Article ID: CBB952708717

Galileo, Descartes and Newton's Laws (2020)


The debate on the influence of Galileo in the formulation of Newton's laws in the Principia has naturally extended to the study of manuscripts from the period 1664-1684. Almost all scholars tend to minimize this influence and to highlight that of Descartes. However, Newton's texts show an original form of the first law and the definition of the "vis insita" that refer to the conception of a principle of conservation of motion as dynamic activity rather than a principle of inertia. This can be linked to the perspective of Galileo, which is in no way comparable to a conceptualization of inertia and which is bound to the ancient Greek philosophy of atomism. The inertial perspective manifested itself when the influence of Descartes on Newton prevailed over that of Galileo. Inertia is linked to the revival of an Aristotelian theme that favours the preservation of rest and that in the physics of Descartes and then of Newton would merge with the atomistic theme of the conservation of motion. Newton’s second law of motion drew on Galileo’s theory that the gravitational acceleration of falling bodies does not depend on their mass.

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Authors & Contributors
Janiak, Andrew
Palmerino, Carla Rita
Clericuzio, Antonio
DiSalle, Robert
Giannetto, Enrico
Gómez López, Susana
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Foundations of Science
British Journal for the History of Philosophy
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
University of Pittsburgh
Greenwood Press
Universiteit Gent (Belgium)
Natural philosophy
Motion (physical)
Philosophy of science
Galilei, Galileo
Descartes, René
Newton, Isaac
Gassendi, Pierre
Copernicus, Nicolaus
Kepler, Johannes
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
18th century
20th century
Early modern

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