Robert Grosseteste's Thought on Light and Form of the World

Robert Grosseteste's Thought on Light and Form of the World

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Author(s): Amelia Carolina Sparavigna

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DOI: 10.18483/ijSci.486 522 1507 54-62 Volume 3 - Apr 2014


Robert Grosseteste was one of the most prominent thinkers of the Thirteenth Century. Philosopher and scientist, he proposed a metaphysics based on the propagation of light. In this framework, he gave a cosmology too. Here we will discuss the treatise where Grosseteste proposed it, that entitled "De luce, seu de incohatione formarum", "On Light and the Beginning of Forms".


Robert Grosseteste, Medieval Cosmology, Medieval Science


  1. R.M. McInerny, A History of Western Philosophy, 1963, University of Notre Dame Press
  2. N. Lewis, Robert Grosseteste, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Summer 2013 Edition, Edward N. Zalta Editor
  3. A.C. Sparavigna, De Calore Solis, a Treatise on Heat by Robert Grosseteste, The International Journal of Sciences, 2014, Volume 3, n. 1, pp. 27-31
  4. A.C. Sparavigna, Robert Grosseteste and the Colours, The International Journal of Sciences, 2014, Volume 3, n. 1, pp. 1-6
  5. A.C. Sparavigna, The Generation of Sounds According to Robert Grosseteste, The International Journal of Sciences, 2013, Volume 2, n. 10, pp. 1-5
  6. A.C. Sparavigna, On the Rainbow, a Robert Grosseteste's Treatise on Optics, The International Journal of Sciences, 2013, Volume 2, n. 9, pp. 108-113
  7. A.C. Sparavigna, Robert Grosseteste and his Treatise on Lines, Angles and Figures of the Propagation of Light, The International Journal of Sciences, 2013, Volume 2, n. 9, pp. 101-107
  8. A.C. Sparavigna, Robert Grosseteste and the Four Elements, The International Journal of Sciences, 2013, Volume 2, n. 12, pp. 42-45
  9. S. Oliver, Robert Grosseteste on Light, Truth and Experimentum, Vivarium, 2004, Volume 42, pp. 151-180
  10. S. Oliver, Philosophy, God and Motion, 2006, Routledge
  11. C.C. Riedl, Robert Grosseteste On Light (De Luce), 1942, Marquette University Press
  12. A.C. Sparavigna, Gabrio Piola e il suo Elogio di Bonaventura Cavalieri, 2013, Lulu Press, Raleigh, North Carolina
  13. J.W. Goering and E.A. Mackie, Editing Robert Grosseteste: Papers Given at the Thirty-sixth Annual Conference on Editorial Problems, University of Toronto, 3-4 November 2000, 2003, University of Toronto Press
  14. S. H. Thomson, The Writings of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, 1940, Cambridge
  15. L. Baur, Die philosophischen Werke des Robert Grosseteste, Münster, 1912; Die Philosophie des Robert Grosseteste, Münster, 1917
  16. A. C. Crombie, Robert Grosseteste and the Origins of Experimental Science, 1953, Oxford
  17. D. A. Callus, Ed., Robert Grosseteste, Scholar and Bishop, 1955, Oxford
  18. In the Grosseteste's Latin text, we find the Mundi Machina. Sacrobosco also spoke of the universe as the machina mundi, the machine of the world, suggesting that the reported eclipse of the Sun at the crucifixion of Jesus was a disturbance of the order of that machine. This concept is similar to the clockwork universe analogy, very popular during the Enlightenment, as told in Wikipedia.
  19. In mathematics, a series is the sum of the terms of a sequence, and in infinite sequences the series continue indefinitely
  20. This paragraph on the aliquotes is from Ref.11
  21. Riedl explains that Grosseteste is talking about the shorter sides of a right triangle inscribed in a semi-circle, the diameter of which is the hypotenuse of the triangle. "No matter how much either of these sides is extended it will never equal the diameter until it becomes identical with it, in this case there is no longer a triangle"
  22. Riedl explains the angle of contingence in [11]. Grosseteste used it in his De Lineis, Angulis et Figuris too [7]
  23. AC. Sparavigna, From Rome to the Antipodes: The Medieval Form of the World, International Journal of Literature and Arts, 2013, Volume 1, n.2, pp. 16-25
  24. J. Cunningham, Robert Grosseteste: Light, the Universe and Learning, Talk at Bishop Grosseteste University, at docs/ Events/University Title JackCunningham Talk.pdf

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International Journal of Sciences is Open Access Journal.
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