Arago's Daguerreotype

in The Romantic Machine

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226812205
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226812229 | DOI:
Arago's Daguerreotype

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • History of Science and Technology


Show Summary Details


In the early nineteenth century, Pierre-Simon Laplace was a prominent figure in French astronomy. His physical determinism, and even his speculations about the origin of the solar system, have also been central to French physics. François Arago, an anti-Laplacean, championed the major developments in physics after Laplace, both in France and worldwide. His own achievements included discoveries in astronomy, optics, and physics, and the development of many new instruments. Arago also played a key role in helping introduce an invention, the daguerreotype, in 1839. This chapter examines the meaning and use of the daguerreotype for Arago, as well as his Humboldtian astronomy and his republican politics. Arago embodied the so-called labor theory of knowledge, which was informed by a notion of knowledge as the outcome of combining human activity with precision instruments. His expressive personal style and his advocacy on behalf of workers and inventors stood in stark contrast with Laplace's imperial mechanism.

Keywords: Pierre-Simon Laplace; physics; François Arago; France; astronomy; daguerreotype; republican politics; labor theory; precision instruments

Chapter.  13206 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.