History of the Cosmos in Western Culture
Syllabus in PDF format
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This course introduces the major ideas which have been invented to account for astronomical phenomena and traces how the history of astronomy interacts with and reacts to the larger history of ideas in Western civilization.
Emphasis will be given to the the conceptions of space, time, and motion from ca. the second millennium BCE to Einstein and beyond, to current multi-dimensional ideas arising from string theory, both driven by, and impacting, astronomical observation and discovery.
Though largely non-technical, the course will examine the logic of scientific discovery and the relation of the ways of knowing in science to the ways of knowing in other aspects of human experience.