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The notion of the vacuum is transmitted to early modern natural philosophy mainly in two versions: macroscopic void space, as a component of standard atomist theories; and microscopic void spaces interspersed within matter, that according to the pneumatic literature can be forcefully collected into artificial vacua of the first sort. Both kinds of natural vacua are directly or indirectly connected to causal effects, that may be attributed to different causal powers, directly or indirectly pertaining to the vacuum itself. The question also arises whether the purported physical vacuum ought to be observable, either directly or through the presence versus the testable absence of the same causal powers.
In contrast to natural philosophy, within the medical discourse—more open to different interpretations of phenomena connected with the vacuum—even the question of observability might present unexpected facets.
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