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By Vincenzo La Via

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Death, sickness, quarrels, and indolence did not have a place: one went forward, one managed, one forced one’s way through, if need be. One can imagine, as an example, the kind of regime that Weiss was subject to by the beginning of a letter from Pillet on 20 October 1818: “Dear Friend, Your letter of the 15th of this month brought me only 8 articles (le Laelius to Lafaye); all of them were overdue, and you are surprised that the Biography is going slowly!! The reason is that all the articles of all the contributors were overdue: these articles have been asked of you since the August 16th, that is, 60 days ago.

One can observe how Weiss was solicited and how he replied. The correspondence gives us an idea about his network of librarians, booksellers, and friends from whom he asked for information of all kinds. We will be able to see, at least partially, how Weiss made inquiries about Italian mathematicians whose articles he was responsible for, and how he tried to have the articles written by those more competent in this domain than him. The Michaud Factory Moreover, the publication of a giant dictionary required a rigorous and often authoritarian organisation.

1742. Regarding this former person, if you’re lacking the materials, let me know first and I will ask the article of Mr. Millin […] mr. G-é [Ginguené] took him off his list. (letter from Pillet to Weiss, 8 June 1816, Ms 635) You asked for the art. Bonati the famous fluid mechanic, from Mr. de Prony? I have an article on him in Italian. And I will do the art. If necessary, but it would be better to ask it of someone specialised in the subject. It’s a very important art. Bonati died 2 January 1820 (letter from Weiss to Michaud, 27 November 1834, Ms 634) By studying the articles by Nicollet, Aimé Guillon, De Angelis, Ginguené, Parisot or Walckenaer in the same spirit, one can distinguish the strengths and the weaknesses of the facts and interpretations that they contain.

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Coscienza e metafisica by Vincenzo La Via


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