Beginning with Bacon, natural philosophy texts frequently present scientific practice as an erotic quest, establishing a correspondence between sexual seduction and natural philosophical inquiry. Bernard de Fontenelle’s and Francesco Algarotti’s scientific dialogues, translated by Aphra Behn and Elizabeth Carter, respectively, adopt the literary plot of seduction to explain and promote Cartesianism, Copernicanism, and Newtonianism. Both Behn and Carter embrace the suitability of natural philosophical education for women. For Fontenelle and Algarotti, understanding science necessitates new ways of thinking that are possible only with one’s imagination and requires that characters undergo a process of seduction. Learning science is a conversion process, simultaneously rational and affective. Mathematicians, like lovers, are persuasive and persistent, ultimately demanding submission. These scientific dialogues reframe erotic plots to promote intellectual and moral self-improvement, qualities posited as uniquely modern and widely available to the texts’ readers.
Stanford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.
To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.