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The Beginnings of Analytical Mechanics, 1692–98

The Beginnings of Analytical Mechanics, 1692–98

(p.185) Chapter 7 The Beginnings of Analytical Mechanics, 1692–98
Before Voltaire
J.B. Shank
University of Chicago Press

After Part I (Chapters 2-3), which examined the wider social and institutional field of French mathematics in and around the Académie Royale des Sciences in the late seventeenth century, and Part II (chapters 4-6), which explored the role of Newton's Principia (Chapter 4), Leibniz's infinitesimal calculus (Chapter 5), and the broad intellectual and cultural influence of Malebranchianism in France around 1700 in the genesis of analytical mechanics, Part III (Chapters 7-10) dives into the detailed history of the origination, contests over, and eventual institutionalization of analytical mechanics as an established French academic science between 1692 and 1715. This chapter begins Part II by looking at the earliest steps toward what Varignon called his "new science of motion," namely his first efforts to deploy the Leibnizian calculus to re-conceive the mathematical mechanics of moving bodies. In particular, it looks at the initial reception of the new infinitesimal calculus in the Royal Academy, and the initial contests over it in the context of the new academy reforms initiated by the Pontchartrain ministry via the activities of Jean-Paul Bignon after 1692. It also explores the way that the new structures of academic science emergent at the time shaped these early debates.

Keywords:   Pierre Varignon, Marquis Guillaume de l'Hôpital, Johann Bernoulli, Vincenzo Viviani, Phillipe de la Hire, Joseph Saveur, Thomas Fante de Lagny, Ancients versus Moderns, Michel Rolle, analyse des infiniments petits pour l'intelligence des lignes courbes

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