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Cosmopolis: How Astronomy Affects Philosophies of Human Nature and Religion

  • Nancey MurphyEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 107)

Abstract

It is often said that Copernican astronomy had a significant effect on humankind’s self-understanding by displacing us from the center of the universe. I claim that the effect was much more dramatic, but indirect – through the necessary rejection of Aristotelian physics. Humans had been understood since the late middle ages in a holistic-dualist manner: their souls were the immanent forms of their bodies. Reject Aristotelian hylomorphism in favor of the corpuscular physics of Galileo and others, and human nature had to be reconceived. Descartes retrieved a radical Platonic dualism, which, I argue, has had deleterious effects on modern western religion, and through the church, on all of western society. The good news is that now philosophy, Christian theology, and science (largely neuroscience, but not unrelated to astronomy) are together creating a new “nonreductive physicalist” account of human nature, with important implications for ethics and politics – a new cosmo-political synthesis.

Keywords

Human Nature Downward Causation Christian Theology Religious Believer Copernican Revolution 
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.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fuller Graduate SchoolsPasadenaUSA

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