For generations, Du Châtelet’s amazingly vast and deep body of work as been subsumed under the work of others, like many women of her time. Recently, however, professional philosophers and historians have transformed the reception of Du Châtelet. An immense amount of historical evidence shows that Du Châtelet’s work had a very significant influence on the philosophical and scientific conversations of the 1730s and 1740s – in fact, she was famous and respected by the greatest thinkers of her time.
Writing about Du Châtelet myself has proved to be a difficult task, as anyone who attempts to represent someone so far away in history, but so complex, will know. Judith Zinsser, Du Châtelet’s marvelous biographer, discusses this in her short but witty description of the historian’s authority:
Join us at Notre Dame in April for a conference celebrating our first translation of the Foundations of Physics:
I recently finished the first English translation of Du Châtelet’s essay, Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feu, published first in 1739 and 1744, and Du Châtelet’s introduction to the scientific public. I am currently working on a paper comparing the two versions, and describing the development of a sophisticated philosophy of science during that time. See the abstract here. If you would like access to a draft version of the translation, please email me to request the password to this page, and if you would like to download the originals click here.
I have also participated in the Foundations of Physics translation, of Project Vox under the direction of Katherine Brading, along with other graduate students. See the progress of the project here, and take a look at our completed translations here.
Currently, I am finishing up a paper on Du Châtelet’s method, arguing that she adopts the PSR between the 1739 and 1744 versions of the Fire Essay, and uses it as a metaphysical hypothesis generator, in order to solve the conflict between staying metaphysically conservative, and unifying physical phenomena under deeper, hidden causes. Please email me if you are interested in reading the draft version. I am presenting this research at the PSA Poster Session at the 2018 meeting. For the poster click here.