- CHAPTER TWO
- Introduction to the Critical Online Edition of Du Châtelet’s Chapter Two
- I. Versions and variants
- II. Short survey of the versions C, F, G, H, J, L, and M
- III. A few significant differences between the versions C, F, G, H, J, L, and M
- IV. Note on the technical and editorial presentation of the edition
Introduction to the Critical Online Edition of Du Châtelet’s Chapter Two
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 and variants 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.
With regard to the handwritten drafts of the second chapter, the revisions made by Du Châtelet were remarkable. Two manuscript drafts of the second chapter were revised thoroughly by Du Châtelet, both separately and in relation to each other.
We can count up to six revision stages of the first draft (Sigla A to F) and four revision stages of the second draft (Sigla G to J).
Of those ten revision stages, we decided to establish five distinct textual versions: C and F from the first draft, and G, H, and J from the second draft. The very first draft A is accessible, together with the first revision stage of A (= B), in the variant apparatus of version C; the revisions D and E are part of the variant apparatus of version F; G is the very first stage of the second draft, a stage Du Châtelet soon rejected by establishing H as a more comprehensive draft, which was revised again in I and J. As J is edited as a main text, I is made accessible in the variant apparatus of version J.
In addition to the edition of the manuscript drafts, we also edit the 1740 Paris printed version (version L) and document the printed proofsheets sent to the Prussian Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia in spring 1740 (K) in the variant apparatus of version L. Since the revised 1742 Amsterdam printed version shows many changes compared to the 1740 Paris printed version (version L), we decided to include the Amsterdam version as version M in the main text too. Moreover, we compared two copies of the 1740 Paris printed version (version L), one from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF) and one from the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich (ETH), and found some significant changes. This is why we decided to establish the ETH copy in the main text and to document the BNF copy in the variant apparatus.
|VERSIONS AND VARIANTS||SOURCE|
|A = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION C||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 59r-66v|
|B = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION C||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 59r-66v|
|C = MAIN TEXT = VERSION||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 59r-66v|
|D = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION F|
|E = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION F|
|F = MAIN TEXT = VERSION|
|G = MAIN TEXT = VERSION||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 67r-75v|
|H = MAIN TEXT = VERSION||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 67r-75v|
|I = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION J||Émilie Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 12265, 67r-75v|
|J = MAIN TEXT = VERSION|
|K = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION L||Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Staatsbibliothek Berlin, Mv 4645 (proofsheets Paris 1740), 38-53|
|L = MAIN TEXT = VERSION||Du Châtelet: Institutions de physique, Paris: Prault, 1740, 38-53, ETH Zurich copy (main Text), BNF copy (variants)|
|M = VARIANT DOCUMENTED IN THE VARIANT APPARATUS OF VERSION L||Du Châtelet: Institutions physiques, Amsterdam: Depens de la compagnie, 1742, 40-58|
II. Short survey of the versions C, F, G, H, J, L, and M
It can easily be seen that the seven edited versions (five from the Paris manuscript, two printed versions) are quite different in length.
G, the first version of the second draft, is the shortest version, followed by C which, with its variants A and B, is the latest revision stage of the first version (A) of the first draft. C and G, both fragmentary, were abandoned by Du Châtelet in favor of the heavily revised versions F, for the first draft, and H and J, for the second draft. Indeed, the edited versions successively increase in length in F, in H, and in J, which is the longest handwritten version. The printed version from 1740 (L) is only slightly longer than J. The longest version by far of Chapter Two is the Amsterdam 1742 printed edition.
III. A few significant differences between the versions C, F, G, H, J, L, and M
Instead of giving a full account of the differences between the seven edited versions, we want to 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 the several versions of Chapter Two?
First of all, it is striking that we find two fragments in each of the two drafts of Chapter Two, namely C and G. Both C and G refer explicitly to the preceding Chapter One, which also is the case in version H. In every other version the reference to the first chapter was cancelled. In C Du Châtelet mentions the importance of “causes finales,” which had been, as she puts it, mistakenly rejected by several philosophers. At the same time, and only in C, Du Châtelet gives examples of the inadequate application of the principle of “causes finales” (C, paragraph 3).
Then there are some striking differences which also remain open to further interpretation and contextualization. In G, Du Châtelet for the first time speaks of the “etude de la nature” (G, paragraph 2), which supports knowledge of the existence of a supreme being. She still connects the “etude de la nature” to “causes finales” (G, paragraph 3) by referring to the second paragraph of C. In the following revision stages, though, Du Châtelet no longer mentions “causes finales" at the beginning of the text, but integrates the principle of final causes in later passages, as in § 27 in versions J (paragraph 26) and L (paragraph 26).
Only in C does Du Châtelet speak of the “deux” principles to be found in the preceding Chapter One (C, paragraph 1). Although the reference to Chapter One in version C was cancelled in version F, Du Châtelet modifies the first sentence of C and inserts it in a later section of F (end of paragraph 7): “[...] ainsi leprincipe decontradiction etcelui dela raison sufisante concourent Egalemt a ns prouver lexistence dun etre necessaire.” In C she had spoken of the “deux principes,” which “concourent a ns prouver l’existence d’un etre supreme.” Thus, we also see an apparent shift from “etre supreme” to “etre necessaire.”
Only in F, paragraph 1, does Du Châtelet distinguish between “preuve aposteriori” and “a priori,” the latter being the one she wants to apply in order to establish knowledge of the existence of a necessary being. The argumentation for the existence of a necessary being in F (paragraphs 2ff.) was restructured and revised in version H (paragraphs 4ff.).
We also find some noteworthy changes concerning the definitions of the divine being. In version C, Du Châtelet speaks of “etre supreme,” “createur de l’univers,” “etre intelligent,” “etre infiniment sage,” while in F we find the following new definitions: “ouvrier” (only in F), “etre necessaire” (for the first time in F), “Etre que nous nomons dieu,” “etre qui a Existé detoute Eternité,” “etre libre,” and “etre existant par lui meme.” Version H adds: “etre simple,” “etre infiniment bon,” “etre infiniment puissant,” and “maitre absolu.” A concrete example of a revised passage regarding the definition of the supreme being is the shift from “L’etre necessaire est donc un etre simple” (H, paragraph 14) to “l’estre existant par lui meme est un etre simple” (J, paragraph 13).
In version H Du Châtelet discusses for the first time the evils (“maux”) in the world (paragraph 27) as well as the limitations of the “creature” (paragraph 29). In § 28 of version J she no longer speaks of the “creature,” but of “lhom[m]e” (paragraph 32). From version J onwards she also adds a note in which she outlines a passage from Leibniz’s Théodicée (J, paragraph 28; L, paragraph 28; M, paragraph 28).
A good indication that passages from the first draft, which first were cancelled in the second draft, were sometimes reintegrated in later versions of the second draft, is as follows: “[...] et lucrece a eü raison dedire felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas – moindre des ses parties [...]” (F, paragraph 19). Except for “lucrece,” which was replaced by “virgile,” we find the same passage that was cancelled in G and H appearing in version J: “[...] ainsi virgile a eü raison dedire felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas – moindre des ses parties [...]” (paragraph 27).
While there are only a few changes between the last handwritten version J and the printed edition from 1740, we find significant revisions of the 1740 edition in the printed edition from 1742, mainly from § 25 (version M) onwards. In the second chapter of the 1742 edition, Du Châtelet also began to insert references to other paragraphs in the same chapter, which she did neither in the 1740 edition nor in the Avant-Propos and Chapter One of the 1742 edition.
As can easily be seen, we have used the copy of the 1740 edition from the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich (ETH) for the main text, and not, as with the Avant-Propos and Chapter One, the copy at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF). This is simply because we find some revisions from Du Châtelet even within these two copies of the 1740 edition, the copy from the BNF being the older one, and the copy from the ETH apparently being the revised one. Roland K. Smeltzer argues that there is physical evidence that the BNF version was indeed revised. Smeltzer summarizes: “In any case, the copy of Du Châtelet’s book in the Bibliothèque nationale de France is not quite the author’s final text.” ("Printing Du Châtelet's Institutions de Physique: The Variant Texts," in Époque Emilienne: Philosophy and Science from 1700–1750, ed. Ruth Hagengruber (Cham: Springer, 2022), 525). To name just one example of those revisions: in § 25 (= L, paragraph 24) we find the phrase “il a été le maître absolu de son choix” in the ETH copy, but it is missing in the BNF copy.
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.