Chapter

Cartesian and Aristotelian Physics

Jonathan Bennett

in Learning from Six Philosophers Volume 1

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780198250913
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597053 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198250916.003.0002

Series: Learning from Six Philosophers (2 Volumes)

 Cartesian and Aristotelian Physics

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Descartes's physics is set against the mainly Aristotelian ideas that preceded it, emphasizing six differences, three of which are the following. Aristotle's physics has many basic kinds of things, while Descartes's has only one—matter—with all variety coming from differences of movement and structure of that one. They also differ in how they view many basic laws they entertain. Teleology is central to Aristotelian physics and banished from Descartes's. Descartes's physics is compared with Democritean atomism.

Keywords: Aristotle; Democritus; Descartes; matter; physics; teleology

Chapter.  6448 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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