimal Calculus independently of Isaac Newton

Author Quotes

With every lost hour, a part of life perishes.

With regard to minds, that is to say substances which think, and are capable of knowing God and of discovering eternal truths, I hold that God governs them by laws different from those by which He governs the rest of substances.

You say you do not see what leads me to admit that there are such substantial terms, or rather corporeal substances, endowed with a genuine unity. It is because I do not conceive of any reality at all as without genuine unity.

Wisdom is the science of happiness or of the means of attaining the lasting contentment which consists in the continual achievement of a greater perfection or at least in variations of the same degree of perfection.

It is true that we cannot ‘render service’ to him, for he has need of nothing: but it is ‘serving him’, in our parlance, when we strive to carry out his presumptive will, co-operating in the good as it is known to us, wherever we can contribute thereto.

Music is the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting.

Often beautiful truths are arrived at by Synthesis, by passing from the simple to the compound.

The consequences of beliefs that go against the providence of a perfectly good, wise, and just God, or against that immortality of souls which lays them open to the operations of justice... I even find that somewhat similar opinions, by stealing gradually into the minds of men of high station who rule the rest and on whom affairs depend, and by slithering into fashionable books, are inclining everything toward the universal revolution with which Europe is threatened, and are completing the destruction of what still remains in the world of the generous Greeks and Romans who placed love of country and of the public good, and the welfare of future generations before fortune and even before life.

The senses, although they are necessary for all our actual knowledge, are not sufficient to give us the whole of it, since the senses never give anything but instances, that is to say particular or individual truths. Now all the instances which confirm a general truth, however numerous they may be, are not sufficient to establish the universal necessity of this same truth, for it does not follow what happened before will happen the same way again.

This is why the ultimate reason of things must lie in a necessary substance, in which the differentiation of the changes only exists eminently as in their source; and this is what we call God.

Two things are identical if one can be substituted for the other without affecting the truth.

It is true the more we see a connection in what happens to us, the more we are confined in the opinion that there is reality in our appearances; and it is true also that the more nearly we examine appearances, the better connected we find them to be, as microscopes and other ways of making experiments show us. This perpetual agreement gives us great assurance; but after all it will be no more than a moral assurance until somebody discovers a priori the origin of the world which we see, and probes in the depths of its essence to find the reason why things are as they seem. When that is done, it will be proved that what appears to us is a reality, and that it is impossible that we should ever be disabused about it.

Nature does not make leaps.

On the same principle it has an insipid effect if we always eat sweet things; sharp, acid, and even bitter things should be mixed in to stimulate the taste. He who has not tasted what is bitter has not earned what is sweet, not will he appreciate it. This is the very law of enjoyment that positive pleasure does not come from an even course; such things produce weariness, and make men dull not joyful.

The death of the illustrious M. Huygens is an inestimable loss. Few know this as well as I do. He equaled, in my opinion, the reputation of Galileo and Descartes, and, with the help of what they had done, he surpassed their discoveries. In a word, he was one of the chief ornaments of our time.

The success of experiments serves also as a confirmation of reason, more or less as verifications serve in arithmetic to help us avoid erroneous calculation when the reasoning is long. It is in this also that the knowledge of men differs from that of the brutes: the latter are purely empirical, and guide themselves solely by particular instances; for, as far as we can judge, they never go so far as to form necessary propositions; whereas men are capable of the demonstrative sciences. This also is why the faculty the brutes have of making sequences of ideas is something inferior to the reason which is in man. The sequences of the brutes are just like those of the simple empiricists who claim that what has happened sometimes will happen again in a case where what strikes them is similar, without being capable of determining whether the same reasons hold good. It is because of this that it is so easy for men to catch animals, and so easy for pure empiricists to make mistakes.

This means that it has throughout a degree of rigidity as well as of fluidity, and that there does not exist any body which is absolutely hard or absolutely fluid; that is to say that it is impossible to find in any body any atom whose hardness is indefeasible.

We are all merely empiricists as regards three-fourths of our actions. For example, when we expect it to be day tomorrow, we are behaving as empiricists, because until now it has always happened thus. The astronomer alone knows this by reason.

It is true, I say, "that bodies operate by impulse, and nothing else ". And so I thought when I write it, and can yet conceive no other way of their operation. But I am since convinced by the judicious Mr. Newton's incomparable book, that it is too bold a presumption to limit God's power, in this point, by my narrow conceptions. The gravitation of matter towards matter, by ways inconceivable to me, is not only a demonstration that God can, if he pleases, put into bodies powers and ways of operation, above what can be derived from our idea of body or can be explained by what we know of matter.

Nature has established patterns originating in the return of events, but only for the most part. New illnesses flood the human race, so that no matter how many experiments you have done on corpses, you have not thereby imposed a limit on the nature of events so that in the future they could not vary.

One cannot explain words without making incursions into the sciences themselves, as is evident from dictionaries; and, conversely, one cannot present a science without at the same time defining its terms.

The Divine Spirit found a sublime outlet in that wonder of analysis, that portent of the ideal world, that amphibian between being and not-being, which we call the imaginary root of negative unity.

The supernatural surpasses all the powers of created things. We must take an example. Here is one which I have often made use of with success. If God wished to cause a free body to circle in the ether round about a given fixed center, without any other created thing acting on it, this, I say, could only occur by miracle, not being explicable by the nature of bodies. For a free body naturally departs from a curve along the tangent. It is in this sense that I maintain that the attraction of bodies, properly so called, is a miraculous thing, since it cannot be explained by their nature.

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.

We may say that we are immune from bondage in so far as we act with a distinct knowledge, but that we are the slaves of passion in so far as our perceptions are confused... In truth we will only that which pleases us: but unhappily what pleases us now is often a real evil, which would displease us if we had the eyes of understanding open.

Author Picture
First Name
Gottfried
Last Name
Leibniz, fully Gottfried Wilhalm von Leibniz, Baron von Leibnitz
Birth Date
1646
Death Date
1716
Bio

German Mathematician, Philosopher, Political Advisor and Logician, Developed Infinitesimal Calculus independently of Isaac Newton