The Leibniz Akademie-Ausgabe: A survey

In 1901, the project was initiated by the European Association of Academies of Humanities and Sciences. Till World War I, two French Academies and the Prussian Academy of Humanities and Sciences, and since 1918, only the latter have been responsible for this task. More than 80.000 manuscripts (approximately 85% of them held in the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Bibliothek Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek Hanover ) had and have to be identified, analysed, transcribed and annotated. So far, most of documents have never been printed.

The Akademie Edition is planned and will be published in eight series (for details see the list of publications).

  • Series I: General, Political and Historical Correspondences (18 volumes published, covering the period through 1699)
  • Series II: Philosophical Correspondences (one volume published, covering the period through 1685)
  • Series III: Mathematical, Scientific and Technical Correspondences (four volumes published, covering the period through 1690)
  • Series IV: Political Writings (four volumes published, covering the period through 1692)
  • Series V: Historical Writings (series still inactive)
  • Series VI: Philosophical Writings (seven volumes published, covering the period through 1690, plus volume 6, which contains the Nouveaux Essais)
  • Serie VII: Mathematical Writings
  • Series VIII: Scientific, Technical and Medical Writings (the work started in 2001).

The Leibniz Edition Potsdam

The task of the Potsdam unit is the publication of the ‘Political Writings’ as series IV of the Akademie Edition. "Political” here does not only refer to the government in the narrow sense but includes, as Paul Ritter, then head of the Leibniz-Edition, said in his introduction to the series (vol. 1, 1931, p. XVII), "all writings, which were to support the economic, scientific and cultural development, if the government is involved in any way or if they aim at practice and not only at the learned discourse”. Therefore, "Political Writings” deal with subjects such as European and Non-European cultures, religion, reunion of the Christian churches, economy, sciences and literature etc., and the idea of a global policy. The "Political Writings” are indissolubly connected with the other fields of Leibniz’s work. Thus, they are proof of the inextricable link between metaphysics, ethics, politics and religion in his thinking.

The Potsdam unit has at its disposal a research library (approximately 2.500 volumes, among them many prints of the 17th and 18th c.), catalogues of the Leibniz manuscripts, of persons, subjects etc., most of them as electronic databases (see: Offers of the Potsdam unit for Leibniz scholars = Weitere Angebote der Potsdamer Leibniz-Editionsstelle für die Forschung).

The work at the publication of the ‘Political writings’ was temporarily broken off, due to the well-known adverse circumstances of German politics in the 20th c. Therefore, volume 3 did not appear until 1986. However, after the Leibniz-Edition was set up in 1993 as a unit of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Humanities and Sciences, the work has progressed regularly.