This essay sets out a curious anecdote about Leibniz’s life, which, according to his secretary and ﬁrst biographer Johann Georg Eckhardt, the German thinker often told. The anecdote in question is analogous to an episode in Descartes’s youth, related by Adrien Baillet in his Vie de M. Descartes (1691). The resemblance of the two stories has never been considered by Cartesian scholars, by Leibniz’s biographers, or by scholars who, like Hans Blumenberg, have focused particularly on the use of anecdote in the history of philosophy, including Leibniz’s story. If the analogies between the stories told by the two philosophers are not coincidental, then Leibniz’s must be a fabrication. It is thus worth investigating the circumstances in which Leibniz told it and analyze its elements, in order to throw light on the philosopher’s intellectual imagination and his way of approaching the work of other great thinkers.
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