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On the Elements of Natural Science

ca. 1682–84

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Philosophical Papers and Letters

Part of the book series: The New Synthese Historical Library ((SYHL,volume 2))

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Abstract

Over 50 years ago Ernst Gerland published what was obviously a preliminary plan made by Leibniz in his early years at Hanover for a small work entitled the Elementa physicae (Ger., pp. 110–13). In a note Gerland expressed regret that Leibniz did not pursue this project, which promised so much. He seems not have observed that the folder of ten folio sheets of manuscript at Hanover among which he found the plan contained an extensive draft of a proposed popular introduction to the work, which was obviously intended for the two projects toward which he worked for so long — the encyclopedia and the Catholic Demonstrations.1We here offer translations of the prospectus published by Gerland (I) and of the Introduction (II), which is concerned with the human values of science and an account of the method of analysis and synthesis as it is used in the investigation of corporeal phenomena. As such it may well be regarded, not merely as one of the earliest attempts to give a popular introduction to science, but as a realistic companion piece to Nos. 25 and 33, with an objective reference to things and their attributes rather than to ideas. Leibniz’s account of the significance of physical science is still timely. The influence of Francis Bacon, and particularly of Robert Boyle, is obvious.

Both parts are here translated from the manuscript in Hanover; the Introduction has not yet been published in the original Latin.

Elementa physicae. The connotation of the term ‘physics’ is much broader than at present and is often as inclusive as ‘nature’.

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Leroy E. Loemker

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© 1989 Kluwer Academic Publishers

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Leibniz, G.W. (1989). On the Elements of Natural Science. In: Loemker, L.E. (eds) Philosophical Papers and Letters. The New Synthese Historical Library, vol 2. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-1426-7_33

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-010-1426-7_33

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-90-277-0693-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-94-010-1426-7

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive

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