Indivisibles, Parts, and Wholes in Rubio’s Treatise on the Composition of Continuum (1605)

Bruniana and Campanelliana 1 (2022)
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Abstract

In this paper I reconstruct and discuss Antonio Rubio (1546-1615)’s theory of the composition of the continuum, as set out in his Tractatus de compositione continui, a part of his influential commentary on Aristotle’s Physics, published in 1605 but rewritten in 1606. Here I attempt especially to show that Rubio’s is a significant case of Scholastic overlapping between Aristotle’s theory of infinitely divisible parts and indivisibilism or ‘Zenonism’, i.e. the theory that allows for indivisibles, extensionless points, lines, and surfaces, which are supposed to take part in the composition of the continuum. Even if such a syncretic tendency was, in many different ways, already developing in the medieval period and then at the end of the sixteenth century, Rubio’s position is indeed peculiar. He maintains that indivisibles are real and actual, infinite in act, really distinct from each other, and that, although they indwell in substance, indivisibles do not contribute directly to the constitution of the continuum. In this reconstruction I emphasize notably Rubio’s usage of mereological notions like those of part, whole, completeness and incompleteness.

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Simone Guidi
Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche

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