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From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe (Hideyo Noguchi Lecture) Paperback – October 1, 1968

3.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

An important contribution to the problem of the transition from the world view characteristic of the medieval centuries to that which rapidly gained acceptance after the seventeenth century.

(Philosophical Quarterly)

Koyré has provided the material and has illuminated it with uniformly perceptive and occasionally brilliant commentary... An important contribution to the study of 17th-century thought.

(Thomas S. Kuhn Science)

A model of scholarliness without pedantry, of clarity without oversimplification.

(Arthur Koestler Encounter)

Surely a work that will be welcomed alike by the scientist, philosopher, and historian of ideas.

(Philosophy and Phenomenological Research)

From the Back Cover

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a radical change occurred in the patterns and framework of European thought. In the wake of discoveries through the telescope and Copernican theory, the notion of an ordered cosmos of 'fixed stars' gave way to that of a universe infinite in both time and space - with significant and far-reaching consequences for human thought. Alexandre Koyre interprets this revolution in terms of the change that occurred in our conception of the universe and our place in it and shows the primacy of this change in the development of the modern world.
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Product Details

  • Series: Hideyo Noguchi Lecture
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1st edition (October 1, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801803470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801803475
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Korye's decades-old book is still a pleasure and a marvel to read. The ideas developed in this first-rate work are lucidly and extensively developed and contain such subtle gems of thought that one could not possibly discover all of them with a single reading. Anyone with even but a passing interest in the history and philosophy of science should add this book to his library. A true classic!
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Format: Paperback
Of all the tomes I read during my years studying the history of science, this is the one I tend to come back to the most.

Koyre describes the thinking of such diverse figures as Giordano Bruno, Nicholas of Cusa, Galileo, Henry More, and Johannes Kepler regarding the possibility that the universe might be of unlimited extent. As such, the discussions, particularly early on, deal more with scholastic philosophy, with heavy emphasis on religious implications. They deal with abstract notions, and some of the thinking of these early figures is quite bold, startling even, and beautiful, after a fashion.

It is apropos to recall that science was long known as "natural philosophy"...and indeed, as the former figures give way to the analyses of Newton and Leibniz, we find Koyre's work limning the disentangling of these two threads, philosophy and science, at least with respect to cosmology.

In particular, Koyre underlines one of the most ironical developments in all the history of ideas at the very end of the book, in recounting how the triumph of Newtonian physics rendered superfluous the God that it had been Newton's purpose to honor through his science.

Not for everyone; but for me, magnificent.
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This is a fantastic book; unfortunately, this version is almost unreadable. There is no indentation or italicization, and quotation marks are often misplaced. This makes it awfully difficult to tell the lengthy quoted passages apart from the author's own text. Definitely read this book--just buy it from a different publisher.
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While the book itself is very good and very important in the history and philosophy of science, this edition is the absolute worst. I am convinced this "publisher" is breaking some sort of copyright law, as there is none of the standard information on the inside cover, and the layout is so bad that I was half convinced that I received the wrong book. I'm still not convinced I got the right one, and will be purchasing a different copy as soon as I can.

The text is almost devoid of formatting, up to and including a lack of indentation, improper spacing on block quotes, improperly sized illustrations, misplaced quotation marks, etc. It's like they had someone just retype the book into a Word document, then republished and resold it on the assumption that grad students like myself will see the cost reduction and take the bait.
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Format: Paperback
To get a true sense of the Copernican Revolution, it is necessary to understand both:
1) Christian Europe's theological transformations, primarily , from 1400 to 1517 (Protestant Reformation & Catholic response), to 1687
2) an astronomical paradigm shift as result of instruments, discoveries & theories, 1400 to 1687. Kepler, Tycho, Galileo, & Newton.

Koyre has done the hard part of Task 1 for the scholar / scientist / theologian. Koyre has meticulously laid out logically the competing arguments (by originator) for:

the medieval geo-centric closed world / Chain of Being (Scholastics, mostly),
early Renaissance's helio-centric closed world (1543, Copernicus) which undermined the divine Chain / divine right of Kingship, etc
the 17th century mathematically-exact, mechanical, infinite universe that resulted from the astronomy of Kepler, Tycho, Galileo, & Newton.

This theological transformation was a gradual shift from:

1) an infinite, omnipotent, transcendent Christian God that was WHOLLY different from finite Man & his cosmos
to
2) an immanent & infinite 'Deist clock-maker' God who expressed His infinite power through the 'plentitude' of an infinite universe.
Koyre considers the transference of earlier attributes of God -- Absolute power & divine infinity, to the physical description of Newton's Absolute Space -- the 'divinization of Space'! This transformation also revitalized the place of Mankind in the cosmos as 'Renaissance Humanism'.

These changes did not progress without the pain of inquisitions, self-exiles & house arrests, and the occasional martyr. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake around 1600 for his heresy of an infinite, immanent God.
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