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Book: Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science

​This volume considers contingency as a historical category resulting from the combination of various intellectual elements – epistemological, philosophical, material, as well as theological and, broadly speaking, intellectual. With contributions ranging from fields as diverse as the histories of physics, astronomy, astrology, medicine, mechanics, physiology, and natural philosophy, it explores the transformation of the notion of contingency across the late-medieval, Renaissance, and the early modern period.

Pietro Daniel Omodeo and Rodolfo Garau, eds., Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science (Cham: Springer, 2019).

“Astrological Contingency: Between Ontology and Epistemology (1300-1600)” by ​Steven Vanden Broecke

Published in the edited volume Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science, this paper argues that the change from medieval to early modern Latin astrology involved, among other things, a shift in dominant interpretations of the relation between celestial influence and sublunary life, as well as of the precise nature of astrology’s inherent contingency as a conjectural art. The Latin astrological tradition of the late middle ages, we argue, approached astrology as an “art of embodiment,” in which anagogy and self-governance were considered more fundamental than self-protection and utilitarian knowledge. These priorities also shaped attitudes toward the contingency of astrological prediction. The uptake of astrology as an art that operated within an ontological domain circumscribed by the presence of matter entailed a fairly relaxed attitude about astrological contingency as an inevitable ontological phenomenon.​

Steven Vanden Broecke, “Astrological Contingency: Between Ontology and Epistemology (1300-1600),” in Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science, ed. Pietro Daniel Omodeo and Rodolfo Garau (Cham: Springer, 2019), 137–55. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-67378-3_7
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