Descartes's Mechanical Philosophy. According to French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650), the universe operated as a continuously running machine which God had set in motion. Since he rejected Newton's theory of gravity and idea of a vacuum in space, Descartes argued that instead the universe was composed of a "subtle matter" he named "plenum," which swirled in vortices like whirlpools and actually moved the planets by contact. Here, these vortices carry the planets around the Sun.
Thomas Wright | An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe | Plates XXXI and XXXII show the universe filled with many systems like our own, each a star-filled shell surrounding its own "eye of Providence" (1750)
This print is dedicated to Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish astronomer, physicist, and mathematician born in 1473. He began a scientific revolution with his heliocentric model, placing the Sun at the center of the universe