In this way we will discern that the nature of matter or body, considered in general, does not consist in its being hard, or ponderous, or coloured, or that which affects our senses in any other way, but simply in its being a substance extended in length, breadth, and depth. For with respect to hardness, we know nothing of it by sense farther than that the parts of hard bodies resist the motion of our hands on coming into contact with them; but if every time our hands moved towards any part, all the bodies in that place receded as quickly as our hands approached, we should never feel hardness; and yet we have no reason to believe that bodies which might thus recede would on this account lose that which makes them bodies. The nature of body does not, therefore, consist in hardness. In the same way, it may be shown that weight, colour, and all the other qualities of this sort, which are perceived in corporeal matter, may be taken from it, while it remains complete: it thus follows that the nature of body depends on none of these.
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Home » Modern Philosophy » René Descartes (1596–1650) » Descartes’ The Principles of Philosophy (1644)
Part Two, Section Four: That the nature of body consists not in weight hardness, colour and the like, but in extension alone
- Front Matter
- Body Matter
- Back Matter