Science, Certainty, and Descartes

During the 1630s Descartes recognized that he could not expect all legitimate claims in natural science to meet the standard of absolute certainty. The realization resulted from a change in his physics, which itself arose not through methodological reflections, but through developments in his substantive metaphysical doctrines. Descartes discovered the metaphysical foundations of his physics in 1629-30; as a consequence, the style of explanation employed in his physical writings changed. His early methodological conceptions, as preserved in the Rules and sketched in Part Two of the Discourse, pertained primarily to his early work in optics. By the early 1630s, Descartes was concerned with new methodological problems pertaining to the postulation of micro-mechanisms. Recognition of the need to employ a method of hypothesis led him to lower the standard of certainty required of particular explanations in his mature physics.
Keywords Metaphysics and physics  Scientific methodology  Certainty in Descartes  Descartes: Metaphysical turn  Micro-mechanisms
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive Gary Hatfield, Science, Certainty, and Descartes
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Gideon Manning (2012). Analogy and Falsification in Descartes' Physics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (2):402-411.
Nima Bassiri (2012). Material Translations in the Cartesian Brain. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):244-255.
Nima Bassiri (2012). Material Translations in the Cartesian Brain. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (1):244-255.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

118 ( #34,458 of 1,934,832 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

51 ( #11,038 of 1,934,832 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.