English Notes made from the introduction to Principes philosophiques in DPV, by Michel Delon.

Other rare Diderot works which help us trace the roots of Principes:

Naigeon seemingly has relegated access to Principes to Recueil philosophiques or Encyclopédie méthodique for hardcore Dideroteans interested in his work notes.

Shows Diderot's tendency to realize his pieces as "conversations".

Naigeon places emphasis through italics for idealists and plain (roman) for materialists.

Diderot's text has an unfinished feeling, but according to Naigeon, functions as a response to questions at the end of Pensées sur l'interpretation de la nature.

According to Delon, Principes is in fact a major interrogation of Diderotean materialism.

Helpful definitions from Pensées:

Principes and Éléments on side of "analysis".

Other defintions of matter in rare Diderot texts:

Important possible source of difficult to translate construction about "essential" matter:

Toland trans. by Holbach, Lettres à Serena , 1704. «Il n'y a aucune partie de la matiere qui n'ait une énergie interne qui lui est propre.» i.e. susceptible to no alteration or division.

1770 Dulaurens takes up the project of Principes in le Portefeuille d'un philosophe, «Lettre sur l'activité de la matière» (se réfère à Toland et à ses polémiques avec Boyle et Leibniz).

The same year, Holbach cobbles together, System de la Nature, with examples of "internal" types of movement of matter:

IMPORTANT: Nisus: continual efforts made between bodies which otherwise appear to be at rest. (nisus in this sense is Diderot's exact definition of internal movement of matter).

Holbach paints picture of: equally strong forces shocked by contrary forces, they are arrested, (and at this point) in nisu...

Nisus is:

Nisus as in these thinkers prior to Diderot could not however resist the spread of the theory of universal gravitation.

The Encyclopédie article, «HOBBISME», by Diderot, has a precise definition:

Delon sees not only Pensées sur l'interpretation marking a passage from a mathematical epistemological model to a physical model, but Principes as marking passage from physics to chemistry.

Note the prescience of this passage in Diderot's «moi qui suis physicien et chimiste».

Principes as a diverse synthesis of matter suggesting that gravitation should be replaced with the notion of fermentation.

Macquer's Dictionnaire de Chimie, 1766 defines fermentation as a «mouvement intestin, excited by itself».

ONE MUST NOT read Principes Philosophiques as constructing a system, and in turn Delon does not let his introduction do so, it «se contente de mettre en place les notions décisives qui permettent au Rêve et aux Éléments de physiologie d'ébaucher une science et une philosophie matérialist de la vie universelle».