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All Alone in the Universe: Individuals in Descartes and Newton

Brading, Katherine A. and Jalobeanu, Dana (2002) All Alone in the Universe: Individuals in Descartes and Newton. [Preprint]

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    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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    Item Type: Preprint
    Keywords: individuation Cartesian natural philosophy Newtonian mechanics
    Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
    Depositing User: Katherine A. Brading
    Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2002
    Last Modified: 13 Sep 2015 11:12
    Item ID: 671

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