In the Epistle Dedicatory to the De Corpore, dated 23 April 1655, Hobbes makes some remarks which give us an interesting indication of the way in which he regarded the development of science, or Philosophy, and his own contributions to it. The ancients, he concedes, achieved important results in geometry and logic, put forward the hypothesis of the earth’s diurnal motion, and made some discoveries in astronomy. But while the geometrical and logical achievements remained accessible, the physical and astronomical discoveries did not, being, as Hobbes puts it, ‘by succeeding philosophers strangled with the snares of words’ (EW i viii). ‘And therefore the beginning of astronomy, except observations, I think is not to be derived from farther time than from Nicolaus Copernicus; who in the age next preceding the present revived the opinion of Pythagoras, Aristarchus, and Philolaus.’ Galileo is then mentioned as the real founder of natural philosophy: ‘After him [Copernicus], the doctrine of the motion of the earth being now received, and a difficult question thereupon arising concerning the descent of heavy bodies, Galileus in our time, striving with that difficulty, was the first that opened to us the gate of natural philosophy universal, which is the knowledge of the nature of motion.
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