- CHAPTER FOUR
Introduction to the Critical Online Edition of Du Châtelet’s Chapter Four
I. Versions and variants
Since the Paris manuscript BNF Fr. 12265 reveals many revision stages, it was crucial for the editors to make explicit the main stages of revision in structure and content made by Émilie Du Châtelet, through establishing them as textual versions on their own, rather than placing them in the variant apparatus. On the one hand, this makes it easier for the reader to perceive the differences by presenting the versions as distinct texts, so that the reader does not need to reconstruct all revision stages from the entries in the variant apparatus, which at times is quite a complicated task. On the other hand, in order to analyze the differences between the revision stages in detail, the reader needs to compare the online edited versions by arranging them in separate windows on the screen or display. This might be demanding at times, yet it is still easier than reconstructing all revision stages from the variant apparatus.
However, in order to make the comparison between the distinct versions easier, we decided to offer, in these introductory notes, a survey of some striking differences between the versions. We continue to provide a variant apparatus, however, representing the finer-grained revisions made by Émilie Du Châtelet.
By consequently establishing versions as texts on their own, and as distinguished by the amount of changes in structure and content, we also establish revision stages as variants which might only consist of one word being changed.
We can count up to 8 revision stages: 5 handwritten stages (Sigla A to E) and 3 printed ones (Sigla F to H).
Of those 5 handwritten revision stages, we decided to establish the two revision stages B and E. The very first draft A is accessible in the variant apparatus of version B, the two revision stages C and D are documented in the variant apparatus of version E.
In addition to the edition of the manuscript drafts, we also edit the 1740 Paris printed version (version G) and document the printed proofsheets sent to the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia in spring 1740 as well as the revised 1742 Amsterdam printed version in the variant apparatus of version G.
|VERSIONS AND VARIANTS||SOURCE|
|A = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION B||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 90r-101v|
|B = MAIN TEXT = VERSION||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 90r-101v|
|C = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION E||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 90r-101v|
|D = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION E|
|E = MAIN TEXT = VERSION|
|F = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION G||Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Staatsbibliothek Berlin, Mv 4645 (proofsheets Paris 1740), 74-89|
|G = MAIN TEXT = VERSION||Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Paris: Prault, 1740, 74-89|
|H = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION G||Du Châtelet: Institutions physiques, Amsterdam: Depens de la compagnie, 1742, 78-93|
II. Short survey of the versions B, E, and G
E is the latest revision stage of the first draft A. Du Châtelet first revised A towards B, which she revised again towards C, D, and E. After that she revised E towards the printed version from 1740 (G). It can easily be seen that the three edited versions (three from the Paris manuscript, one printed version) are different in length. The edited versions successively increase in length in B, in E, and in G, which is the longest version. As in the other chapters the paragraph numbers were first added in later revision stages, here in version E (§. 53 to §. 71). However, the counting is incorrect in E: here §. 67 is missing (see apparatus entry to E, §. 68, paragraph 27).
III. A few significant differences between versions B, E, and G
Instead of giving a full account of the differences between the edited versions and the variants documented in the variant apparatus of B, E and G, we highlight a few changes that were made by Émilie Du Châtelet, so that the reader may get an idea of their possible impact. As editors we will not, however, provide interpretations of the changes Du Châtelet made.
But what kind of differences do we find in the two edited versions of Chapter Four, including their variants?
There are indeed some striking differences which also remain open to further interpretation and contextualization.
When discussing Descartes’ use of hypotheses, for instance, Du Châtelet points out that it didn’t take long for the "monde savant" to cross the line between hypotheses and fictions. In B Du Châtelet writes: "Descartes qui avoit Etabli une bonne partie de sa philosophie sur des hipotheses mit tout le monde savant dans le gout des hipotheses etl’on ne fut pas longtems sans tomber dans celui des fictions" (B, paragraph 3). In E, though, she makes a considerable change by adding "parce quil Etoit presqu’impossible de faire autremt dans son tems": "Descartes qui avoit Etabli une bonne partie de sa philosophie sur des hipotheses parce quil Etoit presqu’impossible de faire autremt dans son tems, mit tout le monde savant dans le gout des hipotheses etl’on ne fut pas longtems sans tomber dans celui des fictions." (E, paragraph 3). Interestingly enough, in C she had only written "parce quil Etoit impossible," while in the revised version E she finally wrote "presqu’impossible."
To give another example, only in A and B does Du Châtelet use the term "hipothese[s] philosophique[s]," which she cancelled in the later revision stages: "... que les hipothese[s] philosophiques, sont un des moiens pr decouvrir la verité" (B, paragraph 6). In E she writes: "que les hipotheses sont le fil qui ns ya conduit et que l’on ni est parvenu quaprés s’en etre servi souvent et ne letre point rebutes parla longueur et linutilité dece travail, car les hipotheses sont souvent le seul moyen qui soit anotre portée, de decouvrir des verités nouvelles." It is also striking that Du Châtelet changes "decouvrir la verité" to "decouvrir des verités nouvelles." There are some other interesting differences between version B and version E. So Du Châtelet revised those parts of B (B, paragraphs 6 to 8) which made up §. 57 in E (E, paragraphs 6 to 8), in which she emphasizes the scientific significance of hypotheses.
As for differences between the last handwritten version E and the printed version from 1740 (G), we find reformulations particularly of §. 59, which refers to the connection between hypotheses and arithmetic, and of §. 61, which treats the rules to be observed when it comes to formulating hypotheses. Also the entire end of Chapter Four (§. 65 to §. 71) was clearly revised in G. There are still many small differences between E and G. To name just one example: in G (§. 58, paragraph 9) Du Châtelet writes: "Elles donnent souvent l’idée de faire de nouvelles expertiences très-utiles propres à nous faire découvrir la verité, & à nous donner de nouvelles vûes"; the last part "& à nous donner de nouvelles vûes" was added by Du Châtelet in G, as it was not part of version E.
IV. Note on the technical and editorial presentation of the edition
As for the technical presentation, there are still changes to come. The design and structure as well as the information implemented in the XML files will be refined. Due to the work required to program all these refinements, it will take some time until the final edition can be presented online.
For now, we show a preliminary version, a work in progress, which is the basis for all future refinements.
Also still lacking is the commentary on the texts. The editors’ work on the commentary is part of a broader research project which is yet to be done.