Descartes’ Forgotten Hypotheses on Motion

Journal of Philosophical Research 27:433-448 (2002)
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Abstract

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 their ingenuity, it will be demonstrated that Descartes’ criteria cannot rescue his brand of natural laws from the inherent limitations of his strong relational account of motion.

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Edward Slowik
Winona State University

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