(De)Constructing authority in early modern cosmology

About the Workshop

It is often claimed that instead of relying on authoritative texts, the method which is usually associated with the pre-modern period, early modern science has its roots in experimental knowledge. Cosmology that due to the Copernican revolution went through significant changes is usually seen as the most illustrative example of such a shift. However, the picture seems to be much more complex. This workshop will focus on the notion of “authority” in early modern astronomy and astrology and the strategies with which scholars constructed or, on the contrary, rejected authoritative texts and concepts. This workshop will, hopefully, demonstrate how by applying a set of argumentative strategies not exclusively limited to experimental knowledge per se, early modern scholars established a new pantheon of reliable authorities in their field or sought to restore the position of those whose ideas had been shaken by new scientific discoveries.

A number of fundamental questions will be addressed, including:

  • “Scientific heroes” in early modern cosmology and promotion of science
  • Astrology and its controversial status in the early modern period
  • ‘Previous’ authorities, such as Aristotle, Ptolemy or Abu Ma’shar, and the use and abuse of their legacy
  • The authority of the Bible and the authority of science
  • Confessionalisation and institutionalisation of early modern cosmologies


Organisation: Ovanes Akopyan (ovanes.akopyan.uibk.ac.at), Noscemus
Date: Friday, 07/06/2019 - 10:00-18.15
Venue: University of Innsbruck, Zentrum für Alte Kulturen (Atrium), SR1 (A-6020 Innsbruck, Langer Weg 11)


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