Whereas Copernicus had to persuade us to believe, contrary to all our senses, that the earth did not stand still, Boscovich taught us to disavow the final 'fixed' thing in the regard to the earth—the belief in 'substance,' in 'matter,' in the little residual earthly clump—the atom. This was the greatest triumph over the senses ever achieved on earth. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
In this final chapter I examine one of the more ingenious and philosophically intriguing responses to the problems of material structure: the embryonic field theory first suggested by Henry More and subsequently developed as a fully fledged theory of matter by Boscovich and Kant in his younger, pre-critical period. (For brevity's sake, I shall call this account the Kant-Boscovich theory of matter. But the reader should bear in mind that the later, critical period Kant will renounce this theory for a different model of material structure altogether.)
In focusing on this response in particular, I do not mean to imply that it is the only viable approach to the problems of material structure, or even that it is necessarily the most plausible. For all that has been said in this book, certain other responses would still appear equally feasible. Think, for instance, of the potential parts resolution of Aristotle, Hobbes, and the later Kant (see Chapter 1 , section IX, 'faction 1'); or of Galileo's system of actual infinities of ultimate parts (see Chapter 1 , section IX, 'faction 3'). For a systematic survey of all the logically and conceptually respectable accounts of material structure, see the Conclusion.
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Publication information: Book title: The Architecture of Matter: Galileo to Kant. Contributors: Thomas Holden - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 236.
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