Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant

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CUP Archive, 1984 - Science - 246 pages
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This is a fascinating history of the debate over the question of extraterrestrial life from Classical Greece to the mid-eighteenth century. Using many primary and secondary sources never examined in this context, the book analyses why such great thinkers as Aristotle, Aquinas, Ockham, Galileo, Kepler, Huygens, and Kant thought the debate over the plurality of worlds a subject for serious discussion. The author shows how conflicting arguments from science, philosophy, and theology gradually converged to the same opinion - that intelligent life must fill the universe.
  

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Contents

One World or an Infinity of Worlds?
6
Aristotelian Natural Law versus Divine
23
The Heliocentric Theory Scripture
61
Cartesian Vortices the Infinite Universe
106
Newton Natural Theology and the Triumph
142
Science and the Plurality of Worlds
176
Notes
191
Bibliography
222
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About the author (1984)

Steven J. Dick served as the NASA Chief Historian from 2003 to 2009 and was the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace at the National Air and Space Museum from 2011 to 2012. He has worked as both an astronomer and historian of science. Minor planet 6544 Stevendick is named in his honor.

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