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Copernicus: Platonist Astronomer-Philosopher

Cosmic Order, the Movement of the Earth, and the Scientific Revolution

Matjaz Vesel

In 1543, Copernicus publicly defended geokinetic and heliocentric universe. This book examines why and how he became a Copernican and what his affirmation of heliocentrism means in the context of the Scientific Revolution. Close reading of Copernicus’ texts and examination of his sociocultural context reveals his commitment to the Platonist program of True Astronomy, which is to discover the well-proportioned, harmonious universe, hidden beyond visible appearances, but accessible through mathematical reasoning. The principal goal of the work is to show that the hypothesis of Copernicus’ Platonism brings unity and internal coherence to his project and provides historical background of his contributions to the Scientific Revolution.
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My first and greatest acknowledgement goes to other scholars in the field. Without their research and publications, past and present, this book would not be possible. I discussed parts of the book in different stages of its elaboration at different occasions with many scholars. Not all of them can be listed here, but some deserve to be mentioned by name. I would like to thank my colleagues from the Institute of Philosophy of SRC SASA, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Jelica Šumic Riha and Vojislav Likar, for their comments and suggestions on the earlier, Slovenian version of the book. Among more specific debts I accumulated during the work on the English version are those to my American colleagues from the Department of the History of Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman. I would like to express my gratitude to the head of the Department and President of the Mellon Fellowship Committee Steven J. Livesey, for hosting me there as a Mellon Fellow on several occasions. I would also like to thank the staff of the History of the Science Collections, especially JoAnn Palmeri, acting curator, and Kerry Magruder, curator, for providing me with an excellent research environment. During my stays in Norman I had the opportunity to discuss my ideas with students and faculty of the Department, especially Kathleen Crowther, Rienk Vermij and Peter Barker; the latter read and commented on the entire book. Last but not least, I would also like to thank my translator Manca Gašperšic and Cornelia...

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