I—Descartes on Nature, Habit and the Corporeal World



Descartes says that the Meditations contains the foundations of his physics. But how does the work advance his geometrical view of the corporeal world? His argument for this view of matter is often taken to be concluded with the proof of the existence of bodies in the Sixth Meditation. This paper focuses on the work that follows the proof, where Descartes pursues the question of what we should think about qualities such as light, sound and pain, as well as the size and shape of particular bodies. His inquiry makes crucial use of the notion of a teaching of nature originating from God, as contrasted with an apparent teaching of nature originating from habit. I attempt to reconstruct Descartes's use of these notions in order to clarify the way in which he makes space for his geometrical conception of the corporeal world.