Descartes, Spacetime, and Relational Motion

Philosophy of Science 66 (1):117-139 (1999)
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Abstract
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 neglected in favor of kinematic factors, is shown to be central to finding a solution to the puzzle of Cartesian motion.
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