Historical Reprints Science From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe

From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe

From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe
Catalog # SKU1759
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Alexandre Koyre


From the
Closed World
to the
Infinite Universe

Alexandre Koyre

The conception of the infinity of the universe, like everything else or nearly everything else, originates, of course, with the Greeks; and it is certain that the speculations of the Greek thinkers about the infinity of space and the multiplicity of worlds have played an important part in the history we shall be dealing with.

From the Author:

It is generally admitted that the seventeenth century underwent, and accomplished, a very radical spiritual revolution of which modern science is at the same time the root and the fruit. This revolution can be-and was-described in a number of different ways. Thus, for instance, some historians have seen its most characteristic feature in the secularization of consciousness, its turning away from transcendent goals to immanent aims, that is, in the replacement of the concern for the other world and the other life by preoccupation with this life and this world.

Some others have seen it in the discovery, by man's consciousness, of its essential subjectivity and, therefore, in the substitution of the subjectivism of the moderns for the objectivism of mediaevals and ancients; still others, in the change of relationship, the old ideal of the vita contemplativa yielding its place to that of the vita activa Whereas mediaeval and ancient man aimed at the pure contemplation of nature and of being, the modern one wants domination and mastery.

These characterizations are by no means false, and they certainly point out some rather important aspects of the spiritual revolution-or crisis-of the seventeenth century, aspects that are exemplified and revealed to us, for example, by Montaigne, by Bacon, by Descartes, or by the general spread of skepticism and free thinking.

Yet, in my opinion they are concomitants and expressions of a deeper and more fundamental process as the result of which man-as it is sometimes said-lost his place in the world, or, more correctly perhaps, lost the very world in which he was living and about which he was thinking, and had to transform and replace not only his fundamental concepts and attributes, but even the very framework of his thought.


I have already mentioned the Sidereus Nuncius of Galileo Galilei, a work of which the influence-and the importance-cannot be overestimated, a work which announced a series of discoveries more strange and more significant than any that had ever been made before. Reading it today we can no longer, of course, experience the impact of the unheard-of message; yet we can still feel the excitement and pride glowing beneath the cool and sober wording of Galileo's report:

In this little treatise I am presenting to all students of nature great things to observe and to consider. Great as much because of their intrinsic excellence as of their absolute novelty, and also on account of the instrument by the aid of which they have made themselves accessible to our senses.

It is assuredly important to add to the great number of fixed stars that up to now men have been able to see by their natural sight, and to set before the eyes innumerable others which have never been seen before and which surpass the old and previously known [stars] in number more than ten times.

It is most beautiful and most pleasant to the sight to see the body of the moon, distant from us by nearly sixty semidiameters of the earth, as near as if it were at a distance of only two and a half of these measures.

So that

Any one can know with the certainty of sense-perception that the moon is by no means endowed with a smooth and polished surface, but with a rough and uneven one, and, just like the face of the earth itself, is everywhere full of enormous swellings, deep chasms and sinuosities.

Then to have settled disputes about the Galaxy or Milky Way and to have made its essence manifest to the senses, and even more to the intellect, seems by no means a matter to be considered of small importance; in addition to this, to demonstrate directly the substance of those stars which all astronomers up to this time have called nebulous, and to demonstrate that it is very different from what has hitherto been believed, will be very pleasant and very beautiful.

But what by far surpasses all admiration, and what in the first place moved me to present it to the attention of astronomers and philosophers, is this: namely, that we have discovered four planets, neither known nor observed by any one before us, which have their periods around a certain big star of the number of the previously known ones, like Venus and Mercury around the sun, which sometimes precede it and sometimes follow it, but never depart from it beyond certain limits. All this was discovered and observed a few days ago by means of the perspicilli invented by me through God's grace previously illuminating my mind.

To sum up: mountains on the moon, new "planets" in the sky, new fixed stars in tremendous numbers, things that no human eye had ever seen, and no human mind conceived before. And not only this: besides these new, amazing and wholly unexpected and unforeseen facts, there was also the description of an astonishing invention, that of an instrument-the first scientific instrument-the perspicillum, which made all these discoveries possible and enabled Galileo to transcend the limitation imposed by nature-or by God-on human senses and human knowledge.

No wonder that the Message of the Stars was, at first, received with misgivings and incredulity, and that it played a decisive part in the whole subsequent development of astronomical science, which from now on became so closely linked together with that of its instruments that every progress of the one implied and involved a progress of the other. One could even say that not only astronomy, but science as such, began, with Galileo's invention, a new phase of its development, the phase that we might call the instrumental one.


The Hideyo Noguchi Lectureship




I. The Sky and the Heavens
Nicholas Of Cusa & Marcellus Palingenius

II. The New Astronomy and the New Metaphysics
N. Copernicus, Th. Digges, G. Bruno & W. Gilbert

III. The New Astronomy Against the New Metaphysics
Johannes Kepler's Rejection of Infinity

IV. Things Never Seen Before and Thoughts Never Thought:
The Discovery Of New Stars
Galileo & Descartes

V. Indefinite Extension or Infinite Space
Descartes & Henry More

VI. God and Space, Spirit and Matter
Henry More

VII. Absolute Space, Absolute Time and Their Relations to God
Malebranche, Newton & Bentley

VIII. The Divinization of Space
Joseph Raphson

IX. God and the World:
Space, Matter, Ether And Spirit
Isaac Newton

X. Absolute Space and Absolute Time:
God's Frame Of Action
Berkeley & Newton

XI. The Work-Day God and the God of the Sabbath
Newton & Leibniz

XII. Conclusion:
The Divine Artifex And The Dieu Fainèant



Softcover, 5¼" x 8¾", 335+ pages

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