Quotes about Johannes Kepler
25 Sourced Quotes
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.
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.
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.
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.
All Science is necessarily prophetic, so truly so, that the power of prophecy is the test, the infallible criterion, by which any presumed Science is ascertained to be actually & verily science. The Ptolemaic Astronomy was barely able to prognosticate a lunar eclipse; with Kepler and Newton came Science and Prophecy.
The next question was — what makes planets go around the sun? At the time of Kepler some people answered this problem by saying that there were angels behind them beating their wings and pushing the planets around an orbit. As you will see, the answer is not very far from the truth. The only difference is that the angels sit in a different direction and their wings push inward.
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 bases of music are rhythm and harmony. Rhythm is ordered recurrence in time... As the planets move around the sun, they repeat their orbits periodically; thus there is already a primitive kind of rhythm in their motion.... Harmony... can be considered a special kind of rhythm.... pure musical tones are produced when the vibrations are... periodic or... repeat themselves regularly in time. Two tones harmonize if their intervals of repetition are in rhythm—or, in mathematical language, if their periods are in proportion. Kepler... in the third book of Harmonice mundi... attempted to make other... related, connections between musical harmony and mathematical proportion.
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.
No matter where and how far we look, nowhere do we find a contradiction between religion and natural science. On the contrary, we find a complete concordance in the very points of decisive importance. Religion and natural science do not exclude each other, as many contemporaries of ours would believe or fear. They mutually supplement and condition each other. The most immediate proof of the compatibility of religion and natural science, even under the most thorough critical scrutiny, is the historical fact that the very greatest natural scientists of all times — men such as Kepler, Newton, Leibniz — were permeated by a most profound religious attitude.
Even when, after centuries of license, the Church reformed its discipline, and, to prove it, burned Giordano Bruno in 1600, besides condemning Galileo in 1630 — as science goes on repeating to us every day — it condemned anarchists, not atheists. None of the astronomers were irreligious men; all of them made a point of magnifying God through his works; a form of science which did their religion no credit. Neither Galileo nor Kepler, neither Spinoza nor Descartes, neither Leibnitz nor Newton, any more than Constantine the Great — if so much — doubted Unity. The utmost range of their heresies reached only its personality.