Plurality of Words: The Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant

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CUP Archive, Jun 29, 1984 - Science - 256 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, this 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 held the 2014 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. In 2013 he testified before Congress on the subject of astrobiology. He served as the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum (2011 2012), and as the NASA Chief Historian and Director of the NASA History Office (2003 2009). He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, and is author or editor of twenty books, including The Biological Universe (1996). He was awarded the 2006 LeRoy E. Doggett Prize for Historical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society. In 2009, the International Astronomical Union designated minor planet 6544 stevendick in his honor.

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