Spinoza and Cartesian Mechanics
This text is a condensed redevelopment and considerable extension of a study initially published in the first two issues of Cahiers Spinoza under the title of “Spinoza et la physique cartésienne”(Lecrivain, 1911–18). My idea there was to propose a literal and exhaustive commentary on Spinoza”s exposition of the second part of the Principles of Descartes”s Philosophy. In the short space of an article, a few dozen pages, it would of course be vain to pretend to the same ambitions. I prefer to give an exposition of some of the major themes of the mechanistic conception of matter, particularly of those that especially captured Spinoza’s attention and on which he reflected critically and demonstratively. The necessarily limited objective that I impose upon myself is, first, to determine the significance of the fundamental concepts, the articulation and systematic organization of which constitutes what is generally called the mechanistic theory of nature; and second, to try to explicate the forms and range of the theoretical and epistemological recasting in which Spinoza was engaged with regard to concepts he had inherited from Cartesianism. The difficulty of this enterprise arises essentially out of the fact that, in such a theoretical edifice, traditional metaphysical categories and scientific principles or concepts issuing from the most recent developments in the new sciences of nature are permanently intertwined.
KeywordsMechanistic Conception Infinite Divisibility Hard Body Abstract Instrument Infinitesimal Calculus
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