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Descartes’ Quantity of Motion: ‘New Age’ Holism Meets the Cartesian Conservation Principle

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Abstract:

This essay explores various problematical aspects of Descartes’ conservation principle for the quantity of motion (size 3 speed), particularly its largely neglected “dual role” as a measure of both durational motion and instantaneous “tendencies towards motion.” Overall, an underlying non-local, or “holistic,” element of quantity of motion (largely derived from his statics) will be revealed as central to a full understanding of the conservation principle’s conceptual development and intended operation; and this insight can be of use in responding to some of the recent and traditional criticisms of Descartes’ physics.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0114.00079

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Winona State University

Publication date: June 1, 1999

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