Brading, Katherine A. and Jalobeanu, Dana (2002) All Alone in the Universe: Individuals in Descartes and Newton. [Preprint]
In this paper we argue that the primary issue in Descartes� Principles of Philosophy, Part II, articles 1-40, is the problem of individuating bodies. We demonstrate that Descartes departs from the traditional quest for a principle of individuation, moving to a different strategy with the more modest aim of constructing bodies adequate to the needs of his cosmology. In doing this he meets with a series of difficulties, and this is precisely the challenge that Newton took up. We show that Descartes� questions and his strategy influenced not only Newton�s account of physical bodies, but also the structure of his mechanics.
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