In this reassessment of Descartes' debt to his mentor Isaac Beeckman, I argue that they share the same basic conception of motion: the force of a body's motion—understood as the force of persisting in that motion, shorn of any connotations of internal cause—is conserved through God's direct action, is proportional to the speed and magnitude of the body, and is gained or lost only through collisions. I contend that this constitutes a fully coherent ontology of motion, original with Beeckman and consistent with his atomism, which, notwithstanding Descartes' own profoundly original contributions to the theory of motion, is basic to all Descartes' further work in natural philosophy.
Given Descartes's conception of extension, space and body, there are deep problems about how there can be any real motion. The argument here is that in fact Descartes takes motion to be only phenomenal. The paper sets out the problems generated by taking motion to be real, the solution to them found in the Cartesian texts, and an explanation of those texts in which Descartes appears on the contrary to regard motion as real.
This paper interprets Descartes's use of the Scholastic doctrine of divine concurrence in light of contemporaneous sources, and argues against two prevailing occasionalist interpretations. On the first occasionalist reading God's concurrence or cooperation with natural causes is always mediate (i.e., concurrence reduces to God's continual recreation of substances). The second reading restricts God's immediate concurrence to his co-action with minds. This paper shows that Descartes's metaphysical commitments do not necessitate either form of occasionalism, and that he is more plausibly and charitably read as appropriating elements of Scholastic views on concurrence to bridge the gap between his metaphysics and physics.
This paper charts the gradual development of a theory of real space, underlying the created world and constituted by the extension of God Himself, in the writings of the Cambridge Platonist, Henry More. It identifies two impediments to More's embracing such a theory in the earlier part of his career, namely his initial commitment to the principles that (a) space was not real and (b) God was not extended, and it shows how he finally came to renounce these principles in order to devise the theory so closely associated with him.
This article is concerned with Newton's appropriation of Descartes' ontology of true and immutable natures in developing his theory of infinitely extended space. It contends that unless the part played by the Platonic distinction between "being a nature" and "having a nature" in Newton's thinking is properly appreciated the foundation of his doctrine of space in relation to God will not be fully understood. It also contends that Newton's Platonism is consistent with his empiricism once the mediating role is made clear that the geometry of moving loci play in grounding his intuitions concerning infinite natures.
Newton's critics argued that his treatment of gravity in the Principia saddles him with a substantial dilemma. If he insists that gravity is a real force, he must invoke action at a distance because of his explicit failure to characterize the mechanism underlying gravity. To avoid distant action, however, he must admit that gravity is not a real force, and that he has therefore failed to discover the actual cause of the phenomena associated with it. A reinterpretation of Newton's distinction between the "mathematical" and the "physical" treatment of force indicates how he can reject each horn of this dilemma.