Abstract

To honor Bernard Goldstein, this article highlights in the "Defense of Theon against George of Trebizond" by Regiomontanus (1436-1476) themes that resonate with leading strands of Goldstein's scholarship. I argue that, in this poorly-known work, Regiomontanus's mastery of Ptolemy's mathematical astronomy, his interest in making astronomy physical, and his homocentric ideals stand in unresolved tension. Each of these themes resonates with Goldstein's fundamental work on the Almagest, the Planetary Hypotheses, and al-Bitruji's Principles of Astronomy.

I flesh out these tensions with an intriguing interpretation of the history of astronomy, in which Regiomontanus contrasts the two-dimensional "eccentric astronomy" attributed to the Almagest and the Arabs with the three-dimensional spheres of the "later" astronomers. A similar contrast reappears when Regiomontanus portrays as a "fictitious art" an astronomy that does not go beyond the accommodation of computations to the appearances. To conclude, I use Regiomontanus's expression to reinstate (pace Goldstein and Barker in this journal, 1998) fictionalism as an actor's category in Osiander and sixteenth-century astronomy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9274
Print ISSN
1063-6145
Pages
pp. 179-207
Launched on MUSE
2003-02-27
Open Access
No
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