Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science

Volume 10, Issue 2, Mayo 1995

Carlos Minguez
Pages 155-173

Sobre el valor de las matemáticas
Juan Luis Vives y el Prefacio de Osiander

This paper analyses some aspects in Osiander’s (1498-1552) “Preface” to De Revolutionibus (1543) by Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1453) and the “Preface Letter” also by Copernicus to the Pope Paul III (1468-1549). The reading is carried out from the intellectual framework where the works are written, taking as a reference De Disciplinis (1531) by Juan Luis Vives (1492-1538), whose pedagogical thought had great influence on the 16th century. This paper points at the coincidence of attitudes as to the function of Mathematics, and therefore, of Astronomy, for both a purely probabilistic assessment of the astronomical hypotheses, and the overcoming of the instrumentality of the calculations by means of their practical use. This last channel, promoted by a sceptic academicism which was already present in the first half of the 16th century, contributes to a better understanding of the reality of the progressive acceptation of a new structure of the world. Vives has very frequently been talked of as the clear antecedent of the great masters of thought of the modern culture, but his style and the dynamics of his thought -totally Humanist- are very different from those of Copernicus and Osiander, and thus, this paper aims to analyse his cultural context and his reflections about himself.