Between Du Châtelet’s Leibniz Exegesis and Kant’s Early Philosophy: A Study of Their Responses to the vis viva Controversy

in History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis
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  • 1 Georgetown University

This paper examines Du Châtelet’s and Kant’s responses to the famous vis viva controversy – Du Châtelet in her Institutions Physiques (1742) and Kant in his debut, the Thoughts on the True Estimation of Living Forces (1746–49). The Institutions was not only a highly influential contribution to the vis viva controversy, but also a pioneering attempt to integrate Leibnizian metaphysics and Newtonian physics. The young Kant’s evident knowledge of this work has led some to speculate about his indebtedness to her philosophy. My study corrects such speculations as well as misunderstandings of the Living Forces. This corrective result has implications for how to investigate Kant’s relation to the ever-evolving landscape of Leibniz exegeses.

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