« Manuscrit de Mr Dangicourt » : système métaphysique néantiste d’un disciple de Leibniz

Timo Kaitaro

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7557/4.2759

Keywords

Pierre Dangicourt; Leibniz; infinitesimal calculus; incommensurability; clandestine philosophical manuscripts; materialism; freethinking

Abstract

Dangicourt’s Manuscript: The metaphysical system of nothingness from a disciple of Leibniz

The collection of clandestine philosophical manuscripts at the Helsinki University Library contains, among other typical seventeenth and early eighteenth century texts, an exchange of letters between Pierre Dangicourt and Alphonse Des Vignoles (1725−1726). Both belong to the circle of thinkers close to the Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Starting from some mathematical conjectures concerning the incommensurability of the sides and the diagonal of a geometrical square, Dangicourt develops a metaphysical system according to which ‘original material’ (la matière originale) of the universe is ‘nothingness’ (néant) and criticises the view according to which the universe consists of extended and existing composite parts. Des Vignoles presents a criticism of Dangicourt’s ideas. In a letter to Dangicourt, Leibniz also presents criticisms of Dangcourt’s system by insisting on the fictional nature of mathematical abstractions.

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