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

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

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Abstract:

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

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