Notwithstanding the elaborate disguise which fear of the powers that were led Descartes to throw over his real opinions, it is impossible to read the Principes de la philosophie without acquiring the conviction that this great philosopher held that the physical world and all things in it, whether living or not living, have originated by a process of evolution, due to the continuous operation of purely physical causes, out of a primitive relatively formless matter.'
They believed that there were in the beginning no heavenly bodies, air or earth, only water everywhere, over which at first hovered a formless Supreme Being called Pha.
This group of ideas culminated in the Logos of Philo, expressing the world of divine ideas which God first of all creates and which becomes the mediating and formative power between the absolute and transcendent deity and passive formless matter, transmuted thereby into a rational, ordered universe.
Albert and Aquinas agree in declaring that the principle of individuation is to be found in matter, not, however, in matter as a formless substrate but in determinate matter (materia signata), which is explained to mean matter quantitatively determined in certain respects.
A perfectly formless matter (materia prima) was regarded by him as the universal substratum and common element of all finite existences.