Volume Editor's Introduction

in Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780226168067
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226168081 | DOI:
Volume Editor's Introduction

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Gabrielle Emilie le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise Du Châtelet (1706–1749), challenged all expectations about a woman's place and function in European elite society in the first half of the eighteenth century. She published books and pamphlets on science, including the Foundations of Physics (1740), translated Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, and wrote over 700 pages of critique of the Old and New Testament. The selections of writings included in this book demonstrate why Marquise Du Châtelet's male contemporaries, including Voltaire, her lover and companion of fifteen years, called her a “genius,” and why she merits the Enlightenment's most revered title, that of “philosophe.” The book includes Du Châtelet's translation of Bernard Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees; her Examinations of the Bible, probably completed sometime in 1744 or early in 1745; an essay entitled Dissertation on the Nature and Propagation of Fire; her translation of a commentary by John Keill on Newton's Principia; and Discourse on Happiness, written earlier in 1748.

Keywords: Marquise Du Châtelet; Voltaire; Foundations of Physics; Isaac Newton; Bernard Mandeville; Fable of Bees; Examinations of Bible; Principia Mathematica; Propagation of Fire; Discourse on Happiness

Chapter.  15169 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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