How does Anderson characterize the basic contents of Aristotle’s physics?



Number Of Pages:
5     Double-spaced (1125 words)


Number Of Sources:


Type of Document:


Academic Level:


Citation Style:




Solution Files(s):




Listen to Margaret Anderson’s Lecture “The New Science” and answer 38 questions fully. Answers should be separated by number so it does not have to be an integrated paper. No question should be longer than a paragraph. Some questions can be answered with 1-2 sentences. -This is where the lecture is located. Thanks!!


Margaret Lavinia Anderson, “The New Science”


Instructions. Carefully listen to Margaret Lavinia Anderson’s lecture “The New Science.” Once you have finished listening, answer the following questions fully and adequately. You may need to listen to the lecture more than once, and you will want to take some notes. Your answers should be separated by number; do not integrate your answers into a single, unified paper. I would highly recommend reading both the questions and the comments below before listening to Anderson. For some questions, you may only need to write one or two sentences. For others, you may need a full paragraph. But no question – or at least no sub-question of a question – should require more than a full paragraph.

Anderson’s lecture can be found here:


You do not need to download either the lecture of iTunes to listen. Simply click on the lecture (it’s number 10).

Answers must be submitted in hard copy, and they must be typed. They should also include the student’s full name, course information, and date of submission. Homework papers failing to meet any of these standards will suffer a two point penalty (total). The homework must be submitted in class. Any homework not submitted in class will suffer late penalties as set forth in the syllabus. There are thirty-nine questions in total, and the assignment is worth 100 points. Partial credit may be awarded for partly correct answers. You are permitted to quote the text, but you should try to use your own words as much as possible; paraphrase – even close paraphrase – is preferable to quotation.

Due date: Tuesday, May 5




Anderson is an excellent scholar, but she specializes in modern German political history, not the history of science. Nonetheless, virtually everything that she says is not only accurate but deeply insightful. I only have one complaint, namely, that her remarks about the position of the new science on qualities and causation (see question 6), while they certainly apply to some of the new scientists to some extent, do not apply to them all, and indeed they may apply fully to none. Perhaps we should talk about this in class. One other thing. Anderson frequently talks about “the new science” and “the new scientists.” As we have discussed in class, this way of talking is somewhat anachronistic; if we want to say that Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton were scientists, we must be careful not to assume that the word “science” meant in the seventeenth century what it means today. If you have trouble understanding a particular term that Anderson uses, ask the professor or try Google. Two quick tips. First. Anderson sometimes uses Copernicus’s Polish name Kopernik instead of our English Copernicus. Second, by “Reformation” Anderson means the Protestant Reformation. There are many important lessons to be learned from Anderson’s lecture. One is that the new scientists, for all their criticism of Aristotle and Ptolemy, were often influenced by these ancient thinkers in ways that they failed to recognize. This is how history works. We can see the fingerprints of Aristotle and Aquinas all over Descartes, and even Newton engaged in metaphysics. It should not surprise us to learn that Copernicus, Kepler, and many of the other new scientists assumed highly controversial principles of natural philosophy that they had learned from Aristotle and Ptolemy. No one can completely transcend his or her intellectual milieu.




(1) How does Anderson characterize the basic contents of Aristotle’s physics? What did Aristotle’s physics say about the nature of change in the supralunary world (i.e., the world beyond the earth)?


(2) How does Anderson characterize the basic contents of Ptolemy’s astronomy?


(3) According to Anderson, why would anyone have believed in Ptolemy’s astronomy (aka “the Ptolemaic system”)?


(4) How did Christians understand the relationship between Ptolemy’s astronomy and Christianity in the Middle Ages? Did Christians in the Middle Ages accept Ptolemy’s astronomy? Did they think that Ptolemy’s astronomy was compatible with Christianity?


(5) Anderson says that the Ptolemaic system involves a “Great Chain of Being”? What does she mean by this?


(6) What did the “new cosmology” (i.e., the cosmology that began with Copernicus and evolved into our current cosmological theories) say about the qualitative aspects of matter? The quantitative aspects of matter? Does Anderson explain what she means by “qualitative” and “quantitative”? Are these terms clear to you? According to Anderson, what did the new cosmology say about “causes” and “whys”?


(7) How did the new cosmology and Ptolemy’s cosmology/astronomy differ? What aspects of Ptolemy’s cosmology did the new cosmology reject?


(8) Anderson says that the scientific revolution began in 1543 and ended in a sense in 1687. She mentions two important books that were published in the years 1543 and 1687. What were the names of these books? Who wrote them?


(9) Anderson argues that whereas religious strife had weakened the common identity of Western Europeans to some extent, the new science helped to strengthen it. According to Anderson, what was the main feature of the new science that helped strengthen a common Western European identity?  What factors contributed to this feature of the new science?


(10) What does Anderson say about the personal finances of the new scientists? How was the new science initially funded?


(11) It is often said that Nicolaus Copernicus was Polish. What does Anderson say about this issue? What led Copernicus to his discovery of heliocentrism? What evidence was Copernicus able to advance on behalf of heliocentrism? Did he make new observations? New predictions? How did Sir Francis Bacon, “the great empiricist,” respond to Copernicus’s theory?


(12) What were some important early objections to Copernicus’s heliocentrism?


(13) What did Copernicus say about the question whether the universe was infinite or finite?


(14) How long did it take for scientists to produce “a direct observational demonstration of the orbital movement of the earth around the sun”? How long did it take for them to produce “an observational demonstration of the earth’s rotation on its own axis”?


(15) What was Copernicus’ attitude toward the crystalline spheres of Ptolemy?


(16) What Tycho Brahe think of Copernicus’s heliocentrism? What contributions did Brahe make to the new science? In particular, how did Brahe’s discoveries contribute to the refutation of the crystalline spheres hypothesis?


(17) According to Anderson, what was one major problem for rejecting the crystalline spheres? In other words, what was one important reason for thinking that the crystalline spheres had to exist?


(18) What were some of Johannes Kepler’s most important contributions to the new science? What did Kepler originally want to do for a profession? How did Kepler understand the relationship between religion and science? What were his views on the crystalline spheres?


(19) Kepler published a book on a supernova that was observed during his life. Why was this supernova significant?


(20) What did Kepler teach about the shape of the orbits of the planets? How did this differ from what had been previously thought? What did Kepler teach about the number of planets? (You do not need to address the details of Kepler’s claims about the platonic solids for this question.)


(21) What profession did Galileo originally wish to follow?


(22) What circumstances led Galileo to build his own telescope? What was the power of magnification of his first telescope? How far was Galileo able to push the order of magnification with his later telescopes?


(23) What did Galileo find on the moon with his telescope? Why were his findings significant?


(24) How does Anderson describe the central point of debate between Catholics and Protestants in the Protestant Reformation (“the big issue in the Reformation”)?


(25) Did Galileo’s defense of Copernicanism get him into trouble with the Roman Catholic Church immediately or only later? What factors contributed to his getting in trouble with the Roman Catholic Church and eventually dragged before the Inquisition (aka Holy Office)? Did Galileo have any supporters among the cardinals at his trial? What was the outcome of Galileo’s trial? What sentence, if any, did Galileo receive?


(26) How long did it take after Galileo’s trial and sentencing did it take for Jesuit scientists to begin openly teaching Copernicanism in Rome?


(27) Anderson argues that it was not Galileo’s Copernicanism per se that got him into trouble with the Roman Catholic Church, but something else. What was this?


(28) What two methods do we often associate today with the Copernican revolution?


(29) As Anderson notes, the Ptolemaic system seemed to be strongly supported by observation – indeed, many thought that observation clearly supported Ptolemy over Copernicus, and it was formulated in terms of rigorous mathematics. Why, then, did anyone think that…

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply