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On Purpose$
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Michael Ruse

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691195957

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691195957.001.0001

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(p.42) Chapter Three Machines
On Purpose

Michael Ruse

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the Scientific Revolution that is dated from the publication of Nicolaus Copernicus's On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres in 1543, the work that put the sun rather than the earth at the center of the universe to Isaac Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy in 1687, the work that gave the causal underpinnings of the whole system as developed over the previous one hundred and fifty years. Historian Rupert Hall put his finger precisely on the real change that occurred in the revolution. It was not so much the physical theories, although these were massive and important. It was rather a change of metaphors or models—from that of an organism to that of a machine. By the sixteenth century, machines were becoming ever more common and ever more sophisticated. It was natural therefore for people to start thinking of the world—the universe—as a machine, especially since some of the most elaborate of the new machines were astronomical clocks that had the planets and the sun and moon moving through the heavens, not by human force but by predestined contraptions. In a word, by clockwork!

Keywords:   Scientific Revolution, Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Rupert Hall, machine, astronomical, clockwork

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