copernicus: voyage to some distant planets

Copernicus argued that the earth was merely one of several planets that circled the sun. It was the Copernican Revolution and it displaced man from the center of the universe. It was the first flowering of the first stirrings of humanism….

Kepler, born only in 1571, was the first since Copernicus himself to attempt a mathematical assessment of the Copernican system. Unlike Copernicus, he was driven on by a profound spirit of mysticism, curiously tempered by an equally profound belief in observation, especially when the observations were the supremely accurate ones made by Tycho Brahe.

Copernicus diagram of his simplification adorns the original manuscript of De revolutionibus, published in the year he died, 1543. Image:

Copernicus diagram of his simplification adorns the original manuscript of De revolutionibus, published in the year he died, 1543. Image:

Tycho had obliterated the crystalline spheres , that solid material said to hold the planets in their orbits.Now Kepler threw away all the computational devices of circle, epicycle, and deferent, representing the planets as moving in elliptical orbits according to certain mathematical laws, under a quasi magnetic force emanating from the sun. This theory was too remote from conventional astronomy to find an immediate audience, and Kepler’s work was assimilated only in the mid-seventeenth century.

---Jack Hirschowitz, 67, hopes to become the oldest jogger to juggle throughout a marathon when he competes in New York on Nov. 4.    ---click for source...

—Jack Hirschowitz, 67, … the oldest jogger to juggle throughout a marathon …
—click for source…

Copernicus, willingly or not, opened the gates by placing man in mobility with his planet, thereby introducing the concept of moral relativity, the complementary belief in “core morality” and a struggle by classical philosophers to define good and evil without particular success. Slowly, “societal values” were taken seriously:

(see link at end)…The anti-anthropomorphism in thinking resulted in a radically anti-anthropocentric vision of things. Man is not the centre of creation, man is not wanted, either collectively or individually: we are just one of the endlessly diverse forms of Nature. Pascal was right:

this vision is frightening, so frightening and disenchanting that he saw only one solution, faith (in the Pascalian and Kierkegaardian sense). Yet, paradoxically, for Spinoza (as for Hume) this disenchanting vision was accompanied by the delight of knowing what we really are. Furthermore, this free thinking was incompatible with belonging to a church and with occupying an academic position; for this reason, Spinoza refused the post in Heidelberg offered to him by Fabritius.

Notwithstanding this radically enlightened position, Spinoza’s thought does not involve a rejection of ordinary, institutionalised religion. (Here one might note the resemblance to Durkheim for whom religion was also, socially speaking, inevitable.) Rather, he sees religion as a social force that has to be properly channelled for political purposes. The scientific and theoretical spirit is compatible with a kind of non-theistic religiosity, a kind of wisdom. This wisdom is obtained in a process in which an anti-anthropocentric, disenchanting vision of things leads to a strange kind of enchantment via the delight experienced in scientific and theoretical knowing. Read More:

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