Space and Subtle Matter in Descartes's Metaphysics

Jonathan Bennett

in New Essays on the Rationalists

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195165418
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199868285 | DOI:
Space and Subtle Matter in Descartes's Metaphysics

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Descartes rightly attacked the idea of space as extended nothing, but in inferring that space is an extended something, a substance, he overlooked the possibility that it is instead a system of relations (as Leibniz held). Even if it is a substance, it does not follow – as Descartes implied that it does – that “space” and “matter” are synonymous. It might instead be (1) that space is a substantial container, portions of which can be colocated with bodies or (2) that space is a substantial separator, portions of which flow into all locations where there are no bodies.

Keywords: body; Jonathan Bennett; Descartes; extension; space; substance; subtle matter; vacuum

Chapter.  12882 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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