Thom: Descartes’ vs. Newton’s Physics


“History gives another reason for the physicist’s attitude toward the qualitative. The controversy between the followers of the physics of Descartes and of Newton was at its height at the end of the seventeenth century. Descartes, with his vortices, his hooked atoms, and the like, explained everything and calculated nothing; Newton, with the inverse square law of gravitation, calculated everything and explained nothing. History has endorsed Newton and relegated the Cartesian constructions to the domain of curious speculation. The Newtonian point of view has certainly fully justified itself from the point of view of its efficiency and its ability to predict, and therefore to act upon phenomena.” (p. 5) #Thom #Descartes #Newton #physics

Thom, René, Structural Stability and Morphogenesis: An Outline of a General Theory of Models. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press 2018.