Cosmic Order, the Movement of the Earth, and the Scientific Revolution
Chapter XII. How did Copernicus Become a Copernican?
← 266 | 267 → CHAPTER TWELVE
HOW DID COPERNICUS BECOME A COPERNICAN?
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...
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