Mass - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Concept of Inertial Mass

Antiquity, and Greek science in particular, had no conception of inertial mass. Even the idea of quantity of matter (quantitas materiae), the antecedent of inertial or dynamic mass, was foreign to the conceptual scheme of Aristotelian natural philosophy. Paradoxically, it was Neoplatonism and its admixtures of Judeo-Christian doctrines, with their emphasis on the spiritual and immaterial nature of reality, that laid the foundations for the inertial conception of mass, which later became the basic notion of materialistic or substantial philosophy. To accentuate the immaterial, sublime source of all force and life in the intellect or God, Neoplatonism degraded matter to impotence and endowed it with inertia in the sense of an absolute absence of spontaneous activity. For Plotinus, Proclus, Philo, Ibn Gabirol, and the Platonic patristic authors, matter was something base, inert, shapeless and "plump," attributes that reappear in Kepler's characterization of matter as that...

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This section contains 2,194 words
(approx. 8 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Mass Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Mass from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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