Cosmic Order, the Movement of the Earth, and the Scientific Revolution
Part One. The Motion of the Earth: A Solution to the Problems of Astronomy
← 30 | 31 → PART ONE
THE MOTION OF THE EARTH: A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEMS OF ASTRONOMY← 31 | 32 →
← 32 | 33 → Why does Copernicus need the earth’s motion? What benefit can he derive from a concept against which the “consensus of many centuries” speaks so clearly and convincingly as he himself states in the Dedication to the Pope or Preface to De revolutionibus? What does he mean by claiming that it is possible “to ascertain whether more firm demonstrations than those [of my predecessors]” – or “the teachers of mathematics in the schools” – “could be found for the revolution of the celestial orbs on the assumption of some motion of the earth”1?
In the same – his last – text, written in June 1542,2 Copernicus recognizes the existing problems of astronomy as the main impulse for seeking “a different explanation of the revolutions of the spheres of the universe,” one that would be based on the concept of the earth’s motion. His thesis, that the earth moves whereas the sun is at rest in the centre of the universe, is according to his own presentation of the genesis of heliocentric astronomy a response to the troubled state of astronomy that results from the discord among astronomers. The latter manifests itself in two ways. First, the astronomers disagree in their investigations ← 33 | 34 → to determine the exact length of the tropical year, and second, they fail to use the same principles, assumptions, and demonstrations:
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.