Fabri’s Discrete Analysis

  • Michael Elazar
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 288)


This chapter examines the philosophy behind Fabri’s free fall analysis. First, it describes the Jesuit’s basic concept of a “finite” (or “physical”) instant according to his Metaphysica demonstrativa. Despite his basic discrete approach, Fabri’s instant turns out to be not an entirely discrete entity after all: according to Fabri, a physical instant, while being indivisible “actually intrinsically”, is also divisible “potentially extrinsically”, a fact which allows us (according to Fabri) to find a smaller instant than any given one. This characterization is important in the context of Fabri’s subsequent proof that his law of natural numbers “converges” to Galileo’s law of fall (the odd numbers rule). This chapter also refutes the common claim that that Fabri “inherited” his (basically) discrete mathematical approach from the fourteenth century pioneers of impetus theory, Jean Buridan and Albert of Saxony.


Free Fall Discrete Approach Heavy Body Physical Instant Double Space 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ariew, Roger. 2003. Descartes and the Jesuits: Doubt, Novelty, and the Eucharist. In Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, ed. M. Feingold, 157–194. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. 1930. Physics (trans: Hardie, R.P. and Gaye, R.K.). In The Works of Aristotle, 12 Vols., eds. W.D. Ross and J.A. Smith, Vol. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Buridan, Jean. 1942. In Iohannis Buridani Quaestiones super libris quattuor de caelo et mundo, ed. Ernest Addison Moody. Cambridge, MA: Mediaeval academy of America. Rpt. New York: Kraus, 1970.Google Scholar
  4. Clagett, Marshall. 1959. Science of Mechanics in the Middle Ages. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  5. Damerow, Peter, Gideon Freudenthal, Peter McLlaughlin, and Jürgen Renn. 2004. Exploring the Limits of Preclassical Mechanics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dijksterhuis, E.J. 1961. The Mechanization of the World Picture (trans: Dikshoorn, C.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Drake, Stillman. 1974. Impetus Theory and Quanta of Speed Before and After Galileo. Physis 16:47–75.Google Scholar
  8. Drake, Stillman. 1975a. Free Fall from Albert of Saxony to Honoré Fabri. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 5(4):347–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Drake, Stillman. 1975b. Impetus Theory Reappraised. Journal of the History of Ideas 36(1):27–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Drake, Stillman. 1990. Galileo: Pioneer Scientist. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  11. Fabri, Honoré. 1646. Tractatus physicus de motu locali, in quo effectus omnes, qui ad impetum, motum naturalem, violentum, & mixtum pertinent, explicantur, & ex principiis physicis demonstrantur; auctore Petro Mousnerio Doctore Medico; cuncta excerpta ex praelectionibus R.P. Honorati Fabry, Societatis Iesu. Lyon.Google Scholar
  12. Fabri, Honoré. 1648. Metaphysica demonstrativa, sive scientia rationum universalium; auctore Petro Mousnerio Doctore Medico; cuncta excerpta ex praelectionibus R.P. Hon. Fabry soc. Iesu. Lyon.Google Scholar
  13. Garber, Daniel. 1992. DescartesMetaphysical Physics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Lukens, David C. 1979. An Aristotelian Response to Galileo: Honoré Fabri, S.J. (1608–1688) on the Causal Analysis of Motion. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  15. Molland, A.G. 1982. The Atomisation of Motion: A Facet of the Scientific Revolution. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 13:31–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Newton, Isaac. 1999. The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (trans: Cohen, B., and Whitman, A.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations