Descartes and some predecessors on the divine conservation of motion

Synthese 83 (2):215 - 238 (1990)
Here I reexamine Duhem's question of the continuity between medieval dynamics and early modern conservation theories. I concentrate on the heavens. For Aristotle, the motions of the heavens are eternally constant (and thus mathematizable) because an eternally constant divine Reason is their mover. Duhem thought that impetus and conservation theories, by extending sublunar mechanics to the heavens, made a divine renewer of motion redundant. By contrast, I show how Descartes derives his law of conservation by extending Aristotelian celestial dynamics to the earth. Descartes argues that motion is intrinsically linear, not circular. But he agrees that motion is mathematically intelligible only where divine Reason moves bodies in a constant and eternal motion. Descartes strips bodies of active powers, leaving God as the only natural mover; thus both celestial and sublunar motions are constant, and uniformly mathematizable. The law of conservation of the total quantity of motion is an attempt to harmonize the constancy derived a priori with the phenomenal inconstancy of sublunar motions.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00413758
 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
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 27,651
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Plato's Examination of Pleasure.R. Hackforth - 1946 - Philosophy 21 (79):182-183.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
On Dennis Des Chene's Physiologia.Stephen Menn - 2000 - Perspectives on Science 8 (2):119-143.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Cartesian Causation: Continuous, Instantaneous, Overdetermined.Geoffrey Gorham - 2004 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 42 (4):389-423.
Beeckman, Descartes and the Force of Motion.Richard Arthur - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):1--28.
Descartes, Spacetime, and Relational Motion.Edward Slowik - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (1):117-139.
The Eleatic Descartes.Thomas M. Lennon - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):29-45.
Divine Activity and Motive Power in Descartes's Physics.Andrew R. Platt - 2011 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (4):623 - 646.
Conservation Principles.Gordon Belot - 2006 - In D. Borchert (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy. MacMillan. pp. v. 2 461-464.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

51 ( #102,421 of 2,169,377 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #345,461 of 2,169,377 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums