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Hobbes and the Galilean Law of Free Fall

  • Cees Leijenhorst
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 239)

Abstract

The Galilean science of motion was one of the major sources of inspiration of Thomas Hobbes’ mechanical natural philosophy. Already in 1634, at a time when his philosophical career had only just begun, we find Hobbes hunting — in vain — for a copy of the Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (1632).1 Then, as a tutor of William Cavendish, the later Duke of Devonshire, Hobbes paid a visit to Galileo at Arcetri in 1635. There is an old legend that on this occasion Galileo inspired Hobbes to conceive a system of ethics more geometrico, which is one of those nice but most probably false myths of the history of philosophy.2 Due to his involvement with the Royalist cause in the English Civil war, Hobbes had to spend a long exile in Paris from 164o until 1651. Actually, this was the most productive period in his life. He was able to frequent on a daily basis the circle of Father Marin Mersenne, where Galileo’s new science of motion stood at the centre of attention. In the Mersenne Circle, Hobbes enjoyed the reputation of a good mathematician and interesting philosopher.

Keywords

Free Fall Gravitational Attraction Heavy Body English Work Continuous Acceleration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. 1.
    Hobbes to William Cavendish, London 26 January / 5 February 1634: “My first businesse in London, was to seeke for Galileos dialogues [ ... ] it is not possible to get it for mony; There were but few brought ouer at first, and they that buy such bookes, are not such men as to part with them againe. I heare say it is called in, in Italy, as a booke that will do more hurt to their Religion then all the bookes have done of Luther and Calvin, such opposition they thinke is betweene their Religion, and naturall reason. I doubt not but the translation of it will here be publiquely embraced, and therefore wish extreamely that Dr. Webbe would hasten it;’ Hobbes, The Correspondence [Malcolm], I, p. 19Google Scholar
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  • Cees Leijenhorst

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