Thursday, July 01, 2010


The bewigged fellow above is one Gottfried Leibniz, born this day 1646 in Leipzig, Germany. Our boy Gottfried was a bit of a prodigy, he entered university at the age of 14, got his Bachelor's degree in 1662, his Master's degree (in philosophy) in 1664, then a Bachelor's degree in law in 1665. He was a pretty bright boy, and the list of his achievements is quite impressive. He, along with Sir Issac Newton, are given dual credit for "inventing" infinitesimal calculus. Though how you invent or discover calculus is beyond me. He also invented the binary system which, to the uneducated like myself, means he laid the groundwork for pretty much all computer systems. He did a lot of thinking in his spare time, and I guess since he did not have the World Cup to distract him every four years, he had a lot of spare time. He also never married, and while I am sure that made him seem a bit odd, it also probably gave him a lot of thinking time. Any man who isn't thinking about women, should be able to invent calculus. Since the rest of us (like myself) spend hours per day thinking about them. However, it is for his foray into philosophy that I deem him worthy of being our hero of the day. I have mentioned before that in my previous life I was a philosophy student (what I was thinking is beyond me), and Leibniz was one of the philosophers that I studied. It is his idea of "monad" that I found, and still find to be just mind blowing. Monads are to the metaphysical world as atoms are to the physical one. They are the building blocks, they do not exist spatially, they are irreducible and do not interact with one another. They are completely independent of each other, and do not have a size. God is a monad, each one of us is a monad. Leibniz based his proof of the existence of god on the harmony he found prevailing in monads. I never really made it that far in my admiration of monads, and one time I sent a snarky email to my (at the time) boss comparing (very unfavorably) my office with monads. It was not, upon calm reflection, a particularly wise move, but it certainly made me feel a lot better at the time. It also gave me the, quite undeserved, reputation for being a bit of a flake since not a lot of people in my office had any fucking clue as to what a monad was. My patient explanation did not seem to go over very well either. It led me to believe that perhaps the legal world was not quite ready for monads. Of course, I only understand about two percent of what the hell Leibniz was trying to impart with his monad theory, but that two percent is enough to make him heroic. So, for the theory of monads, and all that other deep stuff he gave to the world Gottfried Leibniz (July 1st, 1646-November 14th, 1716, at the age of 70) you are my (312th) hero of the day.

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