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Copernicus As Mathematical Cosmologist

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author undertakes a systematic analysis of Copernicus's ideas about hypotheses and models, especially as revealed in De revolutionibus. The author explicates the consequences of Copernicus's reading of sources which persuaded him to adopt ancient assumptions concerning the perfection of spheres and circles. The chapter explains features of Copernicus's mathematical cosmology that reflect a less robustly realist portrayal of Copernicus's philosophy than one often encounters in surveys of his contribution to early modern science. Above all, the chapter presents some new insights explaining why Copernicus conceived his heliocentric cosmology in a way that was so indissolubly and intimately linked with ancient spherical cosmology. The author deals with an exposition of De revolutionibus that has been used to justify Copernicus's supposed belief in real eccentric and epicycle orbs. Copernicus accepted the hypothesis of uniform, circular motion as well as the geometrical devices used to save uniform, circular motion.

Keywords: Copernicus; Earth; heliocentric theory; mathematical cosmologist; orb; sphere; Sun



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