The Struggle for Order

Robert S. Westman

in The Copernican Question

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780520254817
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948167 | DOI:
The Struggle for Order

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For the celestial modernizers of the early seventeenth century, the problems that had been emerging since the 1570s began to show signs of consensus: recurrent events (planets), the subject of the science of the stars, and non-recurrent events (comets and new stars) somehow seemed to belong together in the realm of ordinary rather than extraordinary phenomena. Galileo's discoveries at the end of the first decade would further reinforce the sense that the heavens contained recurrent phenomena, marvels that, even if hidden, were still part of the natural order. If prognosticators assumed the Copernican ordering in order to solve the problems of comets and novas, they were confronted with the further question of how that arrangement would be compatible with a heliostatic astrology—unless, yet again, the issue was ignored. This chapter looks at issues concerning celestial order. It discusses the emergent problematic of the via moderna, the social disunity of Copernican natural philosophy, the work of the polymath practitioner Simon Stevin, and Johannes Kepler's radical turn in planetary theory.

Keywords: Galileo; via moderna; natural philosophy; Johannes Kepler; Simon Stevin; astrology; planetary theory; planet; stars; novas

Chapter.  10470 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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