Huygens' center-of-mass space-time reference frame: Constructing a cartesian dynamics in the wake of Newton's “de gravitatione” argument

Synthese 112 (2):247-269 (1997)
This paper explores the possibility of constructing a Cartesian space-time that can resolve the dilemma posed by a famous argument from Newton's early essay, De gravitatione. In particular, Huygens' concept of a center-of-mass reference frame is utilized in an attempt to reconcile Descartes' relationalist theory of space and motion with both the Cartesian analysis of bodily impact and conservation law for quantity of motion. After presenting a modern formulation of a Cartesian space-time employing Huygens' frames, a series of Newtonian counter-replies are developed in order to estimate the viability of this relationalist project.
Keywords Descartes   relationism   Cartesian physics  Huygens
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DOI 10.1023/A:1004980827071
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