Leibniz : An Intellectual Biography

4.09 (69 ratings by Goodreads)

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Of all the thinkers of the century of genius that inaugurated modern philosophy, none lived an intellectual life more rich and varied than Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Maria Rosa Antognazza's pioneering biography provides a unified portrait of this unique thinker and the world from which he came. At the centre of the huge range of Leibniz's apparently miscellaneous endeavours, Antognazza reveals a single master project lending unity to his extraordinarily multifaceted life's work. Throughout the vicissitudes of his long life, Leibniz tenaciously pursued the dream of a systematic reform and advancement of all the sciences. As well as tracing the threads of continuity that bound these theoretical and practical activities to this all-embracing plan, this illuminating study also traces these threads back into the intellectual traditions of the Holy Roman Empire in which Leibniz lived and throughout the broader intellectual networks that linked him to patrons in countries as distant as Russia and to correspondents as far afield as China.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 652 pages
  • 162 x 233 x 42mm | 1,120g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1 Maps; 8 Line drawings, unspecified
  • 0521806194
  • 9780521806190
  • 831,969

Table of contents

Part I. Youthful Vocations (1646-76): 1. The birth of a vision: background, childhood, and education (July 1646-March 1667); 2. The vision broadens: Nuremberg, Frankfurt, and Mainz (March 1667-March 1672); 3. Old wine in new bottles: Paris, London, and Holland (March 1672-December 1676); Part II. Dreams and Reality (1676-1716): 4. A universal genius as librarian, historian, and mining engineer: Hanover and Lower Saxony (December 1676-October 1687); 5. In the footsteps of the Guelfs: southern Germany, Austria, and Italy (November 1687-June 1690); 6. Back under the Guelf Dukes: Hanover and Wolfenbuttel (June 1690-February 1698); 7. Between brother and sister: Hanover and Berlin (February 1698-February 1705); 8. Light and shadows: Hanover, Berlin, Wolfenbuttel, Vienna (February 1705-September 1714); 9. Epilogue: last years in Hanover (September 1714-November 1716).
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Review quote

Reviews of the hardback: This is a superbly crafted and exhaustively researched account of the development of Leibniz's thought ... It is an extraordinary achievement, for the task of writing an intellectual biography of Leibniz is huge. This is a work of unparalleled scholarship that is certain to remain the standard source on its subject for many years to come.' Journal of the History of Philosophy 'Maria Rosa Antognazza's biography fills, splendidly, one of the major gaps in the literature on Leibniz. It is a magisterial scholarly biography, richly documented with copious citations of the original texts now available.' The Leibniz Review 'A meticulously researched and eloquently written biography that will be both an indispensable reference for scholars of Leibniz's thought and the definitive account of his intellectual development for many years to come.' Canadian Journal of History 'A scholarly tour de force ... I regard [Antognazza's] work as a monumental and lasting contribution to Leibniz scholarship, one that will be read by every serious student of Leibniz.' Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 'Antognazza richly fulfils the reader's hope of having received the definitive intellectual biography of Leibniz for our time.' The Heythrop Journal 'An intellectual biography that is faultless from all points of view and places Leibniz's thought very precisely in the philosophical, scientific, political and theological context of his time.' Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review 'A biography of the greatest value which manages to be an indispensable tool for specialists and, at the same time, a wide-ranging introduction to be recommended to those who approach for the first time the thought of such a complex philosopher.' Giornale Critico della Filosofia Italiana 'This is an impressive work, written in a flowing narrative that even someone not versed in calculus, natural history, theology or philosophy will find enthralling.' Reference and Research Book News '[Antognazza] has re-evaluated all the sources and constructed a lively and thoroughly documented story that is unlikely to be seriously challenged, even on matters of detail. She has also done her best to turn the facts of this life-that-was-not-one into a coherent narrative.' London Review of Books '... extensive and detailed ... the unique feature of this book is that it provides clear and interesting details about his mathematical research and the later dipute over priority with the Newtonians.' Zentralblatt MATH '... the book is first-rate; the level of detail and its relation to Leibniz's various intellectual projects is appropriate and useful. For early modern scholars, this biography will serve as a vital reference work.' History
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About Maria Rosa Antognazza

Maria Rosa Antognazza is Professor of Philosophy at King's College London. She is the author of Leibniz on the Trinity and the Incarnation: Reason and Revelation in the Seventeenth Century and has contributed to The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Philosophy.
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Rating details

69 ratings
4.09 out of 5 stars
5 38% (26)
4 43% (30)
3 12% (8)
2 4% (3)
1 3% (2)
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