Emily Grosholz
Pennsylvania State University
The question of how and why mathematics can be applied to physical reality should be approached through the history of science, as a series of case studies which may reveal both generalizable patterns and salient differences in the grounds and nature of that application from era to era. The present examination of Descartes' Principles of Philosophy Part II, reveals a deep ambiguity in the relation of Euclidean geometry to res extensa, and a tension between geometrical form and 'common motion of parts' as principles of individuation for matter in Cartesian physics.
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