Feeling Happiness, Feeling Science: Diffractive Readings of Émilie Du Châtelet’s and Sophie Germain’s Philosophical Writings

In: Journal of the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists
Maria Tamboukou Department of Education, University of East London, Docklands Campus, London, E16 2RD, UK

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In this paper I read diffractively the philosophical writings of Émilie Du Châtelet and Sophie Germain, particularly focusing on their engagement with happiness, both as a theoretical notion and as a lived experience. What I argue is that their take on happiness has nothing to do with the gendered norms and discourses of happiness that they were seen and judged by, in the longue durée of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their happiness was more in line with the joys and pleasures of knowledge, understanding, living, and creating. While feelings are central in both women’s theorization of happiness, they are deployed along different strands in the philosophical history of emotions and affects, and despite their original and unique contribution, they are still absent from it.

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