Jennifer Bishop November 4, 2007 ILS Homework Notes: Cartesianism Course Reader: Pgs. 215-220 (Descartes, The World) The Number of Elements and their Qualities Descartes doesn?t describe elements as hot, cold, wet, or dry These qualities are irrelevant Only motion, shape and size are needed to understand elements Descartes says the forms of the elements must be simple each element must only have qualities that contribute to the preservation of the others Description of a new world; and the qualities of the matter of which it is composed he takes the reader on a hypothetical ?journey?, leading into the cosmos our imaginations seem infinite, but Descartes says new matter fills spaces much greater than we can imagine matter can be divided into ?as many parts, having as many shapes as we can imagine? repeatedly references GOD, to make his ideas about matter seem divine ?God can create everything we can imagine? matter is ?a real, perfectly solid body which uniformly fills the entire length, breadth, and depth of this huge space? Descartes purpose is not to explain the real world (like philosophers), but to make up a world that everyone can imagine The laws of nature of this new world 3 of the rules by which God causes the world to operate Each individual part of matter continues to be in the same state so long as collision with others does not force it to change that state Descartes criticizes philosophers for excluding motion in this rule Only one kind of motion When one body pushes another, it cannot give the other any motion unless it loses as much of its own motion at the same time; nor can it take away any of the other ?s motion unless its own is increased by as much When a body is moving, even though its motion for the most part happens on a curved path and can never make any movement which is not in some way circular, its parts tend always to move in a straight line. Only motion in a straight line is simple and easily grasped God alone is the author of all the linear motions in the world; matter makes these motions irregular and curved God wouldn?t perform miracles that will disturb the course of nature D: Pgs. 86-100 Matter in Motion Space and matter are identical Where there is space, there is matter because they are the same thing Descartes? universe can?t have empty space because it doesn?t exist Descartes wanted to give an account of the gradual formation of the universe so it could yield a world like ours God must introduce motion, otherwise nothing would ever happen Matter can?t be compressed If you try, you will leave a ?shell?, the size the matter was before The shrunken body has less matter, but the matter it lost still exists in the form of a shell The movement of any material body will always require another body to move Vortical Motion- sweeps planets around the sun like floating bodies in a whirlpool Descartes? reasoning is mathematical Only uses concepts proven true by mathematical demonstrations Phenomena is the behavior of mathematically-defined matter Qualities are irrelevant except for shape, size and matter The human mind is made up of 2 things Matter/extension Takes care of the natural world ?Thinking Stuff? Capacity for thinking The human soul is immortal and independent of the body ?The passions of the soul?- how the soul/mind is affected by external bodily conditions Believing Descartes? universe through practical analogies Descartes? universe was appealing because of its individual explanations wanted to design a world around the behavior of light used mechanical analogies to make his points analogies convey ideas rather than proving the validity Diotropics Written for the artisan, who could build what Descartes is describing Not written for philosophers, who would want to know if what Descartes was writing was true or not An advertisement for his philosophical abilities Le Monde Represents the heavens as composed of globules of matter which are all in contact with each other Globules are the second element All motion is rectilinear: any body moving in a circle moves away from the center of the circle which it describes Descartes? Cosmos Descartes wanted to surpass Aristotle with his cosmos Three Elements First- matter which composes the sun Second- Globules in the heavens Third- larger solids which compose the earth/planets/comets There are 3 because there are 3 ways matter relates to light phenomena Bodies generate light Bodies transmit light Bodies reflect light Descartes? major concern was that he would be criticized for saying the earth moved Emphasized the relativity of motion invented analytical geometry: representing geometrical figures algebraically Motion of a body is defined by the matter it passes through The Success of Descartes? Physics some philosophers preferred Descartes? universe to Aristotle?s universe Descartes covered all Aristotle?s subjects Descartes used mechanical explanations (based on certainty) Descartes wanted to replace Aristotle without shaking up university curriculum Attempt to replace Aristotle in universities failed Pierre Gassendi Atomist Explained things by imagining atoms where they were needed Gassendi stressed hypothetical explanations (unlike Descartes) Jennifer Bishop December 4, 2007 ILS Lecture Notes: Cartesianism Cartesian Cosmology Cartesian elements Descartes refers to fire, air, earth, water ? seems traditional at first Aristotelian elements are composed of form and matter Departure from Aristotelian elements Descartes says sensible qualities don?t matter (hot, dry, etc.) only secondary qualities the real qualities are the primary ones (size, shape, motion) The only difference between the elements are in size, shape and motion Ex: fire is small parts of matter with lots of motion Ex: air is medium parts of matter with medium motion Descartes thinks everything in the world is of the same substance Cartesian laws of nature Descartes gives a ?new? creation story God creates matter, introduces motion, and the matter will move according to certain laws God has already created laws of nature that govern how matter moves These laws are rules of collision- how matter is impacted when it interacts As the laws of motion take effect, the world is created Matter will break up as it interacts This determines the arrangement of matter It results in what we see (sun, moon, stars, etc.) The same laws of motion apply in the celestial and terrestrial regions Descartes wants to unify natural philosophy Uses matter to explain everything Everything obeys the same rules the Cartesian cosmos: plenum-vorax The success of the mechanical philosophy Why did Descartes gain support? People were sick of Aristotle?s explanations Descartes was famous, so people believed him BUT Descartes published anonymously, and presents his ideas as possibilities Doesn?t force his readers to think a certain way Descartes doesn?t think he?s better than anyone else Thought everyone should ?realize? the truths he presented if they used their minds Cartesian dogmatism/ success Patronage Of women especially Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia Corresponded with Descartes She gave him feedback on his natural philosophy Gave rise to ?The Passions of the Soul? Queen Christina of Sweden Invited Descartes to her court to be Court Philosopher Doesn?t work out for Descartes- he died She found his presentation appealing Salons Meetings held in the homes of high-status individuals Many participants were women- success for Descartes Women were excluded from universities The mechanical philosophy (matter in motion) All mechanical philosophers would agree that: parts of matter in motion are real sensible/secondary qualities are not important matter is passive- contrasts natural motion of Aristotelian world ?internal mover? determines behavior of material stuff in Aristotelian world matter doesn?t have goals/purposes?it is only changed by collision Why is it called the mechanical philosophy? Sometimes referred to as atomism (Gassendi) ?atom?- cannot be broken apart Corpusularianism (Descartes) Corpuscles are small parts of matter We always see the same kind of analogy between natural/artificial things The Clock Metaphor: no difference between looking at a tree and looking at a clock European clocks were more complicated Descartes wants us to see that when we look at clocks, we notice their appearances if we want to explain the appearances, we look at the ?mechanism? inside the actions are predetermined ?matter in motion? is the explanation for why we see what we see This shows the differences between what our senses tell us and what is actually happening Artificial mechanisms- we can see how things work by looking inside (clock) Natural mechanisms- we can?t explain anything by opening up a squirrel; we have to go even deeper to explain Explanation not obvious to the senses Main Problem with mechanical philosophy How do we decide what the right mechanism is? We have to ?weed out? the mechanisms that don?t work and arrive at the right one Is this a disadvantage? Multiple explanations obstruct the truth BUT, there are lots of possibilities to debate ?success? of mechanical philosophy means that Descartes introduced a new way of thinking
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