Voltaire's own critical discourse against imaginative philosophical romances originated, in fact, with English and Dutch Newtonians, many of whom were expatriate French Huguenots, who developed these tropes as rhetorical weapons in their battles with Leibniz and European Cartesians who challenged the innovations of Newtonian natural philosophy.
A Treatise on Tolerance and other Writings. Voltaire did not invent this framework, but he did use it to enflame a set of debates that were then raging, debates that placed him and a small group of young members of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris into apparent opposition to the older and more established members of this bastion of official French science.
They are also able to keep it lighthearted and entertaining, which helped lead to the popularity they received for writing these. Voltaire adopted a stance in this text somewhere between the strict determinism of rationalist materialists and the transcendent spiritualism and voluntarism of contemporary Christian natural theologians.
Natural philosophy needs to resist the allure of such rational imaginings and to instead deal only with the empirically provable.
These come from associations with words such as voltige acrobatics on a trapeze or horsevolte-face a spinning about to face one's enemiesand volatile originally, any winged creature.
Edited by Brian Masters. They further mocked those who insisted on dreaming up chimeras like the celestial vortices as explanations for phenomena when no empirical evidence existed to support of such theories.
Figuring out what these point-contact mechanisms were and how they worked was, therefore, the charge of the new mechanical natural philosophy of the late seventeenth century. Hagengruber, Ruth ed. Swallow,