Anthropic Ideology Throughout the Ages

Michael Heller



The goal of the present study is to try to understand this phenomenon. A working hypothesis is that man always looked for his place in the Universe and that the anthropic principles provide him new guide-lines in his struggle to find a meaning of his existence. To verify this hypothesis, or to make it more precise, would require a thorough study in the style of the „history of ideas”. The present paper should be regarded as a first reconnaissance along this way. I shall focus on the „extraterrestrial life debate” which has obvious ideological connections with tendencies giving force to the anthropic principles, and on philosophical implications of the Copernican revolution which spoiled man his cosmologically central position. Because of the richness of the available historical material, my discussion becomes more sketchy as it enters the after Galileo and Newton period of the modern sciences. All this makes of my conclusions only provisional suggestions pawing the way (let us hope) for better documented results. Composition of the paper reflects the main epochs of the development of the Western philosophy and science.


anthropic ideology; Greek heritage; Copernican revolution

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Carter B., Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology, [in:] Confrontation of Cosmological Theories with Observational Data, ed. M. S. Longair, Reidel, Dordrecht 1974, pp. 291—298.

De Rerum Natura, book 2, 1067—1069 (translated by W. H. D. Rowe, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, Mass. 1924).

Dick S. J., Plurality of Worlds — The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant, Cambridge University Press 1984

Lovejoy A. O., The Great Chain of Being, Cambridge Mass. 1971 (first edition in 1936).

Timaeus (translated by F. M. Comford, see, Theories of the Universe, ed. M. K. Munitz, The Free Press, New York, London 1957, p. 70).

Wheeler J. A., Foreword to: J. D. Barrow, F. J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1986, p. 1—2.


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