“For myself, I think that if I were king, I would want to do this experiment in physics. I would reform an abuse that cuts off, so to speak[,] half of the human race. I would make women participate in all the rights of humanity, and above all in those of the mind.”
– In “Translation of Mandeville’s The Fable of the bees” (Translation Shari Wölker). In R.E. Hagengruber, A. Brown, U. Kölving, S. Ertz (2020-2021). The Saint Petersburg Manuscripts. A historical and critical online edition.
Émilie Du Châtelet was a philosopher, physicist, and mathematician, and a key figure in the reception and development of Newtonian mechanics in France and beyond. Du Châtelet’s philosophy attempts to reconcile Leibnizian and Newtonian physics within the framework of a Wolffian metaphysics. She presents this vision in her opus magnum, the Institutions de physique (1740/1742). Du Châtelet’s work covers various philosophical and scientific disciplines, including ethics and politics, natural philosophy, metaphysics, physics, language, and religion. Her vast scientific output demonstrates that Du Châtelet was a unique and independent mind that contributed impressively to philosophy and science.
This summer term the Center for the History of Women Philosophers, directed by Ruth E. Hagengruber, will host a Talk Series on Émilie Du Châtelet, cohosted by the Harvard History of Philosophy Workshop. The workshop is organized by Jeff McDonough, Harvard University and Aaron Wells, Paderborn University.
Look forward to the following talks:
18th April: Dr. Guillaume Coissard, Université Libre de Bruxelles, on “Du Châtelet’s Influence on French Materialism”
19th May: Dr. Marco Storni, University of Neuchâtel, TBA
24th May: Maaike Korpershoek, University of Groningen, on “Du Châtelet’s essay on fire”
20th June: Dr. Qiu Lin, Cornell University and Einstein Forum and Prof. Fatema Amijee, University of British Columbia, on “Causation in Du Châtelet”
Interest aroused? More information about Du Châtelet and many other female philosophers and scientists can be found in our Directory. It gives an overview of women philosophers and scientists from approx. 2300 BCE to the 21st century. Currently, there are more than 280 names of women philosophers listed and the entries will be periodically updated with biographical information and sources for further research.
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