Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a German philosopher, mathematician and alchemist. He’s sometimes associated with panpsychism but best known for his theory of ‘monadology,’ which stipulates that human souls are individual, self-sufficient units (‘monads’) existing in a harmonic sympathy (‘pre-established harmony’) with all other souls/monads.
Leibniz is also known for his novel formulation in Théodicée (1710) of ‘many possible worlds.’ According to this view, before creating our universe, God imagined an infinite number of possible worlds that could have been created. Being an all-good being, God chose to create the “best of all possible worlds.”
Voltaire deplored this aspect of Leibnizian thought, believing it was a product of clerical apathy and corruption. In Candide he satirized Leibniz’ position through the character of Dr. Pangloss. Voltaire also tried to discredit the fact that Leibniz developed a form of calculus, independent of Sir Isaac Newton (who also developed calculus).
When introduced by a Jesuit priest to the Chinese oracle, the I Ching, Leibniz substituted the solid and broken lines of the hexagrams with ‘0′ and ‘1,’ finding them to be arranged in a binary system that counted up from 0 to 63.
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