From Influence to Inhabitation: The Transformation of Astrobiology in the Early Modern Period 1st ed. 2019 [Hardback]

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This book describes how and why the early modern period witnessed the marginalisation of astrology in Western natural philosophy, and the re-adoption of the cosmological view of the existence of a plurality of worlds in the universe, allowing the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

Founded in the mid-1990s, the discipline of astrobiology combines the search for extraterrestrial life with the study of terrestrial biology – especially its origins, its evolution and its presence in extreme environments. This book offers a history of astrobiology's attempts to understand the nature of life in a larger cosmological context. Specifically, it describes the shift of early modern cosmology from a paradigm of celestial influence to one of celestial inhabitation. Although these trends are regarded as consequences of Copernican cosmology, and hallmarks of a modern world view, they are usually addressed separately in the historical literature. Unlike others, this book takes a broad approach that examines the relationship of the two.

From Influence to Inhabitation will benefit both historians of astrology and historians of the extraterrestrial life debate, an audience which includes researchers and advanced students studying the history and philosophy of astrobiology. It will also appeal to historians of natural philosophy, science, astronomy and theology in the early modern period.

1. Introduction: Astrology, Extraterrestrial Life and Astrobiology.-
2. Celestial Influence as an Aid to Pluralism from Antiquity to the Renaissance.-
3. William Gilbert: Magnetism as Astrological Influence, and the Unification of the Terrestrial and Celestial Realms.-
4. Johannes Kepler: A New Astronomy, Astrological Harmonies and Living Creatures.-
5. Influence and/or Inhabitation: The Celestial Bodies between Kepler and Newton.-
6. Influence and Inhabitation Opposed.-
7. Conclusion.
James E. Christie is a historian of early modern science and cosmology. His particular areas of interest include the history of astrology, the history of the 'plurality of worlds' philosophy, and the longer history of astrobiology and the extraterrestrial life debate. He received a PhD in Cultural and Intellectual History from The Warburg Institute, London, in 2018, with a dissertation focusing on the relationship between theories of celestial influence and celestial inhabitation from the classical period up until the early eighteenth century.