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\'Emilie du Ch\^atelet and Euler: A Rare Convergence on the Hypotheses of Physics

Dora Musielak
Dec 2022
摘要
Euler stressed the importance of hypotheses, which he thought were the onlymeans of arriving at a certain knowledge of the physical causes, essential toestablish the laws of physics. This thought was communicated to \'Emilie duCh\^atelet in response to hers when she debated the nature of forces, defendingvis viva. In this paper, I examine the topics Euler discussed and place them ina context with the scientific and philosophical research of the seventeenth andeighteenth centuries that sought to establish the principles of nature. Thesource of this analysis centers on a fragment of an undated letter addressed toCh\^atelet discovered in the archives of the Leningrad Archive of the SovietAcademy of Sciences, a piece which has received little attention. Albeitincomplete, the Euler-Ch\^atelet correspondence is historically and culturallyimportant because the ideas addressed are part of the knowledge base of thedevelopment of physics, mathematics, and natural philosophy.
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