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The Copernican Revolution: Planetary…
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The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of… (1957)

by Thomas S. Kuhn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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534718,880 (4.25)13
Recently added byFundacionRosacruz, TBN-FRC, private library, jbcreed, dg2books, scott.bradley
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» See also 13 mentions

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Apart from the scientific import of the Copernican Revolution, Kuhn's book plays an illustrative role in the still needed polemic against Christian fundamentalism. It provides (at least hints at) parallels between the fundamentalist arguments against evolution (and other science influenced practices) and the old biblical arguments against Copernicus. ( )
  Darrol | Oct 10, 2010 |
(posted on my blog: davenichols.net)

Historian of science Thomas Kuhn served up this foundational and mathematical history of the Copernican Revolution, that amazing period of time which saw man's idea of a geocentric universe replaced with a more accurate heliocentric one. Copernicus himself delivered the foundational work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium libri six ("Six Books on the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres"), which forever influenced the course of science's understanding of planetary motion.

Kuhn's history covers the pre-Renaissance groundwork laid down from ancient times, especially in works by Aristole and Ptolemy, and moves the story through the problems associated with these accepted models. Copernicus himself is largely ignored until much later in the book as Kuhn makes sure the reader understands just why Copernicus felt the need to break from tradition and put forth an alternative model.

Once De revolutionibus is published and spreads, Kuhn follows the story on through the later work of Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo, as well as explaining just why this Revolution was such a pronounced one in hindsight.

Kuhn's writing is very exact, and he can be a bit meticulous with some of the geometry. I loved this, but I recognize that some popular history of science readers might find this a bit too technical. Anyway, Kuhn is an excellent historian and presents a well-written and concise account of one of the most important periods in the history of science. Four stars. ( )
1 vote IslandDave | Sep 15, 2009 |
“This book is the story of the Copernican Revolution in all three of these not quite separate meanings – astronomical, scientific, and philosophical.”
“Initiated as a narrowly technical, highly mathematical revision of classical astronomy, the Copernican theory became one focus for the tremendous controversies in religion, in philosophy, and in social theory, which, during the two centuries following the discovery of America set the tenor of the modern mind.” ( )
  profsuperplum | May 21, 2009 |
A classic. ( )
  justine | Sep 14, 2006 |
I wrote something about this book over here: http://tinyurl.com/c3h36
  hesperides | Nov 11, 2005 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thomas S. Kuhnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Conant, James B.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674171039, Paperback)

For scientist and layman alike this book provides vivid evidence that the Copernican Revolution has by no means lost its significance today. Few episodes in the development of scientific theory show so clearly how the solution to a highly technical problem can alter our basic thought processes and attitudes. Understanding the processes which underlay the Revolution gives us a perspective, in this scientific age, from which to evaluate our own beliefs more intelligently. With a constant keen awareness of the inseparable mixture of its technical, philosophical, and humanistic elements, Mr. Kuhn displays the full scope of the Copernican Revolution as simultaneously an episode in the internal development of astronomy, a critical turning point in the evolution of scientific thought, and a crisis in Western man's concept of his relation to the universe and to God.

The book begins with a description of the first scientific cosmology developed by the Greeks. Mr. Kuhn thus prepares the way for a continuing analysis of the relation between theory and observation and belief. He describes the many functions--astronomical, scientific, and nonscientific--of the Greek concept of the universe, concentrating especially on the religious implications. He then treats the intellectual, social, and economic developments which nurtured Copernicus' break with traditional astronomy. Although many of these developments, including scholastic criticism of Aristotle's theory of motion and the Renaissance revival of Neoplatonism, lie entirely outside of astronomy, they increased the flexibility of the astronomer's imagination. That new flexibility is apparent in the work of Copernicus, whose DE REVOLUTIONIBUS ORBIUM CAELESTIUM is discussed in detail both for its own significance and as a representative scientific innovation.

With a final analysis of Copernicus' life work--its reception and its contribution to a new scientific concept of the universe--Mr. Kuhn illuminates both the researches that finally made the heliocentric arrangement work, and the achievements in physics and metaphysics that made the planetary earth an integral part of Newtonian science. These are the developments that once again provided man with a coherent and self-consistent conception of the universe and of his own place in it.

This is a book for any reader interested in the evolution of ideas and, in particular, in the curious interplay of hypothesis and experiment which is the essence of modern science. Says James Bryant Conant in his Foreword: "Professor Kuhn's handling of the subject merits attention, for... he points the way to the road which must be followed if science is to be assimilated into the culture of our times."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:30 -0400)

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