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By James Daniel Collins

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Extra resources for Descartes´ Philosophy of Nature

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6 (Olscamp, p. 52). Descartes always eventually tempers his bold claims for a knowledge of nature by drawj~g attention ~o the many different instruments and limitations of the human mmd engaged III t~e inquiry. Hence the actual Cartesian "d~ductil:lll" used in the st~dy of na~ure IS a very mixed process. Dents and hypotheses, so that the human mind can achieve that specIfic blendmg of mechanical principles which will approximately "explain" and "prove" (see above, n. 29) the determinate modes of physical reality.

540, 795, 820). Such convergent physical reasoning (which uses metaphysical and mechanical principles along with physical hypotheses and experiments) constitutes an approM priate substitute or locum tenens for a purely mathematical demonstration. This governs Descartes' carefully worded claim that, in passing from general physics to more specialized questions, he will "admit nothing about those [material things] as true, which is not derived so evidently from these common [geometrico~ mechanical] notions that it must be counted for a mathematical demonstration," pro mathematica demonstratione sit habendum.

The need for conceptual and experimental innovations is specially acute when we are investigating the phenomena and structures in sensible nature. Along with his programmatic insistence upon the ideal sameness of all acts of intuition and deduction, then, Descartes also recognizes the human need for methodological diversifications in the search after philosophical wisdom about natural reality. His appeal to the mathematical spirit in the study of nature does not signify that the world of nature must be submitted to a univocal mathematization and depersonalization of the inquiry into it.

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