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Academic Mathematics in France before 1699

Academic Mathematics in France before 1699

The Initial Founding of the Academy and Its Legacies

(p.43) Chapter 2 Academic Mathematics in France before 1699
Before Voltaire
J.B. Shank
University of Chicago Press

The first of two chapters in Part I, which has as its overall goal to set up the institutional field out of which analytical mechanics was born after 1698. It focuses in particular on the nature of mathematical mechanics as a science in late seventeenth-century Europe, and on the place of this science within the newly founded Académie Royal des Sciences begun in 1666. The two chapters in Part I outline a competing sense of institutional pulls dominating royal academic science in seventeenth-century France, the first “gentlemanly” and "courtly" and the second "utilitarian" and “administrative." Chapter 2 stresses the pull of each at the founding of the academy, but the chapter ultimately stresses the superiority of the first courtly, gentlemanly notion of academic mathematics in the early years of the academy. This created an institutional dynamic that would continue to be influential into the early eighteenth century, shaping the development of analytical mechanics in France.

Keywords:   mechanic, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Académie Royale des Sciences, court monarchy, humanist mathematics, geometric problem solving, mechanical, mechanics

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