Quotes about Johannes Kepler
25 Sourced Quotes
It is no matter of chance that the greatest scientists of all time, Copernicus, Newton, Kepler, Linnaeus, Faraday, Darwin, and Maxwell, were men of noble character, modest, straightforward, and full of human sympathy. The great French mathematician, Henri Poincare, stated that the chief end of life is contemplation, not action.
The astronomer of to-day may look back upon Hipparchus and Ptolemy as the earliest ancestors of whom he has positive knowledge. He can trace his scientific descent from generation to generation, through the periods of Arabian and mediaeval science, through Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, La Place and Herschel, down to the present time.
It seems that the human mind has first to construct forms independently before we can find them in things. Kepler's marvelous achievement is a particularly fine example of the truth that knowledge cannot spring from experience alone, but only from the comparison of the inventions of the mind with observed fact.
Among all the great men who have philosophized about this remarkable effect, I am more astonished at Kepler than at any other. Despite his open and acute mind, and though he has at his fingertips the motions attributed to the earth, he nevertheless lent his ear and his assent to the moon's dominion over the waters, to occult properties, and to such puerilities.
Mr. Dalton's permanent reputation will rest upon his having discovered a simple principle, universally applicable to the facts of chemistry - in fixing the proportions in which bodies combine, and thus laying the foundation for future labors... his merits in this respect resemble those of Kepler in astronomy.
Newton's theory [of gravitation] is the circle of generalization which includes all the others [as Kepler's laws, Ptolemy's theory, etc.]; - the highest point of the inductive ascent; - the catastrophe of the philosophic drama to which Plato had prologized; - the point to which men's minds had been journeying for two thousand years.
A taxonomy of abilities, like a taxonomy anywhere else in science, is apt to strike a certain type of impatient student as a gratuitous orgy of pedantry. Doubtless, compulsions to intellectual tidiness express themselves prematurely at times, and excessively at others, but a good descriptive taxonomy, as Darwin found in developing his theory, and as Newton found in the work of Kepler, is the mother of laws and theories.
It took from a hundred to a hundred and fifty or two hundred years for the astronomy of Kepler to become the astronomy of Newton and Laplace, and for the mechanics of Galileo to become the mechanics of d'Alembert and Lagrange. On the other hand, less than a century has elapsed between the publication of Adam Smith's work and the contributions of Cournot, Gossen, Jevons, and myself.
The outlook of a Bruno, a Kepler, or a Galileo is determined by the idea of a comprehensive, all-embracing unity of the physical world. The same law governs the courses of the stars, the falling of stones, and the flight of birds. This homogenization of the physical world with respect to the validity of law deprives the division of physical objects into rigid abstractly defined classes of the critical significance it had for Aristotelian physics, in which membership in a certain conceptual class was considered to determine the physical nature of an object.
Well, [Kepler] reminded me of myself – the little man running desperately in circles, trying to find an explanation for the world, for his place in it, to find a plausible system, to account for reality – and never finding it. Finding lots of rules and laws which are very important, but never actually finding his own way into what it is to be in the world – very much an existentialist before his time, I think.
Foreshadowings of the principles and even of the language of [the infinitesimal] calculus can be found in the writings of Napier, Kepler, Cavalieri, Pascal, Fermat, Wallis, and Barrow. It was Newton's good luck to come at a time when everything was ripe for the discovery, and his ability enabled him to construct almost at once a complete calculus.