Title

Modeling the Heavens: Sphairopoiia and Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses

Status

Faculty

School

School of Liberal Arts

Department

Integral

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Publication Title

Perspectives on Science

Description/Abstract

This article investigates sphairopoiia, the art of making instruments that display the heavens, in Claudius Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses. It takes up two questions: what kind of instrument does Ptolemy describe? And, could such an instrument have been constructed? I argue that Ptolemy did not propose one specific type of instrument, but instead he offered a range of possible designs, with the details to be worked out by the craftsman. Moreover, in addition to exhibiting his astronomical models and having the ability to estimate predictions, the instrument he proposed would have also shown the physical workings of the heavens. What emerges is both a clearer idea of what Ptolemy wanted the technician to build, and the purpose of such instruments.

Volume

24

Issue

4

First Page

416

Last Page

424

Scholarly

yes

DOI

10.1162/POSC_a_00214

Disciplines

Astrophysics and Astronomy

Comments

http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/POSC_a_00214

Original Citation

“Modeling the Heavens: Sphairopoiia and Ptolemy’s Planetary Hypotheses.” Perspectives on Science, vol. 24, no. 4: 416-424, 2016. (doi:10.1162/POSC_a_00214)

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