The Discovery of Kepler's Laws: The Interaction of Science, Philosophy, and Religion

By Job S. J. Kozhamthadam | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Despite having extreme interest and importance, the nature of scientific discovery has always been elusive and has remained an unsolved philosophico-scientific problem. How do scientists make their discoveries? Is there a logic of scientific discovery? If so, what is it? If not, then how can scientific discovery differ from luck or witchcraft? Again, what factors are involved in scientific discovery? Do extrascientific concerns, especially philosophical and religious principles, have a role to play? What specifically is that role? A detailed and in-depth study of Kepler's discovery of the first two laws of planetary motion, this book attempts to throw light on the above questions and related ones.

Perhaps no other case of scientific discovery is so interesting and enlightening as that of Kepler's laws. This is so not only because his laws are among the first ones discovered in modern science, but also because he has left extensive and candid 1 reports on the various paths he took in his journey toward these laws (except for the third law).

A scientific discovery can be divided into two stages or steps: (1) the initial "thinking up" of the idea, and (2) the eventual establishment of the idea. The present study examines both stages. According to some writers, the first step cannot have a logic or rationality, which seems to imply that hypotheses originate in a rational vacuum. Many contemporary philosophers of science oppose

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The Discovery of Kepler's Laws: The Interaction of Science, Philosophy, and Religion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 - Kepler's System of Thought 9
  • 1 - Kepler's Religious Ideas 11
  • 2 - Kepler's Philosophical Ideas 47
  • 3 - Kepler's Scientific Ideas 84
  • Part 2 - The Discovery of the Laws 111
  • 4 - The Acceptance of Copernicanism 113
  • 5 - The Development of a Truly Heliocentric View 143
  • 6 - The Vicarious Hypothesis and Its Failure 162
  • 7 - The Final Break with Geocentrism 173
  • 8 - The Discovery of the Second Law 181
  • 9 - The Discovery of the First Law 199
  • Conclusion 246
  • Notes 265
  • Glossary of Select Technical Terms 297
  • Bibliography 301
  • Index 311
  • About the Author 316
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