Christoph Rothmann's Discourse on the Comet of 1585

An Edition and Translation with Accompanying Essays


Miguel A. Granada, Adam MosleyundNicholas Jardine

Christoph Rothmann wrote a treatise on the comet of 1585 shortly after it disappeared. Though it was not printed until 1619, Rothman sent a copy of his treatise in 1586 to Tycho Brahe, decisively influencing the latter's rejection of solid celestial spheres two years later. In his treatise, Rothmann joined the elimination of the solid celestial spheres to his concept of air as the substance filling the cosmos. He based his argument on the absence of refraction and the celestial location of the comet. The treatise also contained clear statements reflecting Rothmann’s adoption of Copernicanism. This first critical edition of the treatise is accompanied by an English translation and a thorough commentary. Some appendices with archival documents illustrate the genesis of Rothmann’s treatise.
This series, publication under the auspices of the Centre for Copernican Studies of the Polish Academy of Science presents a forum for publications on Copernicus' work, the related problems of his time, and the impact of his ideas as well as for studies in the scientific and broader intellectual traditions of the central European countries.

Copernicus in the Cultural Debates of the Renaissance

Reception, Legacy, Transformation


Pietro Daniel Omodeo

In Copernicus in the Cultural Debates of the Renaissance, Pietro Daniel Omodeo presents a general overview of the reception of Copernicus’s astronomical proposal from the years immediately preceding the publication of De revolutionibus (1543) to the Roman prohibition of heliocentric hypotheses in 1616. Relying on a detailed investigation of early modern sources, the author systematically examines a series of issues ranging from computation to epistemology, natural philosophy, theology and ethics. In addition to offering a pluralistic and interdisciplinary perspective on post-Copernican astronomy, the study goes beyond purely cosmological and geometrical issues and engages in a wide-ranging discussion of how Copernicus’s legacy interacted with European culture and how his image and theories evolved as a result.     

Duncan Liddel (1561-1613)

Networks of Polymathy and the Northern European Renaissance


Ediert von Pietro Daniel Omodeo

This collective volume in the history of early-modern science and medicine investigates the transfer of knowledge between Germany and Scotland focusing on the Scottish mathematician and physician Duncan Liddel of Aberdeen. It offers a contextualized study of his life and work in the cultural and institutional frame of the northern European Renaissance, as well as a reconstruction of his scholarly networks and of the scientific debates in the time of post-Copernican astronomy, Melanchthonian humanism and Paracelsian controversies.

Contributors are: Sabine Bertram, Duncan Cockburn, Laura Di Giammatteo, Mordechai Feingold, Karin Friedrich, Elizabeth Harding, John Henry, Richard Kirwan, Jane Pirie, Jonathan Regier.

The Lynx and the Telescope

The Parallel Worlds of Cesi and Galileo


Paolo Galluzzi

Set in the context of Counter-Reformation Rome, this book focuses on the twenty-year long relationship (1611-1630) between Galileo Galilei and Federico Cesi, the founder of the Academy of the Lynx-eyed. Contrary to the historiographical tradition, it demonstrates that the visions of Galileo and Cesi were not at all convergent. In the course of the events that led to the adoption of the anti-Copernican decree of 1616, Galileo realized that the Lynceans were not prepared to support his battle for freedom of thought. In addition to identifying the author of the anonymous denunciation of Galileo’s Assayer, Paolo Galluzzi offers an original reconstruction of the dynamics which culminated in the Church’s condemnation of the famous Tuscan scientist in 1633.

This book was originally published in Italian as Libertà di filosofare in naturalibus: I mondi paralleli di Cesi e Galileo (Storia dell’Accademia dei Lincei, Studi 4). Rome: Scienze e Lettere, Editore Commerciale, 2014.

Beyond Metaphysics?

Explorations in Alfred North Whitehead’s Late Thought


Ediert von Roland Faber, Brian G. HenningundClinton Combs

Alfred North Whitehead’s interpreters usually pay less attention to his later monographs and essays. Process and Reality is taken to be the definitive center of the Whiteheadian universe and the later works, thereby, appear to many only as applications or elaborations of themes already introduced earlier. Yet, is it also possible that the dominance of this perspective has obscured or even distorted further creative developments of Whitehead’s thought? This volume offers a sort of Copernican revolution in Whitehead interpretation, methodologically and conceptually inviting its contributors to observe Whitehead’s work from the perspective of his later works. The aim of this preferencing is meant not to invalidate earlier approaches to Whitehead’s thought nor is the inference that the later works are more authoritative. Yet, just as the first space-based images of our planet forever changed humanity’s understanding of its place in the universe, shifting the alleged center of, or even decentering of the view on, Whitehead’s “philosophy of organism” to the later works, we might discover previously obscured ideas or new vistas of thought relevant not only to our current philosophical landscape, but also to the pressing issues of our fragile and endangered world. This volume invites its contributors and readers to consider whether one thereby also moves beyond metaphysics?

imagining the unimaginable

The Poetics of Early Modern Astronomy


Ladina Bezzola Lambert

How is it possible to imagine what is unknown and therefore unimaginable? How can the unimaginable be represented? On what materials do such representations rely? These questions lie at the heart of this book.
Copernican theory redefined the role and importance of the imagination even as it implied the moment of its crisis. Based on this claim, Ladina Bezzola Lambert analyzes seventeenth-century astronomical texts – particularly descriptions of the moon and treatises written in support of the theory of the plurality of worlds – to show how early modern astronomers questioned the role of the imagination as a tool to visualize the unknown, but also how, pressed by the need to support their theories with convincing descriptions of other potential worlds, they sought to overcome the limitations of the imagination with a sophisticated rhetoric and techniques more commonly associated with poetic writing. The limitations of the imagination are at once a problem that all of the texts discussed struggle with and their recurrent theme.
In the first and last chapter, the focus shifts to a more explicitly literary context: Ariosto’s Orlando furioso and the work of Italo Calvino. The change of focus from science to literature and from the narratives of the past to contemporary ones serves to emphasize that the issues relating to the imagination, its limitations and creative means, are basically the same both in science and literature and that they are still relevant today.

On the Distances between Sun, Moon, and Earth

According to Ptolemy, Copernicus and Reinhold



The Prutenic Tables of Erasmus Reinhold, published in 1551, were the first set of astronomical tables to use the Copernican model of the solar system. Reinhold left a detailed account of his derivation of the parameters used in these tables in his "Commentarius in opus Revolutionum Copernici". The present work is based on an analysis of this unpublished manuscript, which was rediscovered early in this century.
In particular, this work analyses the geocentric distances of the sun and moon as found in Ptolemy's Almagest, in both the manuscript version and the Nuremberg edition of Copernicus' De Revolutionibus, in Reinhold's commentary on the Almagest, and in Reinhold's commentary on this section of De Revolutionibus. Chapter one contains a detailed analysis of the lunar distance, and chapter two concerns the apparent diameters of the sun, moon and shadow. The Ptolemaic method, which is the model for Copernicus and Reinhold, requires the determination of these quantities as a preliminary to the calculation of the solar distance, which is treated in chapter three. The fourth chapter is a brief analysis of the relative magnitudes of the sun, moon and earth, which Ptolemy, Copernicus and Reinhold discuss after they have reached values of the lunar and solar distances. The final chapter concerns an application of the distances - the solar and lunar parallaxes and diameters.

Remapping Reality

Chaos and Creativity in Science and Literature (Goethe – Nietzsche – Grass)


John A. McCarthy

This book is about intersections among science, philosophy, and literature. It bridges the gap between the traditional “cultures” of science and the humanities by constituting an area of interaction that some have called a “third culture.” By asking questions about three disciplines rather than about just two, as is customary in research, this inquiry breaks new ground and resists easy categorization. It seeks to answer the following questions: What impact has the remapping of reality in scientific terms since the Copernican Revolution through thermodynamics, relativity theory, and quantum mechanics had on the way writers and thinkers conceptualized the place of human culture within the total economy of existence? What influence, on the other hand, have writers and philosophers had on the doing of science and on scientific paradigms of the world? Thirdly, where does humankind fit into the total picture with its uniquely moral nature? In other words, rather than privileging one discipline over another, this study seeks to uncover a common ground for science, ethics, and literary creativity.
Throughout this inquiry certain nodal points emerge to bond the argument cogently together and create new meaning. These anchor points are the notion of movement inherent in all forms of existence, the changing concepts of evil in the altered spaces of reality, and the creative impulse critical to the literary work of art as well as to the expanding universe. This ambitious undertaking is unified through its use of phenomena typical of chaos and complexity theory as so many leitmotifs. While they first emerged to explain natural phenomena at the quantum and cosmic levels, chaos and complexity are equally apt for explaining moral and aesthetic events. Hence, the title “Remapping Reality” extends to the reconfigurations of the three main spheres of human interaction: the physical, the ethical, and the aesthetic or creative.

The Making of Copernicus

Early Modern Transformations of a Scientist and his Science


Ediert von Wolfgang Neuber, Claus ZittelundThomas Rahn

All those interested in Copernicus, transformation of images, application of metaphors, history of science,