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Home Fictions of the world in Descartes’ and Gassendi’s physics

FICTIONS OF THE WORLD IN DESCARTES’ AND GASSENDI’S PHYSICS

Alexandra TORERO-IBAD*

Abstract. Both Gassendi and Descartes used fables in order to account for the formation of the world. The first aim of this paper is to argue that, in both cases, the use of fiction does not merely wish to avoid competing with the account of Genesis. On the contrary, fiction appears to be a proper conceptual tool. Subsequently, I will claim that Gassendi’s and
Descartes’ fables of the world, in spite of their resemblances, serve rather different goals: Gassendi used the fictional account to underline the limits of the physical explanation in cosmology, while Descartes used his fable to account for the functioning of the world.

Keywords: Fable of the world, René Descartes, The World, Discourse in the Method, Principles of philosophy, Pierre Gassendi, Syntagma philosophicum

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