The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought

The Copernican Revolution Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought 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

  • Title: The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought
  • Author: Thomas S. Kuhn
  • ISBN: 9780674171039
  • Page: 496
  • Format: 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 uFor 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 intelligently With a constant keen awareness of the inseparable mixture of its technical, philosophical, and humanistic elements, Thomas S 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 Coelestium On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres 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, forhe points the way to the road which must be followed if science is to be assimilated into the culture of our times.

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    1 thought on “The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought”

    1. Probably a 4.5, made up of a 5 when I first read it (almost 40 years ago) and a 4 when I reread it much more recently. I don't think the book changed, but there is evidence that I did.Kuhn is one of the thinkers of the History and Philosophy of Science that has written very famous books in both branches of that discipline. This is his contribution to the historical branch, while The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is his very influential (and thus also controversial) contribution to the phil [...]

    2. Whereas The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a book of bold claims about the very nature of science itself, The Copernican Revolution is a much humbler effort-- the account of one revolution, and how it came to pass, and how the ideas of Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton all intersected in early modern Europe. While his follow-up to The Copernican Revolution attempted to rephrase philosophical terms, this is a more of a straightforward piece of scientific nonfiction. Gre [...]

    3. I'm not sure I understood any of the science and math but this book was fabulous in laying out the intellectual history of the time. I really loved reading those sections.

    4. Copernicus ile başlayan Newton'la sonuçlanan ve inançtan bilime, felsefeden politikaya bir çok disiplini etkileyen, insanlığı bugüne taşıyan muazzam bir devrimi okudum. . .

    5. This book is one of the most inspiring -- and most humbling -- books that I've read in quite some time.I've been interested in astronomy since I was a kid, so the story of Copernicus and Kepler is one I thought I knew. But Kuhn brings out several aspects I hadn't understood before. Kuhn draws attention to something that's often overlooked: Ptolemaic astronomy isn't actually quite compatible with Aristotelian cosmology. The inconsistency wasn't noticed because mathematical astronomy at the time w [...]

    6. The most riveting intellectual history I have read since Lovejoy's "Great Chain of Being," this is a book replete with historical empathy, copious, starkly beautiful diagrams, and a keen sense of the ironies of history.

    7. A solid addition to the literature of science history and intellectual history. Kuhn sets out the interesting ways by which the astronomical system of Copurnicus generated the revolution named for him.The book is interesting in detail and breadth and is fairly easily reading not compromised by philosophical obfuscation. I do not sense that Kuhn is out of his depth at any point. He exaggerates his viewpoint only somewhat. I believe it will interest any non-scientist as well as any scientist not a [...]

    8. A very, very good book for science and history buffs. I read Kuhn's classic book: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, some years ago but found it too philosophical or esoteric for my tastes. The Copernican Revolution offers a much more accessible account of a scientific revolution unfolding through the centuries.The common-sense, earth-centered Ptolemaic universe inherited by Copernicus was more than just a mental model of how the world was structured in a physical sense. It was a worldview [...]

    9. The Copernican Revolution, though not as widely known as The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and thus not as often recommended to students or science enthusiasts, is a masterpiece. I give it such high praise because it does not simply explain the role of said revolution in the historical context of astronomy and physics, but attempts to give its readers a deeper understanding of the meaning of scientific breakthroughs. While doing that, the author tries to map the entire age he writes about [...]

    10. Having read the Structure of Scientific Revolutions many years ago I have carried around a general idea of Kuhn's ideas. It seemed unnecessary to go back and read the Copernican Revolution. I have been wrong. To really understand the complexity of Kuhn's ideas this book is a must. What I found most interesting was his discussion of the Aristotelian world view and how Copernicus' 'technical' clarification of the motions of planets undermined that whole world view. In the end I felt that I had a c [...]

    11. Wow. One of those books where you are left in total awe that someone can comprehend, analyze, and synthesize so much. Kuhn superbly breaks down the scientific revolution that facilitated our progress from ancient to modern thought. It isn't long (<300 pages), but it is dense. Not overly technical, but deep. Every word counts. It took months to get through, and I would only recommend it if you love history of science and philosophy. But if you do, this is a must read.

    12. This is a fantastic book, which is less than three-hundred pages in length. It is concise, clear and yet comprehensive and very illuminating. Kuhn sets the stage for the Copernican Revolution by taking you inside the mediaeval mind. You get a chance to see the world somewhat as they saw it, and you can understand why the Copernican view was dismissed as ridiculous by learned and rational people: it conflicted with so much of what they thought they knew.

    13. Oh man, this book is wonderful. I'm a bit biased: it manages to touch on pretty much everything that I like and weave them together in a way that's fascinating and compelling. While I'm not a scientist myself - a pretty intense aversion to math when I was in high school turned me away from that - I absolutely love science and think it's fascinating, so anytime I come across a history of science book I always feel like I'm in a for a bit of a treat. Unfortunately, it can occasionally be difficult [...]

    14. It feels almost wrong marking this as read-- I read it for school and my teacher used it kind of like a textbook. So I often did what any good student does with a textbook: skim. BUT. Kuhn has subjected me to far too many technicalities of far too many astronomical systems for me to not count it. Apart from the fact that he's a tad racist (lumps together non-Western people and what he calls "primitive tribes" with children, downplays scientific/mathematical contributions of the Islamic civilizat [...]

    15. This is a great work of history, which succeeds both in treating its subject matter and shedding light on larger questions about humanity and philosophy.At the beginning of the book, the Copernican Revolution is nowhere close to happening, and it feels like it's never going to happen. It feels so far off! You imagine that the whole book is just going to be taken up detailing the complexities of pre-modern astronomy, with its ether, epicycles, deferants, and equants. Then you get a sense that the [...]

    16. Kuhn takes an exhaustive approach to understanding the historical underpinnings of Copernicus' insight and work, as well as the intellectual fallout that resulted. As is with any work in history, surely some details are left out but one can hardly complain about the depth of inquisition provided at each time point, ranging from Aristotle (presented as more than just a token ancient) to the philosophies of Newton. Surely "Revolution" is a case study for Kuhn's later work (Structure), which I have [...]

    17. This is the case study that preceded, and was a primary inspiration for, Kuhn's celebrated Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It's not as well-known as the later book, but it is in its own way just as rewarding. It offers a technically detailed and elegantly written account of the Copernican revolution and its far-reaching impact on astronomy and physics. No one is better than Kuhn at taking you inside the worldview of natural scientists from previous historical eras. He steadfastly resists th [...]

    18. Somewhat interestingIf I'm not mistaken, Kuhn wrote this before his Strucures of Scientific Revolution, and it sort of feels like a case study on the way to that work. So having read Structures, it feels less enlightening from a history of science point of view than it might've.But he spends way more time on pre-Copernican celestial mechanics than I'd ever seen in any other context. So it was very cool to see how many little tweaks were applied to a fundamentally flawed model for so long. And in [...]

    19. Meh. Had to read this one for class. You can get the gist of the book from the final chapter/epilogue. Copernicus didn't have everything figured out, nor was the "revolution" he incited so earth shattering. Most of the changes from a geocentric cosmology to a heliocentric one and the associated "radical" thinking occurred AFTER he died. You see that the break from centuries-old Aristotelian scientific thought evolved quite naturally and slowly (almost imperceptibly). This is more of a study on t [...]

    20. This book tries to place the "Copernican Revolution" in its proper historical and cultural context. It's very broad, covering such topics as astronomy, religion, and general culture - basically any aspect of life that had an interest in determining whether the earth circled the sun or vice versa.It's extremely well-written, albeit somewhat dry and academic in spots. The author's enthusiasm for the subject is obvious throughout. He does a great job of explaining the math and physics necessary in [...]

    21. As is always the case with Kuhn and the Cold War era Historians/Philosophers of science (Popper, Lakatos, etc.), the insight is incredibly expansive and useful, but as exhausting as it is exhaustive. Even though Kuhn is one of the most approachable writers of the period (especially as an academic philosopher), and paints an enthralling picture of a historic development whose myth often leaves out much of the context, the material is an acquired taste -- and one I didn't quite learn to stomach.Th [...]

    22. Have you ever wanted to know precisely how many crystalline spheres make up the universe? What about epicycles? Can't hardly leave the house without a few epicycles, right?Then, friend, have I got the book for you!This is Kuhn before Kuhn but it's awfully similar. He argues that Copernicus did not start the revolution and the revolution did not really start with Copernicus. Along the way he explains an awful lot of (now-)pseudo-science. It's pretty interesting. Even at this basic level, there's [...]

    23. This was really enjoyable! I was glad to see so many direct quotes from De Revolutionibus, as well as Aristotle and other sources. I appreciate that it a book with this sort of topic. I was somewhat surprised that Aristarchus of Samos was not mentioned? The text did a really good job of explaining the flaws with the elliptical system and set a good stage for the chasm that existed between current thought and what Copernicus was able to develop. Still wondering about Aristachus and other early th [...]

    24. This book is by far the most accessible and enlightening book I have ever read on this subject. It is hard to pin this book down on one topic though. It is an introduction to astronomy (ancient and modern), it is a story about the building and destruction of world views, it is an informative account of the scientific revolution and its implications for mankind. And to top it off: it is written in a very clear and concise style.Read 265 pages and you're fully informed. Not much else to say about [...]

    25. For me, this was an important follow-up to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. This book gives perspective to the events surrounding one of the most important shifts of thought in Western history. This change in thinking was far more important and went far deeper into our culture than we are ever led to understand in school textbooks. I recommend this for any student of the history of science.

    26. Read this years ago and neglected to add it until now. Slipped my mind I guess. The Copernican Revolution is fascinating. The type of big change that begs the question of what kinds of big changes will crop of in the future. This line of inquiry gets the wheels spinning in interesting and exciting ways.

    27. Not light reading, but aimed at popular audiences. If you want to brush up on the science you should have learned in college, this is a good way to do it. Kuhn shows you what was so revolutionary in the hypothesis that the earth is not the center of the cosmos.

    28. This book is an exploration of the effect of the Copernican organization of the solar system on science and culture. It is an interesting book by the author of the Structure of Scientific Revolutions and deals with many of the same themes and concerns.

    29. Recommended on Skeptically Speaking show #90 on December 17, 2010. skepticallyspeaking/episode

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