Descartes' Quantity of Motion: 'New Age' Holism meets the Cartesian Conservation Principle

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2):178–202 (1999)
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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 of the recent and traditional criticisms of Descartes' physics.
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