Cartesian Primary Qualities in Light of Some Contemporary Physical ExplanationsReport as inadecuate

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Prolegomena : Journal of Philosophy, Vol.7 No.1 April 2008. -

Descartes’ derivation of the primary qualities of matter and their role in explaining observed physical phenomena are briefly reviewed. The lesson drawn from Descartes’ methodology of explanation is that we ought to aim to reduce complex phenomena to simple unifying principles and conceptual primitives. Three proposed solutions to the apparent paradoxes in contemporary quantum physics primarily associated with the notion of entanglement are briefly compared with lessons taken from Descartes. It is argued that further research in this field should provide criteria for selecting modifications to the standard largely Cartesian conceptual scheme, along the lines of either visualisable causality or the physical spatial separability of all material objects.

Descartes; explanation; primary qualities; quantum theory; separability

Author: Mladen Domazet - ; Institute for Social Research, Zagreb, Croatia



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