Rienk Vermij – “A Science of Signs:

15 September, 2017 - MA Coursework

Rienk Vermij, “A Science of Signs: Aristotelian Meteorology in Reformation Germany,” Early Science and Medicine 15, no. 6 (2010).


In “A Science of Signs” Rienk Vermij argues that Luther and his philosophical allies and successors altered the pedagogical and homiletic treatment of meteorology from Protestant German lecterns and pulpits, not by upending Aristotelian natural philosophy and cosmology, but by rejecting its essential and pure naturalism. This did not require that all natural explanations be done away with — God was still just as evident in his providential design — but added to them the existence of certain preternatural meteors: comets, northern lights, St. Elmo’s Fire, etc. Vermij refers to this as a “reformation” of natural philosophy at Wittenberg (the epicenter of Lutheran philosophy) whose purpose it was to harmonize a naturalistic system with “fundamentally anti-naturalistic principles.” The world in this Lutheran worldview became a stage where God could generate a preternatural comet over a sky overcast with natural rain.









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