As has been shown, the development of mechanical philosophy in the 17th century is much indebted to the late Aristotelian philosophers of the 16th century. The proposed research will take a further step back in history and show the indebtedness of mechanical philosophy on developments initiated by two 14th century thinkers, William Ockham and John Buridan.

The project traces some fundamental changes in the metaphysics of substance and causality from the 14th through 16th centuries. The project will show how Ockham and Buridan views of substance undermined the Aristotelian distinction between form and matter. In addition to this, a debate between these two thinkers about the nature of quantity drew the attention of others to the fundamental importance of the concept of quantity for physical explanations. These two changes then paved the way for reconceiving body in atomistic terms.

The third part of the proposed research will be about their criticism of final causality and reduction of the four Aristotelian causes to efficient causality. The proposed research will push into virginal ground by studying the 15th- and 16th-century followers of these philosophers. Although Renaissance scholars have explored the humanists of this period, the natural philosophy and metaphysics of this century is unfamiliar and little explored by historians of science and philosophy. The proposed research aims to begin filling that gap.