New Studies in the Philosophy of Descartes: Descartes as Pioneer

By Norman Kemp Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII

"Of all the intellectual hurdles which the human mind has been faced with and has overcome in the last fifteen hundred years, the most stupendous in its consequences was the problem of motion."-- H. BUTTERFIELD, The Origin of Modern Science ( 1949).

" Descartes was a man of genius with an extreme dislike of anything misty and confused. So difficulties which were latent in the new philosophy, and which its practical success tended to conceal, stood out clearly in the light of his penetrating and synoptic intellect."-- C. D. BROAD, Cambridge Historical journal( 1944).

"La découverte d'une vérité se fait parmi les erreurs, comme l'enfant naît parmi les souillures. Telle est la vie de la pensée."-- H. LEFEBURE, Descartes ( 1947), P. 142.

"To the Greeks motion was always something of a puzzle. How could an object 'located' successively at a series of separate points actually be in motion? How could it be in a position and away from it simultaneously? The crux of these difficulties lay, curiously enough, in their concept of number and therefore in their ideas of time and space measurement. Each number was sharply distinguished from every other, no matter how close any two might be to equality. They had no decimal system that makes it easy for the modern man to conceive of a 'continuum' of numbers. Their number system did not allow of the possibility of a continuous change from one number to another. Everything proceeded by jumps. By the time of Newton, this arithmetical difficulty had been largely overcome, although it was not until many years later that it was established on a firm foundation. "-- H. LEVY in Sixteen Portraits ( 1951), p. 147.

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New Studies in the Philosophy of Descartes: Descartes as Pioneer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Bibliography vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter I 2
  • Appendix A DESCARTES' THREEFOLD DREAM 33
  • Appendix B DESCARTES' ENCOUNTER WITH CHANDOUX, AND SUBSEQUENT INTERVIEW WITH CARDINAL DE BÉRULLE 40
  • Chapter II 48
  • Chapter III 84
  • Chapter IV 102
  • Chapter IV Descartes' Universal Physics as Outlined in His Traité De La Lumière 103
  • Chapter V 124
  • Chapter VI 138
  • Chapter VII 162
  • Chapter VIII 190
  • Chapter IX 220
  • Chapter X 259
  • Chapter XI 294
  • Chapter XII 308
  • Chapter XIII 322
  • INDEX OF PROPER NAMES 365
  • INDEX OF SUBJECTS 367
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