Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Man Who Flattened the EarthMaupertuis and the Sciences in the Enlightenment$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Mary Terrall

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780226793603

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226793627.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

Teleology, Cosmology, and Least Action

Teleology, Cosmology, and Least Action

(p.270) 9 Teleology, Cosmology, and Least Action
The Man Who Flattened the Earth
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses Maupertuis's mature formulation of a teleological mechanics as the basis for a rationalist theology and a proof for God's existence. When Voltaire rather perversely entered the polemic in defense of König, the dispute became a full-blown literary quarrel, involving the Prussian king as well as the Berlin Academy. At stake in this apparent priority dispute were honor and reputation, certainly, but also the credibility of mechanics based on the principle of least action. In the aftermath of this bitter controversy, Maupertuis returned to the problems of generation and heredity, extending his earlier speculations on active matter and organization. Furthermore, this chapter argues that convincing proofs for God's existence must come instead from the general laws of nature. Such are the laws of motion “founded on the attributes of a supreme Intelligence.”

Keywords:   teleology, cosmology, teleological mechanics, Berlin academy, nature, God's existence

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.