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The Science of Nature in the Seventeenth Century‘Waterworld’: Descartes’ Vortical Celestial Mechanics

The Science of Nature in the Seventeenth Century: ‘Waterworld’: Descartes’ Vortical Celestial... JOHN A. SCHUSTER 'WATERWORLD': DESCARTES' VORTICAL CELESTIAL MECHANICS A Gambit in the Natural Philosophical Contest of the Early Seventeenth Century 1.INTRODUCTION—UNCOMMON VORTICES Nearly fifty years ago, Thomas Kuhn, in his best selling and often reprinted, The Copernican Revolution, said this of Descartes’ vortex universe: the ‘vision was inspired’; the ‘scope tremendous’; but ‘the amount of critical thinking devoted to any of its parts was negligibly small’. Typically more pointedly and poetically, Gaston Bachelard had in 1938 condemned Descartes’ plenist universe, including the vortex mechanics, as the ‘metaphysics of the sponge’, an exemplary ‘pre-scientific’ monstrosity, in other words, the sub-scientific progeny of cancerous metaphor and baroque ego projection. Other more mundane brush offs could also be cited. Of course, Descartes’ vortices do not posses for us the straight, presentist scientificity of Newtonian mechanics, but they have an internal density and complex genealogy—in Descartes’ life work, and later, as Aiton has shown. They are deserving of study if we are to understand the structure and dynamics of natural knowing in the early modern period. We can display how the vortices were intellectually constructed, and why. This I intend to do, concentrating on Descartes’ Le Monde, The World or a Treatise of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png

The Science of Nature in the Seventeenth Century‘Waterworld’: Descartes’ Vortical Celestial Mechanics

Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Book Series (volume 19)
Editors: Anstey, Peter R.; Schuster, John A.

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References (22)

Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
© Springer 2005
ISBN
978-1-4020-3603-3
Pages
35 –79
DOI
10.1007/1-4020-3703-1_3
Publisher site
See Chapter on Publisher Site

Abstract

JOHN A. SCHUSTER 'WATERWORLD': DESCARTES' VORTICAL CELESTIAL MECHANICS A Gambit in the Natural Philosophical Contest of the Early Seventeenth Century 1.INTRODUCTION—UNCOMMON VORTICES Nearly fifty years ago, Thomas Kuhn, in his best selling and often reprinted, The Copernican Revolution, said this of Descartes’ vortex universe: the ‘vision was inspired’; the ‘scope tremendous’; but ‘the amount of critical thinking devoted to any of its parts was negligibly small’. Typically more pointedly and poetically, Gaston Bachelard had in 1938 condemned Descartes’ plenist universe, including the vortex mechanics, as the ‘metaphysics of the sponge’, an exemplary ‘pre-scientific’ monstrosity, in other words, the sub-scientific progeny of cancerous metaphor and baroque ego projection. Other more mundane brush offs could also be cited. Of course, Descartes’ vortices do not posses for us the straight, presentist scientificity of Newtonian mechanics, but they have an internal density and complex genealogy—in Descartes’ life work, and later, as Aiton has shown. They are deserving of study if we are to understand the structure and dynamics of natural knowing in the early modern period. We can display how the vortices were intellectually constructed, and why. This I intend to do, concentrating on Descartes’ Le Monde, The World or a Treatise of

Published: Jan 1, 2005

Keywords: Central Star; Surface Envelope; Heavy Body; Simple Machine; Local Vortex

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