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March 17, 2011

Rescher donates rare letter to ULS


Last week Nicholas Rescher, left, Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy, donated to the University Library System a rare 1711 letter from one of history’s most-renowned philosophers. ULS head Rush Miller accepted the letter, which is the highlight of Rescher’s personal collection of original and rare materials he began donating to ULS last year. Much of the material focuses on G.W. Leibniz, the 17th-century philosopher/mathematician who was an inventor of calculus.

Michael Gottlob Hansch, a theologian and Leibniz scholar, was a biographer of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), the German astronomer and astrologer whose laws of planetary motion provided a foundation for Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. In 1711, Hansch wrote Leibniz a letter regarding Kepler’s writings, but also touched upon other, theological, matters. He left a page of the letter blank for Leibniz’s response. Leibniz replied, encouraging Hansch to move ahead with publishing Kepler’s manuscripts. It is this correspondence that Rescher donated this month.

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