On re-reading this opening paragraph of the Kepler chapters in Arthur Koestler’s The Sleepwalkers of , I have no trouble perceiving what. Arthur Koestler. The Sleepwalkers. A History of Man’s changing vision of the Universe. With an Introduction by. Herbert Butterfield. 1. Awakening. We can add to. An extraordinary history of humanity’s changing vision of the universe. In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile.

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On Rereading Arthur Koestler’s Sleepwalkers

The disagreement with the Church is usually portrayed as simply being about the question of whether the Earth went round the Sun or vice versa, with Galileo clearly being the good guy. He suggests that discoveries in science arise through a process akin to sleepwalking. The problem for Wleepwalkers was that he couldn’t prove that the heliocentric universe was true. Years following one approach, not comfortable with the results, then another major approach, then another, fruitlessly trying to solve the puzzle, which sleeppwalkers finally did in the formulation of Kepler’s 3 laws of planetary motion!!

Jul 03, Ali rated it liked it. The Promethean venture which had started around B. In sleepwakers Retrying Galileo ofa most useful book overall, Finocchiaro has included a not particularly fair chapter on The Sleepwalkers. It is all the same to me. After the fall of Roman civilization, even this was lost, and by the sixth century A.

The Sleepwalkers (Koestler book) – Wikipedia

Yes, I give myself up to holy raving. Alas, this is the only bk I’ve read in my a I think I read 2 of Koestler’s bks. Here’s the last sentence: He was unable to accept the doublethink required to accept geocentrism, yet for fear of being laughed at, only very reluctantly allowed his ideas to be published at the very end of his life.

The book ends with a modern epilogue which briefly details the state of science and religion today. Koestler’s influential view of Kepler as an intuitive, effusive mystic “sleepwalking” his way toward universal truths isn’t the standard view of modern Kepler scholars and may be based on a naive reading of the Astronomia Nova that ignores Kepler’s rhetorical framing of his discoveries, as well as the discrepancies between Kepler’s style in his published books and his often ironic and practical personal correspondence.


Jun 06, Tlaura rated it really liked it. He is not very good at science, and it is painfully clear why he stopped with Newton: And that annoys me on some level because everywhere I go I run into Koestler references. The same accusation could be made of Galileo in his early years. The beginning of this journey starts in Babylonia and ends with Newton.

The Sleepwalkers

For other uses, see Sleepwalker. About Arthur Koestler Arthur Koestler — was an extraordinary polymath, writer, and political polemicist. People love to read about people, more in particular about special people, admirable people. Part 5 is mainly about Galileo and his clash with the Church. An interesting book for amateurs of Space Operas SF as well, obviously. His ‘earth shattering’ work was practically unreadable.

Koestler attacks science for eliminating an entire field of potential thought through failing to recognize “purpose”, but his statement could equally apply to the mystical as well: The introductory Part hurries koetsler reader in just over a hundred pages of potted history from Thales to Copernicus, after which the pace slackens considerably, only to be regained near the end, where a post-Galileo follow-up brings the story to Newton in just over ten pages, followed in its turn by a final conclusion, a bibliography, and numerous endnotes.

Scientists have been sleepwalkerrs their best when they allowed qrthur to behave as “sleepwalkers,” instead of trying too earnestly to ratiocinate.

His style is quite fluent, eloquent if I may write so. He got mighty close to universal gravitational theory, yet some mental block stopped him – he realised that any two bodies attract one another, yet frequently thd about the force that the sun was applying to the earth.


We are experiencing technical difficulties. His second law, that a planet sweeps out equal areas in equal time, was derived by calculations that sleepwwlkers two mistakes that happened to cancel each other out.

The Road to Great Discovery Is Itself a Thing of Wonder

He also provides vivid and judicious pen-portraits of a string of great scientists and makes clear the role that political bias and unconscious prejudice played in their creativity.

Unlike Newton, for example, Kepler gives us details of how he arrived at his three laws of planetary motion, including mistakes and wrong turnings, and it is a fascinating story. Until the end he had no fortress in the form of a massive and solid magnum opus to fall back upon. Herodotus 1 mentions a rumour that there exist people far up in the north who sleep six months of the year — which shows that some of the implications of the earth’s roundness such as the koestoer night had already been grasped.

I think I read 2 of Koestler’s bks.

The book also tells about the struggles, the hurdles and what not – especially – Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo had to face. His own words can sum up: The manner in which they reached their conclusions is zleepwalkers detailed, especially Kepler’s methods of inquiry. However I am amazed, for example, at the decades of work that Kepler spent in figuring out how the solar system is really put together pre-Newton and pre-Einstein cs.

Galileo’s theory of tides was based on a star parallax that was obviously wrong even at the time he was proposing it and caused all this trouble, although Kepler had already proposed the correct theory for tides.