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Descartes´ Philosophy of Nature by James Daniel Collins

By James Daniel Collins

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29-30)' Principles of Philosophy Bk III sects. p. 223-226). See Desc~tes, Philosophical Letter; (K: PP: 45-49, 55-56), for cautIOns on the mathematical claims far philosophy of nature. 64 DESCARTES' PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE TEMPERING CLAIMS TO KNOW NATURE one must consider the reality reference of basic propositions. The "mathematical" traits of indubitable certitude, development of many consequences from a few principles, continuity in systematic reasoning, and use of new intellectual instruments.

Descartes states the theoretical aspects of this situation in a striking passage of first-person discourse, which underscores the inquirer's own aims and decisions in making a study of nature. minaieness to the power of nature (taken as God and as moving particles of matter) and its mechanical laws or principles of movement, when there is question only of ruling out any non-mechanistic account of the movement and structure of bodies. The latter account would constitute an appeal to occult powers and qualities, that is, it would posit the presence in nature of aspects which are incompatible or unconnected with explanation through the laws of movement for extended particles.

4) An internal study of the genesis of these instruments of deduction constitutes the fourth positive mark of the efficacious presence of the mathematical spirit in developing the philosophy of nature. Descartes gives an operational description of how the mathematically ordered mind works inductively and experimentally with the actual composites in experience, and develops the philosophy of nature by framing hypotheses and constructing imaginative models of the kinds of bodies in our world. Such methodological analysis is 66 DESCARTES' PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE 9 a peculiarly effective way in which the Cartesian claim to know nature is tempered by the capacities of the human mmd, even III its Methodic Convergence upon Operable Nature mathematically regulated operations.

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