Thursday, 14 November 2019

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716): philosopher, mathematician, Google Doodle honouree

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Bernhard Christoph Francke
Christoph Bernhard Francke
[Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, philosopher and mathematician, died on this day in 1716.
"... he is often regarded as one of the three great advocates of rationalism. A largely self-taught polymath, his discoveries and contributions to many fields of human scientific enquiry would, in time, have important implications right up to the computer age"Sophia of Hanover – Winter Princess: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716)

He was both a contemporary and acquaintance of the Irish-born, rationalist philosopher, John Toland, who whom this web project is dedicated. Leibniz was court librarian at the House of Hanover from 1676 until his death. There, he came under the patronage of the Electress Sophia, who also sponsored Toland. The two men respected each other but, may not always have seen eye to eye for, as author J.N. Duggan (biographer of both Toland and Sophia of Hanover) recounts, Leibniz thought him to be "a man of esprit and is not lacking in erudition, but he pushes things too far" – see John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic J.N. Duggan, 2010.

In 2018, Leibniz was an honouree of the prestigious Google Doodle – "the fun, surprising and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists" – on the occasion of the 372nd anniversary of his birth.
Google Doodle on the occasion of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's 372nd Birthday

In view of the upcoming centenaries that surround his birth and his death, we ask, would not John Toland (1670-1722) also make a worthy honouree? Have your say by taking part in the poll below.

You can also make your views known directly, by contacting the Google Doodle team. Information about how members of the public can submit ideas for future doodles is available from their dedicated web page.

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Milestones and Anniversaries

Further Reading

  • An Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover: Sent to a Minister of State in Holland by John Toland