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The metaphysics and physics of force in Descartes

In Stephen Gaukroger (ed.), Descartes: Philosophy, Mathematics and Physics. Harvester Press. pp. 196--229 (1980)

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  1. ¿Cómo construir cuerpos individuales en el universo cartesiano?Carlos Alberto Cardona Suárez & Juan Raúl Loaiza Arias - 2016 - Anales Del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía 33 (2):489-515.
    En el presente artículo se muestra que en la cosmología cartesiana no resulta claro cómo se puede hablar o referir a cuerpos individuales en el marco de un universo absolutamente compacto. Se defiende que el concepto de cuerpo individual en el interior de dicha cosmología se puede construir como una ficción del espíritu. Un cuerpo individual se puede construir como la extensión que se encuentra encerrada en una superficie maximal cuyas subdivisiones carecen de movimiento relativo entre sí. Se muestra, también, (...)
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  • Is Descartes a Temporal Atomist?Ken Levy - 2005 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 13 (4):627 – 674.
    I argue that Descartes' Second Causal Proof of God in the Third Meditation evidences, and commits him to, the belief that time is "strongly discontinuous" -- that is, that there is actually a gap between each consecutive moment of time. Much of my article attempts to reconcile this interpretation, the "received view," with Descartes' statements about time, space, and matter in his other writings, including his correspondence with various philosophers.
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  • Perfect Solidity: Natural Laws and the Problem of Matter in Descartes' Universe.Edward Slowik - 1996 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 13 (2):187 - 204.
    In the Principles of Philosophy, Descartes attempts to explicate the well-known phenomena of varying bodily size through an appeal to the concept of "solidity," a notion that roughly corresponds to our present-day concept of density. Descartes' interest in these issues can be partially traced to the need to define clearly the role of matter in his natural laws, a problem particularly acute for the application of his conservation principle. Specifically, since Descartes insists that a body's "quantity of motion," defined as (...)
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  • Descartes' Quantity of Motion: 'New Age' Holism Meets the Cartesian Conservation Principle.Edward Slowik - 1999 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2):178–202.
    This essay explores various problematical aspects of Descartes' conservation principle for the quantity of motion (size times speed), particularly its largely neglected "dual role" as a measure of both durational motion and instantaneous "tendencies towards motion". Overall, an underlying non-local, or "holistic", element of quantity of motion (largely derived from his statics) will be revealed as central to a full understanding of the conservation principle's conceptual development and intended operation; and this insight can be of use in responding to some (...)
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  • Descartes, Spacetime, and Relational Motion.Edward Slowik - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (1):117-139.
    This paper examines Descartes' problematic relational theory of motion, especially when viewed within the context of his dynamics, the Cartesian natural laws. The work of various commentators on Cartesian motion is also surveyed, with particular emphasis placed upon the recent important texts of Garber and Des Chene. In contrast to the methodology of most previous interpretations, however, this essay employs a modern "spacetime" approach to the problem. By this means, the role of dynamics in Descartes' theory, which has often been (...)
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  • Descartes' Forgotten Hypotheses on Motion.Edward Slowik - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:433-448.
    This essay explores two of the more neglected hypotheses that comprise, or supplement, Descartes’ relationalist doctrine of bodily motion. These criteria are of great importance, for they would appear to challenge Descartes’ principal judgment that motion is a purely reciprocal change of a body’s contiguous neighborhood. After critiquing the work of the few commentators who have previously examined these forgotten hypotheses, mainly, D. Garber and M. Gueroult, the overall strengths and weaknesses of Descartes’ supplementary criteria will be assessed. Overall, despite (...)
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  • Descartes and Individual Corporeal Substance.Edward Slowik - 2001 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 9 (1):1 – 15.
    This essay explores the vexed issue of individual corporeal substance in Descartes' natural philosophy. Although Descartes' often referred to individual material objects as separate substances, the constraints on his definitions of matter and substance would seem to favor the opposite view; namely, that there exists only one corporeal substance, the plenum. In contrast to this standard interpretation, however, it will be demonstrated that Descartes' hypotheses make a fairly convincing case for the existence of individual material substances; and the key to (...)
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  • Late-Scholastic and Cartesian Conatus.Rodolfo Garau - 2014 - Intellectual History Review 24 (4):479-494.
    Introduction Conatus is a specific concept within Descartes’s physics. In particular, it assumes a crucial importance in the purely mechanistic description of the nature of light – an issue that Des- cartes considered one of the most crucial challenges, and major achievements, of his natural phil- osophy. According to Descartes’s cosmology, the universe – understood as a material continuum in which there is no vacuum – is composed of a number of separate yet interconnected vortices. Each of these vortices consists (...)
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  • Obscurity and Confusion: Nonreductionism in Descartes's Biology and Philosophy.Barnaby Hutchins - 2016 - Dissertation, Ghent University
    Descartes is usually taken to be a strict reductionist, and he frequently describes his work in reductionist terms. This dissertation, however, makes the case that he is a nonreductionist in certain areas of his philosophy and natural philosophy. This might seem like simple inconsistency, or a mismatch between Descartes's ambitions and his achievements. I argue that here it is more than that: nonreductionism is compatible with his wider commitments, and allowing for irreducibles increases the explanatory power of his system. Moreover, (...)
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  • In Defense of Real Cartesian Motion: A Reply to Lennon.Emily Thomas - 2015 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 53 (4):747-762.
    thomas lennon has argued for an innovative “Eleatic” reading of Descartes. At its heart is the thesis that Descartes is a phenomenalist about motions; with this in place, Lennon goes on to argue that Descartes is also a phenomenalist about individual material bodies. Conjuring up the ghosts of Eleatics such as Parmenides, Lennon describes a Cartesian material world in which moving, individual bodies are appearances, not realities. This paper takes issue with Lennon’s thesis that Cartesian motion is phenomenal.Section 2 of (...)
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  • A Interação Entre a Forma E a Matéria Em Tomás de Aquino E as Interações Do Sistema Cartesiano.Márcio Augusto Damin Custódio - 2015 - Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy 56 (131):173-189.
    Este artigo explora a relação que Descartes estabelece com as noções de forma e de matéria do aristotelismo escolástico ao tratar da interação entre as substâncias nas correspondências com Elisabeth, Gassendi e Arnauld. Partindo do exemplo do peso utilizado por Descartes em diversas cartas, traça-se uma relação de identidade entre a noção de forma em Tomás de Aquino e de pensamento em Descartes, assim como se traça a crítica à noção de forma, entendida como qualidade oculta, para os corpos inanimados. (...)
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  • On Force in Cartesian Physics.John Byron Manchak - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (3):295-306.
    There does not seem to be a consistent way to ground the concept of “force” in Cartesian first principles. In this article, I first review the literature on the subject. Then, I offer an alternative interpretation of force—one that seems to be coherent and consistent with Descartes’ project. Not only does the new position avoid the problems of previous interpretations, but it does so in such a way as to support and justify those previous interpretations. *Received June 2007; revised June (...)
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  • Philosophy and Memory Traces: Descartes to Connectionism.John Sutton - 1998 - Cambridge University Press.
    Philosophy and Memory Traces defends two theories of autobiographical memory. One is a bewildering historical view of memories as dynamic patterns in fleeting animal spirits, nervous fluids which rummaged through the pores of brain and body. The other is new connectionism, in which memories are 'stored' only superpositionally, and reconstructed rather than reproduced. Both models, argues John Sutton, depart from static archival metaphors by employing distributed representation, which brings interference and confusion between memory traces. Both raise urgent issues about control (...)
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  • Occasionalism and Strict Mechanism: Malebranche, Berkeley, Fontenelle.Lisa Downing - 2005 - In Christia Mercer (ed.), Early Modern Philosophy: Mind, Matter, and Metaphysics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 206-230.
    The rich connections between metaphysics and natural philosophy in the early modern period have been widely acknowledged and productively mined, thanks in no small part to the work of Margaret Wilson, whose book, Descartes, served as an inspirational example for a generation of scholars. The task of this paper is to investigate one particular such connection, namely, the relation between occasionalist metaphysics and strict mechanism. My focus will be on the work of Nicholas Malebranche, the most influential Cartesian philosopher after (...)
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  • Moving Cartesian Bodies.Tyler Doggett - manuscript
    Argues that Descartes's commitment to mind-body causation leads to a commitment to body-body causation.
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  • Experiment in Cartesian Courses: The Case of Professor Burchard de Volder.Tammy Nyden - 2010 - The Circulation of Science and Technology.
    In 1675, Burchard de Volder became the first university physics professor to introduce the demonstration of experiments into his lectures and to create a special university classroom, The Leiden Physics Theatre, for this specific purpose. This is surprising for two reasons: first, early pre-Newtonian experiment is commonly associated with Italy and England, and second, de Volder is committed to Cartesian philosophy, including the view that knowledge gathered through the senses is subject to doubt, while that deducted from first principles is (...)
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  • Tiempo serial y experiencia del tiempo. Un debate en clave cartesiana.Diana María Acevedo-Zapata - 2017 - Dianoia 62 (79):103-122.
    Resumen: Propongo una crítica a la noción de serialidad en la comprensión del concepto de tiempo en el contexto de los estudios cartesianos. En el debate entre los defensores del tiempo continuo y quienes defienden un tiempo discreto, sostengo que ninguna de estas posiciones tiene en cuenta que la serialidad se enmarca en una noción de tiempo que se concibe como divisible y numerable y que no pertenece intrínsecamente a la naturaleza de la experiencia temporal del cogito. Mi propuesta consiste (...)
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  • The Concept of Space and the Metaphysics of Extended Substance in Descartes.Joseph Zepeda - 2014 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 31 (1):21-40.
    This essay offers an interpretation of Descartes’ treatment of the concepts of place and space in the Principles of Philosophy. On the basis of that interpretation, I argue that his understanding and application of the concept of space supports a pluralist interpretation of Descartes on extended substance. I survey the Scholastic evolution of issues in the Aristotelian theory of place and clarify elements of Descartes’ appropriation and transformation thereof: the relationship between internal and external place, the precise content of the (...)
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  • ‘One Common Matter’ in Descartes' Physics: The Cartesian Concepts of Matter Quantities, Weight and Gravity.Charis Charalampous - 2019 - Annals of Science 76 (3-4):324-339.
    ABSTRACTIt is common to assume that Descartes did not have a conception of an object's matter density independently of its size, but this is a rather incomplete assessment of the early modern natural philosopher's theory. Key to our understanding of Descartes's physics is a consideration of the ratios between the quantities of the different types of matter in which an object consists. As these ratios determine the degree of an object's porosity and elasticity, they also affect in Descartes's theory the (...)
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  • Review Essay: The Importance of the History of Science for Philosophy in General. [REVIEW]Gary Hatfield - 1996 - Synthese 106 (1):113 - 138.
    Essay review of Daniel Garber, 1992, Descartes' Metaphysical Physics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, xiv + 389 pp., and Michael Friedman,: 1992, Kant and the Exact Sciences, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, xvii + 357 pp. These two books display the historical connection between science and philosophy in the writings of Descartes and Kant. They show the place of science in, or the scientific context of, these authors' central metaphysical doctrines, pertaining to substance and its properties, (...)
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  • Descartes's Interactionism and His Principle of Causality.Enrique Chávez‐Arvizo - 1997 - The European Legacy 2 (6):959-976.
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  • Knowing Causes: Descartes on the World of Matter.Peter K. Machamer, James E. McGuire & Justin Sytsma - 2005 - Philosophica 76.
    In this essay, we discuss how Descartes arrives at his mature view of material causation. Descartes’ position changes over time in some very radical ways. The last section spells out his final position as to how causation works in the world of material objects. When considering Descartes’ causal theories, it is useful to distinguish between ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ causation. The vertical perspective addresses God’s relation to creation. God is essential being, and every being other than God depends upon God in (...)
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  • The Problem of Secondary Causation in Descartes: A Response to Des Chene.Helen Hattab - 2000 - Perspectives on Science 8 (2):93-118.
    : In this paper I address the vexed question of secondary causation in René Descartes' physics, and examine several influential interpretations, especially the one recently proposed by Dennis Des Chene. I argue that interpreters who regard Cartesian bodies as real secondary causes, on the grounds that the modes of body include real forces, contradict Descartes' account of modes. On the other hand, those who deny that Descartes affirms secondary causation, on the grounds that forces cannot be modes of extension, commit (...)
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  • The Metaphysics of Rest in Descartes and Malebranche.Tad M. Schmaltz - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (1):21-40.
    I consider a somewhat obscure but important feature of Descartes’s physics that concerns the notion of the “force of rest.” Contrary to a prominent occasionalist interpretation of Descartes’s physics, I argue that Descartes himself attributes real forces to resting bodies. I also take his account of rest to conflict with the view that God conserves the world by “re-creating” it anew at each moment. I turn next to the role of rest in Malebranche. Malebranche takes Descartes to endorse his own (...)
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