Before Voltaire

The French Origins of “Newtonian” Mechanics, 1680-1715

J.B. Shank

Before Voltaire

J.B. Shank

464 pages | 9 halftones, 2 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2017
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226509297 Will Publish March 2018
E-book $55.00 ISBN: 9780226509327 Will Publish March 2018
We have grown accustomed to the idea that scientific theories are embedded in their place and time. But in the case of the development of mathematical physics in eighteenth-century France, the relationship was extremely close. In Before Voltaire, J.B. Shank shows that although the publication of Isaac Newton’s Principia in 1687 exerted strong influence, the development of calculus-based physics is better understood as an outcome that grew from French culture in general.
 
Before Voltaire explores how Newton’s ideas made their way not just through the realm of French science, but into the larger world of society and culture of which Principia was an intertwined part. Shank also details a history of the beginnings of calculus-based mathematical physics that integrates it into the larger intellectual currents in France at the time, including the Battle of the Ancients and the Moderns, the emergence of wider audiences for science, and the role of the newly reorganized Royal Academy of Sciences. The resulting book offers an unprecedented cultural history of one the most important and influential elements of Enlightenment science.
 
Contents
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1. Introduction: Translating Newton

Part I. The Institutional Sources of Analytical Mechanics: Mathematics at the Académie Royale des Sciences in the Late Seventeenth Century
Chapter 2. Academic Mathematics in France before 1699: The Initial Founding of the Academy and Its Legacies
Chapter 3. Academic Mathematics in France before 1699: The Administrative Turn at the Académie Royale des Sciences

Part II. Beyond the Continental Translation of “Newtonian Mechanics”: The Intellectual Roots of Analytical Mechanics
Chapter 4. The Newtonian Sources of Analytical Mechanics
Chapter 5. The New Infinitesimal Calculus and the Leibnizian Origins of Analytical Mechanics
Chapter 6. The Malebranchian Moment in France and the Cultural Origins of Analytical Mechanics

Part III. Making Analytical Mechanics in the New Académie Royale des Sciences, 1692–1715
Chapter 7. The Beginnings of Analytical Mechanics, 1692–98
Chapter 8. Analytical Mechanics within the New Public Academy: First Steps, 1698–1700
Chapter 9. Analytical Mechanics Goes Public: “La Querelle des infiniment petits”
Chapter 10. Managing toward Consensus: Bignon, Fontenelle, and the Creation of the Pax Analytica in France
Chapter 11. Coda: Newton and Mathematical Physics in France in the Twilight of the Sun King

Notes
Index
 
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