André Goddu, Copernicus and the Aristotelian Tradition: Education, Reading and Philosophy in Copernicus’s Path to Heliocentrism (History of Science and Medicine Library 15) (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. xxvii + 545, illus., bibl., index, € 132

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    ReviewReviewed Work(s): Copernicus and the Aristotelian Tradition: Education, Reading andPhilosophy in Copernicus's Path to Heliocentrism (History of Science and Medicine Library15) by André GodduReview by: H. Darrel RutkinSource: Early Science and Medicine,  Vol. 17, No. 6 (2012), pp. 650-652Published by: BrillStable URL: 23-11-2018 14:36 UTC   JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a widerange of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity andfacilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Brill   is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Early Science and Medicine  This content downloaded from on Fri, 23 Nov 2018 14:36:52 UTCAll use subject to   650 Book Reviews / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) 643-674  André Goddu, Copernicus and the Aristotelian Tradition: Education, Reading and Phi-  losophy in Copernicus s Path to Heliocentrism (History of Science and Medicine Library  15) (Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp. xxvii + 545, illus., bibl., index, € 132.00, $ 183.00,  ISBN 978 90 04 1 8107 6.  André Goddu s Copernicus and the Aristotelian Tradition is a valuable and substantial  contribution in our ongoing effort to understand Copernicuss remarkable achieve-  ment. The subtitle, Education , Reading and Philosophy in Copernicus s Path to Heliocen -  trism> efficiently indicates the scope of Goddu s orientation in approaching the central  issue of how Copernicus came to his revolutionary views. Among many valuable  services, Goddu extensively summarises here the major results of scholarship since  1973 by Polish scholars. This scholarship was published primarily in Polish and has  thus remained inaccessible to most historians and philosophers of science, on issues  of interest to many scholars of both Copernicus in particular, and of late medieval and  early modern natural knowledge in general.  Goddu begins with a detailed sketch of Copernicuss life (1473-1543) within his  social and political context in the contested border region between what we now call  Poland and Germany, but which was configured differently in the late fifteenth and  early sixteenth centuries. Although at the macro level, the political struggle was be-  tween the Polish crown and the Teutonic Order of the Knights of the Cross, Goddu  clearly brings out the local contours of the struggle. Within this context, Goddu  properly focuses on Copernicuss maternal uncle, Lucas Watzenrode (1447-1512,  bishop of Warmia from 1489), who had himself studied at the universities of Cracow  and Bologna, and who took over Nicholas s education on his father s untimely death  in 1483.  Unfortunately, the specifics of Copernicuss own education are mostly unknown, and so must be reconstructed from the normative curricular structures and other  relevant documents at the universities of Cracow and Bologna, and from the content of his own extant writings. Among other things, Goddu discusses the practical dimen-  sions of Copernicuss official studies of Canon Law at Bologna with respect to his  future occupation and responsibilities as a canon at the cathedral of Warmia, where  he ultimately disappointed his uncles ambitions for Nicholas to succeed him as bish- op. Fortunately for posterity, however, Nicholas devoted himself to astronomy, the  field to which Goddu naturally devotes most of his attention. Goddu reconstructs the likely structure of Copernicus s education at Cracow in the  early 1490s by means of the normative liberal arts curriculum as articulated in the  university s statutes and augmented by the Liber diligentiarum, which recorded the  books taught and the professors who taught them. Goddu also offers a useful bio-  bibliographical sketch of the range of Copernicuss likely instructors at Cracow. He  concludes that Albert of Brudzewo and John of Glogovia, both deeply influenced by  the contemporary Albertist movement at Vienna and Cologne, probably trained all  of Copernicus s teachers at Cracow. Given astrology s centrality in the curriculum there  regarding mathematics, astronomy and natural philosophy, on the one hand, and  © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2013 DOI: 10.1 163/1 5733823- 176000B4 This content downloaded from on Fri, 23 Nov 2018 14:36:52 UTCAll use subject to   Book Reviews / Early Science and Medicine 17 (2012) 643-674 651  Albertus Magnus's use of astrology and an astrologizing natural philosophy in both  his authentic Aristotle commentaries (and elsewhere), and in the pseudonymous  Speculum astronomiae (normally attributed to Albert in the fifteenth century), on the other, exploring the astrological dimension of Copernicus s education at Cracow would  seem reasonable. Goddu's study, however, does not take this potentially illuminating material into account, even though he mentions some of the astrological activities of  Copernicus s likely teachers.  There is slightly more astrological traction in Goddu's discussion of Copernicus s still mysterious - because painfully underdocumented - assisting of Domenico Maria  Novara (ca. 1454-1 504) at Bologna, a well known professor at the university and the  author of several extant astrological almanacs. With respect to that discipline, Robert  S. Westman's recent The Copernican Question : Prognostication Skepticismy and Celestial  Order (Berkeley, 201 1) makes a noble but problematic and only partially reliable at-  tempt to reconstruct the astrological dimension of Copernicus s education and context. Contemporary views of how celestial influences work - focusing on the sun's utterly  central role in generation in particular, and on motion or change ( motus / kinesis )  in the sublunar world more generally - in Aristotelian natural philosophy should re-  ceive much more attention. Another area worth exploring is the significant faculty  interchange between the universities of Cracow and Bologna, where there is also a  pronounced astrological dimension. In this respect, a useful addition to Goddu's other-  wise valuable bibliography would be Fabrizio Bonolì & Daniela Piliarvu, I lettori di  astronomia presso lo Studio di Bologna dal 12° al 20 10 secolo (Bologna, 2001).  The heart of Goddu's book reconstructs Copernicus's relationship to the Aristote- lian tradition, or more accurately, the Aristotelian tradition insofar as Aristotle can  illuminate important elements of Copernicus's education and subsequent astronomi-  cal and cosmological writings. Goddu devotes valuable attention to describing what  Copernicus read either at or after university, making a sharp distinction between his  pre-1514 exertions and those that came after, since by 1514 Copernicus had arrived  at his main philosophical insights concerning heliocentrism. In addition to Aristotle,  the main texts Goddu focuses on are Bessarion's In calumniatorem Platonis' Ficino's  translation of Plato's work (especially the Parmenides)' Plutarch, Pseudo- Plutarch (Aë-  tius) and Giorgio Valla; Pliny's Natural History , Alessandro Achillini, and especially  Regiomontanus s Epitome of Ptolemy's Almagest.  Goddu focuses on Aristotle's own and later Aristotelian contributions to Coper- nicus's thinking via his university education and later reading in cosmological and  physical thought - mainly in the Physics and De cáelo - including a detailed discussion  of the Quaestiones Cracovienses on the Physics. This focus, and that on the relationship  of mathematics to natural philosophy more generally, is valuable and will come as no  surprise. Goddu's intensive focus on Copernicus's study and use of Aristotle's logical  treatises, however, and especially on the structures of argumentation learned there,  both while studying at university and as reflected in all of his relevant extant works,  seems the most innovative feature of his study, and is perhaps its greatest contribution.  As valuable as Goddu's contribution is, if one is interested in other relevant elements  of Aristotle's vast opera - or even in different topics of the De cáelo , as (for example) This content downloaded from on Fri, 23 Nov 2018 14:36:52 UTCAll use subject to   652 Book Reviews / Early Science and Medicine 1 7 (2012) 643-674  celestial influences - Goddus work will be of no service. Needless to say, to keep the  volume within reasonable bounds, Goddu had to restrict his focus, and the way he  did so is certainly understandable, but even a brief sketch of other potentially relevant  topics would have been useful. Furthermore, the extensive summarizing can be slow  going at times in such a long book, especially since, given its iterative structure, there  can also tend to be significant repetition between its different parts. The interested  reader can perhaps use the book more effectively by pursuing his or her particular  interests directly in this clearly organized book (besides the subject index, which  I found confusing), rather than by reading it in its entirety from start to finish, espe-  cially as Goddu often usefully restates the conclusions of relevant arguments made  elsewhere. As alluded to above, however, my main criticism is Goddus lack of any explicit discussion of astrology or the astrological context whatsoever in trying to understand Copernicuss education and contribution, even where Goddu explicitly  mentions astrologically relevant material. In the end, Copernicus and the Aristotelian Tradition is a very useful contribution  to our ongoing study of Copernicus, his life and education, and especially of his epoch-  making contribution to astronomy and our understanding of the cosmos. I hope that someday soon the most important works of Polish scholarship on Copernicus over the  last forty years (and before) will be made available in accurate translations, so that  interested historians and philosophers of science can turn directly to the finest schol-  arship instead of having to rely on summaries, however useful, that they are unable to  follow up on, especially if they are asking different questions than Goddu does. At  least we now have a better sense of what we are missing, and a much more solid and  up-to-date grasp of Copernicuss relationship to Aristotelian logic and natural phi-  losophy H Darrel Rutkin  Stanford University This content downloaded from on Fri, 23 Nov 2018 14:36:52 UTCAll use subject to
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