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Chapitre D'ouvrage Année : 2017

The Two Comets of 1664-1665 : A Dispersive Prism for French Natural Philosophy Principles

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Résumé

In November 1664, a comet appeared in the European skies; by early March 1665, it had disappeared, but, at this very moment, another comet appeared, which stayed among the stars until mid-April. Observations of these two comets were made all over Europe, and even beyond. Although most secondary literature dedicated to these two comets has been focused on England and Italy, France was not to be outdone in terms of observations, small talk and publications. In this paper, I would like to use the books that were published on these comets in France as a dispersive prism to understand the ongoing controversies about which principles should be accepted in natural philosophy in the mid-sixties. There were indeed several intellectual and institutional circumstances that gave a specific twist to the French debate: the sixties marked the beginning of the war between Jesuits and Cartesians that was to enflame learned France until the late nineties at least, they were also the period of gestation for the future Académie des sciences, and, finally, it is also during these years that French elites began to discredit systematically the practice of astrology as a popular superstition. My working hypothesis in this paper is that, in such circumstances, the two comets of 1664–1665 were an occasion for each camp to advocate publicly its positions about the proper principles for natural philosophy. By natural philosophical principles, I mean both ontological and epistemological principles.
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  • HAL Id : hal-03750299 , version 1

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Sophie Roux. The Two Comets of 1664-1665 : A Dispersive Prism for French Natural Philosophy Principles. Anstey, Peter R. The Idea of Principles in Early Modern Thought, Routledge, pp.98-146, 2017, 0367884259, 978-0367884253. ⟨hal-03750299⟩
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