February 3, 2016

Kepler's Sage Advice For These Times of Crisis And Change

Alexandre Koyré's work on Kepler was, after Apelt, the first major milestone in historical interpretations of Kepler's cosmology and its influence. In the 1930s and 1940s, Koyré, and a number of others in the first generation of professional historians of science, described the "Scientific Revolution" as the central event in the history of science, and Kepler as a (perhaps the) central figure in the revolution. Koyré placed Kepler's theorization, rather than his empirical work, at the center of the intellectual transformation from ancient to modern world-views. Since the 1960s, the volume of historical Kepler scholarship has expanded greatly, including studies of his astrology and meteorology, his geometrical methods, the role of his religious views in his work, his literary and rhetorical methods, his interaction with the broader cultural and philosophical currents of his time, and even his role as an historian of science.
"Benson Bobrick earned his doctorate from Columbia University and is the author of several critically acclaimed works, including Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired and Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution. In 2002 he received the Literature Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters." [Source: Simon & Schuster].

An excerpt from, "The Fated Sky: Astrology in History" By Benson Bobrick:
"Kepler lived in a time of tremendous political and religious strife. The whole map of Europe was changing, as Protestant and Catholic powers clashed, new states were emerging, and displaced persons were constantly on the move. In 1618, the decay of the Holy Roman Empire had tempted various states and parties to advantage and engulfed the whole continent in the Thirty Years' War. Kepler paid as little attention as he could to the turmoil around him, believing, as he put it, that "when the storm rages and the shipwreck of the state threatens, we can do nothing more worthy than to sink the anchor of our peaceful studies into the ground of eternity." Yet he could hardly escape the whirlwind of events. He had been dislodged from his home on a number of occasions, and the welfare of his family, the stability of his livelihood, and even the continuity of his work had seemed at times to hang by a thread. Not surprisingly, his talents as an astrologer were also in demand. All sorts of people wanted to know what the future held for them, including Rudolph II, who asked him to predict the outcome of the war between the Republic of Venice and Pope Paul V." [Bobrick. The Fated Sky. 2005. Simon Schuster: New York. Pg. 170].