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How to become a philosophical capital in Europe

A Regime of philosophical admiration ? Cultural uses of sociability in seventeenth century Paris

Stéphane Van Damme

Ce texte est mis à la disposition du projet ENBaCH (European Network for Baroque Cultural Heritage)

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Notes de la rédaction

Paper given at the Society for French Historical Studies, Paris Conference, June 2004. I would like to thank Paul Cohen the convenor of the panel.
Draft paper – not quote without author’s permission

Texte intégral

1At the eve of the French Revolution, the polygraph Louis Sebastien Mercier in a chapter of his book Tableau de Paris (1782-1788), entitled Patrie du vrai philosophe could describe the social situation of philosophers in Paris in the following terms :

  • 1  Quotations in L.-Sébastien Mercier, Tableau de Paris, Paris, 1782-1788, vol. 1, p. 14 et vol. VII, (...)

C’est dans les grandes villes que le Philosophe lui-même se plaît ; tout en les condamnant ; parce qu’il y cache mieux qu’ailleurs sa médiocre fortune ; parce qu’il n’a pas du moins à en rougir ; parce qu’il y vit plus libre, noyé dans la foule ; parce qu’il y trouve de l’égalité dans la confusion des rangs ; parce qu’il y peut choisir son monde1.

2In another chapter,on the “ Posterity of the true philosophers ” he added :

Vous ne la trouverez, cette rare postérité, que dans les murs de la Capitale. Là sont cachés une foule d’hommes aimables et instruits, qui partagent leur temps entre les douceurs de la société et l’étude, qui jouissent de tous les arts, qui vivent tranquilles dans un loisir ingénieux. Allez les voir, allez les entendre ; ils possèdent la raison dans toute sa pureté, la raison accompagnée des bienséances.

  • 2  For a presentation of the historiographical issues on history of intellectual sociability, see S.  (...)
  • 3  On metropolitan culture, see D. Garrioch, The Making of Revolutionary Paris, Berkeley, University (...)

3In this abstract, Paris is portrayed as a philosophical capital by excellence, and the Parisian philosopher torn between his studious solitude and his aptitude for polite sociability2. However, this social representation of philosophical knowledge is far from being natural at the end of the seventeenth century but rather seems to be the result of a long process of identification between Parisian elites and modern philosophy. The production of philosophical knowledge (natural philosophy, metaphysics, ethics, logics, and so on) emerged as an increasingly complex range of experiences where mobility, practices of crossing and interaction troubled the localism of many assumptions about urban culture in the Old Regime. This essay asks what is at stake in the socialization of complex knowledge as modern philosophy in the transformation of customary and local culture into a metropolitan culture. This transformation involved new forms of sociability adopted by Parisian elites3.

Tracking new forms of learned sociability

  • 4  D. Lux, “ The Reorganization of Science : 1450-1700 ”, in Bruce T. Moran, éd., Patronage and Insti (...)
  • 5  L. Brockliss, “ Aristote, Descartes and the New Science : natural Philosophy at the University of (...)

4Let us come back on the signification of the philosophical sociability for the learned people at the middle of the seventeenth century in Paris. Before the creation of the Royal Academy of Science in 1666, the circulation of philosophy within the Parisian space was fostered in a landscape including university and colleges, princely courts (Louvre, Jardin du roi, etc…), noble networks and artisanal workshops. For a long time, the birth of new forms of sociability has been considered by historians as a mechanical consequence of the scientific Revolution and of an institutional organization4. Against a hierarchical and controlled diffusion of philosophical knowledge by the university5 and its colleges, the circulation through sites of sociability introduced three main transformations in the production and circulation of philosophy in Paris.

From long-distance networks to short urban networks

  • 6  H. Brown, Scientific organizations in Seventeenth Century France (1620-1680), New York, 1934.
  • 7  D. Haycock et G. S. Rousseau, “ Voices calling for reform : the Royal Society in the mid-Eighteent (...)
  • 8  D.J. Sturdy, Science and social status, the members of the Académie des Sciences, 1666-1750, Woodb (...)

5First of all, the constitution of sites of knowledge is largely dependant of the existence of a new articulation of long-distance networks of the Republic of Letters with short urban networks. It is necessary to investigate the social networks that sustained philosophical knowledge in Paris and made it possible, within the urban space, to move from isolated initiatives to aggregated practices localised by the constitution of short networks within the capital. Even if exchanges of correspondence letters carried on to be held by a few of single and individual, scattered actors in France, like Father Mersenne in Paris, Descartes in Low countries, Fabri de Peiresc in Aix, Pierre Fermat in Toulouse, Gui Patin in Paris, Ismael Boulieau, Graindorge and Huet in Caen, the Family Spon in Lyon, more and more philosophical problems have been evoked within the urban society through the activity of informal intellectual circles. Between the 1630 and 1670, there were numerous intellectual circles in Paris at that time (Mersenne’s Circle in the 1630 and 1640’s or the Conference of the Bureau d’adresses of Theophraste Renaudot or the Academy of the physicist Bourdelot, l’academie de Habert de Montmort, le cercle du duke of Liancourt, les conferences du president Lamoignon6). And by this way the forms of sociability tended to fix a new parisian economy of knowledge. The Larry Stewart’s classical work on London has demonstrated how during the first decades of the eighteenth century, the diffusion of mathematical treatises intended for seamen gave rise to circles of reception anchored in the coffee houses situated near Saint Paul’s Cathedral. In Paris, certain figures like Theophraste Renaudot, Claude Clerselier, Jacques Rohault, Claude Perrault, and Jean-Baptiste Du Hamel7 personally supervised the constitution of powerful local networks by turning to a variety of institutions where kinds of specific knowledge are encouraged. In a way, this new understanding of the ways in which elites were mobilised locally are compatible with interpretations of the novel political and cultural representations of the Paris centre. The dynamics of localization of knowledge are also considered as the reflect of controversies and disputes. Hence, the creation of the Royal Academy of Science could be reread as an association between the representative of intellectual circles and patronages on one hand and philosophical tendencies (Cartesian, gassendists, epicurian, etc.) on the other : Gallois et Perrault are clients of Colbert, Carcavi has served duke of Liancourt, Pecquet was bound to Fouquet, Du Hamel to the archbishop of Paris, Bourdelin and Marchant were in the court of Gaston d’Orléans, and Cureau de la Chambre was closed to chancelor Séguier8. In opposition to the long networks of the Republic of Letters, this study reveals short networks within cities which bind together several actors and institutions, and which help to invest scientific practices with newfound legitimacy.

Itinerant philosophers or localized practices ?

  • 9  Suzanne Grillot, “ Picard observateur ”, in G. Picolet (dir.), Jean Picard et les débuts de l’astr (...)
  • 10  P. de Carbonnières, Lutèce, Paris ville romaine, Paris, Gallimard, 1997, p. 16.

6Secondly, the passage from a network representation to local representation of the philosophical practices put forward the opposition between the itinerant philosophers and sedentary ones. At the middle of the century, the great “enclosure” of scientific activity is not yet complete, and many of scientific practices required a mobility within the urban space. The Parisian space is also considered as a scientific territory for measurement, geodesic practices or natural history. The abbot Jean Picard settled his astronomical instruments in the four corners of Paris before being located in the Royal observatory. Between January 1666 and july 1673, he set up his instruments near the city gate of Montmartre, but also in Passy or rue de la Poste or rue Vivienne9. Paris continued to be for a long time, the living laboratory for botanist and mineralogist, or archeologists like Henri Sauval (1623-1676) who comments in his Histoire et recherches des antiquites de la ville de Paris, some archeological discoveries in 1651 and 165410. Some historians of scientific sociability have posited a theory of local knowledge which privileges the ethnographic conversation, the local interaction, and the tacit social knowledge built by the elites in cultural institutions. Both representations of sociability in terms of face to face conversation and in terms of institutionalization, contributed to erase the materiality of experience of knowledge and practices of mobility which characterized broadly the philosophical activity in the seventeenth century. Paris emerged as a fieldwork as well as an object of investigation of scientific practices.

Secret versus publicity ?

7Thirdly, the new forms of sociability underline a tension between two regimes of recognition of knowledge based on secret and publicity. The first one is mentioned by Descartes when he visited Arnaud in 1648. Descartes opposed sociability to the transparency of the correspondence :

  • 11  Lettre à Arnaud, 29 juillet 1648, AT, 5, p. 219, cité par J.-M. Beyssade, “ Philosopher par lettre (...)

Ayant reçu ces jours passés des objections comme de la part d’une personne qui demeurait en cette ville, j’y ai répondu fort brièvement parce que je croyais que si j’oubliais quelque chose, l’entretien le pourrait facilement réparer ; mais aujourd’hui que je sais qu’il est absent, puisqu’il prend la peine de me récrire, je ne serai pas paresseux à lui répondre : et puisqu’il ne veut pas dire son nom, de peur de faillir dans l’inscription, je m’abstiendrai de tout prélude11.

8The second one concerned the affirmation of the cultural printing market in the definition of philosophical knowledge. Against the traditional component of public understanding of philosophy marked by orality and dispute, textbooks and commentaries, the new order of books introduced numerous shifts : typographical visibility of the text (invention of alinea, for ibstance) ; new conditions of privilege (for Descartes for instance), new definitions of audiences related with the use of vernacular languages. The use of collective publishing texts such as the genre of Conferences academiques by Gallois, Renaudot and Bourdelot was a way through which these circles ‘went public’. But the signification of this public visibility remains ambivalent for the actors themselves. On the one hand, these books gave a public diffusion of discussions, experiments, disputes which were recorded in the scholars’ private correspondence. On the other hand, we have to keep as well clearly in sight the resistance to this new paradigm. Transparency was not automatically considered as a norm in the world of learning deeply influenced by the libertin strategies of dissimulation and protestant and jansenist persecution. Descartes built himself the opposition between space and places, between cosmopolitism and localism, between fruitful solitude and negative sociability in a letter to his friend Chanut in 1646 :

  • 12  AT, IV, p. 378.

Je me plains de ce que le monde est trop grand, à raison du peu d’honnestes gens qui s’y trouvent : je voudrois bien qu’ils fussent tous assemblez en une ville, et alors je serois bien aise de quitter mon hermitage, pour aller vivre avec eux, s’ils me vouloient recevoir en leur compagnie. Car encore que je fuie la multitude, à cause de la quantité des impertinens et des importuns qu’on y rencontre, je ne laisse pas de penser que le plus grand bien de la vie et de jouir de la conversation des personnes qu’on estime12.

9Before the setting of the royal institutions, philosophers, men of science were aware of the ambivalent role of the sociability to diffuse their knowledge. It is now widely understood that the old localizing strategies may obscure as much as they reveal. The central role for the philosopher in polite society remained rather more an aspiration than a substantial reality in the seventeenth century Paris.

Polite society, tribunal for credibility or parody of science : towards a regime of philosophical admiration

  • 13  S. Shapin, Social History of Truth, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1997.
  • 14  M. Biagioli, « Scientific Revolution, Bricolage and Etiquette », in Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich ( (...)
  • 15  For an explanation of point of passage, see B. Latour, Science in action, Harward, Harward Univers (...)
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10The historiography of Science has put the emphasis recently on the role of the practices of sociability to give credit and values to the scientific production13. The respect of “etiquettes’ of court society or the celebration of the gentleman of science framed the success of experimental science and philosophy14. It seems to me particularly important to return to the key question which is to locate precisely the role of a wide range of sociability on a general economy of knowledge in a metropolitan context. By focusing attention on these “points of passage15” like academies, salons, converzatione, conferences, the enquiry opens up the institutional history of science to history of socialization of science. Cartesianism, for instance, has always shown a capacity for mobilizing far beyond the expected circles. Beginning in the 1670s, its diffusion was noted in spheres (salons, academies, lectures, etc.) beyond the learned institutions being created like the new Royal Academy of Sciences, even if the latter became increasingly receptive to Cartesian ideas in the final two decades of the seventeenth century16. Through the case study of cartesianism, let us to point out two features.

Parisian aristocratic patronage, a culture of judgement

  • 17  M. Biagioli, “ Scientific etiquette and social bricolage… ”, op. cit.
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11As Mario Biagioli has demonstrated for Leopold of Medici, the princely patronage of the scientific activity in Florence can be seen as model for experimentation with practices of evaluation17. In Paris, Prince Louis II de Condé became one of the protectors of the cartesian’s philosophy within the Academy directed by the Abbé Bourdelot. The Prince de Condé also invited Régis and Malebranche to his retreat at Chantilly18. The Cardinal de Retz was another protector of the Cartesian cause who deployed Descartes. Beginning in 1675, the Benedictine Dom Robert Desgabets sponsored a Cartesian circle at the Chateau of Commercy19. In his hotel on the rue de Seine and above all in his castle near Paris, the Duke of Liancourt played the role of patron (1669-1674)20. A friend of Théophile de Viau, he had been a protector of Corneille. The poet Gomberville became one of his intimates. A Jansenist, he played an active part in theological debates.

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12What does this aristocratic protection signify ? From a political point of view, the association of Cartesian philosophy with the princes of the blood, and with Liancourt and Condé in particular, amounted to a strategy of scientific patronage which went royal authority. Katia Beguin has demonstrated clearly the nature of Prince Louis II de Condé’s protection of the Cartesians of doctor Bourdelot’s Academy, like Jacques Rohault, René Fédé (1639-1712), editor of the third edition of the Méditations métaphysiques of 1673, Pierre-Sylvain Régis and Géraud de Cordemoy, author of the Dissertations physiques du corps et de l’âme, published posthumously in 1689. The success of this circle derives from the paradox of the State’s patronage which, by its very control of intellectual activity limited its hegemonic vocation21,

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[...] princely patronage offered a solution full of hope, a possible stepping-stone and always appreciable assistance against criticism, exclusion or disfavor22.

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13If Cartesianism was not socially marginalized, it was politically with regards to royal authority. Many of those refused by the Academy of Sciences found themselves enrolled in the Academy of Bourdelot, like the physicist Jean de Hautefeuille23. But preventive censorship transformed the prince into a veritable intellectual arbiter who validated and certified the process of publishing knowledge. It is no coincidence to find in princely correspondence the recurrence of the Medicean model and of the Accademia del Cimento. In a letter addressed to Francesco Redi24, Ferdinand II de Médicis’ official doctor, and which was eventually published, Bourdelot insisted on the participation of the prince in the circle’s activities. The prince “ derives the greatest pleasure in the world from all the curiosities of physics ”25. As concerns the generalization of gratitude, the integration into the princely orbit and into its practices of sociability combined the advantages of familial connections which had initially permitted a sharing of common criteria, the rapid constitution of common, positive representations of Cartesian philosophy, and the advantages of scientific patronage, by locating it within more general forms of judgment and evaluation. While the first efforts obliged Cartesian philosophy to generalize little by little, calling upon local reference points and interactions between individuals, the academic institution made it possible to deal with this philosophy in public. Early efforts made it impossible to free this philosophy from an interpersonal conception of its dissemination, while latter efforts represented a shift towards activities involving criticism, explanation, judgment and justification26.

the polite use of philosophy

14In a rare process, by surpassing the limits of aristocratic sociability, by moving into princely circles, Cartesian philosophy became a truly cultural phenomenon during the seventeenth Century. First, Cartesianism was integrated into noble educational practices. Thus, Rohault, the Prince de Conti’s tutor, and Jacques Sauveur, the Duke d’Enghien’s tutor, contributed to this aristocratic passion for Cartesian physics. The Prince de Condé’s Jesuit tutors led the way in teaching Cartesianism. In January 1684, the Jesuit father Du Rosel spoke of the philosophical education of the young Duke d’Enghien :

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We continue to examine the questions of place and space. We read what the Principes of Descartes have to say on this subject, and what they can contribute to an understanding of the difference between the old and the new Philosophy27.

15One year later, he wrote :

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Mr. de La Bruyère continued to explain Descartes, yesterday and in the morning Mr. Sauveur that of geometry28.

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16References to Descartes circulated throughout polite social circles: well-known Cartesians included the Countess de Grignan29, the Marquise de Sablé30, and the Duchess du Maine. Madame Sablé organized in her home in 1663 lectures on Calvinism as well as physics experiments. When Rohault invented his glass tubes for the purpose of conducting the barometric experiments that Pascal had brought into fashion, the Marsquis de Sourdis wrote him on the subject. People took position for or against and they read Descartes’ Pensées sur les opinions. Cartesianism permeated the ruelles and the salon sociability of the mid-seventeenth century31. It became a polite phenomenon, as a great number of commentaries penned by the Marquise de Sévigné demonstrate. Descartes was thus transformed into a fictional personage who inhabited literary writings. The works of Valentin Conrart include literary games based on the philosopher. One poem is addressed from “ Descartes to Mademoiselle de la Vigne ”, and the latter responds : “ Lavinie to M. Descartes ”, concerning the appearance of a ghost : “ What ! You appear to me, illustrious and learned ghost !32 ”. This dialogue set in the hereafter, this ghostly game, was characteristic of celebrations of libertines during the seventeenth century. These selections, appended to the Relation de la mort de M. descartes, the philosopher, by Mademoiselle Descartes, in the Recueil de vers choisis, were published by the Jesuit father Dominique Bouhours in 169333. A shift thus took place between philosophical and scholarly greatness to literary glory, albeit an impure glory not entirely devoit of critics or scandal.

  • 34  G. Sutton, Science for Polite Society : Gender, Culture and the Demonstration of Enlightenment, Bo (...)

17Long held to be anecdotic, the displacement of the history of philosophy onto the field of aristocratic sociability should contribute to take into account the common practices of evaluation. In order to fully understand the power of new philosophy, it is necessary to consider the complex networks of local alliances in Paris34.

Hauts-lieux : the production of philosophical urban identity

18Far from describing a repertory of philosophical lieux de mémoire, the hypothesis is finally to measure the social and cultural effect of the large social recognition of the new philosophy on the definition of capital representation itself. A wide range of discourses, polemics and fictions naturalise Paris as a philosophical capital by repeatedly offering representations of a Parisian space structured around sites of knowledge including great libraries and cabinets of curiosities, as well as in aristocratic sociability. The transformation of local identities defined by a customary culture according to David Garrioch’s term, to a metropolitan culture could be based also on the capture of global and universal knowledge. The conversion of philosophy into symbolic representations does not result in a simple accumulation of sociability, local interactions and of facilities. We must therefore reinterpret the notion of hauts lieux by giving it a dynamic and conflictual dimension and to take into account the specific actions of certain networks which both participate in the territorialisation of philosophical activity in Paris as well as proclaim their membership within a universal Republic. A triple process is remarkable to understand the “ global production of locality ” (Appadurai)

Conflicts of territory

  • 35  See the analysis of Dinah Ribard, Vivre, raconter, mourir : Histoire de philosophes, Paris, Vrin-E (...)

19First, we can observe that knowledge little by little becomes “ territorialized ”, not only through the constitution of sites of knowledge within the urban space, but also through the multiple actions of social groups animated by often diverging interests and practices who appropriate knowledge and invest them with novel social recognition. Finally, it is necessary to analyse the importance of the localisation of scientific activity within the urban space, particularly in territorial and legal terms. The examination of all the territorial conflicts between different institutions of knowledge (schools, universities, academies, corporations) around the new philosophy in Paris underlines the importance of these debates concerning the limits and frontiers of knowledge, which are often understood as frontiers between different institutional spaces. Here, we can evoke all the debates concerning teaching in the philosophical faculty as well as the very lively debates between the University of Paris and the Jesuit college, quarrels around the experimental teaching of Jacques Rohault which involves the archbishop of Paris, Francois de Champ-vallon in 1671 or with philosophy teachers like Claude Irson, master of grammar who taught without authorization philosophy in 1670’s35. Beyond juridical procedures, controversies pointed out the role of Paris as a tribunal of philosophy. The designation of “ messieurs de Paris ” as an authoritative tribunal named in the correspondence of Hobbes a polemic figure rather a real place.

Urban rituals

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20Secondly, some episodes concerning the celebration of philosophers in Paris like the “ retour des cendres ” of Rene Descartes from Sweden to Paris in 1667 constitute memorable events in the Parisian urban memory which emphasized the importance of philosophy in the civic culture of the community. We can quote some extracts of the narrative produced by Adrien Baillet, the first biographer of Descartes in 1691. The activities organized following the philosopher’s death; and the literary celebration of the Cartesian rupture. The admirers of Descartes in France initiated a movement in order to restore the remains of the philosopher in Paris. The transfer was organized by the financier Pierre d’Alibert and the French ambassador of that time, Hugues de Terlon. The transfer took place in 1666 and 1667. The corpse was placed in the Sainte Geneviève du Mont church. In 1669, the monument was erected of which Terlon had written. It consisted of semi cylindrical plates with inscriptions and the top a terracotta relief said to be made after the portrait which Queen Christina had ordered to be painted. At the banquet which followed his funeral in 1667, magistrates are in the majority: Fleury, Cordemoy and Clerselier – all lawyers at the Parlement of Paris –, and d’Ormesson, Guédreville, Habert de Montmort – all maître des requêtes and members of the French Academy –, were all in attendance36.

The stabilization of philosophical Hauts lieux

  • 37  On this point, S. Van Damme, Descartes. Essai d’histoire culturelle d’une grandeur philosophique, (...)

21Thirdly, ordinary knowledge of places like travel guides sometimes served as starting-points for local actors in order to rethink the urban space in its globality. The tombs of Descartes and Jacques Rohault his disciple were visited and commented by the travel guides of Paris, especially by the Description de Paris de Germain Brice in 1722. The integration in local narratives seems to be important to understand the role played by philosophical knowledge in the construction of metropolitan identity. Even if Descartes and Rohault were not born in Paris, and in the case of Descartes was an itinerant philosopher, a symbol of a philosophical nomadism, their celebration as Parisian figures embodied the necessity for a capital to absorb major national features. It underlines the difficult link of the Parisian elites to local culture at the beginning of the eighteenth century where the customary practices such as religious rituals within the parishes are more and more abandoned, and where elites sought a new representatives of the metropolitan culture. By inscribing Descartes and Rohault in Parisian customary rituals, they transformed them into native philosophers and they used their supposedly firmly established universal reputation to get a new recognition of Paris as a philosophical capital in Europe37.


22To conclude, I would like to remind ourselves that philosophical sociability is one practice of appropriation of knowledge among others in Paris. Social use of philosophy helps Parisian elites to constitute local representatives of cultural greatness which contribute to produce a European hierarchy of metropolitan cities in Europe. In doing so, the long process of the socialization of philosophy considered as a range of cultural practices could play a key role in the shaping of metropolitan identity at the eve of the French Enlightenment.

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1  Quotations in L.-Sébastien Mercier, Tableau de Paris, Paris, 1782-1788, vol. 1, p. 14 et vol. VII, p. 175.

2  For a presentation of the historiographical issues on history of intellectual sociability, see S. Van Damme « La sociabilité intellectuelle. Les usages historiographiques d'une notion », Hypothèses 1997. Travaux de l'école doctorale d'Histoire de l'Université de Paris I, Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne, 1998, p. 123-132.

3  On metropolitan culture, see D. Garrioch, The Making of Revolutionary Paris, Berkeley, University of California Press, 2002, p. 265-275. David Garrioch makes of sociability an indicator of this transformation.

4  D. Lux, “ The Reorganization of Science : 1450-1700 ”, in Bruce T. Moran, éd., Patronage and Institutions : Science, Technology and Medecine at the European Court, 1500-1750, Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 1991, p. 185-194. J. E. McClellan III, Science Reorganised : Scientific Societies in the Eighteenth Century, New York, 1985.

5  L. Brockliss, “ Aristote, Descartes and the New Science : natural Philosophy at the University of Paris, 1600-1740 ”, Annals of Science, 38, 1981, p. 33-69. ID, “ Descartes, Gassendi and the Reception of the Mechanical Philosophy at the French colleges de Plein Exercice, 1640-1730 ”, Perspectives on Science, vol. 3, 1995, 4, p. 450-479.

6  H. Brown, Scientific organizations in Seventeenth Century France (1620-1680), New York, 1934.

7  D. Haycock et G. S. Rousseau, “ Voices calling for reform : the Royal Society in the mid-Eighteenth Century ”, History of Science, XXXVII, 1999.

8  D.J. Sturdy, Science and social status, the members of the Académie des Sciences, 1666-1750, Woodbridge, 1995, p. 139-140.

9  Suzanne Grillot, “ Picard observateur ”, in G. Picolet (dir.), Jean Picard et les débuts de l’astronomie de précision au xviie siècle, Paris, CNRS, 1987, p. 35-64.

10  P. de Carbonnières, Lutèce, Paris ville romaine, Paris, Gallimard, 1997, p. 16.

11  Lettre à Arnaud, 29 juillet 1648, AT, 5, p. 219, cité par J.-M. Beyssade, “ Philosopher par lettres ”…, op. cit., p. 15.

12  AT, IV, p. 378.

13  S. Shapin, Social History of Truth, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1997.

14  M. Biagioli, « Scientific Revolution, Bricolage and Etiquette », in Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich (eds), The Scientific Revolution in National Context, Cambridge, CUP, 1992, p. 11-54.

15  For an explanation of point of passage, see B. Latour, Science in action, Harward, Harward University Press, 1987.

17  M. Biagioli, “ Scientific etiquette and social bricolage… ”, op. cit.

34  G. Sutton, Science for Polite Society : Gender, Culture and the Demonstration of Enlightenment, Boulder, 1995.

35  See the analysis of Dinah Ribard, Vivre, raconter, mourir : Histoire de philosophes, Paris, Vrin-EHESS, 2003.

37  On this point, S. Van Damme, Descartes. Essai d’histoire culturelle d’une grandeur philosophique, Paris, FNSP, 2002.

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Stéphane Van Damme, « A Regime of philosophical admiration ? Cultural uses of sociability in seventeenth century Paris », Les Dossiers du Grihl [En ligne], Les dossiers de Stéphane Van Damme, How to become a philosophical capital in Europe, mis en ligne le 27 juin 2007, consulté le 26 mars 2017. URL :

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Stéphane Van Damme

Stéphane Van Damme est chargé de recherche au CNRS, affecté depuis 2003 à la Maison Française d’Oxford où il est responsable du programme d’histoire des sciences. à partir de septembre 2007, il sera Associate Professor in French Modern History au département d’histoire de l’université de Warwick (Grande-Bretagne). Il anime le groupe de recherche sur Savoirs et capitales européennes. Il a publié trois livres : Descartes. Essai d’histoire culturelle d’une grandeur philosophique (2002) ; Paris, capitale philosophique de la Fronde à la Révolution (2005) ; Le temple de la sagesse. Savoirs, écriture et sociabilité urbaine (Lyon, 17-18e siècles) (2005). Il vient d’éditer en collaboration avec Nicolas Offenstadt, Luc Boltanski, Elisabeth Claverie une enquête collective sur la forme affaire, Affaires, scandales et grandes causes. De Socrate à Pinochet, Paris, éditions Stock, 2007.

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