Vivarium 58 (3):168-190 (2020)

Tad Schmaltz
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
This paper compares the development of the notion of continuous quantity in the work of Francisco Suárez and René Descartes. The discussion begins with a consideration of Suárez’s rejection of the view – common to ‘realists’ such as Thomas Aquinas and ‘nominalists’ such as William of Ockham – that quantity is inseparable from the extension of material integral parts. Crucial here is Suárez’s view that quantified extension exhibits a kind of impenetrability that distinguishes it from other kinds of extension. This view sheds considerable light on initially obscure remarks on impenetrability in Descartes’ late correspondence with Henry More. Though Descartes differs from Suárez and other major scholastic figures in his understanding of the relation of quantity to material substance, he nonetheless requires in the end some version of the Suárezian distinction between quantified and unquantified extension.
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DOI 10.1163/15685349-12341383
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