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Locke and Cartesian Philosophy$
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Philippe Hamou and Martine Pécharman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198815037

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198815037.001.0001

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Locke and Cartesian Cosmology

Locke and Cartesian Cosmology

Chapter:
(p.33) 2 Locke and Cartesian Cosmology
Source:
Locke and Cartesian Philosophy
Author(s):

Peter R. Anstey

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198815037.003.0003

The Cartesian vortex theory was of great interest to John Locke. Yet, the evidence for Locke’s interactions with and attitude towards Cartesian cosmology has never been assembled. After providing a sketch of the Cartesian theory of vortices, the chapter provides a preliminary survey of Locke’s increasingly critical responses to it. Taken in isolation, these comments might suggest that Locke firmly rejected the vortex theory by the late 1680s; however, it is argued that a more fine-grained analysis indicates that Locke is typical of many in England who acquiesced in a generic vortical explanation of the system of the planets until after the mid-1690s. The chapter surveys Locke’s broader interest in French and English cosmogonical writings in the 1690s respectively, and finishes with some concluding remarks on the context in which Locke frames the phrase ‘our solar system’ and substitutes it for ‘our vortex’.

Keywords:   Locke, Descartes, cosmology, natural philosophy, vortex theory, planetary motions, solar system

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