Superphysics Superphysics
Chapter 5

The Aethereal Elements and Their Qualities

by Rene Descartes Icon
5 minutes  • 1052 words
Table of contents

The philosophers assure us that above the clouds there is an aethereal air much subtler than ours.

That air is not composed of vapors of the earth, but is an element in itself. Above this air there is another, much subtler body, which they call the element of fire.

These two elements are mixed with liquids and solids of all the inferior bodies. This aethereal air and fire fill the in-between spaces* among the parts of the real air that we breathe. These bodies, interlaced with one another, then compose a real solid mass.

*Superphysics Note: The previous chapter explained that the aether had bodies within it. This chapter explains what those bodies are, as air-aether and fire-aether


The first element is the fire-aether [Electromagnetism]. It is the most subtle and penetrating fluid in the universe. As a liquid, its particles are smaller and move much faster than those of other bodies.

This fire-aether has no determinate size or shape.

The impetuosity of their motion causes them to be divided by collision with other bodies. Its particles:

  • change shape at every moment to accommodate themselves to the shape of the places that they enter
  • can go into any passage regardless of narrowness
  • can penetrate and fill the gaps in other bodies easily


The second element is the air-aether [Spacetime]. It is more subtle than the third element. But compared to fire-aether, its particles have some size and shape. They are all round and joined together like grains of sand or dust.

Thus, they always have small gaps between them. It is easier for the fire-aether to fill these gaps than for the air-aether to change shape to fill them.

This is why the air-aether cannot be so pure anywhere – there is always some fire-aether with it.


The third and last element is the earth-aether [strong force].

Its particles [quarks] are much larger and move slower compared to air-aether just as those of the air-aether are slower than those of the fire-aether.

Its particles have very little or no motion that might cause them to change position with respect to one another.

“Heat”, “cold”, “moistness”, and “dryness”* are all accounted for by these 3 Elements through the motion, size, shape, and arrangement of their particles.

*Superphysics Note: In Superphysics, heat and cold are from the Fire-aether. Wet and dry are from the mix of the 3 Elements.

“Mixed” or “composite” bodies are made up of these fundamental Elements. Those mixed bodies can be broken down, but the fundamental Elements cannot.

The particles of fire-aether move extremely fast. They are so small that no other bodies can stop them. Beyond that, they require no determinate size or shape or position.

The particles of air-aether have a middling motion and size. Their motion and size can be decreased or increased. Thus, they always remain balanced in that same middling condition.

The particles of earth-aether are so large or so joined together that they always have the force to resist the motions of the other bodies.

The particles of these three can take forms and diverse motions, shapes, sizes, and arrangements that can lend to mixed bodies.

Flame, for example, has particles that move very fast and have some size.

  • But they cannot last long without being corrupted.
  • They give their force to other bodies, causing their own motion to reduce.
  • The violence of their agitation, causes them to break upon themselves against the bodies that they encounter/
    • This makes them lose their size.

Thus, gradually, they either:

  • reduce themselves to the earth-aether or air-aether, or
  • remain as Fire.[22]

The air-aether and earth-aether are not like real air or real earth.

  • Instead, they are like the real bodies that we see mixed and subject to corruption.

In the universe, the Elements have no places that are particularly destined for them where they can be perpetually conserved in their natural purity.[23]

On the contrary, each particle always tends to be reduced to one of their forms.

God at the beginning created only mixed bodies. But in time, those bodies would shed their mixed nature and take on the nature of the 3 Elements. After being reduced, they never tend to leave that form.


  • all heavenly bodies are in the form of one of these elements
  • the only mixed bodies in the universe are those on the surfaces of those heavenly bodies
    • These mixed bodies are formed from the interaction between the 3 Elements.

This means heavenly bodies are categorized into three:

  1. The fire-aether bodies

Examples are the sun and the stars.

  1. The air-aether bodies

Examples are the gravitational territories* of stars and planets.

*Superphysics note: These are gravitational fields to Newtonian Physics

  1. The earth-aether bodies

Examples are the planets and comets.

And so:

  • the stars are made up of pure fire-aether
  • the gravitational territories are made up of pure air-aether
  • planets and comets are made up of earth-aether

I classify the planets and comets with the earth-aether because they resist light and reflect its rays.

The nature of stars is totally contrary to that of planets because the action alone of their light shows that their bodies are of a very subtle and very agitated element.

The aethereal gravitational territories cannot be perceived by our senses. They have a middle nature between:

  • the luminous bodies whose action we perceive and
  • the action of the solid and heavy bodies whose resistance we perceive.

Finally, mixed bodies only occur within the surface and gravitational territory of the Earth.[24]

  • This territory is from the core of the Earth up to its outer atmosphere.

These mixed bodies taken all together are produced by the agitation and mixing of the air-aether of the gravitational territory surrounding it.

Example of these mixed bodies are:

  • the air we breathe
  • the hardest rocks
  • the heaviest metals

These mixed bodies are made up of a composite of the 3 Elements.

These three elements are mixed with one another in all bodies.

However, we can only see the mixed bodies that have the earth-aether, from their size or the difficulty they have in moving.

The particles of the air-aether and fire-aether are so subtle that they cannot be perceived.

We cam think of these mixed perceptible bodies as sponges. They are earth-aether that have the fire-aether and air-aether in their pores.


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