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ORIGINS OF MODERNITY

cosmology & astronomy

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Burnet, Thomas (1635? -1715)
Telluris theoria sacra.
The theory of the earth : Containing an account of the original of the earth, and of all the general changes which it hath already undergone, or is to undergo, till the consummation of all things. The two first books concerning the deluge, and concerning paradise.
London : Printed by R. Norton, for Walter Kettilby, 1684.

Image of Burton's Telluris theoria sacra

This is one of the most remarkable works of the popular new genre of 'cosmogony' which arose as a result of the influence of Descartes' vortex theory. Descartes claimed that a very subtle form of matter moves with whirlpool-like motions which move the planets. The genre was particularly popular in France, but Burnet was the most famous exponent in England. Burnet's aim is to show "the original of the earth, and all of the general changes which it hath already undergone or is to undergo till the consummation of all things". He gives a modified Cartesian account of the formation of the world and goes on to explain how it will be destroyed by the simultaneous eruption of volcanoes, the burning of subterranean sulphur and bitumen and the impact of fiery meteors!

Image 2 of Burnet's Telluris theoria sacra
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