Solar Motion and Lunar Eclipses in Philolaus’ Cosmological System

Apeiron 55 (4):627-645 (2022)
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Abstract

In this paper, three problems that have hardly been noticed or even gone unnoticed in the available literature in the cosmology of Philolaus are addressed. They have to do with the interrelationships of the orbits of the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon around the Central Fire and all three of them constitute potentially insurmountable obstacles within the context of the Philolaic system. The first difficulty is Werner Ekschmitt’s claim that the Philolaic system cannot account for the length of the day. It is shown that this problem can be solved with the help of the distinction between the synodic day and the sidereal day. The other two problems discussed in this paper are concerned with two hitherto unnoticed deficiencies in the explanation of lunar eclipses in the Philolaic system. The Philolaic system cannot account for long-lasting lunar eclipses and according to the internal logic of the system, during lunar eclipses the Moon enters the shadow of the Earth from the wrong side. It is almost unbelievable that nobody, from the Pythagoreans themselves up to recent authors, has noticed these two serious deficiencies, and especially the latter, in the cosmology of Philolaus the Pythagorean.

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