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Theoria. Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia

Volume 6, Issue 1/2, Octubre 1991

G. W. Leibniz (1646-1716)

Lorenzo Peña
Pages 129-159

De la logique combinatoire des ‘Generales Inquisitiones’ aux calculs combinatoires contemporains

In his 1686 essay GI Leibniz undertook to reduce sentences to noun-phrases, truth to being. Such a reduction arose from his equating proof with conceptual analysis. Within limits Leibniz’s logical calculus provides a reasonable way of surmounting the dichotomy, thus allowing a reduction of hypothetical to categorical statements. However it yields the disastrous result that, whenever A is possible and so is B, there can be an entity being both A and B. Yet, Leibniz was in the GI the forerunner of 20th century combinatory logic, which (successfully!) practices - sometimes for reasons not entirely unlike Leibniz’s own grounds - reductions of the same kinds he tried to carry out.

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