Jean le Rond d' Alembert Bibliography

M‚moire sur le calcul int‚gral (Report on Integral Calculus) 1739
Alembert's first published work, written when he was 22.
Treatise on Dynamics 1743
Important treatise on dynamics, published when d’Alembert was 26, and containing the famous ‘d’Alembert’s principle’, which states that Newton’s third law of motion (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) is true of bodies that are free to move as well as for bodies rigidly fixed.
Traité de l’équilibre et du mouvement des fluides 1744
A work in which d’Alembert’s principle is applied to the theory of equilibrium and motion of fluids.
R‚flexions sur la cause g‚n‚rale des vents (Reflections on the General Cause of Winds) 1746
Contains the first conception of the calculus of partial differential equations.
Réflexions sur la cause générale des vents 1747
A work on the development of partial differential equations which won d’Alembert a prize at the Berlin Academy, and to which he was elected in the same year 1747.
Recherches sur les cordes vibrantes 1747
An application of d’Alembert’s new calculus to the problem of vibrating strings.
Recherhes sur la précession des équinoxes et sur la nutation de l’axe de la terre 1749
An explanation of the precession of the equinoxes (a gradual change in the position of the Earth’s orbit) and including an explantion of the phenomenon of the nutation (nodding) of the Earth’s axis.
Discours préliminaire, (Vol 1 of the Encyclopédie, 1751) 1751
“Many men have won battles and conquered provinces, but few have written a work as perfect as the preface to the Encyclopedia.” (Frederick the Great)

The Discours consisted of a philosophical, historical and cultural justification for the Encyclopédie. This first volume of the Encyclopédie was published in June and consisted of 900 double-column folio pages which only covered the letter A. Publication of the remaining volumes followed at intervals until 1765.  They amounted to a total of seventeen volumes of text, consisting of up to about twenty million words, and eleven volumes of plates. The full title of this work was Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonne des sciences, des arts, et des metiers par une societe de gens de lettres.

“Experiments will always fall short and systems will always go too far, experience walking step by step and the spirit of system always going in leaps and bounds.” (From Diderot’s article, ‘Animal’ in Vol 1 of the Encyclopédie).
Essai d’une nouvelle théorie de la résistance des fluides 1752
El‚mens de musique th‚orique et pratique suivant les principes de M. Rameau (Elements of Music Theoretical and Practical Following Rameau's Principles) 1752
A popular exposition of Rameau’s musical theories.
Mélanges de littérature, d’historie et de philosophie 1753
Published in 2 volumes, a work which contained the Essai sur la société des gens de lettres et des grands in which d’Alembert calls on writers to pursue “liberty, truth and poverty”.
Recherches sur différents points importants du système du monde 1754
Published between 1754 1756, a solution of the problem of the perturbations (variations of orbit) of the planets that d’Alembert had presented to the Berlin Academy a few years before.
Réflexions sur la musique en général et sur la musique française en particulier 1754
Éloge de Montesquieu 1755
The Éloge appeared as the preface to Volume V of the Encyclopédie and it presented Montesquieu as one of the Encyclopédie’s supporters. However, Montesquieu had, in fact, refused an invitation to write the articles ‘Democracy’ and ‘Despotism’, and the promised article on ‘Taste’ remained unfinished at his death.
Réflexions sur l’usage et sur l’abus de la philosophie dans les matières de goût 1755
Published in Mélanges, IV.

“(We men) hardly acquire any new knowledge without undeceiving ourselves about some agreeable illusion, and our enlightenment is almost always at the expense of our pleasures. Our simple ancestors were perhaps moved more strongly by the monstrous plays of our old theatre than we are moved today by the finest of our dramas; nations less enlightened than ours are not less happy, for with fewer desires they also have fewer needs, and coarse or less refined pleasures are good enough for them. Still, we would not want to exchange our enlightenment for the ignorance of those nations, or for the ignorance of our ancestors. If this enlightenment does reduce our pleasure, it flatters our vanity at the same time; we congratulate ourselves on having become sophisticated, as though this is some sort of merit.”
Éloge de M. le Président de Montesquieu 1755
An eulogy to Montesquieu published in Mélanges, II.
Mélanges de littérature, d’histoire et de philosophie 1759
Published in 4 volumes in Amsterdam.

“Everything, from the principles of secular science to the basis of the Revelation, from metaphysics to questions of taste . . . has been discussed, analyzed, debated.”
Sur la destruction des Jésuites en France 1765
Published “by an disinterested author”, first anonymously, then in d’Alembert’s own name, a contemporary account of the suppression of the Jesuits in 1760-1. D’Alembert sought to show that the Jesuits had destroyed themselves through their overweening desire for power.
Mélanges de littérature, d’historie et de philosophie (5th volume) 1767
Elements of Philosophy 1768
“For the average reader, history is only so much food for curiosity or it is simply a momentary escape from boredom; for the philosopher it is a collection of intellectual experiments (experiences morales) on the human race”.
Essai sur les gens de lettres 1772
The essay was published in volume 1 of Melanges.

“LIBERTY, TRUTH and POVERTY are the three words that men of letters should always keep before their eyes, as a monarch should keep POSTERITY.”
Histoire des membres de l’Académie française morts depuis 1700 jusqu’en 1771 1785
Published in 6 volumes betweem 1785 and 1787). When in 1772 d’Alembert became permanent secretary to the French Academy - he had been a member since 1754 - he was required to continue the Histoire des membres de l’Académie. This meant writing the biographies of all members who had died between 1700 and 1772. He paid tribute to his predecessors by means of Éloges that were delivered at public sessions of the Academy.