Gottfried Leibniz wrote (AB 316) to Leeuwenhoek about sperm and encouraging young people

August 5, 1715

Text of the letter is in Alle de Brieven / The Collected Letters vol. 17 Letter no. 316, p. 332 (2018). It is not yet available at the DBNL - De Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren.

Leibniz's letter covered several topics. He discussed the different position about spermatozoids held by the Italian physician Antonio Vallisnieri, who thought that the animal was already in the egg. Leibniz, as he had written in his recent book Essais de Théodicée, shared Leeuwenhoek's opposing view.

Leibniz hoped that Leeuwenhoek would continue with the publication of his Send-Brieven.

He urged Leeuwenhoek to establish a school for young people to learn how to research with the microscope.

Finally, he asked Leeuwenhoek's opinion about a book by Nicolaas Hartsoeker, Conjectures Physiques.

On the same day, Leibniz wrote to Louis Bourguet, a proponent of Vallisnieri's ovulist views. In response to something Bourguet had written about Leeuwenhoek, Leibniz wrote, "I would not wish to speak as decisively as you do, Sir, when saying that Mr Leeuwenhoek's view is a fable of extravagant proportions."


Sämtliche Schriften und Briefe, Transkriptionen des Briefwechsels 1715, Leibniz-Archiv Hannover, no. 270, p. 368.