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New Essays on the Rationalists$
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Rocco J. Gennaro and Charles Huenemann

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195165418

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195165411.001.0001

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Space and Subtle Matter in Descartes's Metaphysics

Space and Subtle Matter in Descartes's Metaphysics

Chapter:
(p.3) 1 Space and Subtle Matter in Descartes's Metaphysics
Source:
New Essays on the Rationalists
Author(s):

Jonathan Bennett

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195165411.003.0001

Descartes rightly attacked the idea of space as extended nothing, but in inferring that space is an extended something, a substance, he overlooked the possibility that it is instead a system of relations (as Leibniz held). Even if it is a substance, it does not follow – as Descartes implied that it does – that “space” and “matter” are synonymous. It might instead be (1) that space is a substantial container, portions of which can be colocated with bodies or (2) that space is a substantial separator, portions of which flow into all locations where there are no bodies.

Keywords:   body, Jonathan Bennett, Descartes, extension, space, substance, subtle matter, vacuum

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