History of Astronomy
How Change Happens: A Theory of Philosophy of History, Social Change and Cultural Evolution (2013)
5 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016
Date Written: October 31, 2016
The ultimate cause of much historical, social and cultural change is the gradual accumulation of human knowledge of the environment. The human environment has a particular structure so that human knowledge of the environment is acquired in a particular order. The structure of the universe and the nature of the human sensory apparatus ensured that humans initially believed, the earth was not moving and the sun orbited the earth, a system known as the Ptolemaic system. Suggestions the earth spun on its axis and orbited the sun were counter intuitive and generally not accepted until new instruments such as the telescope provided new information which suggested the earth spun on its axis and orbited the sun in elliptical orbits which became known as the Newtonian system. Improved observations showed the Newtonian system was wrong and General Relativity which had the earth and other planets orbiting the sun in circular orbits, in curved four-dimensional space-time, became the accepted view of the universe. The naked eye explanation of the universe was accepted first, and more complex knowledge acquired later, using better instruments, led to the Newtonian system and then General Relativity. The order of these belief systems was inevitable as new methods of observing the universe became available which provided new information about the universe. This is an example of how human social and cultural history follows a particular path, a path that is determined by the structure of the human environment.
Keywords: astronomy, history of astronomy, Ptolemaic system, Copernicus, Kepler, Tycho Brathe, solar system, geocentric, heliocentric, telescope, Issac Newton, Calculus, general relativity, teleological
JEL Classification: A00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation