The Calvinist Copernicans: The Reception of the New Astronomy in the Dutch Republic.Rienk Vermij. The Calvinist Copernicans: The Reception of the New Astronomy in the Dutch Republic Dutch Republic
officially Republic of the United Netherlands
Former state (1581–1795), about the size of the modern kingdom of The Netherlands. .
Amsterdam: Edita KNAW, 2002. Pbk. x + 434 pp. index. map. bibl. [euro]49. ISBN ISBN
International Standard Book Number
ISBN International Standard Book Number
ISBN n abbr (= International Standard Book Number) → ISBN m : 90-6984-340-4.
With historical hindsight, the heliocentric he·li·o·cen·tric also he·li·o·cen·tri·cal
1. Of or relating to a reference system based at the center of the sun.
2. Having the sun as a center. astronomical system, proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543, may be considered to herald the beginning of modern science, an event which has often been called the Copernican Revolution The Copernican Revolution refers to the paradigm shift away from the Ptolemaic model of the heavens, which placed Earth at the center of the Universe. It was one of the starting points for the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century. . Its immediate impact, however, was far less dramatic. It took more than a quarter of a century before its deeper consequences were seriously taken up by astronomers Famous astronomers and astrophysicists include:
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Vermij starts his narrative in 1575, the founding date of Leiden University The Faculty of Creative and Performing Arts is a cooperation between Leiden University and the Royal Conservatoire and Royal Academy of Art. The university has never had a faculty of economics, business or management, since all these decades one thought this would not fit into its . This is somewhat surprising, as the Copernican system Copernican system, first modern European theory of planetary motion that was heliocentric, i.e., that placed the sun motionless at the center of the solar system with all the planets, including the earth, revolving around it. was already quite well known to many scholars in the Netherlands. Vermij only spends a few words on Gemma Frisius
Spanish-held provinces in the southern Low Countries (roughly corresponding to modern Belgium and Luxembourg). In 1578 the diplomat Alessandro Farnese was sent to represent Spain in the Netherlands, and by 1585 he had reestablished Spanish control over to the North, the links with this early circle of Copernicans may have been worthwhile to take into account. Still, his analysis of the Leiden humanists and their defence of Copernicanism is one of the strong chapters of the book. Vermij shows how their approach was quite different from what Robert Westman has termed the "Wittenberg interpretation." For the Leiden humanists, not the mathematical usefulness of the Copernican astronomy, but its relevance to some cosmic harmony was appealing, an attitude which Vermij also finds in the views of Snellius, Mulerius, and even Stevin, whose dependence on the learned elites of Leiden contrasts nicely with his general matter-of-fact approach.
Less surprising is the part dealing with the influence of Descartes. The history of Cartesianism in the Netherlands has been well studied and Vermij has not much to add. He concedes that the debate on the Cartesian philosophy Cartesian philosophy: see Descartes, René. completely eclipsed the Copernican debates, which only served to defend or to attack Cartesianism. Even then, his breadth of arguments and archival sources is a worthwhile addition, which deserves to be read by any historian of Cartesianism.
Only in part 4, "Biblical authority and Christian freedom," Vermij addresses the Calvinist background of the debate. Although, as in the case of Leiden humanists, the Christian outlook does enter into the understanding of their position, Vermij apparently feels that the later theological controversies can in fact be separated from the scientific debates. It works indeed in his narrative, but isn't it the task of an historian to dig up deeper layers of intellectual kinship? In general, Vermij's approach is not that of a social historian, identifying the ambitions and resources of the different social groups involved. He singles out the intellectual content of the debates, which sometimes may be connected to the social aspirations of the protagonists, but which according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Vermij should not be explained by purely social arguments. Here he misses a central issue: the reception of Copernicanism, certainly in the wake of Cartesianism or the explicit involvement of religious views, does not depend on purely intellectual arguments, but rather on the general concept of what the new science may achieve, and perhaps even on a simple willingness to challenge the established order. Social history cannot be excluded from this debate, and it transcends the intellectual boundaries framed by academic disciplines. For all the meticulous scholarship Vermij has applied, a more daring approach would perhaps have yielded a more challenging analysis.
Catholic University, Leuven