— Nicolaus Copernicus, livre De revolutionibus orbium coelestium
Preface Letter to Pope Paul III as quoted by Edwin Arthur Burtt in The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science (1925)
De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543)
Contexte: When, therefore, I had long considered this uncertainty of traditional mathematics, it began to weary me that no more definite explanation of the movement of the world-machine established in our behalf by the best and most systematic builder of all, existed among the philosophers who had studied so exactly in other respects the minutest details in regard to the sphere. Wherefore I took upon myself the task of re-reading the books of all the philosophers which I could obtain, to seek out whether any one had ever conjectured that the motions of the spheres of the universe were other than they supposed who taught mathematics in the schools. And I found first, that, according to Cicero, Nicetas [assumed by modern editors to mean Hicetas] had thought the earth was moved. Then later I discovered, according to Plutarch, that certain others had held the same opinion.... When from this, therefore, I had conceived its possibility, I myself also began to meditate upon the mobility of the earth. And although the opinion seemed absurd, yet because I knew the liberty had been accorded to others before me of imagining whatsoever circles they pleased to explain the phenomena of the stars, I thought I also might readily be allowed to experiment whether, by supposing the earth to have some motion, stronger demonstrations than those of the others could be found as to the revolution of the celestial sphere. Thus, supposing these motions which I attribute to the earth later on in this book, I found at length by much and long observation, that if the motions of the other planets were added to the rotation of the earth and calculated as for the revolution of that planet, not only the phenomena of the others followed from this, but also it so bound together both the order and magnitude of all the planets and the spheres and the heaven itself, that in no single part could one thing be altered without confusion among the other parts and in all the universe. Hence for this reason in the course of this work I have followed this system.