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Title: Force
Original Title: Force
Volume and Page: Vol. 7 (1757), pp. 109–110
Author: [François-Marie Arouet] de Voltaire
Translator: John S.D. Glaus [The Euler Society, restinn@roadrunner.com]
Subject terms:
Grammar
Literature
Original Version (ARTFL): Link
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URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.263
Citation (MLA): Voltaire, [François-Marie Arouet] de. "Force." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by John S.D. Glaus. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2006. Web. [fill in today's date in the form 18 Apr. 2009 and remove square brackets]. <http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.263>. Trans. of "Force," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, vol. 7. Paris, 1757.
Citation (Chicago): Voltaire, [François-Marie Arouet] de. "Force." The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by John S.D. Glaus. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2006. http://hdl.handle.net/2027/spo.did2222.0000.263 (accessed [fill in today's date in the form April 18, 2009 and remove square brackets]). Originally published as "Force," Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 7:109–110 (Paris, 1757).

Force. This word has changed from the simplest to the most ornate.

Force is issued from all parts of the body which is in motion; some have said that the force of the heart produces four hundred pounds and other three ounces; the force of one’s stomach, lungs, voice and power in the arms.

One says by analogy, make the force of the sails, of oars, to assemble ones forces ; to know one force , to measure up one’s forces , to go, undertake above and beyond ones forces ; the work of the Encyclopedie is above the forces of those that have been unleashed against this book. For a long time it was called the force of the big scissors ( See Force, Mechanical arts) and that is why it is quoted by the League states that the Spanish ambassador’s seal was of him looking for his scissors which were on the ground with his glasses accompanied by this play on words, “I’ve lost my forces”.

There is the very familiar style of expression which is still in use as, force of people, force of wild game, mischievous forces , force of bad tongues,. One says, through force of work, he became exhausted; iron weakens by force of polishing it.

The metaphor which was used to transport this word into Morals has transformed it into a cardinal virtue. Force in this sense is the courage to sustain adversity and to undertake virtuous and difficult things, animi fortitude .

The force of spirit is perception and depth, ingenii vis. Nature provides it as does the body; moderate work enhances it and little works diminishes it.

The force of reasoning consists of an exposition which is clear with proofs exposed to the light with a correct conclusion, it has no place in mathematical theories, since a proof cannot accept either more or less evidence or more or less of any force. It may only proceed on a path which is more or less long, simpler or more complicated. Force of reason certainly has a place in problematical questions. The force accompanying eloquence is not only a series of reasons which are correct and vital and would only stand dryly if this force did not require some substance, striking imagery, lively wording. It has been said that Bourdaloue’s sermons possessed more force and that those of Massillon had more style. Verse may be written with a great deal of force yet has no other quality. The force of verse in our language comes principally from the ability to say something when censured. “And risen on the fact, aspires to his descent.” “His name is eternal and the world is his work.” These two lines, full of force and elegance, are the best models of poetry.

The force in painting is an expression of the musculature that the expansive brushstrokes reveal as action under the skin that covers them. There is too much force when the muscles are too pronounced. The attitude of the combatants have great force in Constantine’s battles drawn by Raphael and by Jules Romain and in those of Alexander painted by le Brun. Insistent force is undignified in painting and blistering in poetry.

Some philosophers have insisted that force is an inherent quality to matter; that every invisible particle or monad is endowed by an active force . However, it is as difficult to prove this assumption as it would be to prove that whiteness is an inherent quality to matter, as Trevoux’s dictionary says in its article Inherent .

The force of all animals has reached its highest degree when the animal is fully grown and it ceases to grow when the muscles no longer receive an adequate supply of food and this food ceases to be adequate when the spiritual investment no longer allows these muscles the accustomed motion. It is most likely that the animal spirits are of fire that old men lack in motion and of force since they lack heat.