Chapter

Descartes’s Principles: Physical Unities

Emily R. Grosholz

in Cartesian Method and the Problem of Reduction

Published in print January 1991 | ISBN: 9780198242505
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680502 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198242505.003.0004
Descartes’s                         Principles: Physical Unities

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This chapter examines Descartes's difficulties in establishing starting points for his physics. In one sense, the starting point of the Principles, taken as a whole, is opposed to God and man as radically different in kind, and perhaps not even possessed of geometric sequence. In another sense, it is the simplex out of which God generates the world: a bit of matter in rectilinear motion. The first section of this chapter examines the trouble that this ambiguity generates for Descartes even as he chooses the latter version. The second section discusses the strengths and weaknesses in Descartes's choice of bits of matter in rectilinear uniform motion.

Keywords: Principles of Philosophy; rectilinear motion; starting point; bit of matter; God

Chapter.  7402 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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