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Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VII$
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Daniel Garber and Donald Rutherford

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198748717

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748717.001.0001

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Absolute Space and the Riddle of Rotation

Absolute Space and the Riddle of Rotation

Kant’s Response to Newton

Chapter:
(p.256) (p.257) 8 Absolute Space and the Riddle of Rotation
Source:
Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy, Volume VII
Author(s):

Marius Stan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748717.003.0008

Newton had a fivefold argument that true motion must be motion in absolute space, not relative to matter. Like Newton, Kant holds that bodies have true motions; unlike Newton, Kant takes all motion to be relative to matter, not to space itself. The chapter shows that Kant addresses just one part of Newton’s case, namely, his ‘argument from the effects’ of rotation; and, to establish that rotation is relative to matter, Kant changes the meaning of ‘relative motion’. However, that change puts Kant’s doctrine in deep tension with Newton’s science. Based on this construal, the chapter corrects earlier readings of Kant by Earman and Carrier; and argues that Friedman’s influential interpretation needs to be revised. Kant’s struggle, the chapter concludes, illustrates the difficulties early modern relationists faced when they rejected Newtonian absolute space; and it typifies their selective engagement with Newton’s case for it.

Keywords:   Immanuel Kant, Isaac Newton, absolute space, relationism, motion

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