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Cosmological Letters on the Arrangement of the World-Edifice (11005)

Cosmological Letters on the Arrangement of the World-Edifice (11005)

SKU: 11005
  • The Cosmological Letters of J. H. Lambert (1728-1777) is one of the least accessible classics of cosmological literature. Published in German in 1761, it was part of a spurt of publications planned to win Lambert’s entry to the Berlin Academy. He became a member in 1765 although his formal training had ended with grammar school. Genius and determination supplied the rest, but Lambert’s writings always bore the mark of a self-made man’s intellectual self-confidence. He was fully convinced that further progress in astronomy would substantiate his markedly a priori vision of “the arrangement of the world-edifice” which he pictured as a hierarchy of stellar systems, each revolving around a massive non-luminous body, or “dark regent,” as he called them. For Lambert the hierarchical organization assured a collision-free universe, a prerequisite for turning all planets and comets into safe habitats, a chief concern in Lambert’s cosmology steeped as it was in teleology. The Cosmological Letters is a watershed in the history of cosmology. It illustrates both the success and the risk of trying to fathom the construction of the universe mainly with the eyes of the mind and without the aid of large telescopes which made Herschel famous twenty or so years later.
        The Introduction gives an account of the genesis and reception of the Cosmological Letters based in part on a study of Lambert’s still unpublished correspondence. The translation, prepared for the 200th anniversary of Lambert’s death, is a long needed contribution to the history of cosmology.

    By Johann H. Lambert — Translated by Stanley L. Jaki

    ISBN 978-1-892539-27-4  •  vii + 319 pages  •  softcover 

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