Harvard History Workshop – Eighteenth-Century French Cartesianism and Du Châtelet

Marco Storni, "Beyond Descartes: Noël Regnault and Eighteenth-Century French Cartesianism”

We are happy to announce the second talk in the Harvard History Workshop on Émilie du Châtelet, to be held on the 19th of May. Dr. Marco Storni, Université Libre de Bruxelles will give a talk onBeyond Descartes: Research Notes on Eighteenth-Century French Cartesianism.” The commentator for the talk is Andrea Strazzoni (Ca’Foscari University of Venice).

The abstract of the talk is as follows:

In this talk, I propose new ways of characterizing eighteenth-century French Cartesianism. Besides two widely-accepted elements – the belief in “strict mechanism” and the idea that to demonstrate in physics does not involve mathematics, but reference to mechanical models – I add two more, hitherto neglected, features. First, an emphasis on experimentalism, namely the view that experiments are crucial to natural-philosophical practice. Second, an epistemological thesis that I call “conjecturalism,” which consists in doubting that natural philosophy would attain an ultimate truth on the nature of things. To explore these facets of Cartesianism, I focus on the works of the Jesuit Noël Regnault (1683-1762). Since Regnault participated in a controversy over Voltaire’s Elements of the Philosophy of Newton (1738) that also involved Émilie du Châtelet, I also reflect on the differences between Regnault’s and du Châtelet’s positions, and raise questions on du Châtelet’s relationship to eighteenth-century French Cartesianism.

The Harvard History Workshop on Émilie du Châtelet is in cooperation with the Center for the History of Women Philosophers. The workshop is organized by Jeff McDonough, Harvard University and Aaron Wells, Paderborn University.

Dr. Storni’s talk will take place in room TP21.2.32, Technologiepark 21, Paderborn, at 16:00.
Attendance is open to all who are interested, but seating space is limited.

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