The Making of Copernican Cosmology. Mathematical Practices and Political Economy in Comparative Perspective
Workshop in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
This workshop takes Copernicus’s synthesis of cosmological, practical- mathematical, economic and medical interests as an occasion to reflect on the social settings of mathematical and economic practices in the Middle Ages and Early Modernity, and their cross-cultural transfer. Copernicus was not only the author of the most relevant astronomical works of the Renaissance (De revolutionibus 1543), but also wrote and worked on practical fields ranging from monetary policy to land surveying and medicine. This prism of interests, far from being a unique case, continued and transformed well established scientific practices.
The meeting will bring together the competences of various scholars on medieval and early modern science who will explore more in detail the economic and cultural dimensions of the mathematical practices of the past. We will particularly delve into several cases that indicate a wide range of examples of possible practices: 1) the geometrical tools that were deployed for the modeling of the cosmos and the practical goals of the related mathematical practices; 2) the political use of mathematics for the state in fields such as economy, calendar making and public health; 3) surveying of land and resources. By investigating the shared and differing approaches to the epistemic position of mathematical practices, we hope to motivate further research into how social frameworks affect reshaping of cosmological views.
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