Nicolaus Copernicus and the Renaissance

Nicolaus Copernicus and the Renaissance

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Copernicus (1473-1543) was the pioneer of the real development of scientific thought during the Renaissance. He achieved great success in the field of natural science, known as the “Copernicus Revolution”.

With his main work in this field, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Motions of the Celestial Bodies), the understanding of the universe of Christianity and Aristotle turned upside down, and he proposed a heliocentric (heliocentric) understanding of the universe instead of the geocentric (geocentric) understanding of the Christian universe. As it is known, geocentric approach is known as Aristotle-Ptolemaic theory. This theory, as if it were a divine revelation, took its place as one of the most fundamental dogmas in Christian theology. Copernicus’ theory was banned by the Church when this approach was proven to be untrue by Copernicus.

According to this new approach, the Sun, not the Earth, is at the center of the universe. The earth is in two modes of motion, both on its axis and around the sun. It completes its rotation on a circular orbit around the sun in one year, it completes its rotation around its axis in one day, and the other planets and celestial bodies are also in a circular motion around the sun on their own orbits. But Copernicus also accepted a stationary group of stars, the so-called fixed stars; they would have to be very far from the Sun in this case. Of course, we should also point out that there are some astronomical dilemmas in his teaching that have not yet been clarified. The views of Copernicus, which did not attract much attention at the beginning, were seriously defended by Galileo, attracted attention and banned by the Church. Unfortunate things have happened to those who continue to defend this view, especially Galileo.

If we briefly touch on the metaphysical teaching that emerged from this astronomy teaching, it should be said that the universe has a simple, simple structure based on quantitative relations rather than quality relations; Quantitative relations are a sign that the universe has a mathematical structure. This mathematical structure provides an orderly, purposeful view of the universe; This regularity does not deteriorate from whatever angle one looks at the universe. The orderly functioning of the universe is the result of the dominance of natural laws, which can be expressed with mathematical ratios and proportions and which are actually few in number. The most important thing in the name of scientific knowledge is the discovery of these laws of nature. Its structure depends on the application of a mathematized observation method. Henceforth, the discovery of the workings of nature should be a method of observation that tries to operate with sound mathematical data; It is not possible to illuminate nature with some secrets and mysterious processes. All such paths should be abandoned. The method proposed by Copernicus has led to the elimination of the previously unsystematic and piecemeal methods of measurement.

The system of Copernicus is much simpler than, for example, an Aristotle-Ptolemaic system in terms of its systematic structure, like the universe, in the qualities it proposes. The structure of the system is deductive and in this respect resembles Euclidean geometry; all the constituent elements are deductively connected to each other, and this is much simpler than Euclid in terms of its deductive structure. However, it cannot be said that it is very simple in terms of the quantitative elements it contains. As a result, Copernicus brought about a revolution in astronomy and took his honorable place as one of the most prominent founders of modern natural science.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook