Biography of Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698-1759)

Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis.

Philosopher and French scientist, Member of the French Academy of Sciences since 1723, and President and reorganizer of the Academy of Sciences of Berlin, by order of Federico II since 1740. Mathematician, physicist and geometer, to him is due the introduction of the newtonianismo in France.

Maupertuis holds that our knowledge are limited to the world as it appears to us, thus rejects the metaphysical "systems". His contacts with the culture German retains elements leibnizianos, influencing its dynamics and its biology. In Dynamics, Maupertuis principle of "least action", to according to which, in all the mutations that occur in the universe, always used the minimum amount of necessary action. In biology it refuses, against Descartes, that mechanism is sufficient to explain the phenomenon of life and reproduction of this. As compensation it proposes the vitalist hypothesis, according to which the originating life elements are organic molecules, which are equipped with a certain degree of awareness, although dark. As an active instinct that encourages elements to self-organize joining together and forming, according to the greater or less instinctive activity, minerals, plants, animals and men. In the field of morality is it based on the concepts of pleasure and pain that magnitudes as positive and negative respectively. Thus, in social ethics will propose the principle of ensuring "for the greatest number of people the greatest possible happiness".

In 1736 Maupertuis led an expedition to Lapland (involving Anders Celsius) in order to measure the length of a degree along the Meridian. Measurements confirmed directly that the Earth was a spheroid, flattened by the poles. This stamp commemorates the 250th anniversary of that historic scientific expedition.

Artworks: Reviews the principles of Newton (1732), Algebra and astronomy (1743) and trials.