This page features a collection of the best resources on Leibniz. Just to be clear, there is no single best resource on Leibniz. The best one will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time you want to spend learning about him.
To get started, simply choose one of the links below:
If you want an academic overview of Leibniz:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Gottfried Leibniz. However, you should keep in mind that the SEP is often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 16,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces Leibniz:
“Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was one of the great thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is known as the last “universal genius”. He made deep and important contributions to the fields of metaphysics, epistemology, logic, philosophy of religion, as well as mathematics, physics, geology, jurisprudence, and history. Even the eighteenth-century French atheist and materialist Denis Diderot, whose views were very often at odds with those of Leibniz, could not help being awed by his achievement, writing in his entry on Leibniz in the Encyclopedia, “Perhaps never has a man read as much, studied as much, meditated more, and written more than Leibniz… What he has composed on the world, God, nature, and the soul is of the most sublime eloquence. If his ideas had been expressed with the flair of Plato, the philosopher of Leipzig would cede nothing to the philosopher of Athens.” (Oeuvres complètes, vol. 7, p. 709) Indeed, Diderot was almost moved to despair in this piece: “When one compares the talents one has with those of a Leibniz, one is tempted to throw away one’s books and go die quietly in the dark of some forgotten corner.” (Oeuvres complètes, vol. 7, p. 678) More than a century later, Gottlob Frege, who fortunately did not cast his books away in despair, expressed similar admiration, declaring that “in his writings, Leibniz threw out such a profusion of seeds of ideas that in this respect he is virtually in a class of his own.” . . .”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:
- Read Maria Rosa Antognazza’s article: What would Leibniz say about the schisms in Europe today? [1200 words]
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the best books on or by Leibniz.
For more introductory philosophy resources and reading lists check out this collection of Resources and Reading Lists.