Letters of Euler on Natural Philosophy

Addressed to a German Princess; Vol. I.

translated by the Rev. Henry Hunter
and annotated by Prof. David Brewster. 3rd Ed. (1832)

These letters have a charm all of their own, and they represent perhaps the first time a person of Euler's eminence set about a discussion of scientific topics in layman terms. These letters originated as lessons to the princess of Anhalt-Dessau, niece of the King of Prussia during Euler's stay in Berlin. See the commemorative article in Mathematics Magazine for Nov. 1983. Be warned, however that Euler does not always restrict himself in these letters to natural phenomena, as a perusal of the Contents shows: the views expressed here are those of Euler, and I detach myself from any moral, spiritual or religious views expressed in these letters. However, if you want an all-round view of Euler, this is certainly one place to look. Our interest here is to show the state of physics at this time ( around 1760); and some of these letters have a relevance to the topics discussed in the translations presented at this website. It is hoped that studens and teachers will benefit from these as they represent first rate historical material from a top thinker of the time, which are presented more or less in subject bundles. The letters are prefaced by the contents of volume I, and a short biography of Euler by David Brewster, who was professor of Natural Philosophy at St. Andrews at the time of publication of this translation from the original French. Here I have adapted the pdf file present by the Euler Archive as E343, etc, for which I am duely grateful.


Plate I Figures.


Preface & Life of Euler.

Letters I - VIII : Mainly about sound and music.

Letters IX - XVI : Properties of air; hot and cold air.

Letters XVII - XXIV : Theories of Descartes & Newton on origin of light and its propagation.

Letters XXV - XXXIII : Why illuminated objects are visible. Refraction and colour.

Letters XXXIV - XLII : Other optical phenomina: reflection & refraction; the eye.

Letters XLIII - LI :The eye and then gravity.

Plate II Figures.

Letters LII - LVIII : Newton discovers gravity with an apple ; planetary motion.

Letters LIX - LXVII : System of the universe; the tides .

Letters LXVIII - LXXVIII : Disputes over gravity; philosophical ideas about bodies; inertia, force and motion .

Letters LXXIX - LXXXIX : Philosophy and Physics .

Letters XC - C : Philosophy and Physics (con'd) .

Plate III Figures.

Letters C1 - CVIII : Language and Syllogisms or Logic (i. e. Foundations of Set Theory) .

Letters C1X - CXV : Religion and Logic.

Ian Bruce. June 9, 2008 latest revision. Copyright : As far as I know, there are no copyright restrictions on this early edition of this work.