De Corpore  

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"By reasoning, I understand computation. And to compute is to collect the sum of many things added together at the same time, or to know the remainder when one thing has been taken from another. To reason therefore is the same as to add or to subtract."--De Corpore (1655) by Thomas Hobbes

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

De Corpore (On the Body) is a 1655 book by Thomas Hobbes. As its full Latin title Elementorum philosophiae sectio prima De corpore implies, it was part of a larger work, conceived as a trilogy. De Cive had already appeared, while De Homine would be published in 1658. Hobbes had in fact been drafting De Corpore for at least a decade before its appearance, putting it aside for other matters.

Although the chosen title would suggest a work of natural philosophy, De Corpore is largely devoted to foundational matters. It consists of four sections. Part I covers logic. Part II and Part III concern “abstract bodies”: the second part is a repertoire of scientific concepts, and the third of geometry. The Chapters 16 to 20 of Part III are in fact devoted to mathematics generally, in a reductive way, and proved controversial. They proposed a kinematic foundation for geometry, which Hobbes wished to equate with mathematics; geometry itself, that is, is a “science of motion”. Hobbes here adopts ideas from Galileo and Cavalieri. The inclusion of a claimed solution for squaring the circle, an apparent afterthought rather than a systematic development, and largely retracted by Hobbes himself, led to an extended pamphlet war. It is in Part IV, on natural phenomena, that there is discussion of physics as such.

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