Émilie Du Châtelet between Leibniz, Newton and Kant

How close is Du Châtelet to the philosophy of Leibniz or the ideas of Wolff, and how near is Kant to the ideas of Du Châtelet

According to Eberhard, Kant had deduced his principles and basic concepts of transcendental criticism from Leibniz and Wolff. In the relevant place Eberhard substantiates his assertion with a reference to the Institutions physiques (1742), by the philosopher Du Châtelet.

This project investigates that topic in two regards. First it analyses the function of Du Châtelet’s quote in the context of Eberhard’s argument against Kant, that there is nothing “new” about his transcendental turn. The second part of the paper discusses the questions arising from this:  How close are Kant’s arguments in favour of a “new” philosophy to those of Du Châtelet? Is Du Châtelet a hidden source for Kant’s achievement?

More coming soon: Ruth E Hagengruber: Époque Émilienne. Philosophy and Science in the Age of Émilie Du Châtelet 1706-1749. Springer Cham.

 

  • Hagengruber Writings on Du Châtelet

    Du Châtelet and Kant: Claiming the Renewal of Philosophy.

    R. Hagengruber, in: R. E. Hagengruber (ed.) Époque Émilienne. Philosophy and Science in the Age of Emilie Du Châtelet 1706-1749. Springer forthcoming.

    In 1789, Eberhard reputed Kant’s claim expressed in the first edition of his Critique of Pure Reason to have delivered a new, namely transcendental turn in philosophy, as he was able to retrace our cognition to the origin of phenomena instead of delivering a “merely logical deduction”. Eberhard holds that there was nothing new, but all delivered in Leibniz and Wolff; to prove his claim he refers to a quote from Du Châtelet, taken from a paragraph where she determines the right understanding as to be able “to penetrate to the origin of phenomena”.

    This paper brings Du Châtelet into discourse with Kant via this Eberhard quote. In its first part, it investigates the use of her quote in the Kant-Eberhard controversy. The second part serves to ground the quote in Du Châtelet’s epistemology. It lays out how to understand Du Châtelet’s claim to penetrate to the origin of phenomena. Du Châtelet’s claim to have renewed philosophy must be taken seriously, and it is helpful for rethinking the German philosophical development from the rationalists to Kant through including Du Châtelet’s theory of cognition.

     

    Du Châtelet, Émilie (1706–1749)
    R.E. Hagengruber, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences, Cham, 2021.

    Of the many outstanding female philosophers of the European Enlightenment, Emilie Du Châtelet excelled as a physicist, a philosopher, and a mathematician, as well as a Bible critic. She was famous in her lifetime and was not completely forgotten thereafter. Among her admirers, correspondents and friends were the most acknowledged scholars of her time, including Voltaire, Clairault, Maupertuis, Diderot, Helvetius, La Mettrie, Buffon, Christian Wolff, Leonard Euler, and Johann II Bernoulli. Her philosophical work enjoyed high reputation and her opus magnum, the Institutions physiques, was translated into Italian and German and proved her to be an intellectual of European stature. Its defense of living forces and its implied forecast into dynamics as well as her methodological grounding of scientific knowledge as hypothetical, impacted philosophy and science. Reality must by nature escape us. What we perceive are phenomena. Du Châtelet explains the function of space and time to trace us back to the origin of phenomena. Her influence on Kant is evident. Next to her writings in physics, mathematics, philosophy, language, and logic, she contributed to morality and ethics. Du Châtelet left an opus of quite systematic breadth. This impressive publishing activity excels in the amount of its scientific and philosophical production to which a vast collection of manuscripts must be added. She argued against prejudice and idolatry in philosophy and science. Science is a cooperative undertaking over history and beyond nations. Her moral writings align with ideas of the French materialists. Du Châtelet translated and commented on Newton’s Principia, preparing thus the fertile soil of the generation of physicists to come in France.

     

    Review Hagengruber Le Ru Émilie Du Châtelet Philosophe
    R. Hagengruber, H-France Net 158 (2020).

     

    Relocating Women in the History of Philosophy and Science. Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749), Laura Bassi (1711-1778), and Luise Gottsched (1713-1762) in Brucker’s Pinacotheca
    R. Hagengruber, Bruniana & Campanelliana Suppl XLIII (2019).

    Émilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749), Laura Bassi (1711-1778), and Luise Gottsched (1713-1762) were three philosophers and scientists of outstanding im-portance in their epoch. However, the attribution of importance and reputation to women’s intellectual achievements in this period is a case of its own. This paper investigates the methodical attempt of 18th century historiography, presenting the example of Jakob Brucker and his Pinacoteca to relocate intellectual women in his history of philosophy and science. The relative integration of women into the 18th century intellectual sphere is the starting point of this methodical investigation to retrace its ‘why and how’.

    Keywords: Emilie Du Châtelet, Luise Gottsched, Laura Bassi, History, Philosophy, Science.

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet zwischen Leibniz und Kant. Du Châtelet in der Eberhard-Kant-Kontroverse

    R. Hagengruber, in: R. Hagengruber & H. Hecht (Eds.), Emilie Du Châtelet und die deutsche Aufklärung. Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden; Imprint: Springer VS (2019) S. 173–196.

    In seiner Auseinandersetzung mit Immanuel Kant bestreitet Johann August Eberhard Kants Anspruch, in seiner Transzendentalphilosophie die Reichweite und Grenzen des Verstandes auf neue, zuvor nicht dagewesene Weise definiert zu haben. Eberhard dagegen meint die Prinzipien und Grundbegriffe transzendentalphilosophischer Erkenntniskritik schon aus der Leibniz-Wolffschen Schule ableiten zu können. An einschlägiger Stelle – im dritten Teil seiner Ausführungen Über den wesentlichen Unterschied der Erkenntnis durch die Sinne und durch den Verstand – belegt er diese Behauptung mit einem Verweis auf die „Definition“ der Erscheinung in den Institutions physiques der Philosophin und Mathematikerin Du Châtelet. An diesem Sachverhalt gibt es einige Besonderheiten festzustellen. So erscheint es angesichts der sonst rigiden Ausschlusspolitik weiblicher Autoren aus der philosophischen Debatte schon an sich bemerkenswert, wenn ein Wissenschaftler von Ruf und Rang, wie es Eberhard, der in Halle die Nachfolge des Wolff-Lehrstuhls innehatte, ohne Zweifel war, eine Frau zitiert; noch dazu in einer für die historische Einordnung und das historische Selbstverständnis der Transzendentalphilosophie derart einschlägigen Debatte. Ferner darf man aus diesem Befund wohl mit Fug und Recht die lohnende Aufgabe ableiten, Du Châtelets philosophische Bedeutung in der deutschen Aufklärung neu auszutarieren. Die Erörterung und Kontextualisierung von Eberhards Zitat gibt uns die Möglichkeit, Du Châtelets Philosophie „zwischen Leibniz und Kant“ zu positionieren. Wenn Eberhard mit seinem Zitat aus Du Châtelets Institutions physiques den Hinweis unterstützt, Kants Wurzeln in der Leibniz-Wolff’schen Philosophie zu suchen, und Du Châtelets Erkenntnistheorie gilt ihm offenbar als ein herausragendes Beispiel für diese Rückbindung, d.h., als Beispiel einer entsprechend weitreichenden Interpretationsmöglichkeit der Leibniz’schen Philosophie schon vor Kant, welcheSchlüsse ergeben sich daraus für die Kant- und welche für die Du Châtelet-Forschung? Viele Fragen, die bereits in früheren Debatten aufgetaucht sind, werden damit erneut virulent. Wie nahe steht Du Châtelet der Philosophie Leibnizens, den Gedanken Wolffs, wie nahe ist Kant in seiner transzendentalen Ästhetik – die er nach langen Jahren und vielen Versuchen über den Raum schließlich in seiner ersten Kritik der reinen Vernunft 1781 veröffentlichte – an den Ideen Du Châtelets? Das Eberhard-Zitat, das er überdies als eine „Definition“ aufführt, wirft viele Fragen auf, die im Folgenden erörtert werden. Die hier vorgelegte Untersuchung verortet zuerst Du Châtelet in der deutschen Aufklärung; zu wenig bekannt ist bis heute, wie berühmt diese Ausnahmedenkerin in ihrer Zeit war. Dieser Einleitung folgen dann Überlegungen zur Funktion des Du-Châtelet-Zitats in der Eberhard-Kant-Kontroverse, um dann die Frage der Erscheinungen (Phänomene) in der Philosophie Du Châtelets darzulegen.

     

    Emilie Du Châtelet und die deutsche Aufklärung
    R. Hagengruber, H. Hecht, eds., Emilie Du Châtelet und die deutsche Aufklärung, Springer, Wiesbaden, 2019.

    In diesem Band werden neueste Forschungen zur Philosophin, Physikerin und Mathematikerin Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749) vorgestellt. Emilie Du Châtelet genoss in der deutschen Aufklärung eine hohe Reputation. Ihre Werke wurden noch zu Lebzeiten ins Deutsche übersetzt, wo sie unter die berühmtesten Gelehrten gezählt wurde. Immanuel Kant bezieht sich in seiner ersten Dissertation auf sie, und Johann August Eberhard erwähnt sie in seiner Kontroverse gegen Kant. Leibniz, Wolff, Euler, Kant, Friedrich II. werden in ihrem Zusammenhang mit Du Châtelet vorgestellt. Diese Sammlung zeichnet den Einfluss der deutschen Aufklärung auf Du Châtelet und Du Châtelets Einfluss auf die deutsche Philosophie nach.

     

    “If I Were King!” Morals and Physics in Emilie Du Châtelet’s Subtle Thoughts on Liberty
    R. Hagengruber, in: J. Broad, K. Detlefsen (Eds.), Women and Liberty, Oxford University Press, Oxford; New York, 2017, pp. 195–205.

    This chapter argues that Emilie Du Châtelet’s practical moral philosophy and her theoretical physics are intimately connected into a systematic whole. Both the moral philosophy and the physics exhibit the same method, which relies, for example, on the principle of contradiction. Du Châtelet uses this method to argue against the injustice of women’s reduced educational opportunity and thus reduced freedom, as well as identifying the source of women’s social ostracism. Moreover, this chapter also shows a strong connection between content in morals and physics, and does so by focusing on the nature of freedom, and which conceptions of freedom are compatible with the laws of physics and the nature of force. Du Châtelet’s conceptual relations with a number of intellectuals, including Mandeville, Locke, and Voltaire, substantiate these points.

    Keywords:   Emilie Du Châtelet, Mandeville, Locke, Voltaire, method, free will, physics, forces, laws

     

    Emilie du Châtelet, 1706–1749. Transformer of Metaphysics and Scientist
    R. Hagengruber, The Mathematical Intelligencer (2016) 1–6.

     

    Emilie du Châtelet and the Transformation of Metaphysics
    R. Hagengruber, in: R. Hagengruber (Ed.), Emilie Du Châtelet between Leibniz Und Newton, Springer, New York, 2011, pp. 1–59.

    The most famous remark of Emilie du Chatelet that physics cannot happen without metaphysics is the marker for this essay on the transformation of metaphysics in the eighteenth century. Starting with introductory remarks on the effects that Emilie du Chatelet made in her lifetime, her central position in the French Enlightment with Voltaire, La Mettrie and Maupertuis, as well as the international respect and the especially intensive reception in Germany will be introduced to the debate, which will also document the state of research as well as selected debates of the Enlightment period concerning Newton and Leibniz. The main thesis is built on Du Chatelet’s intellectual independent thought, her early and critical Lockeianism, which consequently shows that the Marquise’s scientific universalism was already outlined before she became acquainted with Leibnizian ideas.

    The analysis of Du Chatelet’s correspondence to Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis sheds new light on this relationship. Samuel König, who had accused her of having copied from Leibniz or himself, also had a trial of plagiarism against Maupertuis. While Maupertuis ignored her discussion on solid bodies and the problems of conservation in the letters, he took up her ideas in his thoughts concerning his Principle of Least Action. Du Chatelet’s approach to metaphysics even shows interesting relations to La Mettrie. The relationship between La Mettrie, Maupertuis und Du Châtelet is given considerable weight, covering thinking matter, materialism and “dangerous metaphysics”.

     

    Emilie du Châtelet between Leibniz and Newton
    R. Hagengruber, ed., Emilie Du Châtelet between Leibniz and Newton, Springer, New York, 2011.

    Emilie du Châtelet was one of the most influential woman philosophers of the Enlightenment. Her writings on natural philosophy, physics, and mechanics had a decisive impact on important scientific debates of the 18th century. Particularly, she took an innovative and outstanding position in the controversy between Newton and Leibniz, one of the fundamental scientific discourses of that time.

    The contributions in this volume focus on this “Leibnitian turn”. They analyze the nature and motivation of Emilie du Châtelet’s synthesis of Newtonian and Leibnitian philosophy. Apart from the Institutions Physiques they deal with Emilie du Châtelet’s annotated translation of Isaac Newton’s Principia.

    The chapters presented here collectively demonstrate that her work was an essential contribution to  the mediation between empiricist and rationalist positions in the history of science.

     

    Das Glück der Vernunft. Emilie Du Châtelet’s Reflexionen über die Moral
    R. Hagengruber, in: R. Hagengruber, A. Rodrigues (Eds.), Von Diana zu Minerva. Philosophierende Aristokratinnen des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts., Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, 2011, pp. 111–113.

     

    Kölving, Ulla; Courcelle, Olivier. Émilie du Châtelet. Éclairages et documents nouveaux (Ferney-Voltaire: Centre International d’Étude du XVIIIe Siècle, 2008)
    R. Hagengruber, Francia-Recensio. Frühe Neuzeit – Revolution – Empire (1500–1815). 4 (2009).

     

    Gegen Rousseau – für die Physik. Gabrielle Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749). Das Leben einer Wissenschaftlerin im Zeitalter der Aufklärung
    R. Hagengruber, Konsens 3 (2002) 27–30.

     

    Emilie du Châtelet an Maupertuis. Eine Metaphysik in Briefen
    R. Hagengruber, in: H. Hecht (Ed.), Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis. Eine Bilanz nach 300 Jahren, Spitz, Berlin, 1999, pp. 187–206.

     

  • Hagengruber Talks on Du Châtelet

    La tradition de la critique féminine de la Bible : De Nogarola (1418-1466) à Du Châtelet (1706-1749)

    25 June 2021, digital Talk at the Conference ‘Émilie Du Châtelet et la littérature philosophique clandestine’, organized by ‘Libertins et clandestins’ of the Institut d’Histoire des Représentations et des Idées dans les Modernités and the LabEx Constitution de la Modernité (COMOD) at the École normale supérieure de Lyon, France

     

    The Suppressed Source: Emilie Du Châtelet and the Critical Turn of Immanuel Kant

    17 November 2020, Talk organized by the Kant Society Kiel at the Hermann Ehlers Academy, Kiel, Germany

    Manfred Zahn hat immer wieder sein Erstaunen darüber geäußert, dass die für Kant so wichtige Eberhard-Debatte in der Forschung so wenig Aufmerksamkeit erhielt. Eberhards Interpretation, Kants kritische Wende auf die Leibniz-Wolff’sche Philosophie zurückzuführen, war nicht ausreichend überzeugend. Die seit Jahren an Fahrt gewinnende Erforschung der Schriften der in Deutschland intensiv rezipierten französischen Philosophin und Mathematikerin Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749) wirft nun ein neues Licht auf diese Debatte. Emilie Du Châtelet ist ein wichtiges Glied in der Rezeptionskette für Kant. Zudem verweist Eberhard an einer entscheidenden Stelle auf diese Philosophin. Der Vortrag führt in die Debatte ein und zeigt, wie nahe Du Châtelet Philosophie von den Erscheinungen der Kantischen kritischen Wende steht. Erläutert werden zudem die Hintergründe der lebenslangen Auseinandersetzung Kants mit den Schriften Du Châtelet‘s.

     

    Emilie Du Châtelet between Leibniz and Kant: Eberhard’s reference to Du Châtelet and the Transcendental Turn

    22 February 2020, Talk at the Workshop on the Philosophy of Émilie Du Châtelet, organized by Havard History of Philosophy Workshop, Department of Philosophy (Havard University), Jeffrey McDonough and Clara Carus at the Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

     

    Der (lange unterschätzte) Einfluss der Philosophin Émilie du Châtelet im 18. Jahrhundert

    13 February 2019, Talk at the Conference ‘Einsame ‘Wunderthiere’ oder vernetzte Akteurinnen? Gelehrte, forschende, dichtende und komponierende Frauen’, organized by Forschungsverbund Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel, Bibelsaal der Bibliotheca Augusta, Wolfenbüttel, Germany

     

    Emilie du Châtelet between Leibniz and Kant: The Critical Turn

    27 November 2018, Talk organized by the Oxford University Philosophy Society at Oxford University, UK

    Emilie du Châtelet was one of the most influential women philosophers of the Enlightenment. Her innovative writings on natural philosophy, physics, and mechanics had a decisive impact on pivotal scientific debates of the 18th Century.

    In her talk, feminist historian of philosophy Professor Dr Ruth Hagengruber will explore the work of Emilie Du Châtelet along with its impact on 18th Century thought in Germany; particularly on Immanuel Kant. The divisive Kant-Eberhard controversy interrogated Kantian metaphysics and by extension traces an intellectual lineage through the work of Du Châtelet: on this basis, Hagengruber will redress this historical omission in the canon of academic philosophy. Join us to discuss any aspect of this topic, or to query Hagengruber on her current work as Head of Philosophy at the University of Paderborn and as Director of the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists.

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet zwischen Leibniz und Kant

    19 September 2018, Talk at the Student symposion ‘In glücklicher Ehe vereinigt? Leibniz und die Wissenschaften des Barock’, organized by the Institute of Philosophy (FU Berlin) at FU Berlin, Germany

     

    Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749). Philosopher of European Enlightenment. Transformer of Metaphysics.

    17 August 2018, Talk at the Conference ’24th World Congress of Philosophy’, organized by International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP), Chinese Organizing Committee and the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS) at Peking University, Beijing, China

    Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749) was an outstanding member of the scientific community of her time. She rebutted main ideas of Voltaire, Locke, Newton and Leibniz, and presented her own conclusions in a broad range of philosophical works. Her epistemic breakthrough is to be found in her examination of the extended world and in her reflection on the mental constitution of space. This presentation introduces her as a strong metaphysician and as an important predecessor of Kant’s transcendental philosophy.

     

    Rewriting the History of Philosophy:  Du Châtelet’s Philosophical Impact

    13 July 2018, Talk at the 3rd International Workshop ‘Women In The History of Science, Philosophy and Literature’, organized by the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS) and Hellenic Open University, DHST/IUHPST at the Historical Archives of the State, Hermoupolis, Syros, Greece

     

    What’s new in Du Châtelet’s metaphysics?

    27 April 2018, Talk at the Conference ‘Émilie Du Châtelet’s Foundations of Physics – A conference celebrating the complete English translation’, organized by the Department of Philosophy of the University of Notre Dame at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, USA

     

    Science in the Making: Alternative approaches to Science and Philosophy. Laura Bassi (1711-77) Du Châtelet (1706-1749) Luise Gottsched (1713 – 1754)

    6 April 2018, Talk at the University of Calabria in Arcavacata, Italy

     

    Emilie Du Châtelet: Philosopher and Scientist, Philosopher of Science?

    24 March 2018, Talk at the ASECS Annual Meeting 2018, organized by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) and the Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (SEASECS) in Orlando, Florida, USA

     

    Zwischen Leibniz und Kant: Emilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749) über den Raum

    17 January 2018. Talk at the Institute for Philosophy at the Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet: entre la France et l’Allemagne

    17 November 2017, Talk at the ‘Colloque international Émilie Du Châtelet’, organized by Société Voltaire, Les Cahiers haut-marnais and Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS) in the Archives Nationales in Paris, France

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet on Matter, Bodies, Forces and Motion

    24 July 2017, Talk at the ‘Libori Summer School 2017’ organized by the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS) at Paderborn University, Paderborn, Germany

     

    Matter Movement and Activity. Emilie du Châtelet on Thinking Matter and Living Forces

    12 May 2017, Talk at the Workshop ‘Women and Early Modern Philosophy & Science’, organized by the Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici (Università del Piemonte Orientale, Vercelli) and the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS) in Vercelli, Italy

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet: Models of Relations and Activity between Leibniz and Newton

    16 February 2017, Talk at the Conference ‘Emerging Activity’ at the Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

     

    On how we constitute the Outer World. Émilie Du Châtelet’s (1706-1749) response to the Leibniz-Newton-Debate on Space

    31 January 2017, Talk at the Research Colloquium ‘History of Women Philosophers’, organized by the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS), Paderborn University, Paderborn, Germany

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749) zwischen Leibniz und Newton

    20 December 2016, Talk at the Lecture Series ‘Werke der Philosophie der Neuzeit’, organized by the Institue for Philosophy at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet’s Metaphysical Concept of Space

    1 December 2016, Talk at the Alpen-Adria University in Klagenfurt, Austria

     

    Du Châtelet and the Fight Over Metaphysics

    19 November 2016, Talk at the Boston Colloquium for Philosophy of Science Section ‘Émilie Du Châtelet: 310th Anniversary’, organized by the Center for Philosophy and History of Science (Boston University) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

     

    Émilie du Châtelet: Balancing the Plenum and the Void

    9 November 2016, Talk at the King’s University College/University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada

    The struggle to grasp the metaphysical foundation of the natural world was most intense when Émilie du Châtelet (1706–1749) entered the philosophical scene. Voltaire derided Descartes’ mechanist view of the world, which was filled with vortices, and Newton posited occult forces that moved the planets in the void. The explanation of motion, from where it came and how it could be explained, stoked the debate while advancing the limits of our knowledge of the natural world.

    Rejecting the ill-conceived ideas of Cartesian intuitionism and criticizing John Locke’s “muddled” ontology, du Châtelet presented in her discussion of the foundations of physics a model of constructive reasoning, which provided an understanding of how the notion of space emerged and how matter related to processes of abstraction. Furthermore, she argued that her model was compatible with the claim of the invariability of force in the universe.

    This talk introduces the work of du Châtelet and focusses on the metaphysical debates surrounding the possible ground of natural philosophy as well as the nature of movement. During her lifetime, the Foundation of Physics was translated into several languages and was included in the canon of the most important books of her age. Kant wrote his first publication on her dispute with the secretary of the French Academy on the vis viva. Her definitions of “space” and “hypothesis” were extensively copied, for example, in the Encyclopedia of Diderot and D’Alembert. Du Châtelet was an influential figure in the Leibniz-Newton debates about nature, and she was an inspiring philosopher to her contemporaries.

     

    Émilie du Châtelet: Publications

    6 November 2016, Talk at the Workshop ‘Early Modern Works by and about Women, Genre and Method’, organized by M. Deslauries at McGilly University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

     

    Emilie du Châtelet (1706-1749) Renovator of Metaphysics

    19 July 2016, Talk at the Émilie Du Châtelet Session at the X. International Leibniz Congress, organized by Ruth Hagengruber, Hartmut Hecht and the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University Hannover, Germany

    Du Châtelet’s philosophical and scientific opus embraces a whole range of topics. She wrote on ethics and morals, ontology and metaphysics and left a substantial body of work as a scientist [5]. Her philosophy is a turning point in the reception of Locke and a critical approach to French sensualists. New discussions in physics where lanced by her, referring to historical scientific results and hereby attacking widely acknowledged scientific dogmas. She radically questioned the methodology of how scientific knowledge can be gained [1].

    The question what we can know, persists on the horizon of Du Châtelets investigations and leads to a quite astonishing, radical, and new perspective of knowledge and science. The Institutions physiques start with a sceptical approach of what can be possibly known through science [2]. Truth is not what is stated by Newton or Descartes, “as both are also wrong”. The search for truth goes beyond “the power of a single man.” In Aristotle and Newton, one finds “ideas so sound beside the greatest absurdities” [2, p. 11; 3 p. 122]. Science is not the discovery of “eternal truth,” laid down by the “eternal geometer,” but a historically influenced undertaking. Philosophy and science were to be understood as a complex architecture of knowledge, contributed to by generations and epochs. For her, e ven the seductive power of Newton’s law of attraction contains no evidence which could validate this law as the only way to describe the facts. Geometry and Algebra, albeit powerful instruments, are insufficient for revealing the truth and not yet developed enough for all kinds of discoveries. Mathematics can never be the primary source of knowledge, as Descartes believed and as John Locke tried to manifest, much more, mathematics is also a science based on hypotheses, as she claims.

    Her radical approach to hypothesize all attainable knowledge led Du Châtelet to different results when compared to her peers. Departing from the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence she attacks scientific concepts of Descartes and epistemic foundations of Locke and opposes main arguments held by Voltaire in his Element de la Philosophie de Newton against the compatibility of free will and the laws in physics. As I propose, this is the driving power in the development of her concepts of science [4]. Her hypothesizing habitude makes philosophy and science an open system, inviting for those who are interested in the search for truth, “albeit this might never be reached”.

    [1] Brown, Andrew, Kölving, Ulla. 2003. Qui est l’auteur du Traité de métaphysique? Cahiers Voltaire 2: 85-94.

    [2] Du Châtelet, Emilie 1741. Institutions de physique. Amsterdam: Pierre Mortier

    [3] Du Châtelet, E. 2009. Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings. Selected and edited by Judith P. Zinsser. Translated by Isabelle Bour and Judith P. Zinsser. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    [4] Hagengruber, Ruth (Ed.) 2011. Emilie du Chatelet between Leibniz and Newton. Dordrecht e.a.: Springer.

    [5] Zinsser, Judith P. 2006. Emilie du Châtelet: Rewriting Enlightenment Philosophy and Science. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation. (SVEC, 2006,1).

     

    Émilie du Châtelet – Renovator of Metaphysics

    1 June 2016, Talk at the Columbia University, New York, USA

     

    Les calcules des plaisirs. Émilie Du Châtelet and La Mettrie

    May 2016, Talk at the Institut d’études avancées de Paris (IEA) in Paris, France

     

    Societal and Cosmologic Revolution in Emilie du Châtelet

    14 September 2015, Talk at the International Workshop ‘The Self-Determined Individual in the Englightenment’, organized by the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists (HWPS) at Paderborn University, Paderborn, Germany

     

    Planetarian Ethics. Émilie Du Châtelet and Her Concept of the Good

    1 April 2015, Talk at the Conference ‘Emilie du Châtelet – Philosophy and Opera’ at the Academy of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

     

    Der Kampf um die Hypothesen. Emilie du Châtelet zwischen Leibniz und den Newtonianern

    4 December 2014, Talk at the Lecture Series ‘Forum Philosophicum’ organized by FernUniversität Hagen, Hagen, Germany

    Émilie du Châtelet ist eine herausragende Wissenschaftlerin und Philosophin der ersten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts, die aktiv und mit erheblicher Wirkung an den Auseinandersetzungen zwischen den Newtonianern und den Leibnizianern teilnahm.

    Der Vortrag legt auf dem Hintergrund des berühmten „hypotheses non fingo“ der Newtonianer die Leibniz- und Newton-Rezeption der französischen Elite dar und bestimmt darin die besondere Leistung Emilie du Châtelet’s Position im Kontext der Epoche.

    In ihrem naturphilosophischen Hauptwerk, der „Natur- lehre“, widmete sie ein ganzes Kapitel der methodischen Analyse der Hypothesen und erläuterte deren Notwendigkeit für die Wissenschaft. In ihrer Lehre von den Hypothesen schuf sie einen innovativen und wirkungsreichen erkenntnistheoretischen Ansatz, da für sie Zahlen und alles Wissen letztlich nur Hypothesen sind.

     

    2600 Years History Of Women Philosophers – Émilie du Châtelet as a Philosopher and Scientist

    24 October 2013, Talk at the Philosophy Department of the Yeditepe University, Istanbul, Turkey

     

    Good Philosophy for a Good Life! How Marie de Gournay (1565-1645) and Émilie Du Châtelet (1706-1749) criticized the Canon and Argued for Women’s Concern

    8 August 2013, Talk at the ’23rd World Congress of Philosophy’, organized by the School of Philosophy of the University of Athens and the Hellenic Organising Committee in Athens, Greece

     

    Emilie du Châtelet (1706-1749) and the German Enlightenment

    15 September 2006, Talk at the University of Potsdam, Zentrum für Europäische Aufklärung, Potsdam, Germany

     

    Metaphysik in Briefen. Emilie du Châtelet an P.L.M. de Maupertuis

    September 1998, Talk at Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Berlin, Germany

  • Hagengruber Teaching on Du Châtelet

    Women Philosophers in the Digital Age: Online Presentation of Emilie Du Châtelet and Helene Druskovitz

    In cooperation with Dorothee Meister, University Paderborn (Media) and Luka Boršić (Philosophy, Zagreb, Croatia), Winter Term 2020/21, Master seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Metaphysik und Naturphilosophie im 18. Jahrhundert, Leibniz, Kant: Du Châtelet

    Winter Term 2019/20, Master seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Du Châtelet between Leibniz and Kant: The Eberhard-Kant Controversy

    Summer Term 2018, Seminar at the Libori Summer School 2018, Paderborn University

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet – Arbeitskreis

    Summer Term 2018, Advanced Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Émilie Du Châtelet über Materie, Körper, Kräfte und Bewegung

    Summer Term 2017, Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Émilie Du Châtelets Naturlehre

    Winter Term 2016/17, Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Metaphysik und Wissenschaft im 18. Jahrhundert: Leibniz, Du Châtelet, Kant

    Summer Term 2016, Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Intensivkurs Philosophinnen: Emilie du Châtelet

    Winter Term 2015/16, Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Philosophie in den Medien: Philosophie und Glück – Émilie du Châtelet

    Summer Term 2015, Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Die Naturlehre der Emilie du Châtelet

    Summer Term 2012, Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Emilie du Châtelet, Denkerin der Aufklärung

    Summer Term 2010, Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Emilie du Châtelet: Über das Glück

    Summer Term 2007, Seminar, Paderborn University

     

    Emilie du Châtelet. Die Naturlehre von 1743

    Summer Term 2006, Seminar, Paderborn University

  • Videos on Du Châtelet by the Center
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