In this episode, Haley Brennan speaks with Elliott Chen, New Narratives Post-Doc and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Xavier University starting Fall 2022, about his work on two early modern women philosophers of science: Émilie du Châtelet and Laura Bassi. We talk about du Châtelet’s arguments against essential gravity and Newtonian attraction, and Bassi’s experiments with electricity. We discuss the differences between undertaking a project on a figure like du Châtelet, for whom there is now a growing body of literature, versus a figure like Bassi, who has received almost no philosophical attention. We talk about why it is worth taking on projects on figures like Bassi, how you get going on this kind of project, and the variety of work you can do. This episode is the second in a series of interviews with New Narratives Postdocs, past and present.
Émilie du Châtelet, Foundations of Physics (1740)
Laura Bassi, De acqua corpore naturali element aliorum corporum parte universi (1732, untranslated)
Monique Frize, Laura Bassi and Science in 18th Century Europe: The Extraordinary Life and Role of Italy’s Pioneering Female Professor. Heidelberg, Springer: 2013.
Laura Bassi: The World’s First Woman Professor in Natural Philosophy, edited by Luisa Cifarelli and Raffaella Simili. Cham, Springer: 2020.
Olivia Branscum is a PhD student in Philosophy at Columbia University. She is co-producer of the ENN New Voices podcast