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5 - Space and Time

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 July 2009

Antonia LoLordo
Affiliation:
University of Virginia
Antonia Lolordo
Affiliation:
Assistant Professor Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
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Summary

Gassendi bases natural philosophy on three principles, as many Aristotelian philosophers did. However, for the three Aristotelian principles matter, form, and privation, he substitutes space, time, and the atoms that constitute material bodies and whose motion constitutes their causality. The claim that space exists independently of bodies is necessary for Gassendi's atomism: Atoms move through the void, so independent space was a feature of both Democritean and Epicurean atomism. Gassendi also holds that time has a “remarkable parallelism” (1.133a) with space, and hence construes time as well as space as having an absolute existence independent from bodies or their motion. This is rather more novel, and it is nowhere near as clear that Gassendi's atomism requires absolute time. I begin by discussing space, time, and the void; in the next chapter, I move on to the world and the atoms that compose it.

Space, Place, and Vacuum

The terms space, place, and vacuum or void were widely used in ancient and medieval philosophy. Aristotle takes place as the primary notion and defines void as “place with nothing in it.” Because he concludes that the void is impossible, space and place end up being the same thing. Gassendi reverses the direction of argument, first arguing for the possibility and existence of space distinct from the place of any body and then for the existence of void space.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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  • Space and Time
    • By Antonia Lolordo, Assistant Professor Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
  • Antonia LoLordo, University of Virginia
  • Book: Pierre Gassendi and the Birth of Early Modern Philosophy
  • Online publication: 24 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498503.008
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  • Space and Time
    • By Antonia Lolordo, Assistant Professor Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
  • Antonia LoLordo, University of Virginia
  • Book: Pierre Gassendi and the Birth of Early Modern Philosophy
  • Online publication: 24 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498503.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Space and Time
    • By Antonia Lolordo, Assistant Professor Corcoran Department of Philosophy, University of Virginia
  • Antonia LoLordo, University of Virginia
  • Book: Pierre Gassendi and the Birth of Early Modern Philosophy
  • Online publication: 24 July 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498503.008
Available formats
×