Leibniz: A Very Short Introduction
The great thing about Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introductions series is that they’re, well, very short. These monographs also tend to be quite informative, offering up the kind of broad précis one wants when a Wikipedia article just ain’t enough. And the complex and esoteric work of German (technically Saxon, a factoid I picked up from this little book) philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) is exactly the sort of intimidating subject that benefits from the Very Short Introductions treatment.
Of equal merit to the serious student and the armchair scholar, Maria Rosa Antognazza’s introduction provides a point of entry into the contentious, centuries-long conversation on Leibniz and his quest to find “a new, universal synthesis for the glory of God and the happiness of humankind.” Antognazza starts us out with a nice capsule biography before launching us into the finer points of Leibniz’s characteristica universalis, or universal system of signs, and other heavy topics, which she deftly handles.
While the author may be an authority on Leibniz (having penned several volumes on the man), this book is only a brief preface to further study: “a very short journey through possible worlds and what is ultimately real in the best of them all.”
Maria Rosa Antognazza
Oxford University Press