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The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of SensibilityScience and the Shaping of Modernity, 1680-1760$
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Stephen Gaukroger

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199594931

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594931.001.0001

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Natural Philosophy and the Republic of Letters

Natural Philosophy and the Republic of Letters

(p.229) 6 Natural Philosophy and the Republic of Letters
The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility

Stephen Gaukroger (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Three developments are explored in this chapter. The first is the attempt by the French Crown to act as absolute arbiter and guardian of standards by means of the institution of various Académies. The second was the gradual appearance of a Republic of Letters in which any claim to a monopoly of judgements of cognitive worth was quickly undermined. Fontenelle was a key player in both these developments. The third was the way in which the rise of Newtonianism in the 1730s threatened the prevalent understanding of natural philosophy and opened up the question of its standing. The crucial figure here was Maupertuis.

Keywords:   Académie des Science, Republic of Letters, Bernard Fontenelle, Pierre Maupertuis, Newtonianism, shape of the earth, Enlightenment

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