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And the Sun Stood Still

  • R. Hooykaas
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Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 205)

Abstract

Copernicus’ great work De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium was published in 1543. Today it is widely accepted that this book, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs, marks the beginning of the ‘scientific revolution’: the Aristotelian Goliath was slain by the solitary Canon in remote Poland; a science based on observation triumphed over clerical dogmatism; the Earth was removed from its central position, and its human inhabitants thereby lost the privileged position accorded them by the Bible — whose authority in its turn was severely damaged. In short, with Copernicus fact triumphed over faith and fiction ...

Keywords

Circular Motion Natural Motion Rectilinear Motion Heavenly Motion Heavenly Body 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Cf the replies to the enquiry by the magazine Poland (’Copernicus and the Contemporary World’, Poland 1, 209 (Jan. 1972), pp.35–47). In particular the contribution of HJ. Treder (Dir. Centr. Inst, f. Astrophysics of the (East) German Academy of Sciences): ‘… the reception of the Copernican system… constituted part of the struggle between the materialistic and the idealistic outlook. The sharp edge of this struggle was above all directed against theology… and finally also against the theistic positions of idealistic philosophers of later ages’ (p.40). Prof. Jean Fabre (Sorbonne, Paris): ’… by depriving Man of his central privileged place, Copernicus disturbed the traditional humanism, but simultaneously renewed it on a cosmic level…’ (p.44).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Nicolaus Copernicus, De Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium, Norimbergae 1543, fol.Ivvs. Paulus of Middelburg (1445–1533) wrote on calendar reform (1516). Born in Middelburg (Zeeland), he became bishop of Fossombrone (Italy) in 1494.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, praefatio fol.IIIr. Reference is to the advice of the Roman poet Horace:w if ever you write anything… then put your parchment in the closet and keep it back till the ninth year’ (Horatius, De Arte Poetica, lines 386–389).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, praef. Illr; IVr.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    De Revolutionibus. Mr.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    De Revolutionibus, IVvs.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    [Following the Horatian advice published more than nine years later:] R. Hooykaas, G.J. Rheticus ‘Treatise on Holy Scripture and the Motion of the Earth; with Translation, Commentary and Additional Chapters on Ramus-Rheticus and the Development of the Problem before 1650’, Amsterdam: North-Holland 1984;Google Scholar
  8. 7a.
    cf R. Hooykaas, J. Hist. Astron. 15 (1984), pp.77–80, dealing with the discovery and identification of this anonymous treatise.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    As, when borrowing from the superstition of the time, it is said that some people are Mike the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, which will not hearken to the voice of charmers’ (Psalm 58:4–5). Cf R. Hooykaas, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science, Edinburgh-London 1972, pp.118, 154n.27.Google Scholar
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    R. Hooykaas, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science, p.154n.27;Google Scholar
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    R. Hooykaas, ‘Calvin and Copernicus’, in: Organon (1974), pp.139–148.Google Scholar
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    Thomas Ceva S.J., Philosophia Nova-antiqua, Venetiis 1732. The answer given to the question, ’cur heterodoxis praecipue systema terrae motae probatur?’, was that the prevailing heresy does not recognize Holy Authority (pp.65, 68).Google Scholar
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    ‘ Cf Hooykaas, Rheticus ‘ Treatise, pp. 173–178.Google Scholar
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    Cf Hooykaas, Rheticus ‘ Treatise, pp. 173–178.. Google Scholar
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    To place the Sun in the centre of the universe not only seemed to contradict observation… it was also opposed to all the accepted ideas and the image of the world made sacred by the Bible, but above all the concept of the special position occupied by the Earth’ (A. Kauffeldt (Polytechn. Inst. Magdeburg, (East-)Germany), in: ‘Copernicus and the Contemporary World’ (Poland 1 (1972), p.46). G. Klaus, in his edition of Copernicus’ ‘first book’, says in his ‘Einleitung’: ‘Die Lehren der Bibel über Schöpfung, Weltall und Stellung des Menschen im All verwandelten sich in das, was sie tatsächlich waren, nämlich in naive Vorstellungen aus der Zeit der Auflösung der Urgemeinschaft… Eine Gefährdung des totalen Herrschaftsanspruchs der feudalen Ideologie musste aber zwangsläufig, die Gefahr eines Angriffs gegen die ökonomische und politische Struktur des Feudalsystems mit sich bringen1… kDie Erde war durch Copernicus zu einem winzigen Stäubchen im unermeszlichen Weltall geworden…’ (Nikolaus Copernicus, Über die Kreisbewegungen der Weltkörper, Erstes Buch, G. Klaus ed. (East-)Berlin 1959, p.XLIX). [In fact the Earth was considered a tiny speck in the universe by Ptolemy, and also by medieval astronomers (Sacrobosco etc.)!] A great influence was exerted by Haeckel, whose anti-religious bigotry inspired the following passage: ‘Indem er das herrschende geozentrische Weltsystem des Ptolemäus stürzte, entzog er zugleich der herrschenden christlichen Weltanschauung den Boden, welche die Erde als Mittelpunkt der Welt und den Menschen als gottgleichen [sie!] Beherrscher der Erde betrachtete’ (Ernst Haeckel, Die Welträtsel (1899), ch.20 (Reprint Leipzig: Kröners Taschenausgabe 1908, p.230».Google Scholar
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    See also R. Hooykaas, ‘The Reception of Copernicanism in England and the Netherlands’, in: The Anglo-Dutch Contribution to the Civilisation of Early Modern Society, London 1976, pp.33–44 (reprinted in: R. Hooykaas, Selected Studies in History of Science, Coimbra 1983; pp.635–663).Google Scholar
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  42. 37.
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  44. 39.
    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus Bk.I, ch.8, fol.6r. Copernicus, De Hypothesibus Motuum Coelestium a se Constituas Commentariolus (1514), petitiones 2, 3, 5 and 6. German transi, by F. Rossmann: N. Copernicus, Erster Entwurf eines Weltsystems, München 1948.Google Scholar
  45. 41.
    Even Rheticus ‘Narratio Prima (1540) does not mention them, though it is evident from his recently discovered work on ‘Holy Scripture and the Motion of the Earth’ that he was then acquainted with them. Cf R. Hooykaas, Rheticus’ Treatise, pp.18; 91–92.Google Scholar
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    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, Bk.I, ch.8. The argument that a rotating earth would disintegrate is not adduced by Ptolemy in his Almagest, Bk.I, §7.Google Scholar
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    Aristotle, De Coelo, Bk.IV, ch.3, 310b.Google Scholar
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  49. 45.
    Aristotle, De Coelo Bk.IV, ch.3; 310b; Plato, Timaios, 57c, 63e.Google Scholar
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    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus Bk.I, ch.9; fol.7r. Similarly, Galileo writes that all parts of the earth ’move to the centre of the Earth, they move to their Whole, and to their universal Mother’, and this is ‘their natural instinct’. The same is true for parts of the Sun wanting to unite with the whole of the Sun, etc. (Galileo, Dialogo I (Opere VII, p.61; Salusbury I, p.25)).Google Scholar
  51. 47.
    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus Bk.I, ch.8; fol.6vs. Galileo wrote: ‘I conclude, therefore that the circular motion can only naturally consist with natural bodies, parts of the universe…; and that the right is assigned by nature to its bodies, and that their parts, at such time as they shall be out of their proper places, constituted in a depraved disposition, and for that cause needing to be reduced by the shortest way to their natural state…: there being nothing but rest and circular motion apt to the conservation of order’ (Galileo, Dialogo I (Salusbury I, p.20)).Google Scholar
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    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, Bk.I, ch.8; fol.6vs.Google Scholar
  53. 49.
    On the meaning of Copernicus’ pun: R. Hooykaas, The Aristotelian Background to Copernicus ‘Cosmology’, in: J. Hist. Astronomy 18 (1987), pp.111–116. Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, Bk.I, ch.7; fol.5r.Google Scholar
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    On the meaning of Copernicus’ pun: R. Hooykaas, The Aristotelian Background to Copernicus ‘Cosmology’, in: J. Hist. Astronomy 18 (1987), pp.111–116. Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, Bk.I, ch.8; fol.5v.Google Scholar
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    On the meaning of Copernicus’ pun: R. Hooykaas, The Aristotelian Background to Copernicus ‘Cosmology’, in: J. Hist. Astronomy 18 (1987), pp.111–116. Copernicus, De Revolutionibus Bk.I, ch.8; fol.6v.Google Scholar
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    Ibidem. Bk.I, ch.8; fol.6v.Google Scholar
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    Aristotle, De Coelo Bk.IV, ch.3, 31 Ob 15, 31 la5–10. In his Physica Aristotle made the same point.Google Scholar
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    Buridanus, Quaestiones de Coelo et Mundo, Bk.IV, qu.2 (Moody, p.248).Google Scholar
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    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, Bk.I, fol.IIIv.Google Scholar
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    ‘neque rationi satis concinna’ (Copernicus, Commentariolus, F. Rossmann ed., München 1948, p. 10).Google Scholar
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    Vitruvius Pollio (Marcus), De Architectura, Bk.III, ch.1,1.Google Scholar
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    Copernicus, De Revolutionibus Bk.I, ch.10; fol.9v., lOr. Cf Seneca, Quaestiones Naturales, Praef. Bk.I, 14: ‘He [the Godhead, RH] is entirely Reason…. this [universe, RH] than which nothing is more beautiful or better ordered or more constant in plan…’Google Scholar
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    Kepler, Mysterium Cosmographicum, Tubingae 1596 (Werke I, p.70): ‘cor mundi’; —, Harmonice Mundi, Lincii Austriae 1619, Bk.V, ch.12 (Werke VI, p.364).Google Scholar
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    Some people stuck to the central position of the earth and, like Tycho Brahe, turned the Sun around it with the other planets as its satellites, but admitted the Earth’s daily rotation (David Origanus 1558–1628). And, finally, there were astronomers who kept to the main outlines of the Aristotelian structure of the universe but were ‘Copernicans’ in accepting Copernicus’ interpretation of the librations as motions of the earth (Leoninus, Mulerius).Google Scholar
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    To Galileo himself the strongest argument in favour of the earth’s rotation was provided by (his interpretation of) the tides. Unfortunately on this topic his theoretical conclusions were wrong and, moreover, the facts upon which he based them were also wrong: he took the change in the tides of the ocean to be every 12 hours.Google Scholar
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    ‘ [Diese Theorie, RH] welche zugleich mit dem neuen Jahrhundert das Licht der Welt erblickt und ihren trüben Stempel fast allen Abschnitten der neuen Physik dieses neuen Jahrhunderts aufgeprägt hat’ (O.D. Chwolson, Die Evolution des Geistes der Physik 18731923, Braunschweig 1925, eh.VI ‘Neue Theorien in neuem Geiste’, p. 143).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Die Evolution des Geistes der Physik 18731923, eh.VIII, ‘Der Rückschritt’, p.l 86: ‘Ein Nutzen ist wohl da, wenn mit Hilfe einer unverständlichen Hypothese eine Erklärung einer sehr grossen Zahl unverständlicher Tatsachen erreicht wird. Die vielen Unverständlichkeiten werden sozusagen durch die eine ersetzt.’ The difference between this methodological simplification and that of Haüy’s ‘mathematical’ theory of subtractive molecules (see chapter VIII on ‘Physical and Mathematical Theories’) is that Chwolson reduces the number of ‘irrationalities’ in science, whereas Haüy replaces a more complicated (but ’rational’) physical theory by a less complicated (but also rational) fiction.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Hooykaas
    • 1
  1. 1.UtrechtThe Netherlands

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