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Marius Stan

I'm fascinated by your claim that Kant knew his Huygens, Eric. I suppose he could have read the two de Volder/Fullenius editions of his work (1704 and 1728). But, is there smoking-gun evidence he had read Huygens? I'm been wondering for a long time now how much Huygens he had read -- or how carefully. He really looks like Huygens as he sets out to ground the laws of collision, then he makes a sharp turn far away from him. I wish he had thought more carefully about Huygens' deep insight on relativity in collisions.

Eric Schliesser

Hi Marius, earlier in the Universal Natural History, he discusses Huygens by name--judging by the details, he is drawing on the section in Cosmotheoros in which Huygens explains how one estimates distance to the stars. It's possible he read a (bad) summary, because the figures are not identical (although because a 7 and 1 are confused, I wouldn't be surprised if it is a transcription error somewhere or bad memory). But Kant gets the order of magnitude right.
But yes, if Kant had read (Howard Stein's version of) Huygens the history of philosophy would have been interestingly different!


Thanks, Eric. You're right, of course. I always forget that *other* Huygens-Kant connection -- their joint membership in the Flights of Fancy Club. A delightful streak in their respective oeuvres, to be sure.

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