In De magnete (1600), Gilbert conceptualizes magnetism as primarily disponent, that is, as primarily aligning or ordering magnetic bodies with respect to each other. The conceptualization of magnetism as disponent replaces that of magnetism as attraction. The focus on magnetism as disponent is a consequence of Gilbert’s treatment of magnetic motions and magnetic power. A reading of Gilbert’s conceptualization of magnetism as disponent makes sense of certain argumentative and investigative choices in De magnete. Among them is what has otherwise been seen as a baseless claim in support of Gilbert’s alleged Copernicanism: that certain magnetic phenomena are rotational, and that the Earth thus rotates because it is a giant magnet.

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