Leibniz: An Intellectual Biography

Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (1):107-108 (2009)
This is a superbly crafted and exhaustively researched account of the development of Leibniz’s thought, his ambitious plans and undertakings, his myriad intellectual engagements, and his ceaseless comings and goings across Europe. It captures, accurately and in great detail, the remarkably expansive mind of a singularly creative thinker. It is an extraordinary achievement, for the task of writing an intellectual biography of Leibniz is huge. To read even a portion of what he wrote and read, in the languages in which he wrote and read it, to come to grips with the nuances of religion, politics, and intellectual practice that define his world, and to identify the hundreds of individuals, illustrious and forgotten, with whom he interacted would challenge even the most skilled and dedicated scholar. There is no doubt that Antognazza has met this challenge with a biography that surpasses any available account of Leibniz’s life.The book is divided into three parts. A brief introduction surveys past attempts at capturing the breadth of Leibniz’s thought and articulates “four basic, underlying theses” that unify the chapters to follow. They are: first, that Leibniz’s life and work need to be assessed as a whole as opposed to focusing narrowly on his contributions to one or another field; second, that Leibniz’s life and thought are integrated to a remarkable degree and that it is a mistake to
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0195
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