Laws of Motion

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:
Laws of Motion

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This chapter reviews Descartes's laws of motion. It examines the consequences of the evanescent, unstable unity of Descartes's physical simples in the context of his laws of motion, which introduces a second distinct system of relations — colliding bodies that conserve something like momentum. The instability of the simples worked against Descartes's attempt to establish vortices as high-level complex unities, and to differentiate matter into three elements. Moreover, the discussion argues that a tacit change of the relational structure forces a change in the items of physics, making them less plausibly identical with the items of geometry.

Keywords: laws of motion; matter; simples; momentum; geometry

Chapter.  6818 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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