In Ohad Nachtomy & Reed Winegar (eds.), Infinity in Early Modern Philosophy. Berlin: Brill. pp. 45-61 (2018)

Authors
Geoffrey Gorham
Macalester College
Abstract
In two rarely discussed passages – from unpublished notes on the Principles of Philosophy and a 1647 letter to Chanut – Descartes argues that the question of the infinite extension of space is importantly different from the infinity of time. In both passages, he is anxious to block the application of his well-known argument for the indefinite extension of space to time, in order to avoid the theologically problematic implication that the world has no beginning. Descartes concedes that we always imagine an earlier time in which God might have created the world if he had wanted, but insists that this imaginary earlier existence of the world is not connected to its actual duration in the way that the indefinite extension of space is connected to the actual extension of the world. This paper considers whether Descartes’s metaphysics can sustain this asymmetrical attitude towards infinite space vs. time. I first consider Descartes’s relation to the ‘imaginary’ space/time tradition that extended from the late scholastics through Gassendi and More. I next examine carefully Descartes’s main argument for the indefinite extension of space and explain why it does not apply to time. Most crucially, since duration is merely conceptually distinct from enduring substance, the end or beginning of the world entails the end or beginning of real time. In contrast, extension does not depend on any enduring substance besides itself.
Keywords Descartes  Infinity  Space  Time
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2018
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-94556-9_4
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
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

Descartes Against the Skeptics.E. M. Curley - 1978 - Harvard University Press.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2018-10-24

Total views
278 ( #32,324 of 2,438,905 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
43 ( #16,905 of 2,438,905 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes