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The Latin term characteristica universalis, commonly interpreted as universal characteristic, or universal character in English, is a universal and formal language imagined by the German polymathic genius, mathematician, scientist and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz able to express mathematical, scientific, and metaphysical concepts. Leibniz thus hoped to create a language usable within the framework of a universal logical calculation or calculus ratiocinator.

International communication[edit][]

Many Leibniz scholars writing in English seem to agree that he intended his characteristica universalis or "universal character" to be a form of pasigraphy, or ideographic language. This was to be based on a rationalised version of the 'principles' of Chinese characters, as Europeans understood these characters in the seventeenth century. From this perspective it is common to find the characteristica universalis associated with contemporary universal language projects like Esperanto, auxiliary languages like Interlingua, and formal logic projects like Frege's Begriffsschrift

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