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Atomism in England from Hariot to Newton by Robert Hugh Kargon

By Robert Hugh Kargon

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4 Th e spirits interact with gross matter through varions ‘ Chemical’ (nonmechanical) processes. ^ The forms and qualities o f tangible bodies resuit from the nature o f these active spirits. ^ It is seen, therefore, that Bacon’s later theory o f matter is one o f the interaction o f gross, visible parts o f matter and invisible material spirits, both o f which are physically mixed, as Bacon had it, like air in snow. Bacon’s spirits are doser to Telesio’s material spirits than to Descartes’ subtle matter.

The impetus or energia o f aU the atoms, by 1649 ; this omission is unfortunate. This work was the first major présenta­ which Gassend means the active force in collision, is constant and is as it tion in systematic form o f Gassend’s physics. It is a mistake to daim, as the was at the création. Unlike Epicurus, Gassend’s atoms hâve motions in ail Halls hâve done, that Gassend’s mechanical philosophy had to wait until directions. The vis motrix or principle o f motion is essential to matter and 1658 for a full exposition.

Petty’s original interests were in mathematics, but under the tute- tained the indefinite divisibility o f matter by G o d and by mathematical lage o f Hobbes and the others, he soon turned to physics. He was engaged analysis ; Gassend agreed with this position. ® not In 1674, in a discourse presented to the Royal Society, Petty delineated indivisible, they tended in actuality to be divided only with extreme difïiculty. his mechanical philosophy, which doubtless reflected very closely his atoms were indivisible.

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