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Journal Articles Jahrbuch für Europäische Wissenschaftskultur Year : 2008

D'Alembert : construction d'une identité scientifique au XVIIIe siècle

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Irène Passeron
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Abstract

D‘Alembert, as well as being the co-editor of the Encyclopédie with Diderot, a distinguished member of Paris Royal Academy of Science, and perpetual secretary of the French Academy, is also a „bastard“ without father or property („nec pater, nec res“). The encyclopedist has widely contributed to define the independency of man of letters (Essai sur les gens de lettres et les grands) and the qualities of the scientific author. D‘Alembert has built the scientific Persona through his best-known texts („Discours préliminaire“ of the Encyclopédie,entries „Erudition“, „Géomètre“) and nowadays less-known ones (eulogies of the members of the French Academy). One can also find this construction in D‘Alembert‘s account of his life, written around 1771 at the height of his academic glory, and unpublished during his lifetime. In this text, D‘Alembert stages his own career, and thus enhances the links between scientific production, social legitimity and relationship with the Great. He resumes the self-description of the virtous scientist he made in his account in the „Eloges“, especially in the first one delivered in 1774, about Massillon. One can endeavour to explore the system of tensions between men of letters and the Great, between science and religion, that these texts enact, in the context of social identities in construction.
D'Alembert (1717-1783), co-éditeur avec Diderot de l'Encyclopédie, membre influent de l'Académie royale des sciences, secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie française (à partir de 1772) est aussi un bâtard non reconnu officiellement (« nec pater nec res ») qui a largement contribué, d'une part à la construction d'une représentation de l'homme de lettres indépendant (Essai sur les gens de lettres et les grands, 1753), d'autre part à la définition des attributs de l'auteur scientifique...
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Dates and versions

hal-00361470 , version 1 (21-02-2009)
hal-00361470 , version 2 (30-03-2009)

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  • HAL Id : hal-00361470 , version 2

Cite

Irène Passeron. D'Alembert : construction d'une identité scientifique au XVIIIe siècle. Jahrbuch für Europäische Wissenschaftskultur, 2008, Bd. 4, p. 11-34. ⟨hal-00361470v2⟩
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