The Discovery of Kepler's Laws: The Interaction of Science, Philosophy, and Religion

By Job S. J. Kozhamthadam | Go to book overview

7
THE FINAL BREAK WITH GEOCENTRISM

Not only did Copernicus fail to give a genuinely heliocentric astronomy, but he also could not extricate himself fully and definitively from geocentrism. His system still retained its vestiges. True, according to his theory the earth was not the center of the universe around which all the heavenly bodies revolved. Yet the earth continued to enjoy a privileged position. Despite his revolutionary thinking, the spirit of Aristotelian geocentrism persistently haunted Copernicus to the end. For instance, he had taken the center of the orbit of the earth as the point of reference, which obviously gave the earth a special status among the other planets. Moreover, in his system the earth's sphere, unlike the spheres of the other planets, had no thickness, since its path was everywhere equidistant from the mean sun. Further, in the Ptolemaic system, the planes of the planetary system had been so constructed that they intersected at the center of the earth, and Copernicus preserved this privilege location of the earth, though in a new form (the orbital planes intersected at the center of the earth's orbit). Finally, in the consideration of eccentricity, he treated the earth in a different way from all the other planets. In the DR the eccentricities of all the planets except that of the earth were measured from the center of the earth's orbit, whereas that of the earth was measured from the sun. Clearly, just as Copernicus's acceptance of

-173-

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The Discovery of Kepler's Laws: The Interaction of Science, Philosophy, and Religion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 - Kepler's System of Thought 9
  • 1 - Kepler's Religious Ideas 11
  • 2 - Kepler's Philosophical Ideas 47
  • 3 - Kepler's Scientific Ideas 84
  • Part 2 - The Discovery of the Laws 111
  • 4 - The Acceptance of Copernicanism 113
  • 5 - The Development of a Truly Heliocentric View 143
  • 6 - The Vicarious Hypothesis and Its Failure 162
  • 7 - The Final Break with Geocentrism 173
  • 8 - The Discovery of the Second Law 181
  • 9 - The Discovery of the First Law 199
  • Conclusion 246
  • Notes 265
  • Glossary of Select Technical Terms 297
  • Bibliography 301
  • Index 311
  • About the Author 316
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