Both Descartes and Llinas use the term of vortex to illustrate their theories, but none of them does it really specifically, and none of them is mentioned in the Wikipedia article on vortices.

Could anyone please give a somehow concise explanation of "vortex" that simultaneously helps understanding Descartes and Llinas better?

  • $\begingroup$ Llinas' famous book is entitled "I of the vortex" and has some psychological impact. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2017 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ See Vortex (physics) and Vortex (mechanical explanations of gravitation) and Vortex theory of the atom. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2017 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ They seem to be quite different, although each is based on the idea of a rotating fluid. Maxwell also used vortices to illustrate his theory of electricity and magnetism. The link to Descartes' theory, if accurate, describes the role of vortices in his theory of gravity pretty clearly, imo. Llinás, on the other hand, likens the self to an eigenvector representing an attractor in a dynamical system (= central nervous system) and the flow of the system around this attractor is the vortex. The "I of the Vortex" is not written at a level that allows me to see how literally this is meant. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ Descartes and Llinas are two centuries apart, and talk about vortices in completely different contexts, cosmology vs neuroscience. Why is there any reason to expect that their uses of "vortex" have anything in common beyond the least common denominator covered by the dictionaries? Do you have any specific issues with their use of "vortex" that need explaining? $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Oct 20, 2017 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ Descarted died in the 1600s and Llinas was born in the 1900s, so I'd say three centuries. (Otherwise I'm with Conifold.) $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2017 at 2:55

1 Answer 1


As far as I remember, there was some explanation in 'The History of the theories of aether and electricity", Vol. 1.


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