Emilie du Châtelet on the Existence and Nature of God: An Examination of Her Arguments in Light of Their Sources

Many commentators have suggested that the metaphysical portions of Emilie du Châtelet's Institutions de physique are a mere retelling of Leibniz's views. I argue that a close reading of the text shows that du Châtelet's cosmological argument and discussion of God's nature contains both Lockean and Leibnizian elements. I discuss where she follows Locke in her arguments, what Leibnizian elements she brings in, and how this enables her to avoid some of the mistakes commonly attributed to Locke's formulation of the cosmological argument. I show that while du Châtelet accepts the causal principle ex nihilo nihil fit, she does not utilize Locke's stronger causal principle. I also discuss her use of the principle of sufficient reason in both improving the Lockean cosmological argument and in proving the attributes of God
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2011.583420
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