An analysis of descartess mechanical philosophy

He is best known for his philosophical text Meditations on First Philosophy where he seeks to doubt everything he has ever learned, in order to see what it is that he can actually know with certainty. Descartes soon realizes that the only thing he is certain of is that, since he is doubting, he must be thinking. From this fundamental principle, he puts forth what he believes are rational arguments for the existence of God as well as the world.

An analysis of descartess mechanical philosophy

The mechanical philosophy was a philosophy of nature, popular in the seventeenth century, that sought to explain all natural phenomena in terms of matter and motion without recourse to any kind of action at a distance cause and effect without any physical contact.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many natural philosophers rejected Aristotelianism, which had provided the form of and foundations for natural philosophy at least since the thirteenth century. The mechanical philosophy, which was rooted in ancient Greek atomism, was one candidate for a new philosophy.

Atomism was the theory that everything in the material world consists of imperceptible, solid, indivisible bits of matter—atoms—that move about in empty space. Not all mechanical philosophers were strict atomists, but they attempted to explain all natural phenomena in terms of the configurations, motions, and collisions of small, unobservable particles of matter.

A central doctrine of the mechanical philosophy was the theory of primary and secondary qualities, according to which matter is really endowed with only a few primary qualities and all others such as color, taste, or odor are the result of the impact of the primary qualities on human sense organs.

Nature was thus mechanized and most qualities were considered subjective. Background The mechanical philosophy derived from the views of the Greek philosopher Epicurus — b.

He considered the good life to be one that maximizes pleasure and minimizes pain. Epicurus believed that the greatest sources of human unhappiness, apart from bodily pain, are fear of the gods and anxiety about punishment after death.

To eliminate these causes of distress, he sought to explain all natural phenomena in naturalistic terms—the chance collisions of material atoms in empty space his version of atomismthus eliminating the gods' interference in human lives. He claimed that the human soul is material, composed of atoms that are exceedingly small and swift.

The Epicurean soul did not survive death. Thus there is no reason to fear punishment in the afterlife. Epicurus believed that the atoms have always existed and that they are infinite in number. Epicureanism, while not strictly atheistic, denied that the gods play a role in the natural or human worlds, thus ruling out any kind of divine intervention in human life or providence in the world.

Because of its reputation as atheistic and materialistic, Epicureanism fell into disrepute during the Christian Middle Ages. The writings of Epicurus and his Roman disciple Lucretius c. Following the development of heliocentric astronomy in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, many natural philosophers believed that Aristotelianism, which rests on geocentric assumptions, could no longer provide adequate foundations for natural philosophy.

Among the many ancient philosophies that were recovered by Renaissance humanists, Epicurean atomism seemed particularly compatible with the spirit of the new astronomy and physics. Early advocates of the mechanical philosophy included David van Goorle —Sebastian Basso fl.

Although each of these men favored some version of atomism, none of them developed a systematic philosophy. Isaac Beeckman —a Dutch schoolmaster, advocated a mechanical view of nature and wrote about it extensively in his private journal, which was not published until the twentieth century.

Major Advocates of the Mechanical Philosophy Gassendi and Descartes published the first systematic and the most influential accounts of the mechanical philosophy. Their treatises spelled out the fundamental terms of the mechanical philosophy and functioned as programmatic statements, describing what such a philosophy would look like in practice.

Although both men agreed that all physical phenomena should be explained in terms of matter and motion, they differed about the details. Gassendi believed that God had created indivisible atoms and endowed them with motion.

An analysis of descartess mechanical philosophy

The atoms, colliding in empty space the voidare the constituents of the physical world. In his massive Syntagma philosophicum published posthumously in ; Philosophical treatiseGassendi set out to explain all the qualities of matter and all the phenomena in the world in terms of atoms and the void.

He argued for the existence of the void—a controversial claim at the time—on both conceptual and empirical grounds, appealing to recent barometric experiments of Evangelista Torricelli — and Blaise Pascal — The primary qualities of Gassendi's atoms were size, shape, and mass. He attempted to explain all the qualities of bodies—light, color, sound, taste, smell, heaviness, and lightness—in atomic terms.

Among the qualities he included were the so-called occult qualities, which seemed to involve action at a distance and had generally resisted explanation in mechanical terms. After laying the foundations for his philosophy, Gassendi gave an account of the entire creation: Writing in the manner of a Renaissance humanist, Gassendi saw himself as the restorer of the philosophy of Epicurus.

Deeply concerned with Epicurus's heterodox ideas, Gassendi, a Catholic priest, sought to modify ancient atomism so that it would be acceptable to seventeenth-century Christians.Descartes was the first to formulate the mind-body problem in the form in which it exists today (see the section on Philosophy of Mind), and the first to clearly identify the mind with consciousness and self-awareness, and to distinguish this from the brain, which was the physical seat of intelligence.

While René Descartes (–) is well-known as one of the founders of modern philosophy, his influential role in the development of modern physics has been, until the later half of the twentieth century, generally under-appreciated and under-investigated by both historians and philosophers of science.


Descartes: Philosophy Summary

The mechanical philosophy was a philosophy of nature, popular in the seventeenth century, that sought to explain all natural phenomena in terms of matter and motion without recourse to any kind of action at a distance (cause and effect without any physical contact).

The mechanical philosophy is a natural philosophy describing the universe as similar to a large-scale mechanism. Mechanical philosophy is associated with the scientific revolution of Early Modern Europe.

One of the first expositions of universal mechanism is found in the opening passages of Leviathan by Hobbes published in Essay Descartes Six Meditations on First Philosophy - Throughout the six meditations on First Philosophy, French philosopher Rene Descartes seeks to find a concrete foundation for the basis of science, one which he states can only include certain and unquestionable beliefs.

René Descartes (—) René Descartes is often credited with being the “Father of Modern Philosophy.” This title is justified due both to his break with the traditional Scholastic-Aristotelian philosophy prevalent at his time and to his development and promotion of the new, mechanistic sciences. Overall Analysis and Themes. The Meditations are generally considered the starting point of modern Western philosophy, and with good reason. In this one brief text, Descartes turns many Aristotelian doctrines upside down and frames many of the questions that are still being debated in philosophy today. A summary of Overall Analysis and Themes in Rene Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Meditations on First Philosophy and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans.

Descartes presented his results in major works published during his lifetime: the Discourse on the Method (in French, ), with its essays, the Dioptrics, Meteorology, and Geometry; the Meditations on First Philosophy (i.e., on metaphysics), with its Objections and Replies (in Latin, , 2nd edn.

); the Principles of Philosophy, covering his metaphysics and much of his natural philosophy (in Latin, .

Meditations on First Philosophy Analysis -