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Questioning Fludd, Kepler and Galileo: Mersenne’s Harmonious Universe

  • Natacha FabbriEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 48)

Abstract

This chapter examines Marin Mersenne’s main objections to Robert Fludd’s, Johannes Kepler’s and Galileo Galilei’s views of the cosmos in order to delineate his own idea of space, as well as several significant changes in his interpretation of the universe. I will discuss how Mersenne sought to single out a model of space and the universe that could perfectly agree with the Mosaic cosmos: he selected different explanatory models and contrasted them with each other to find out which one provided the most reliable explanation of natural phenomena, and was therefore the best ally in his war against atheism and heresy.

Mersenne’s definition of a harmonious universe arose from the questions he addressed to his interlocutors, and from his thorough examination of their writings. This essay focuses on Mersenne’s arguments against Fludd’s qualitative and panspermic cosmos; on the theological and metaphysical underpinnings that urged him to abandon Kepler’s geometrical cosmos and harmonic archetypes; and on his refutation of Galileo’s universe, which relied on the intertwining of Scholastic arguments and the seventeenth-century debate about the vacuum and mechanics. Mersenne’s final conclusions, setting forth both metaphysical and physical reasons, marked the sunset of the traditional idea of the harmonic cosmos: across his works the musica mundana begins to fade, and the movements of the bodies within the plenum of the cosmos no longer reveal divine and geometrical archetypes.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Galileo MuseumInstitute and Museum for the History of ScienceFlorenceItaly

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