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About the collections Theme of the exhibit Macrocosm Microcosm

Selected books from the History of Science Collections:

The Collections' development policy from the very beginning was eclectic. The goal, as articulated by Professor Roller, was to collect all of the books in science from the beginning of printing until quite recent times, as well as the secondary literature that would help scholars understand the primary sources. The theme of this exhibit, "From the Microcosm to the Macrocosm" focuses on a selection of Collections' varied publications from the early days of printing through the early eighteenth century. The following illustration from Robert Fludd (1574-1637) takes us from the earth to the heavens--from the microcosm to the macrocosm.

Fludd, Robert. Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, physica atque technica historia. In duo Volumina secundum cosmi differentiam diuisa. Oppenhemii, śre Johan-Theodori de Bry, typis Hieronymi Galleri, 1617-1621. Vol 1.

In this publication, Fludd attacked Aristotle and other ancients, and attempted to replace them with an understanding of nature based on Christian principles, using as his guide the Mosaic books of the Bible. He interpreted the Creation account in Genesis as a divine alchemical process, and looked for truth in the Hermetic and Neoplatonic works of late antiquity and the Renaissance, which he interpreted as mirroring Christian truths. He pictured the universe with a central earth surrounded by the sun, moon, and planets. Midway between the center of the earth and God, he located the sun. The region of divinity was located beyond the fixed stars. According to Fludd, relative distances in the heavens could be found by studying the celestial monochord and mathematical musical harmonies. Divine truth, Fludd contended, could be found in the macrocosm-microcosm analogy and that humans and divinity were linked through nature. The microcosm was intimately related to the macrocosm, for the seat of the Holy Spirit was in the sun, which emanated light and the spirit of life, which made life on earth possible.

About the collections Theme of the exhibit Microcosm Macrocosm

Department of the History of Science
History of Science Collections