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The Philosophy of Leibniz in the Light of his Unpublished Mathematical Manuscripts

Objective

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) is one of the most prominent philosophers and mathematicians of Early Modern times. As he himself emphasized on various occasions, these two facets of his work were closely related. Yet, half of his mathematical production is still completely unknown – a dramatic situation which has no equivalent for other great thinkers from that period. Moreover, about half of what has been published appears to have been established without adhering to rigorous scientific standards. The pioneering proposal of the PHILIUMM project is to completely reassess Leibniz’ philosophy through a systematic exploration of his unpublished mathematical manuscripts.
The project is supported by an unrivalled research group, which has been developed over the last ten years in France. It also relies on a close partnership with the Leibniz-Archiv in Hanover and will benefit from recent progress in the digitalization of Leibniz’ mathematical manuscripts (accessible online since 2016). Ground-breaking preliminary results were already obtained on specific sets of texts (mainly on algebra and geometry). We have determined original scientific hypotheses in order to guide the study of nearly 17 000 printed pages of new material. The main hypothesis is a radical reinterpretation of what reducing a mathematical truth to an “identity” actually meant to Leibniz. This hypothesis has strong echoes in contemporary philosophy of logic and mathematics and will bring new insights into contemporary debates. We would also like to use this project to render Leibniz’ thought more accessible (especially to historians of mathematics, mathematics teachers and students) by the publication of an online edition and the development of new digital tools.
The project is divided into five tasks corresponding to the following topics: Dyadica (binary arithmetic), Ars combinatoria, Foundations of differential calculus, Leibniz’ doctrine of mathematical abstraction and ‘Machines and thought'.

Call for proposal

ERC-2020-ADG
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Host institution

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
Address
Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris
France
Activity type
Other
EU contribution
€ 2 499 477

Beneficiaries (1)

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
France
EU contribution
€ 2 499 477
Address
Rue Michel Ange 3
75794 Paris
Activity type
Other