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

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


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.


Classical Science Spatial Infinity Latin Translation Greek Text XVIth Century 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de philosophieUniversité Paris Ouest NanterreNanterre CedexFrance

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