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On Purpose$
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Michael Ruse

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195957

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195957.001.0001

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Aristotle Redivivus

Aristotle Redivivus

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter Eight Aristotle Redivivus
Source:
On Purpose
Author(s):

Michael Ruse

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691195957.003.0008

This chapter explains occurrences during and after the Scientific Revolution, in which the personification of nature that is at the heart of the Aristotelian philosophy had a nasty way of reappearing in the most orthodox of machine-metaphor- influenced places. Even more than mechanics, optics was riddled with final-cause thinking. Pierrre de Fermat's “principle of least time” explains Snell's law of refraction, the connection between the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction. Since light going from a less dense to a denser medium is bent toward the normal, it is not going from beginning to end by the shortest distance. But assuming that light travels less quickly in a more dense than less dense medium, one can show that it does travel in the shortest time.

Keywords:   Scientific Revolution, Aristotelian philosophy, final-cause thinking, Pierrre de Fermat, refraction

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