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The PerraultsA Family of Letters in Early Modern France$
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Oded Rabinovitch

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781501729423

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501729423.001.0001

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Claude Perrault and the Mechanics of Animals

Claude Perrault and the Mechanics of Animals

Family and Scientific Institutions (1660–1690)

(p.120) Chapter Six Claude Perrault and the Mechanics of Animals
The Perraults

Oded Rabinovitch

Cornell University Press

This chapter starts with one individual–Claude–and examines how the impact of the family on scientific inquiry is seen when examined from the perspective of the individual. Studying Claude’s renowned zoological work on the “mechanics of animals,” this chapter shows the project depended on a unique set of skills Claude possessed, from drawing to knowledge of mechanics, rather than on any specific set of philosophical commitments. Tracing these skills to Claude’s place in the family network, this chapter argues that the family played a crucial role in pre-modern scientific creativity. Moreover, the detailed reconstruction of the “mechanics of animals” project shows how the Academy of Sciences functioned in practice as a node in a broader network.

Keywords:   Claude Perrault, Mechanism, Zoology, Academy of Sciences, Skills, Networks

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