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Copernicus As Natural Philosopher

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author has tried to provide the likeliest answers to questions that scholars have posed about Copernicus's natural philosophy. The author has based the answers in part on an acquaintance with Copernicus's intellectual milieu, that is, sources that are either known or are reasonably assumed to have been available to him, and in part on a systematic approach to his major works. The author concludes that Copernicus also drew on schools and communities of the Aristotelian tradition. He combined them into an uneasy synthesis with all of the ambiguities and inconsistencies that one would expect. Why Copernicus thought that a moving Earth would remedy the mistakes of his predecessors is not at all clear. Copernicus's account of the motions of elemental bodies is presented, and the author takes up the questions about impetus as they relate to Copernicus's remarks on elements and elemental motions.

Keywords: Aristotle; circle; Copernicus; Earth; heliocentric theory; natural philosopher; Sun



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