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On The Heavens   



not seeking for theories and causes to account for observed facts, but

rather forcing their observations and trying to accommodate them to

certain theories and opinions of their own. But there are many

others who would agree that it is wrong to give the earth the

central position, looking for confirmation rather to theory than to

the facts of observation. Their view is that the most precious place

befits the most precious thing: but fire, they say, is more precious

than earth, and the limit than the intermediate, and the circumference

and the centre are limits. Reasoning on this basis they take the

view that it is not earth that lies at the centre of the sphere, but

rather fire. The Pythagoreans have a further reason. They hold that

the most important part of the world, which is the centre, should be

most strictly guarded, and name it, or rather the fire which

occupies that place, the 'Guardhouse of Zeus', as if the word 'centre'

were quite unequivocal, and the centre of the mathematical figure were

always the same with that of the thing or the natural centre. But it

is better to conceive of the case of the whole heaven as analogous

to that of animals, in which the centre of the animal and that of

the body are different. For this reason they have no need to be so

disturbed about the world, or to call in a guard for its centre:

rather let them look for the centre in the other sense and tell us

what it is like and where nature has set it. That centre will be

something primary and precious; but to the mere position we should

give the last place rather than the first. For the middle is what is

defined, and what defines it is the limit, and that which contains

or limits is more precious than that which is limited, see ing that

the latter is the matter and the former the essence of the system.

II. As to the position of the earth, then, this is the view which

some advance, and the views advanced concerning its rest or motion are

similar. For here too there is no general agreement. All who deny that

the earth lies at the centre think that it revolves about the

centre, and not the earth only but, as we said before, the

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