Historical Context of Cartesian Physics

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:
Historical Context of                         Cartesian Physics

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This chapter compares in some detail Descartes's scientific achievements with those of his contemporaries. It explores the difficulties that Cartesian reduction posed for the application of mathematics to various processes and problems in the natural sciences. Generations of scholars have noticed that Descartes's claim to mathematize physics was a philosophical promise that he was effectively unable to keep. The discussion holds that the way in which Cartesian method impoverishes as well as organizes the field to which it is applied renders geometry as inapt for physics as it leaves physics unready for important new developments in mathematics.

Keywords: Cartesian reduction; Cartesian Physics; mathematics; natural sciences

Chapter.  5391 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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