Chapter

If I Were King! Morals and Physics in Emilie Du Châtelet’s Subtle Thoughts on Liberty

Ruth Hagengruber

in Women and Liberty, 1600-1800

Published in print December 2017 | ISBN: 9780198810261
Published online December 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191847301 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198810261.003.0013
If I Were King! Morals and Physics in Emilie Du Châtelet’s Subtle Thoughts on Liberty

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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

Chapter.  5770 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Feminist Philosophy

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