Journal of Early Modern Studies

Volume 6, Issue 2, Fall 2017

Edward Slowik
Pages 119-141

Reconsidering Kantian Absolute Space in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science from a Huygensian Frame

This essay explores Kant’s concept of absolute space in the Metaphysical Foundations from the perspective of the development of the relationist interpretation of bodily interactions in the center-of-mass reference frame, a strategy that Huygens had originally pioneered and which Mach also endorsed. In contrast to the interpretations of Kant that stress a non-relationist, Newton-inspired orientation in his critical period work, it will be argued that the content and function of Kant’s utilization of this reference frame strategy places him much closer to Huygens’ relationism than the absolute notions of space and motion favored by Newton and Euler.