Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the humanist agenda and the scientific method

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Copyright: Misra, Kundan
Abstract
Modernity began in Leibniz s lifetime, arguably, and due to the efforts of a group of philosopher-scientists of which Leibniz was one of the most significant active contributors. Leibniz invented machines and developed the calculus. He was a force for peace, and industrial and cultural development through his work as a diplomat and correspondence with leaders across Europe, and in Russia and China. With Leibniz, science became a means for improving human living conditions. For Leibniz, science must begin with the God s eye view and begin with an understanding of how the Creator would have designed the universe. Accordingly, Leibniz advocated the a priori method of scientific discovery, including the use of intellectual constructions or artifices. He defended the usefulness and success of these methods against detractors. While cognizant of Baconian empiricism, Leibniz found that an unbalanced emphasis on experiment left the investigator short of conclusions on efficient causes. Leibniz worked outside, but complemented, the current of formal reasoning and empiricism which was developing in scientific circles during his lifetime. He supported the development of methods for calculation and demanded precise reasoning, while arguing that it was folly to omit the Neoplatonic orientation from science. Indeed, without Neoplatonism there would be no modernity. Leibniz s Neoplatonic course complemented his work with machines. Leibniz crystallised the Neoplatonic orientation as a pragmatic humanist agenda, and merged it with national imperatives for developing science. Leibniz s policy orientation is aligned with the Hermetic conception of Man as magus, who ultimately can control even the stars. The industrial-scientific age which followed Leibniz is a testament to the success of his life s work.
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Misra, Kundan
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Franklin, James
Grace, Damian
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Publication Year
2012
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Thesis
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Masters Thesis
UNSW Faculty
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