Cartesian echoes in Kant's philosophy of nature

Michela Massimi*, Silvia De Bianchi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we take the cue from a recent observation of Dan Warren about pre-Newtonian elements in Kant's philosophy of nature to argue that there are two puzzles concerning Kant's claim that mechanical laws presuppose dynamical laws in Chapter Three of Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. We offer responses on Kant's behalf to these puzzles. These responses take us through a journey via Kant's first pre-Critical work, True Estimation of Living Forces, and the then lively debate between Cartesians and Leibnizians. We show how some important Cartesian echoes, clearly evident in True Estimation, have played a role in shaping some seminal ideas of Kant on dynamical forces. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-492
Number of pages12
JournalStudies In History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • Kant
  • Dortous de Mairan
  • Elasticity
  • Dynamics
  • Mechanics


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