Advertisement

The Inception of the Concept of Infinite Physical Space in the Time of Copernicus and Giordano Bruno

  • Jean SeidengartEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 41)

Abstract

I propose an analysis of one of the principal steps in the formation of the concept of cosmic space at the very beginning of classical science. Following the Copernican reversal, the apparent movement of the sky became pure illusion, while even the existence of the sphere of fixed stars lost its self-evident character. From there, the ancient argument in favor of the finitude of the universe (according to which it is impossible that an infinite thing turn) lost all credibility and the question of whether the universe was infinite came to be asked anew. The infinitization of the universe achieved by Giordano Bruno made necessary a reworking of the concept of cosmic space. Thanks to his new conception of infinite, cosmic space (profoundly inspired by John Philoponus and Francesco Patrizi), Bruno was pleased to have escaped from the traditional difficulties of finitude. Paradoxically, it is this new concept of cosmic space that comes to counterbalance the dominant peripatetic cosmology. It constitutes a philosophical transition between perceptive space (qualified, heterogeneous, discontinuous, limited) and the space of classical science (homogenous, infinite, continuous) that would later be developed by Gassendi, Morus, Charleton and Newton.

Keywords

Classical Science Spatial Infinity Latin Translation Greek Text XVIth Century 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Aristotle. 1922. On the heavens. Trans. J.L. Stocks. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. 1983. Physics, books III & IV. Trans. E. Hussey. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  3. Bruno, Giordano. 1879. Opera latine conscripta, vol. 1, eds. Fiorentino/Tocco. Naples: Morano.Google Scholar
  4. Bruno, Giordano. 1950. Giordano Bruno: his life and thought. With annotated translation of his workOn the infinite universe and worlds,” (De l’infinito [1584]). Trans. Dorothea Waley Singer. New York: Henry Schumann Inc.Google Scholar
  5. Bruno, Giordano. 1994. Le souper des cendres (La cena de le ceneri [1584]). Trans. Y. Hersant. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  6. Bruno, Giordano. 1996. De la cause, du principe et de l’un (De la causa, principio e Uno [1584]). Trans. Luc Hersant. Paris: Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  7. Bruno, Giordano. 2006. De l’infini, de l’univers et des mondes (De l’infinito, universo e mondi [1584]). Trans. J.-P. Cavaillé. Paris: Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  8. Cassirer, Ernst. 1991. Individu et cosmos dans la philosophie de la Renaissance (Individuum und Kosmos). Trans. P. Quillet. Paris: Minuit.Google Scholar
  9. Charleton, Walter. 1654. Physiologia Epicuro-Gassendo-Charltoniana. London.Google Scholar
  10. Cohn, Jonas. 1994. Histoire de l’infini: le problème de l’infini dans la pensée occidentale jusqu’à Kant (Geschichte des Unendlichkeitsproblems im abendländischen Denken bis Kant [1896]). Trans. J. Seidengart. Paris: Cerf.Google Scholar
  11. Copernicus, Nicholas. 1978. Nicholas Copernicus on the revolutions (De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium [1543]). Trans. E. Rosen. Warsaw: Foundations of Natural History.Google Scholar
  12. Duhem, Pierre. 1913–1959. Le système du Monde. Paris: Hermann.Google Scholar
  13. Epicurus. 1960. Opere. Trans. into Italian G. Arrighetti. Torino: G. Einaudi.Google Scholar
  14. Ficino, Marsilio. 1561. Opera omnia. Basel.Google Scholar
  15. Grant, Edward. 1981. Much ado about nothing: theories of space and vacuum from the middle ages to the scientific revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Heath, Thomas. 1981 [1921]. A history of Greek mathematics. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  17. Koyré, Alexandre. 1994 [1957]. From the closed world to the infinite universe. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Mahnke, Dietrich. 1936. Unendliche Sphäre und Allmittelpunkt. Halle: Niemeyer.Google Scholar
  19. More, Henry. 1671. Enchiridium metaphysicum. London.Google Scholar
  20. Patrizi, Francesco. 1587. De rerum natura, libri II. Priores. Alter de spacio physico, alter de spacio mathematico. Ferrara.Google Scholar
  21. Patrizi, Francesco. 1591. Nova de universi philosophia. Ferrare. (2nd ed., 1593. Venice).Google Scholar
  22. Philoponus, John. 1581. Aristotelis Physicorum libri quatuor, cum Ioannis Grammatici, cognomento Philoponi, commentariis. Venice.Google Scholar
  23. Philoponus. 1887/1888. Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca, vols. 16/17. Trans. H. Vitelli. Berlin.Google Scholar
  24. Ptolemy. 1984. Almagest. Trans. G.J. Toomer. London: Duckworth.Google Scholar
  25. Tocco, Felice. 1889. Le opere latine di Giordano Bruno esposte e confrontate con le italiane. Florence: Le Monnier.Google Scholar
  26. Westfall, Richard. 1971. Force in Newton’s physics. The science of dynamics in the seventeenth century. Macdonald: London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de philosophieUniversité Paris Ouest NanterreNanterre CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations