We are currently seeking submissions for future volumes of Culture and Cosmos.
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.