Ideas of Pierre Gassendi, by Theme

[French, 1592 - 1655, Born at Champtercier, France.]

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8. Modes of Existence / B. Properties / 8. Properties as Modes
Modes of things exist in some way, without being full-blown substances
     Full Idea: Modes are not nothing but something more than mere nothing; they are therefore 'res' of some kind, not substantial of course, but at least modal.
     From: Pierre Gassendi (Disquisitions [1644], II.3.4), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 260
     A reaction: This is the great modern atomist talking pure scholastic metaphysics. He's been reading Suárez. Gassendi seems to accept more than one type of existence.
If matter is entirely atoms, anything else we notice in it can only be modes
     Full Idea: Since these atoms are the whole of the corporeal matter or substance that exists in bodies, if we conceive or notice anything else to exist in these bodies, that is not a substance but only some kind of mode of the substance.
     From: Pierre Gassendi (Syntagma [1658], II.1.6.1), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 22.4
     A reaction: If the atoms have a few qualities of their own, are they just modes? If they are genuine powers, then there can be emergent powers, which are rather more than mere 'modes'.
14. Science / D. Explanation / 2. Types of Explanation / j. Explanations by reduction
We observe qualities, and use 'induction' to refer to the substances lying under them
     Full Idea: Nothing beyond qualities is perceived by the senses. …When we refer to the substance in which the qualities inhere, we do this through induction, by which we reason that some subject lies under the quality.
     From: Pierre Gassendi (Syntagma [1658], II.1.6.1), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 07.1
     A reaction: He talks of 'induction' (in an older usage), but he seems to mean abduction, since he never makes any observations of the substances being proposed.
17. Mind and Body / A. Mind-Body Dualism / 2. Interactionism
Things must have parts to intermingle
     Full Idea: If you are no larger than a point, how are you joined to the whole body, which is so large? …and there can be no intermingling between things unless the parts of them can be intermingled.
     From: Pierre Gassendi (Objections to 'Meditations' (Fifth) [1641]), quoted by Jaegwon Kim - Philosophy of Mind p.131
     A reaction: As Descartes says that mind is distinct from body because it is non-spatial, it doesn't seem quite right to describe it as a 'point', but the second half is a real problem. Being non-spatial is a real impediment to intermingling with spatial objects.
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 6. Early Matter Theories / g. Atomism
Atoms are not points, but hard indivisible things, which no force in nature can divide
     Full Idea: The vulgar think atoms lack parts and are free of all magnitude, and hence nothing other than a mathematical point, but it is something solid and hard and compact, as to leave no room for division, separation and cutting. No force in nature can divide it.
     From: Pierre Gassendi (Syntagma [1658], II.1.3.5), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 03.2
     A reaction: If you gloatingly think the atom has now been split, ask whether electrons and quarks now fit his description. Pasnau notes that though atoms are indivisible, they are not incorruptible, and could go out of existence, or be squashed.
How do mere atoms produce qualities like colour, flavour and odour?
     Full Idea: If the only material principles of things are atoms, having only size, shape, and weight, or motion, then why are so many additional qualities created and existing within the things: color, heat, flavor, odor, and innumerable others?
     From: Pierre Gassendi (Syntagma [1658], II.1.5.7), quoted by Robert Pasnau - Metaphysical Themes 1274-1671 22.4
     A reaction: This is pretty much the 'hard question' about the mind-body relation. Bacon said that heat was just motion of matter. I would say that this problem is gradually being solved in my lifetime.