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Du Châtelet, Emilie, , . Discourse on Happiness
2009, Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings, ed. with an Introduction by Judith P. Zinsser, transl. by Isabelle Bour, Judith P. Zinsser, Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 349–365.
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Abstract: It is commonly believed that it is difficult to be happy, and there is much reason for such a belief; but it would be much easier for men to be happy if reflecting on and planning conduct preceded action. One is carried along by circumstances and indulges in hopes that never yield half of what one expects. Finally, one clearly perceives the means to be happy only when age and self- imposed fetters put obstacles in one’s way.

Comment: This accessible 18th century text lays out a hedonistic theory of happiness with interesting parallels to Epicureanism.

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Du Châtelet, Emilie, , . On Freedom
2020, Online Translation by Julia Jorati, with the help of Julie Roy; based on “Sur la liberté,” in Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, vol. 14, edited by William H. Barber, 484–502. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1989.
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Abstract: The question of freedom is the most interesting question we could examine, since one can say that all of morality depends on this single question. Something so interesting justifies departing from my subject a little bit in order to enter this discussion, and to put here in front of the reader’s eyes the main objections that people make against freedom, so that he can judge for himself their soundness.

Comment: This is an English translation of Emilie Du Châtelet’s “Sur la liberté.” This 18th century text discusses freedom of the will, determinism, and divine foreknowledge.

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Émilie du Châtelet, , . Foundations of Physics
2009, Selected Philosophical and Scientific Writings, ed. with an Introduction by Judith P. Zinsser, transl. by Isabelle Bour, Judith P. Zinsser, Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 115-200
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Abstract: I have always thought that the most sacred duty of men was to give their children an education that prevented them at a more advanced age from regretting their youth, the only time when one can truly gain instruction. You are, my dear son, in this happy age when the mind begins to think, and when the heart has passions not yet lively enough to disturb it.
Now is perhaps the only time of your life that you will devote to the study of nature. Soon the passions and pleasures of your age will occupy all your moments; and when this youthful enthusiasm has passed, and you have paid to the intoxication of the world the tribute of your age and rank, ambition will take possession of your soul; and even if in this more advanced age, which often is not any more mature, you wanted to apply yourself to the study of the true Sciences, your mind then no longer having the flexibility characteristic of its best years, it would be necessary for you to purchase with painful study what you can learn today with extreme facility. So, I want you to make the most of the dawn of your reason; I want to try to protect you from the ignorance that is still only too common among those of your rank, and which is one more fault, and one less merit.
You must early on accustom your mind to think, and to be self-sufficient. You will perceive at all the times in your life what resources and what consolations one finds in study, and you will see that it can even furnish pleasure and delight.

Comment: Introduces the conception of scientific revolution and compares it to political revolutions. A quick introduction for undergraduates can be found at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-revolutions/#SciRevTopForHisSci and, more generally, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emilie-du-chatelet/.

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Jorati, Julia, , . Du Châtelet on Freedom, Self-Motion, and Moral Necessity
2019, Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (2):255-280
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati

Abstract: This paper explores the theory of freedom that Emilie du Châtelet advances in her essay “On Freedom.” Using contemporary terminology, we can characterize this theory as a version of agent-causal compatibilism. More specifically, the theory has the following elements: (a) freedom consists in the power to act in accordance with one’s choices, (b) freedom requires the ability to suspend desires and master passions, (c) freedom requires a power of self-motion in the agent, and (d) freedom is compatible with moral necessity but not with physical necessity. While these elements may at first appear disparate, the paper shows that they fit together quite well. The resulting theory is a surprising combination of doctrines that appear to be based on Samuel Clarke’s libertarian account of free will and doctrines that are reminiscent of the compatibilist accounts of John Locke, Anthony Collins, Gottfried Leibniz, and Thomas Hobbes.

Comment: Gives an overview of Du Châtelet’s views on freedom of the will; can be useful to someone who wants to teach Du Châtelet’s essay “On Freedom”

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