David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
History of Philosophy Quarterly 13 (2):187 - 204 (1996)
In the Principles of Philosophy, Descartes attempts to explicate the well-known phenomena of varying bodily size through an appeal to the concept of "solidity," a notion that roughly corresponds to our present-day concept of density. Descartes' interest in these issues can be partially traced to the need to define clearly the role of matter in his natural laws, a problem particularly acute for the application of his conservation principle. Specifically, since Descartes insists that a body's "quantity of motion," defined as the product of its "size" and speed, is conserved in all material interactions, it is imperative that he explain how solidity influences the magnitude of this force. As a means of resolving this problem, Descartes postulated an idealized condition of "perfect solidity" which correlates a body's "agitation" force (a forerunner of Newton's concept of non-accelerating, or "inertial" motion) with the interplay of its volume, surface area, and composition of minute particles. This essay explores this often misunderstood aspect of Descartes' physics, as well as the special function of idealized conditions in his collision rules. Contrary to those commentators who regard "perfect solidity" as a stipulation on bodily impact, this notion, it will be argued, is primarily concerned with the internal composition of macroscopic bodies, and only indirectly with their collision characteristics. Along the way, many of Descartes' hypotheses will be shown to display a level of sophistication and intricacy that, despite their essential incompatibility, belie several of the common misconceptions of Cartesian science.
|Keywords||Descartes Cartesian physics body|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Quentin Smith (1990). A Natural Explanation of the Existence and Laws of Our Universe. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):22 – 43.
Dana Jalobeanu & Peter R. Anstey (eds.) (2010). Vanishing Matter and the Laws of Motion: Descartes and Beyond. Routledge.
Paul Davies, The Implications of a Cosmological Information Bound for Complexity, Quantum Information and the Nature of Physical Law.
Edward Slowik (1999). Descartes, Spacetime, and Relational Motion. Philosophy of Science 66 (1):117-139.
Edward Slowik (2005). Natural Laws, Universals, and the Induction Problem. Philosophia 32 (1-4):241-251.
Edward Slowik (2002). Descartes' Forgotten Hypotheses on Motion. Journal of Philosophical Research 27:433-448.
Hans Primas (2007). Non-Boolean Descriptions for Mind-Matter Problems. Mind and Matter 5 (1):7-44.
Added to index2011-05-29
Total downloads9 ( #378,786 of 1,934,423 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #269,405 of 1,934,423 )
How can I increase my downloads?