Show Less
Restricted access

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.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter XII. How did Copernicus Become a Copernican?


← 266 | 267 → CHAPTER TWELVE


One of the most important questions which is still not completely satisfactorily illuminated is how Copernicus arrived at heliocentrism. What question was he trying to answer? Which elements, which factors shaped his decision to set the earth in motion and put it on a trip around the stationary sun in the middle of the universe? How did he become a Copernican? This is especially intriguing because in the period of his education and after his return to Warmia most of the fundamental characteristics of the astronomical landscape remained exactly the same as they were in the period of Peurbach and Regiomontanus. Copernicus learned astronomy from their works, from commentaries on their works, and from the familiar Averroist, homocentric criticism of Ptolemaic astronomy. What happened, then, what changed to incite and inspire him to write the Commentariolus?

In the Commentariolus Copernicus dismisses the concentric astronomy of Callippus and Eudoxus on the basis of its incapability to reproduce the varying distances of planets from the observer. Then he presents heliocentric astronomy as a consequence of his dissatisfaction with the Ptolemaic use of the equant, which contradicts the principle of regularity in explaining the apparent motion of the planets. A heavenly body, a perfect orb, could only move uniformly.

I understand that our predecessors assumed a large number of celestial orbs principally in order to account for the apparent motion of the planets ← 267 | 268...

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.