Leibniz University | Why Leibniz?

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

In searching for a name for this new educational institution, the Board of Trustees sought to find a name that would exemplify an international and interdisciplinary approach to education and learning. We arrived at the name of Leibniz from the seventeenth century mathematician, philosopher and political advisor Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

Leibniz was born in Leipzig on July 1, 1646, and he died in Hanover on December 14, 1716. Leibniz has been called the Aristotle of the seventeenth century and was a man characterized by avid desire for learning and knowledge, in all areas. Truly a renaissance man as that term has come to mean in our contemporary and specialized world.

Leibniz is credited with being the father our modern calculus, as well as a substantial contributor to the areas of algebra and the physics of mechanical energy. As a contemporary of Isaac Newton, the two mathematicians and philosophers engaged in a many year debate over the laws of mathematics and nature. The contributions both made endure today. In fact, Leibniz is credited with being the first person to recognize the importance of binary system of notation. The basis of modern computers is inextricably linked to the binary notation system. He devised a calculating machine that was the envy of its day, with the capacity to add, subtract, multiply and divide. In the area of science and math, Leibniz displayed forward thinking and scholarly mastery.

Leibniz was a member of the Royal Academy of Science in London and the Academy of Sciences in Paris. He and Newton were elected as the first foreign members of the prestigious Parisian Academy of Sciences. In 1700, Leibniz induced King Frederick I of Prussia to found the Academy of Sciences in Berlin and Leibniz became the founding president.

In addition to his work in science and math, Leibniz was an international traveler and an advisor to King Frederick I of Prussia, George I of Great Britain, when he was the elector and Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia. As a diplomat Leibniz attempted to dissuade King Louis XIV of France from invading Germany and waging a campaign in Egypt instead. Louis XIV was not dissuaded, but Napoleon Bonaparte heeded that advice a century later. Leibniz, as a diplomat, attempted to reconcile, without success the Catholic and Protestant churches.
He was trained in philosophy, languages and law and contributed to the political and philosophical writings of the time in a number of European countries. In writing of the times he was in, Leibniz published a philosophical treatise in French trying to demonstrate that his time and place was “the best of all possible worlds” a phrase and attitude that was to be satirized by Voltaire in Candide.

It is the spirit and life of learning and investigation evidenced by Leibniz in his math and science and his diplomacy and writing that exemplify the attitude we wish to convey to our students. Leibniz involvement throughout the world of his day in science and politics represents the best goals of academic learning and practical impact in the world. The Board of Trustees believes the University Institute that is his namesake will provide students the opportunity to follow a path similar to his.

Leibniz University Institute of Arts and Science
Tel/ Fax (512) 233-0910 - email info@leibnizuniversity.org