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Extra resources for Demanding the Impossible?: Human Nature and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Social Anarchism (Anarchist Studies)

Sample text

At any rate, when cosmologists speak of the cosmic ‘mass density’, it is significant they make it constitute only around a third of the whole, including in it only baryonic and dark matter (see, for example, Peebles and Ratra, 2003). It does not include dark energy. Also, the implications of the term ‘vacuum’ ought not to be forgotten: it presumably means that the relevant space is ‘empty’. Empty of what? Presumably of rest mass. To all appearances, dark energy as a property of the vacuum would have been present in the ‘vacuum’ even if there had never been any rest mass at all.

2 Phase two: transformation The seventeenth century marked a transformation in the concept of matter; one in which the burgeoning science of mechanics played the principal role. With the shift of focus from the world of living things to the more generic topic of bodies in motion came the rejection of the Aristotelian category of substance that had depended so much on the organism as paradigm. And with the disappearance of substantial form came the removal of the barrier to regarding change as involving ‘stuff’ with specific properties.

There are clearly quantitative constraints on such a change; the quantity of some ‘stuff’ otherwise indeterminate must be conserved. Richard Swineshead suggested, on intuitive grounds, that the quantity of this stuff, the quantity of matter, should be proportionate to the volume as well as to the density of the body concerned: the defi nition that Newton would later adopt as his own. Parallel to this but in the very different context of motion, Jean Buridan postulated an ‘impetus’ in the case of moving bodies that is conserved in unimpeded motion and is a measure of resistance to change of motion.

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