2320 words - 9 pages

It is interesting to note that the ongoing controversy concerning the so-called conflict between Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton is one that does not bare much merit. Whether one came up with the concepts of calculus are insignificant since the outcome was that future generations benefited. However, the logic of their clash does bear merit.

In proposing that he was the first inventor, Leibniz states that "it is most useful that the true origins of memorable inventions be known, especially of those that were conceive not by accident but by an effort of meditation. The use of this is not merely that history may give everyone his due and others be spurred by the expectation of similar praise, but also that the art of discovery may be promoted and its method become known through brilliant examples.”

Newton on the other had would not allow himself to be usurped by stating that “second inventors have no right. Whether Mr Leibniz found the Method by himself or not is not the Question… We take the proper question to be,… who was the first inventor of the method." In addition, he continued on by stating that "to take away the Right of the first inventor, and divide it between him and that other, would be an Act of Injustice."

The argument in this paper that even though the onus of the discovery of calculus lies with Isaac Newton, the credit goes to Leibniz for the simple fact that he was the one who published his works first. Appending to this is the fact that the calculus wars that ensue was merely and egotistic battle between humans succumbing to their bare primal instincts. To commence, a brief historical explanation must be given about both individuals prior to stating their cases.

On January 4, 1643, Isaac Newton was born in the midst of the English Civil War, which lasted from 1641 to 1649. Around the same time in 1646, Wilhelm Leibniz was born in Leipzig during the Thirty Years' War (1618-48). At age eighteen, Newton was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge. Leibniz decided to acknowledge family tradition by studying law and philosophy at the University of Leipzig, where at age seventeen, he was already defending his master's thesis, De Principio Individui.

Newton's mathematical acumen came to the fore when he read Rene Descartes' Geometry and John Wallis' Arithmetica Infinitorium. It was around this time that he was convinced that he would arrive at a conclusion where by analysis could be made on geometric curve via algebra—albeit calculus. Furthermore, Newton would improve on Wallis' Infinite Series by devising proofs of the various theorems. He was then conferred as a scholar at Trinity in 1664 but the following year, England was hit with plague and Cambridge was no exceptions; the university closed till 1667.

By the time, Newton returned to Cambridge, he had already written material for Opticks, in which he stated "that just a prism can split white light into this spectrum of colors, so can a second prism...

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