Stephen Wolfram: Dropping In on Gottfried Leibniz

Stephen Wolfram in his blog:

ScreenHunter_199 May. 17 13.52I have always found Leibniz a somewhat confusing figure. He did many seemingly disparate and unrelated things—in philosophy, mathematics, theology, law, physics, history, and more. And he described what he was doing in what seem to us now as strange 17th century terms.

But as I’ve learned more, and gotten a better feeling for Leibniz as a person, I’ve realized that underneath much of what he did was a core intellectual direction that is curiously close to the modern computational one that I, for example, have followed.

Gottfried Leibniz was born in Leipzig in what’s now Germany in 1646 (four years after Galileo died, and four years after Newton was born). His father was a professor of philosophy; his mother’s family was in the book trade. Leibniz’s father died when Leibniz was 6—and after a 2-year deliberation on its suitability for one so young, Leibniz was allowed into his father’s library, and began to read his way through its diverse collection of books. He went to the local university at age 15, studying philosophy and law—and graduated in both of them at age 20.

More here. [Thanks to Justin E. H. Smith.]