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Privat de Molières, Joseph

1. Dates
Born: Tarascon, 1677
Died: Paris, 12 May 1742
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 65
2. Father
Occupation: Aristocrat
He was born into a prominent Provencal family.
No information on financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: French
Career: French
Death: French
4. Education
Schooling: Religous Order
He showed an early aptitude for philosophical and scientific studies and received an excellent education at Oratorian schools (he was a member of the order) at Aix, Marseilles, Arles, and, finally, Angers, where he studied under the mathematician Charles-René Reyneau during 1698-1699. I take this to have been at least the equivalent of a B.A.
Some time after 1704 he began to study mathematics and metaphysics with Malebranche and continued until 1715.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic
Upon the death of his elder brother, his family looked to him to carry on the family affairs. Against his family's wishes he embraced an ecclesiastical life. He entered the Congregation of the Oratory around 1699.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Physics, Mathematics, Natural Philosophy
A major figure in the protracted struggle against the importation of Newtonian science into France, he devoted his career to developing and improving Cartesian physics. In the Mémoires of the Académie and in several entries of the Journal de Trevoux, Privat presented his emended Cartesian program. His Lecons de mathematiques (1726) explained and demonstrated the principles of algebra and calculus in a well-ordered fashion. The following work, Lecons de physique (1734-1739), appeared in four volumes and was the published version of his lectures at the Collège Royal.
Privat offered a vortex hypothesis that was intended to be a reconciliation between Cartesian and Newtonian ideas. He even extended his system to explain electrical and chemical phenomena. With his emended Cartesian program, Privat hoped to incorporate Newtonian calculations and techniques which would lead to agreement between theoretical findings and experimental and observational data.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Academia, Government
Secondary: Church Life
About 1699 he entered the Congregation of the Oratory and taught at the order's colleges at Saumur, Juilly, and Soissons but left in 1704 to pursue a more active scientific career in Paris.
He entered the Académie in 1721.
In 1723 he succeeded Varignon in the chair of philosophy at the Collège Royal.
8. Patronage
Type: Unknown
My general princile is that someone had to stand behind any university appointment, and also an appointment to the Académie.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: Académie Royal des Sciences, 1721-42; Royal Society, 1729-42
1721-9, adjoint mecanicien in Académie.
1729-42, associé in Académie.
  1. Jean-Jacques Dortous de Mairan, Éloges des académiciens de l'Académie royale des sciences, morts dans le années 1742, 1742, 1743, (Paris, 1747), 201-234. Microprint Q111 L2 no.48 F. Hoefer, ed., Nouvelle biographie générale, 35, (Paris, 1861), 887-9. CT143.H6 RF
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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