Chapter

<span class="smallCaps">o n e</span> <i>The Vis Viva Debate</i> Kant's Starting Point

Martin Schönfeld

in The Philosophy of the Young Kant

Published in print October 2000 | ISBN: 9780195132182
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786336 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195132181.003.0002
 							o n e 						 							The Vis Viva Debate 						Kant's Starting Point

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This chapter explores the context of Kant’s first and original puzzle: what actually is force? It is an account of the debate over kinetic energy (Leibniz’s “living force” or vis viva) and the historical transition of philosophy of nature to physics. Section 1 summarizes the explorations of energy and force from Galileo to Newton. Section 2 examines the fate and frustrations of the debate over the nature and measurement of dynamic phenomena, a quarrel first between Leibniz and the Cartesians, and next among Leibnizians, Cartesians, and Newtonians. Section 3 describes the historical outcome of the debate-the dual confirmation of the quantities at issue (Descartes’s momentum, and Leibniz’s energy) by d’Alembert and Euler, and their joint integration in Newtonian mechanics.

Keywords: Galileo; Descartes; Leibniz; Chatelet; Huygens; Newton; Euler; Alembert; vis viva; living force

Chapter.  9053 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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