Garber (1992)

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Garber, Daniel. (1992) Descartes' Physics. In Cottingham (Ed.) (1992), 286-334.

Title Descartes' Physics
Resource Type collection article
Author(s) Daniel Garber
Year 1992
Collection Cottingham (Ed.) (1992)
Pages 286-334


Physics and its foundations were central to Descartes' thought. Although today he is probably best known for his metaphysics of mind and body, or for his epistemological program, in the seventeenth century Descartes was at very least equally well known for his mechanistic physics and the mechanist world of geometrical bodies in motion which he played a large role in making acceptable to his contemporaries. In this essay I shall outline Descartes' mechanical philosophy in its historical context. After some brief remarks on the immediate background to Descartes' program for physics, and a brief outline of the historical development of his physics, we shall discuss the foundations of Descartes' physics, including his concepts of body and motion and his views on the laws of motion.