Hints into Kepler's method

Gattei, Stefano

Some of Johannes Kepler’s works seem very different in character. His youthful Mysterium cosmographicum (1596) argues for heliocentrism on the basis of metaphysical, astronomical, astrological, numerological, and architectonic principles. By contrast, Astronomia nova (1609) is far more tightly argued on the basis of only a few dynamical principles. In the eyes of many, such a contrast embodies a transition from Renaissance to early modern science. However, Kepler did not subsequently abandon the broader approach of his early works: similar metaphysical arguments reappeared in Harmonices mundi libri V (1619), and he reissued the Mysterium cosmographicum in a second edition in 1621, in which he qualified only some of his youthful arguments. I claim that the conceptual and stylistic features of the Astronomia nova – as well as of other “minor” works, such as Strena seu De nive sexangula (1611) or Nova stereometria doliorum vinariorum (1615) – are intimately related and were purposely chosen because of the response he knew to expect from the astronomical community to the revolutionary changes in astronomy he was proposing. Far from being a stream-of-consciousness or merely rhetorical kind of narrative, as many scholars have argued, Kepler’s expository method was carefully calculated both to convince his readers and to engage them in a critical discussion in the joint effort to know God’s design.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Italian Academy
Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, Columbia University
Italian Academy Fellows' Seminar Working Papers
Published Here
March 28, 2011


February 2009.