Chapter Six of Du Châtelet’s Institutions de Physique

Du tems

Chapter Six of the Paris Manuscript of Du Châtelet‘s Institutions de Physique, which focuses on the nature of time, is now online here.

An excerpt from the Introduction by Aaron Wells:

The manuscript of Chapter Six 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.

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