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"There Was no such Thing as the 'Newtonian Revolution,' and the French Initiated it." Eighteenth-century Mechanics in France before Maupertuis

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Two linked arguments are offered in this paper. The first half argues that I.B. Cohen's notion of the "Newtonian Revolution" in mechanics needs to be revised in light of the recent historical work of Michel Blay, Henk Bos, and Niccolò Guicciardini. It further suggests a new way of thinking about the history of French mathematical mechanics in the decades around 1700 that follows as a consequence of these historical revisions. The second half of the paper builds upon these revisions by offering a cultural explanation for the particularly French approach to mechanics that was developed after 1690. Specifically, it suggests that the broad circulation and influence of the philosophy of Nicolas Malebranche in France between 1680 and 1715 exemplifies the ways that French culture contributed to the development of its particular approach to mechanics.

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/content/journals/10.1163/1573382042176263
2004-08-01
2016-12-07

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