Jean-Baptiste Morin (mathematician)
Jean-Baptiste Morin (February 1583 unknown date – November 6, 1656), Latinized Morini (covers of his books) Villefranche -sur- Saône (Rhône) was born on a date and at an unknown time in February 1583. The date given 343 years ago is only his baptismal certificate . The survey of the magazine Astroemail edition 130, published this integral act found in the Archives of the Rhône. It has neither mention of his birthday, or his hour. At this time, a period of survival of babies, ranging from 3 weeks to 8 days, was a popular practice observed before the baptismal rite. Morin birth happened likely between February 1 and 15. Ignorance of its original data was Morin intimate drama, his parents already dead when he discovered astrology crossing the 1600s. Astrologia Gallica, publishes three different dates of his birth, all false and contradictory, one in March, after his baptism. Died in Paris November 6, 1656, he was a physician appointed to the Du Hamel chair of mathematics at the College of France in August 1629. He developed a parallel astrologer activity without making a formal education. He exercised no astrologer court activity. His theories were published post mortem, 5 years after his death, without control. They were built by the international astrological community in the twentieth century, in the corpus of "tradition", without any critical analysis of his texts. Supporter of geocentrism, he disputed a solution of this problem of longitude at sea could be controlled by a clockwork mechanism. He was wrong because the solution proposed in the eighteenth century by the Englishman John Harrison proved successfully, a practical all-weather navigation system. Morin was a French mathematician, astrologer.
Life and work
Born in Villefranche-sur-Saône, in the Beaujolais, he began studying philosophy at Aix-en-Provence at the age of 16. He studied medicine at Avignon in 1611 and received his medical degree two years later. He was employed by the Bishop of Boulogne from 1613 to 1621 and was sent to Germany and Hungary during this time. He served the bishop as an astrologer and also visited mines and studied metals. He subsequently worked for the Duke of Luxembourg until 1629. Morin published a defense of Aristotle in 1624. He also worked in the field of optics, and continued to study in astrology. He worked with Pierre Gassendi on observational astronomy.
In 1630, Morin was appointed professor of mathematics at the Collège Royal, a post he held until his death.
A firm believer of the idea that the Earth remained fixed in space, Morin is best known for being opponent of Galileo and the latter's ideas. He continued his attacks after the Trial of Galileo. Morin seems to have been a rather contentious figure, as he also attacked Descartes' ideas after meeting the philosopher in 1638. These disputes isolated Morin from the scientific community at large.
Morin believed that improved methods of solving spherical triangles had to be found and that better lunar tables were needed.
Morin and longitude
Morin attempted to solve the longitude problem. In 1634, he proposed his solution, based on measuring absolute time by the position of the Moon relative to the stars. His method was a variation of the lunar distance method first put forward by Johann Werner in 1514. Morin added some improvements to this method, such as better scientific instruments and taking lunar parallax into account. Morin did not believe that Gemma Frisius' transporting clock method for calculating out longitude would work. Morin, unfailingly irascible, remarked, "I do not know if the Devil will succeed in making a longitude timekeeper but it is folly for man to try."
A prize was to be awarded, so a committee was set up by Richelieu to evaluate Morin's proposal. Serving on this committee were Étienne Pascal, Claude Mydorge, and Pierre Hérigone. The committee remained in dispute with Morin for the five years after he made his proposal. Morin refused to listen to objections to his proposal, which was considered impractical. In his attempts to convince the committee members, Morin proposed that an observatory be set up in order to provide accurate lunar data. He wrangled with the committee for five years.
Morin and astrology
Perhaps most famous for his work as an astrologer, towards the end of his life Morin completed Astrologia Gallica ("French Astrology"), a treatise which he did not live to see in print. The 26 books of intricate, complex, Latin text were published at the Hague in 1661 as one thick folio 850 pages long. The work covers natal, judicial, mundane, electional and meteorological astrology, and parts that are most concerned with astrological techniques (as compared to theological discussion on which they are based) have been translated or paraphrased into French, Spanish, German, and English.
At least among English-speaking astrologers, Morin is known as having been particularly concerned with prediction through methodical extrapolation of what is promised in the natal chart. His techniques were directions, solar and lunar return, and he regarded transits a subsidiary technique though one key to accurate timing of events nonetheless.
Morin challenged much of classical astrological theory, including the astrology of Ptolemy, in an attempt to present a solid set of tools while rendering reasons for and against particular techniques, some of which may be considered crucial to many astrologers before and during Morin’s lifetime. At the same time, Morin vested himself heavily in promoting in mundo directions, a technique largely based on the work of Regiomontanus that became available thanks to then-recent advancement in mathematics. In his work, Morin provides examples of successful delineation of events that otherwise could not be delineated with the same relative degree of certainty.
Morin’s life has been that of trial and tribulation by his own testament. He died in Paris of natural causes at 73 years of age.
- The Astrology of Jean-Baptiste Morin by Thomas Callanan
- Translations into English of individual Books of the 'Astrologia Gallica' published by the American Federation of Astrologers (Tempe, Az.) with the date of publication:
- Books 13, 14, 15, & 19 (2006)* Book 16 (2008)
- Book 17 (2008)
- Book 18 (2004)
- Book 21 (2008)
- Book 22 (1994
- Book 23 (2004)
- Book 24 (2004)
- Book 25 (2008)
- Book 26 (2010)
- Claude Thebault "Morin comment il trompa tout le monde" Astroemail 130, feb 2014 http://astroemail.com
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Jean-Baptiste Morin (mathematician)", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
- The Galileo Project