- CHAPTER SIX
- Introduction to the Critical Online Edition of Du Châtelet’s Chapter Six
- I. Versions and variants
- II. Short survey of the main versions A and E, and of the variants B, C, and D
- III. Some significant differences between versions A, E, and G
- IV. Note on the technical and editorial presentation of the edition
Introduction to the Critical Online Edition of Du Châtelet’s Chapter Six
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 have identified eight revision stages: five handwritten stages (sigla A to E) and three printed ones (sigla F to H).
Of the eight handwritten revision stages, the first and last are established as full versions (A and E). The intervening steps of revision are accessible in the variant apparatus, as variants B, C, and D.
In addition to the edition of the manuscript drafts, we have also edited the 1740 Paris printed version (siglum G). The variant apparatus documents the printed proofs sent to the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia in spring 1740 (siglum F) and, finally, the revised 1742 Amsterdam printed version (siglum H).
|VERSIONS AND VARIANTS||SOURCE|
|A = MAIN TEXT = VERSION||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 114r–123r|
|B = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION E||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 114r–123r|
|C = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION E||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 114r–123r|
|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), 113–128|
|G = MAIN TEXT = VERSION||Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Paris: Prault, 1740, 113–128|
|H = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION G||Du Châtelet: Institutions physiques, Amsterdam: Depens de la compagnie, 1742, 118–134|
II. Short survey of the main versions A and E, and of the variants B, C, and D
After a first draft (version A) the chapter is significantly restructured in the course of variants B, C, and D. Version E is the final handwritten version, and is overall very similar to the first published version from 1740 (here version G).
III. Some significant differences between versions A, E, and G
This section lists a sampling of the many changes that were made by Émilie Du Châtelet in revising the manuscript towards the printed version, so that the reader may get an idea of their possible impact. As editors, we do not attempt to provide definitive interpretations of the changes Du Châtelet made.
A first significant development concerns how Du Châtelet portrays the role of what she calls the imaginary notion of time. In both the earliest manuscript version and the published text, Du Châtelet holds that the notion of time provides a “common measure” for “successive beings,” that is, for their duration through time (fol. 118r). And in both texts, she argues that this need not lead to error, just as in geometry we can use imaginary representations in the place of real ones. The first version of the manuscript then adds only that that we should not attempt this substitution in all cases, or else we run into “difficulties” (118r) Here a marginal note in her hand, signaling a plan to make revisions, asks, “What are the difficulties?” In fact, in later revisions, Du Châtelet goes on to cancel out her original phrasing, as well as the note. In the last version of the manuscript, she adds a more specific warning against “substituting the imaginary notion for the real” in “metaphysics and in physics” (118r). This distinction between acceptable methods for mathematics and for physics or metaphysics also appears in the printed version. Nevertheless, these additions do not spell out the precise nature of the “difficulties” she alludes to, but only the domains (namely, metaphysics and physics) in which they arise.
Second, the published version of the book contains an important section (§104) on the atemporality of God. However, this section does not appear at all in the earliest extant manuscript drafts. Instead, it is added later in the right margin of two successive pages (117v-118r). There are also complex changes to this section once it is added. To take one of many examples, Du Châtelet makes three successive attempts to characterize how God exists outside the world. First she defines being outside the world in terms of a lack of “coexistence” with worldly beings, second in terms of a “lack of connection” with the parts of the world, which is equivalent to not being a part of the world, and third and finally in terms of being “not in the least linked with the beings the union of which constitutes the world” (117v). This last formulation appears in the first published version of 1740. But Du Châtelet alters this discussion further in the second published edition of 1742, for example deleting a description of God as having an unchanging nature, and now simply stating that God remains “the same without any variation” (1742, 126). Presumably she still thinks that God has an unchanging essence or nature. The point is probably that all essences are unchanging by definition, whereas God in particular always has the same modes as well, unlike creatures.
Third, the manuscript reveals several interesting features of a passage where Du Châtelet claims there is a single, humanly universal measure of time, which is given by how long a single idea is in our mind (112v). For one thing, an intermediate manuscript version (apparently version B) tries out the idea that “all the measures of duration” are “founded only” on the instant as a single universal measure (112v). This remark is then canceled out. Also of interest: in the final manuscript version, Du Châtelet characterizes the instant as a “portion of duration,” but in the 1740 printed version changes this, so that the instant is described as a “portion of Time.” This is significant because she usually takes duration to be a modification of real entities such as bodies (insofar as they continue to exist), whereas time per se is a mere idea or notion.
IV. Note on the technical and editorial presentation of the edition
There are still changes to come in the technical presentation of the edition. 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. Also to be added is the commentary on the texts. For now, we show a preliminary version, a work in progress, which is the basis for all future refinements.