Chapter

A New System of the World 1630–1633

Stephen Gaukroger

in Descartes: An Intellectual Biography

Published in print May 1997 | ISBN: 9780198237242
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597480 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198237243.003.0008
A New System of the World 1630–1633

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Discusses the structure and content of Le Monde, which deals with corpuscularianism, a theory of matter based on fluid mechanics containing the contentious theories of conservation of motion and the non‐existence of vacua. The work also presents a definition of the nature of colour, uses a hypothetical ‘new world’ (which when compared with the real world will be found to be indistinguishable from it) to define his cosmology, and sets out a theory of light that explains the behaviour of light rays with particular reference to rainbows. By analogy with Le Monde, L’Homme presents the mechanistic physiology of imaginary beings. Discusses psycho‐physiological functions, by means of reference to the actions of automata, and the implications these have for the difference between human and animal cognition, and whether animals have souls.

Keywords: automata; cognition; conservation of motion; corpuscularianism; cosmology; L’Homme; Le Monde; nature of colour; optics; physics; physiology; theory of light

Chapter.  29412 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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