Dr Aviva Rothman: Assistant Professor, Department of History,
Case Western Reserve University
Dr Günther Oestmann: Extraordinary Professor for the History of Science, Technical University Berlin
The complete list of speakers will be announced after 15th March.
Name: Günther Oestmann
History of Science, Technical University Berlin
Abstract Title: Resonances and Repercussions of Kepler's Harmony of the World
In 1619 the Harmonices mundi libri V was published, which Kepler considered his greatest work. It is well-known and famous for containing the Third Law of Planetary Motion, but book IV deals with his attempt to reform astrology within a Pythagorean-Platonic framework, and here he presented a new understanding of the mechanism of the aspects. Kepler's "astrology of resonance" had repercussions among contemporary astrologers in the 17th century, such as Christopher Heydon, Abdias Trew and Peter Crüger. His ideas of a physical basis for celestial motions were viewed critically however, and in the perspective of the Age of Enlightenment Kepler's speculative approaches, as well as his metaphysical and religious arguments met with skepticism and disapproval. The tide turned in the Romantic Era, when just these aspects came to the fore and paved the way to an edition of Kepler's works. The German philosophers F. W. J. Schelling (1775-1854), E. F. Apelt (1812-1859) and the astronomer J. W. A. Pfaff (1774-1835) played a crucial role in the rediscovery and reappraisal of Kepler. Pfaff worked on a German translation of the Harmonices mundi, and the teacher of mathematics Christian Frisch (1807-1881), who had studied under Pfaff in Erlangen, published the first critical edition of Kepler's works from 1858 to 1871.
Name: Aviva Rothman
Department of History, Case Western Reserve University
Abstract Title: Kepler's Vision of Harmony
Kepler's 1619 Harmonice Mundi was a text that straddled the divide between celestial and terrestrial harmony. It focused on harmony in a variety of aspects-mathematical, musical, astrological, astronomical, and cosmological-while also linking them to Kepler's ultimate goal, the harmony of church and state. This talk will consider Kepler's vision of harmony in the Harmonice Mundi by situating it alongside both traditional conceptions of harmony and the particular seventeenth-century changes that influenced Kepler's own view. It will focus in particular on Kepler's dedication of the Harmonice Mundi to James I of England, and on the political digression he placed at its center. Kepler signaled throughout the book that the harmony of nature could provide a blueprint for harmony in communities on earth, In so doing, however, he positioned himself against the views of Jean Bodin and other theorists who tried to bolster absolutist government with the claim of mathematical certainty, and emphasized instead a vision of communal harmony that allowed for the public good to be achieved via multiple possible configurations, and for diverse perspectives to coexist in one peaceful community.