The Isomorphism of Space, Time and Matter in Seventeenth-century Natural Philosophy

In: Early Science and Medicine
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  • 1 Center for the History of Philosophy and Science, Faculty of Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9103, NL-6500 HD Nijmegen (The Netherlands)

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Abstract

This article documents the general tendency of seventeenth-century natural philosophers, irrespective of whether they were atomists or anti-atomists, to regard space, time and matter as magnitudes having the same internal composition. It examines the way in which authors such as Fromondus, Basson, Sennert, Arriaga, Galileo, Magnen, Descartes, Gassendi, Charleton as well as the young Newton motivated their belief in the isomorphism of space, time and matter, and how this belief reflected on their views concerning the relation between geometry and physics. Special attention is paid to the fact that most of the authors mentioned above regarded rarefaction and condensation, on the one hand, and acceleration and deceleration, on the other hand, as analogous phenomena, which consequently had to be explained in similar terms.

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