Article ID: CBB477451770

On Saving the Astronomical Phenomena: Physical Realism in Struggle with Mathematical Realism in Francis Bacon, al-Bitruji, and Averroës (2019)


Ünsal Çimen (Author)

Volume: 9
Issue: 1
Pages: 135-151
Publication date: 2019
Language: English

When we examine the history of astronomy up to the end of the seventeenth century by considering the relation between mathematical astronomy and natural philosophy, it has been argued that there were two groups of philosophers and astronomers: instrumentalists and realists. However, this classification is deficient when we consider attitudes toward the explanatory power of mathematics in determining astronomical theories. I offer the solution of dividing realists into two subcategories—mathematical realists and physical realists. Mathematical realists include those who thought mathematics could provide the real motions of celestial bodies. The physical realists, who include Ibn Rushd (Averroës), believed mathematics could not provide us with the real structure of the heavens. To avoid contradictions between the physical and mathematical models, the physical realists held that a mathematical model of the heavens should be designed by considering physics. I argue, in this article, that Francis Bacon can be considered a physical realist.

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Authors & Contributors
Bakker, Paul J. J. M.
Bevilacqua, Fabio
Cerami, Cristina
Fregonese, Lucio
Kouremenos, Theokritos
Mancha, José Luis
Aleph: Historical Studies in Science and Judaism
Arabic Sciences and Philosophy
Bruniana & Campanelliana: Ricerche Filosofiche e Materiali Storico-testuali
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Medioevo: Saggi e Rassegne
Edizioni Cadmo
New York, City University of
Ashgate, Variorum
de Gruyter
Leuven University Press
SISMEL edizioni del Galluzzo
Natural philosophy
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Science and religion
al-Bitruji, Abu Ishaq, al-Ishbili
Albert of Saxony
Averroès (Ibn Rushd)
Time Periods
16th century
17th century
12th century
Mediterranean region

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