A Problem in Du Châtelet's Metaphysical Foundations of Physics

History of Philosophy Quarterly 37 (1):61-76 (2020)

Matias Kimi Slavov
Tampere University
To provide metaphysical grounds for the physics of her time, Du Châtelet argued for the notion of an active force. This was different from the impressed force in Newton’s second law. The former force was a property of a body, whereas the latter was an external cause. I shall study this discrepancy and argue that the interactive concept of force in Newton’s third law is consistent with Du Châtelet’s standards for an intelligible physics. Consequently, the interaction entailed by the law of universal gravitation complies with Du Châtelet’s principles of human knowledge.
Keywords Du Châtelet  Newton  Universal gravitation  History of philosophy of physics  Ontology of forces  Principle of sufficient reason
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