Reading Questions for Copernicus, in PS 2.3


Your typewritten answers to the following questions are due at the beginning of class on Thursday, October 20, 2011. Please follow the conventions stipulated in previous assignments for font and format.


1.   To whom does Copernicus dedicate his work? Why?


2.   Copernicus compares the work of some of his predecessors to a painting of a “monster.” What does he mean by this criticism?


3.   What reason does Copernicus give for saying that the universe is spherical? How does his reasoning here compare to that given by Ptolemy (PS 1.12, pp. 70-71)?


4.   When he argues that the Earth is spherical, Copernicus first notes merely that all the parts tend toward the center, but then he develops a more detailed argument. Sketch that second argument.


5.   “Every apparent change of place ...” How does Copernicus’s reasoning here compare with Oresme’s reasoning (PS 1.18)?


6.   “Even though it is not in the center of the universe ...” How does the claim Copernicus is making here differ from the claim made by Ptolemy (PS 1.12, p. 72)?


7.   Copernicus uses a quotation from Vergil’s Aeneid to make a point similar to one made by Oresme. What is that point?


8.   “Thus we discover in this orderly arrangement the marvellous symmetry of the universe ...” What is the symmetry and harmonious connection that Copernicus is here extolling?