The Evolution of Astronomical Thought before Kepler: Copernicus and Tycho Brahe

Author Info
Dong-Yuan Tai
The Center of Humanities Education, Providence University

This paper traces the evolutionary path of western astronomical thoughts from Copernicus to Kepler by utilizing the notion of theory version. Like the paradigm theory and research programme methodology, the theory of theory version is also a philosophical one, but it has a view of its own. Unlike other philosophical theories emphasizing why and how a grand scientific theory (a paradigm or a research programme) was accepted or rejected, theory version focuses on each individual scientist's own knowledge-claims and shows how these claims come to be accepted or rejected by successors. A genealogical path thus can be reconstructed by showing the acceptances and rejections of knowledge-claims. I first account for the relation between history and the philosophy of science in this paper. Next, I outline the historical background of astronomical problems before Kepler. Then I use the philosophical theory of theory version to analyze Copernicus', Tycho Brahe's, and Kepler's astronomical thoughts and reveal the complex relationships among them, addressing themes of both inheritance and conflict.

Taiwanese Journal for Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine, Number 5 (October 2007), 111-182.