Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 8: Daniel Bernoulli (1700–1782)
A Unique Dynasty of Scientists Daniel Bernoulli is one of the prominent members of the Bernoulli family from Basel, Switzerland, whose members excelled in various theoretical and applied scientific fields – especially in mathematics, probability theory, physics and medicine – in the second half of the seventeenth and in the eighteenth centuries. The family originated from Antwerp, once under the domination of Catholic Spain. It emigrated in 1567 to Frankfurt, Germany, because of its Calvinist faith, and in the end settled in Basel in 1620. Until Niklaus Bernoulli (1623–1708), the important wealth of the family came from the spice trade: Niklaus was himself a merchant and an officer of the city of Basel. But three of his sons, Jakob (1654– 1705), Nikolaus (1662–1716) and Johann (1667–1748), took another route. Nikolaus was a painter and a member of the Municipality of Basel. Jakob studied philosophy and theology, and Johann medicine, but they both became renowned mathematicians, developing in particular differential and integral calculus and siding with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in his quarrel with Isaac Newton – the phrase “integral calculus” is due to Jakob. Daniel Bernoulli, was born in Groningen on 8 February 1700, where his father had taught at the university since 1695, and died in Basel on 17 March 1782. He was Johann’s son and the cousin of Nikolaus (1687–1759) – alias Nikolaus I, just as his uncles were named Jakob I and Johann I by historians to distinguish them from the younger members of this dynasty, who had...
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