Person: Castel, Louis Bertrand
Louis Castel was a French mathematician who was a strong opponent of Newton's philosophy.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Originally from Béarn, a mountainous region of south west France, Guillaume Castel practised as a surgeon in Montpellier.
- Louis was Guillaume's second son.
- Castel, however, was not allowed to be part of a Chinese mission since his superiors decided that his health was not sufficiently good for such a strenuous undertaking and he remained in Toulouse.
- His early writings had been seen by Fontenelle and after his disappointment at failing to get to China, he persuaded Castel to go to Paris.
- Indeed late in 1720 Castel did go to Paris and taught physics and mathematics at the Jesuit school in the rue Saint-Jaques which was later to become the Lycée Louis-le-Grand.
- Castel was never to leave Paris again except for a short visit to the South of France near the end of his life.
- Immediately on arriving in Paris, Castel was appointed as an associate editor of the Journal de Trévoux, remaining on the editorial board of this monthly publication until 1745.
- Castel was a strong opponent of Newton's views on science and he made these views clear in his two volume work Traité de physique sur la pesanteur universelle des corps Ⓣ(A Physical Treatise on universal gravitation) (1724).
- Castel believed that science should be based on logical thought not on experiment.
- Castel's physics was based on reason, not observation.
- There was another reason why Castel opposed Newton.
- Castel's ideas on the accessibility of science were also held by others such as Diderot, a friend of Castel.
- Diderot expressed similar views to Castel in Lettre sur les aveugles Ⓣ(Letter on blindness) (1749) and De l'interprétation de la naturei Ⓣ(On the interpretation of the naturai) (1751).
- Castel's system to replace the theories of Newton did not bring him fame.
- the instrument was completed in July 1754, and on 21 December of the same year Castel gave a private demonstration of it before fifty guests.
- Castel was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1730.
Born 15 November 1688, Montpellier, France. Died 11 January 1757, Paris, France.
View full biography at MacTutor
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive