Vol 18 no 2 (Autumn/Winter 2014 will be published in July/August 2016. Vol. 19 (2015) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2013 Sophia Centre conference on Celestial Magic and is scheduled for publication in September/October 2016. Vol. 20 (2016) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2014 Sophia Centre conference on the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.
Guidelines for a Social History of Astronomy
V.F. Polcaro and A. Martocchia
An analysis of the basic cultural, historical and social elements which allowed the re-discovery and transfer of astronomical knowledge from the earlier Middle Ages up to the birth of modern astronomy, is presented in the new book Storia sociale dell’Astronomia. The book describes the main factors which played a role in suppressing or re-awakening interest in astronomical observations and events down the centuries. Among such elements we include: the loss of Greek-language-based knowledge as a vector of scientific knowledge; Christian and Islamic conceptions of Astrology; religious practices connected with observations; the birth of universities; the Protestant paradigm and humanism; the evolution of the social figure of the scientist in the West, from monks to aristocrats, and from Renaissance lords to bourgeois entrepreneurs. We focus attention on the social phenomena which caused the development of Astronomy as a science from the Middle Ages to the Copernican revolution, and claim that the ruling class’s attitude towards science is not only a matter for historical studies, but has much to do with the modern impoverishment and stagnation of Astronomy.