Matter Matters: Metaphysics and Methodology in the Early Modern Period

Paperback | January 1, 2013

byKurt Smith

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Why is there a material world? Why is it fundamentally mathematical? Matter Matters explores a seventeenth-century answer to these questions as it emerged from the works of Descartes and Leibniz. The 'mathematization' of the physics is shown to have been conceptually underwritten by twomethods of philosophizing, namely, analysis and synthesis. The connection between these things - mathematics, matter, and the methods of analysis and synthesis - has thus far gone unexplored by scholars. The book is in four Parts: Part I works out the context in which the theory of modern matter arose. Part II develops the method of analysis, showing how it aligns with Descartes's famous doctrine of clear and distinct ideas. Part III develops the method of synthesis, focusing primarily on Leibniz,showing how it establishes the very conditions necessary and sufficient for mathematics. Analysis and synthesis turn out to establish isomorphic conceptual systems, which turn out to be isomorphic to what mathematicians today call a group. The group concept expresses the conditions underwriting all of mathematics. Part IV examines several relatively new interpretations of Descartes - the realist and idealist readings - which appear to be at odds with one another. The examination shows the sense in which these readings are actuallycompatible, and together reveal a richer picture of Descartes's position on the reality of matter. Ultimately, Matter Matters establishes the claim that mathematics is intelligible if, and only if, matter exists.

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Why is there a material world? Why is it fundamentally mathematical? Matter Matters explores a seventeenth-century answer to these questions as it emerged from the works of Descartes and Leibniz. The 'mathematization' of the physics is shown to have been conceptually underwritten by twomethods of philosophizing, namely, analysis and sy...

Kurt Smith earned his BA in philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, and his MA and PhD in philosophy at Claremont Graduate University. He is currently an Associate Professor of philosophy at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. His work can be found in such publications as the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, Canadi...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pagesPublished:January 1, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199664706

ISBN - 13:9780199664702

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: Preliminaries: The Context of Modern Matter1. The Visible and the Intelligible2. Plato's Early and Late Methods3. Matter and DivisionPart II: Analysis4. Analysis and Clarity and Distinctness5. A General Theory of Clarity and Distinctness6. The General Theory Continued7. Enumeration, Quantity, and MeasurementPart III: Synthesis8. Synthesis and System Building9. Synthesis and the Principle of Addition10. Metaphysics, Mathematics, and Metaphor11. Material Structure and Calculating Machines12. How Analysis and Synthesis are RelatedPart IV: Sensible and Intelligible Matter13. Is Matter Real?14. Empirical Ideality, Reality, and Matter15. Empirical Reality and Intelligible Matter16. Transcendental MatterTying Up the Loose Ends-Closing RemarksBibliography

Editorial Reviews

".. a work of genius ... exhibits a breathtaking spread of erudition from antiquity to the present, mobilized to elucidate the early modern significance of the concept of matter." --Thomas M. Lennon, The University of Western Ontario