In the Spirit of Leibniz – Two Approaches from 1742

  • Hartmut Hecht
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH, volume 205)


In this paper Leibniz’s influence on the early eighteenth century French philosophy of nature will be discussed. The paper focuses on two texts, the “Lettre sur la comète” of Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis and the “Institutions de physique” of Emilie du Châtelet as representative for the interest of French scholars in Leibniz at that time. As it can be seen from the two publications, Leibnitian ideas governed scientific as well as metaphysical discourses. When Maupertuis was primarily inspired by the Leibnitian possible world problem, which he transformed into a kind of scientific methodology, Du Châtelet examined the principles of contradiction and sufficient reason as fundamental for a systematic reconstruction of a metaphysical base of science. It will be demonstrated that the different approaches to draw a line from Leibniz to early eighteenth century problems paved the way for unique and distinctive metaphysical solutions in Du Châtelet and Maupertuis as well. These solutions have to be understood as first steps to redefine the relationship between metaphysics and science under the condition of Newtonian physics.


Incline Plane Sufficient Reason Reflection Point Scientific Methodology Analysis Situs 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Berlin Brandenburgische Akademie der WissenschaftenBerlinGermany

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