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PHIL 121P: Space and Motion in Early Modern Philosophy

Focusing on Descartes, Newton, and Leibniz, we investigate foundational debates in early modern science, metaphysics, and epistemology. We first develop Descartes' physical vortex theory, his laws of impact, and their connections to his metaphysics. Next, we study Newton's criticisms of Descartes' conceptions of space and motion. We attempt a definition of Newton's important concept of 'absolute space' and observe its role in his derivation of universal gravity. Finally, we turn to Leibniz to raise significant philosophical and theological issues with Newtonian spacetime and Cartesian physics.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Parker, A. (PI)
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