Chapter Seven of Du Châtelet’s Institutions de Physique

De la nature des Corps

We have just added to our online edition of the Paris Manuscript of Du Châtelet’s Institutions de Physique the seventh manuscript chapter, which focuses on the nature of bodies. In the published versions of the book, this material appears as the tenth chapter.

One intriguing feature of the manuscript is that it shows Du Châtelet gradually adding a sympathetic discussion of mechanistic approaches to physics, which does not appear in the earliest extant drafts. For example, she adds an argument for a mechanistic approach to physics based on the fact that bodies–which physics studies–are composites of material parts. She next states that the only possible changes in composites of material parts, are changes of the figure, size, and arrangement of the parts, or the place of the parts taken as a whole. She concludes that all effects in matter “can be explained mechanically” (126r).

You can read more on this in Aaron Wells’s Introduction to the seventh chapter, which is available here, along with the transcription itself.

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