Époque Émilienne

Philosophy and Science 1700-1750

After 2006 (Potsdam) and 2016 (Hanover), the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists hosted the third international and interdisciplinary conference “Époque Émilienne” from Wednesday the April 5 until Friday, April 7, in cooperation with the Société de Philosophie de Langue Française en Allemagne.

Ruth Hagengruber welcomes the participants / ©Julius Erdmann

Following an impressive opening event in the historic Deelenhaus Paderborn, with opening speeches from Liselotte Steinbrügge (Bochum) and Gábor Boros (Budapest); Gianni Paganini (Vercelli) provided a convincing exposition of discussions of that time concerning hypothetical fallibilism long before Popper’s own falsificationism, by comparing Émilie Du Châtelet and Etienne Bonnot de Condillac.
Regarding the section of philosophy and history of physics, the lectures of Fritz Nagel (Basel) to Du Châtelet’s ideas about optics, Marco Storni’s (Paris/Bologna) presentation on Newtonian attraction, Ansgar Lyssy’s (Munich) comparison of how Leibniz, Newton, and Du Châtelet dealt with the problem of causality, and Clara Carus’ (Freiburg) classification of Du Châtelet’s concept of time between Leibniz and Kant provided interesting re-evaluations of Du Châtelet’s philosophy. From the multitude of contributions, one must also count, aside from those on theoretical philosophy and the history of science, those which created new insights and highlighted the position of women in the Early Enlightenment, such as the talks of Jacqueline Taylor (San Francisco) and Waltraud Ernst (Linz).

Natalia Speranskaya (St. Petersburg) /©Julius Erdmann

The highlight of the congress was, however, without question, the lecture of Natalia Speranskaya (St. Petersburg) on the Du Châtelet manuscripts in Voltaire’s Library, one of the most significant collections of the Russian National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg. The intended historical-critical edition and online presentation of the Du Châtelet-Manuscript Collection of Voltaire’s Library, St. Petersburg in cooperation between the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists and the Russian National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg, is an immense challenge, which will doubtlessly allow the expectation of a continuation at further events, editing- and publication projects.