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Interpretation of Copernicus in the 16th Century - Research Paper Example

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This paper under the title "Interpretation of Copernicus in the 16th Century" focuses on the fact that the drastic changes in arts and sciences that occurred in the Renaissance period had outstanding consequences for the further development of Western civilization. …
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Interpretation of Copernicus in the 16th Century
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Download file to see previous pages This essay will deal with the interpretations of Copernican cosmology among his contemporaries, with special attention being paid to views on Copernican theory exhibited by leading theologians of the epoch, both Catholic and Protestant. In addition, an account of interpretations of Copernicus in the non-European historical environment will be presented, with the Ottoman Empire serving as a case study. It will be argued that the dominant interpretations of Copernican astronomy in the 16th century were far from overwhelmingly hostile, as might be inferred from the treatment of Giordano Bruno and later Galileo Galilei, and that established ecclesiastical authorities in most cases lacked a coherent policy towards Copernicans until the 17th century.
Although the notion of the existential hostility of Lutheran thinkers towards Copernican astronomy, presented by White in his famous account of Luther’s alleged derisory remark on Copernicus (White 1:126-7), is widespread, it seems that such a conclusion would be premature. While Kuhn asserts that Luther and Melanchthon viewed Copernican theory as contravening the Scripture and constituting near blasphemy (Kuhn 191), Barker and Westman strongly oppose such a view, instead suggesting that the attitude of Lutherans to Copernicanism was more nuanced (Barker; Westman, “The Copernicans and the Churches”).
First of all, it is significant that the presentation of Copernican heliocentric theory itself was conducted not by Copernicus himself, but by Georg Joachim Rheticus (1514-1574), a young mathematician from the University of Wittenberg, which was the spiritual centre of Lutheran current in the Reformation (Westman, “The Copernicans and the Churches” 81). In fact, Rheticus was entrusted by Copernicus with publishing Narratio Prima, the draft version of the Copernican masterwork, De Revolutionibus, in 1540. Together with another Lutheran scholar, Andreas Osiander (1498-1552), Rheticus published De Revolutionibus itself in 1543, with a special notice that the latter was an astronomical and mathematical, rather than philosophical, work.   ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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