◀ ▲ ▶History / 18th-century / Person: Castillon, Johann Francesco Melchiore Salvemini
Person: Castillon, Johann Francesco Melchiore Salvemini
Johann Castillon was an Italian mathematician and astronomer who wrote on the cardioid.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Johann Castillon was named Giovanni Francesco Melchiore Salvemini and was known by that name until he was over thirty years of age.
- As a young man Castillon was irreligious.
- Castillon taught at Vevey, a town on the north shore of Lake Geneva, where he became the director of the humanistic school.
- Up to this time Castillon had been an atheist, but in 1744 he became a Calvinist.
- Also in 1745 he published the correspondence between Johann Bernoulli and Gottfried Leibniz; then in 1748 he published the Introductio in analysin infinitorum auctore Leonhardo Eulero, the treatise by Euler which he had edited.
- Between 1749 and 1751 Castillon taught both at Lausanne and also at Bern.
- This proved a difficult decision for Castillon and he took several months to make up his mind.
- He obtained a doctorate from Utrecht in 1754, being advised by Johannes Horthemels, and Castillon became an ordinary professor of mathematics and philosophy there in 1755.
- Three years later Castillon became rector of the University.
- During these years Castillon had received a number of distinctions being made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and a member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, both in 1753.
- Castillon replied to Rousseau in Réponse Ⓣ(Response), giving his own defence of progress and modern civility.
- Published in Amsterdam in 1756, Castillon's work was addressed to Maupertuis, as President of the Berlin Academy of Science.
- Castillon opposed the views of Rousseau and his supporters, favouring the ideas of thinkers of the English Enlightenment.
- James Boswell, the famous Scottish lawyer, diarist, and author, travelled in Holland in October 1763 and met with Castillon in Utrecht on several occasions.
- Boswell recounts a number of incidents which give us some insight into Castillon at this time.
- Monsieur Castillon said so, after having lived in Utrecht for several years.
- Boswell and Castillon discussed free will while in Utrecht.
- In 1763 Frederick the Great, the King of Prussia, invited Castillon to Berlin offering him the position of professor of mathematics at the Artillery School.
- Also in that year Castillon, on the personal recommendation of Frederick the Great, was elected to the Mathematics Section of the Berlin Academy of Science.
- When Boswell was with Castillon in Utrecht in October 1763 it was already known that he would be moving to Berlin in the following year.
- In July 1764 Boswell was in Berlin and there met up again with Castillon who took him to a meeting of the Berlin Academy of Science.
- Castillon gave me no bad answer to this.
- In 1765 Frederick the Great named Castillon 'Royal Astronomer' at the Berlin Observatory.
- At this time Castillon was appointed Director of the Mathematics Section, a role he kept until his death.
- This problem was posed by Gabriel Cramer and solved by Castillon in 1776.
- Finally let us examine the rather puzzling question about Castillon's religious beliefs.
- In 1774 Castillon published his translation of the English translation (yes - it was a translation of a translation) by Charles Blount of Philostratus's Life of Apollonius of Tyane.
- This was an extremely anti-Christian work and seen as such at the time that Castillon translated it.
- By 1774 Castillon was working for Frederick the Great who believed in rational argument and was sceptical of religious beliefs.
- It is also possible that once he went to Berlin, Castillon was influenced by Leonhard Euler who was a very devout Christian.
Born 15 January 1708, Castiglione, Tuscany (now Italy). Died 11 October 1791, Berlin (now Germany).
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Italy
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive