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Nicholas Of Autrecourt’s Atomistic Physics

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Chapter Summary

This chapter demonstrates how atomism functions within Nicholas's physics and how he believes it can resolve some of the basic problems of medieval natural philosophy. The theory of atoms, in Nicholass mind, is a weapon against Aristotles theory of generation and corruption. Indeed, the atomistic conception of natural change is linked to the denial of the matter-form couple. The challenge Nicholas faces is to explain how consistent atomic compositions can be possible. From the celestial bodies, which simplicity renders them eternal, to the sublunary world composed of atoms, Nicholas offers a completely atomized cosmos. Nicholas attempts to elaborate a non-metaphysical physics founded on very few principles: qualitative atoms, local motion, and celestial causality.

Keywords: Aristotle; atomistic physics; Nicholas



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