Between Astrology and Copernicanism: Morin – Gassendi – Boulliau

In: Early Science and Medicine
Robert Alan Hatch University of Florida

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Jean-Baptiste Morin, arguably Europe’s most noted astrologer and anti-Copernican, was a key figure in a bitter controversy involving Pierre Gassendi, Ismaël Boulliau, and a dozen other notable savants. News of the dispute captivated Learned Europe for two decades (1630-1650). It was not a backwater affair. After a humiliating quarrel on longitude, Morin expressed his anger by publicly pitting astrology against Copernicanism, by counterpointing the Copernican Question and the Astrology Question in matters of theology and cosmology. His strategy failed. Capitalizing on Morin’s challenge, the New Science not only turned a bitter personal dispute into a fruitful public debate, it firmly established its autonomy and authority. In the end, astrology was not simply marginalized – it did not die from collateral damage – and it did not die a natural death. The death of astrology was by public execution.

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