Philosophy Word of the Day — Nicolaus Copernicus

Heliocentric universe, Harmonia Macrocosmica

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“Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543) was a mathematician and astronomer who proposed that the sun was stationary in the center of the universe and the earth revolved around it. Disturbed by the failure of Ptolemy’s geocentric model of the universe to follow Aristotle’s requirement for the uniform circular motion of all celestial bodies and determined to eliminate Ptolemy’s equant, an imaginary point around which the bodies seemed to follow that requirement, Copernicus decided that he could achieve his goal only through a heliocentric model. He thereby created a concept of a universe in which the distances of the planets from the sun bore a direct relationship to the size of their orbits. At the time Copernicus’s heliocentric idea was very controversial; nevertheless, it was the start of a change in the way the world was viewed, and Copernicus came to be seen as the initiator of the Scientific Revolution.” (continue article)

— Sheila Rabin, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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What If Amazon Book Reviews Had Existed Centuries Ago?

King Lear mourns Cordelia's death, James Barry...
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Good stuff! : )

• “King Lear”—Average reader rating: Two stars. The author tells us: “As like flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.” Oh, right, like I didn’t know that? Like I didn’t know that to be or not to be is the question? Like I didn’t know that the fault lies not in us but in the stars? Tell me something I don’t know, Mr. Bard of Whatever.

• “Oedipus Rex”—Average reader rating: Four stars. Sophocles is a satisfying author who writes in clear, snappy prose. Youngsters in particular could learn a lot by imitating Mr. Rex, until he goes a bit off the rails toward the end. Nothing earth-shattering here, but zippy stuff. Have to admit I’m still puzzled by the weird subplot involving Mr. Rex’s mother.

• “On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres”—Average Reader Rating: Three stars. Those who have read my countless reviews elsewhere know that I am a mathematician, astronomer, polyglot and philosopher in my own right, and therefore uniquely qualified to discuss everything from Zeno’s Paradox to Gordian’s Knot. Mostly, I think my fellow polymath Copernicus has done a pretty solid job here. The thing most laymen don’t realize—unlike mathematicians/ philosophers/astronomers/polymaths like me (as those familiar with my numerous other reviews can tell you)—is that people like Copernicus are really good with numbers. Just as I am. Really, really good. (Me, that is.) Readers seeking more of my unique insights can reach me at Igor@mymommysbasement.com.

(Via WSJ)

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Philosophy Word of the Day – Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)

A 1610 portrait of Johannes Kepler by an unkno...
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German astronomer who modified the heliocentric views of Copernicus by postulating that planets move in elliptical (not circular) orbits with the sun at one focus, each of them sweeping through arcs of equal area in equal times. Despite his penchant for neoplatonic explanations, Kepler’s achievement, published in Astronomia Nova (A New Astronomy based on Causes) (1609) {at Amazon.com} and Harmonia Mundi (The Harmony of the World) (1618) {at Amazon.com}, provided an important step toward the comprehensive mathematical theory of celestial motion developed by Newton.

(Via Philosophical Dictionary)

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