Publication details

Kepler in the Early Historiography of Astronomy (1615-1800)



Year of publication 2017
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal for the History of Astronomy
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Field Philosophy and religion
Keywords Johannes Kepler; early modern astronomy; historiography of astronomy; Nicolas Copernicus; Tycho Brahe
Description This article discusses the reception of Kepler’s work in the earliest interpretations of the history of astronomy, which appeared in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The focus is not on the reception of Kepler’s work among astronomers themselves but instead on its significance for the history of science as seen by early historians of mathematics and astronomy. The first section discusses the evaluation of Kepler in the so-called “Prefatory Histories” of astronomy that appeared in various astronomical works during the seventeenth century. In these, Kepler was considered mainly to be the person who brought the work of Tycho Brahe to completion, rather than an original astronomer. The second section is devoted to the evaluation of Kepler in interpretations of the history of astronomy that appeared in the eighteenth century (often as part of the history of mathematics). In these works, Kepler is regarded as a genius who deserves tremendous credit for the advancement of the human spirit. Both sections also devote attention to Copernicus and Tycho Brahe because this facilitates the explanation of how Kepler’s contribution was judged. By studying the reception of Johannes Kepler’s work, we may gain greater insight into the transition from a cyclical perception of the history of science to the progressive model.
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