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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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I. Editions and translations of Nicholas Copernicus’ works

Translation of Theophylactus' Letters

Theophylactus Simocatta, the Moralist, his Ethical, Rustic, and Love Letters in a Latin Translation, in N. Copernicus, Minor Works, tr. and comm. E. Rosen, with the assistance of E. Hilfstein (Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), pp. 27-50.


Commentariolus, in N. Swerdlow, “The Derivation and First Draft of Copernicus’ Planetary Theory: A Translation of the Commentariolus with Commentary,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 67 (1973), pp. 423-512.

Commentariolus, in H. Hugonnard-Roche, and J.-P Verdet, Introductions à l’astronomie de Copernic. Le Commentariolus de Copernic. La Narratio prima de Rheticus (Paris: A. Blanchard, 1975), pp. 68-91.

Nicolai Copernici De Hypothesibus motuum coelestium a se constitutis Commentariolus [Latin-German], ed. and tr. H. G. Zekl, in N. Copernicus, Das neue Weltbild (Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1990), pp. 1-35.

Commentariolus, in N. Copernicus, Minor Works, tr. E. Rosen with the assistance of E. Hilfstein (Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), pp. 81-90.

Letter against Werner

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